Once again befallen by an anemic offense, the Cincinnati Reds wasted another excellent start, falling 2-1 to the Miami Marlins in 10 innings.
Grinding out all of six hits over the course of 10 innings, baseball’s most prodigiously ineffective offense since the All-Star break reared its head once again. Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi had allowed at least five runs in each of his last three starts, but on Saturday night, he would allow just a single run after seven innings of complete domination.
Prior to the top of the eighth inning, the Redlegs scratched out just a measly single off the bat of Skip Schumaker that fell into shallow left centerfield. Topping out at 100 MPH, Eovaldi showed none of the ill effects that have caused his inconsistencies over his previous starts.
Striking out six, Eovaldi was pulled from the game before he had an opportunity to finish the eighth inning for himself. Due to a history of not being terribly effective late in contests, Marlins manager Mike Redmond opted for the bullpen to attempt to get the last six outs. The Reds would rally, but once again not deliver the decisive knock.
For as good as Eovaldi performed, Homer Bailey was dynamic in his own right. The last hit he would allow would be a run-scoring single off the bat of Jordany Valdespin in the third inning. Lowering his ERA below four for the first time all year, Bailey would retire 14 of the last 15 batters he would face.
Continuing to be the dominant starter the Reds front office so strongly believes he is, Bailey was once again victimized by no run support. Bailey pitched just as well, if not better, than both Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos over the previous two games, but with wins absolutely imperative, the offense could once again not summon much of anything.
There would be chances galore late in the contest where just a single hit would make all the difference. Todd Frazier would strike out to end the eighth. Brayan Pena would be gunned out at second base testing Giancarlo Stanton and his rocket-launcher arm in the top of the ninth. Both Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce would strikeout following a Chris Heisey triple in the tenth inning that would have given the club the lead. Even more frustrating than not having opportunities to put runs on the board, is having the chance, and not capitalizing.
Logic tells us that the deeper into bullpens teams go, the harder throwers will appear. After striking out six times against Eovaldi in seven innings of work, the Redlegs would punch out six times in their final three at-bats.
When the pitching staff needed a strikeout, the most dynamic weapon in all of baseball was nowhere to be found. As the game-winning run sat on third base with less than two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Aroldis Chapman continued to toss a softball against a back wall out in the bullpen. As fate would have it, Sam LeCure would hang a 3-1 breaking ball to Christian Yelich, who would drive in back-up catcher Jeff Mathis who was hitting all of .190 before he ripped a double down the line to lead off the inning.
As the Reds continue to fall off the pace and hover around the .500 mark, the other teams in the National League Central roll. Now trailing the second Wildcard spot by four games, the Reds will have to negotiate the significant powerhouses in the Pirates, Giants, Cardinals and Braves who are much healthier. Should the Reds continue to save baseball’s most dynamic weapon, he will be pitching in meaningless games in September—all before he leaves in just over two years for greener pastures.
A series win against Miami is still on the horizon for Sunday afternoon as Mike Leake takes to the hill against Jacob Turner at 1:10 p.m. With the backend of the bullpen sufficiently rested from their day-off during a tight ballgame, Leake must only hope for some semblance of offensive help.