Mercifully, the Cincinnati Reds finally fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks by a final of 2-1 after 15 excruciating innings Monday night at Great American Ball Park.
An offense marred by 18 strikeouts, only six hits, and just a single run, could muster virtually nothing against the pitching repertoire of the Diamondbacks.
Throwing arguably the best game of his young career, rookie Chase Anderson dominated the scuffling Cincinnati bats. The only run he would allow would be the only run the Redlegs would push across over the entirety of their 15 miserable innings. All three hits Anderson would give up came in the second inning, before retiring 14 of his last 16 batters. In seven innings of work, Anderson struck out eight, but for only the second time in his career, received a no decision.
Thanks to the tremendous pitching from the Reds’ own starter Homer Bailey, it was an even contest throughout. Bailey would twirl eight marvelous innings, with his only slip-up coming in the fourth inning on back-to-back hits from Mark Trumbo and Miguel Montero that would plate the Diamondbacks’ only run for the first 14 innings.
Striking out only three, many will assume Bailey was not on top of his game, but that could not be further from the truth. Locating his slider with precision, Bailey tantalized hitters into making contact with his pitch for soft outs that allowed him to travel deeper into the game. Much in the same way as Anderson, Bailey was unlucky to not get the win, even as his ERA dropped to just fractions above four.
Two of the Reds players to collect multi-hit nights were the two replacements for the injured right side of the infield. Brayan Pena and Kristopher Negron both pulled their weight both with the bat and the glove, showcasing that this team has issues much deeper than two missing All-Stars.
After Bailey turned the game over to the dominant backend of the bullpen, Aroldis Chapman, Jonathan Broxton and Jumbo Diaz would all have consecutive 1-2-3 innings to allow the offense the opportunity to seal a victory with a run in the bottom frame. They would threaten in the 11th, but Todd Frazier would go down looking and Devin Mesoraco would pop out to end the scoring chance.
The other two hits from the Reds came from the bat of Mesoraco. Homering on a towering blast back in the second inning, the Reds’ backstop would also draw a walk and single in addition to catching 15 innings behind the plate. To end the top of the 13th, Mesoraco also showed off his throwing arm by gunning down former Red Didi Gregorius as he attempted to take second base.
While J.J. Hoover would be the man to give fans in attendance free pizza coupons, he also sent them home with a loss. (Equivalent to kissing a good-looking person of the opposite sex just to find out they have mono.) Collecting his eighth loss of the season, Hoover seemed to be the last able-bodied reliever standing with Carlos Contreras seemingly unavailable and Manny Parra being demoted to a dark and shadowy place of the bullpen.
There is no doubt that Hoover has shown the ability to get outs at the Major League level over his short career, but with an ERA that has hovered above five seemingly all season, one must wonder how much longer Hoover can continue to pitch in critical games during a Pennant run.
The Reds would attempt the strategy of moving over a runner with a sacrifice bunt in the 13th inning again, but Billy Hamilton would strikeout ahead of a Jay Bruce groundout to keep the misery alive. They would have baserunners in each of their last two innings, but with a combined 0-for-10 from their top two batters in the order, it became problematic to drive in runs.
Frustration was the theme of the night with Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier both shattering bats. Bruce opted to smash an unfriendly piece of lumber over his quad after a strikeout in the ninth, while Frazier did it in the 14th off home plate after just strike two. With losses comes frustration; with frustration comes shattered wood.
Back at it again on Tuesday night will be Mike Leake as he locks horns with Trevor Cahill for what is scheduled to be a 7:10 p.m. start. Looking for just their second win since the All-Star break, the Redlegs look to get back to .500. And to stop shattering so many bats.