Dropping the opener of the Ohio Cup, the Cincinnati Reds continued their descent back to the .500 mark as they dropped the contest on Monday by a final of 7-1 to the Cleveland Indians.
Just more than 24 hours removed from an offensive explosion of 15 hits down in Miami, the thunderous bats lost some of their spark on the trip north, mustering only three hits in the first six innings. Most of the lack of offense was to do with Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber, who dominated for his fourth consecutive outing.
At his peak during Monday night’s contest, Kluber would retire 11 Reds batters in a row during the middle innings. Unable to keep his earned run average unblemished, Cincinnati would tack on a run in the eighth inning that would end Kluber’s modest scoreless innings streak that was not nearly halfway to Orel Hershiser’s record.
Going 7.1 innings, Kluber would strikeout seven while allowing six hits and walking just two batters. It was certainly dominant, just not up to his standards of late.
Looking to match the knowingly slim margin heading into the contest, Alfredo Simon could not combat the intensity of a pragmatic Kluber. While Simon would allow only a single base hit through the front three innings, the bottom of the fourth is when the game began to unwind. Back-to-back base hits from Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana set the table for a three-run blast to centerfield off the bat of Lonnie Chisenhall.
It has become extremely un-Simon like to even produce a start that is not of the quality variety, but his nightmare-ish second half rages on. He would make it just another inning, surrendering a fifth run, making the ascension back to a competitive ballgame nearly impossible.
If there were positives to accentuate, it would come off the bats of Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco. Both men had multi-hit games on Sunday afternoon in Miami during the offensive “explosion,” and both followed up with multi-hit contests again on Monday.
Finally beginning to combat the shift, Bruce used the opposite field for his two singles, knocking them directly to where fielders would normally be positioned had the shift not been in place. His single to lead off the eighth inning would be the only run the Reds would have come around to score.
Seeing Devin Mesoraco have a multi-hit game is not such a bizarre sight, but to see one of those hits go the opposite way certainly is. Collecting just his third base hit to right field all season long, Mesoraco would put together quality at-bats in addition to taking thrown balls off the mask, arms and chest all evening.
Extending his hitting streak to a modest nine games was Brayan Pena, who drove in the Redlegs’ lone run in the top of the eighth off Cleveland reliever Nick Hagadone. The double would be the Reds’ first extra-base hit of the game, but serve as much too little, much too late.
Stuck with the proverbial, “take one for the team,” was Carlos Contreras. After making it through his first two innings of work unscathed, Contreras returned to the mound to finish off his third inning. He would come just an out short of escaping with no runs. After a David Murphy frozen rope double, Brazilian-born catcher Yan Gomes connected with a majestic blast that flew near “The House That LeBron Built” beyond the left field fence. Extending their lead to six, the Tribe all but locked the game up.
While Todd Frazier would be the only Red in action to not reach base (he would on an error), the offense could once again not string together hits. Finishing an uninspiring 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and with 11 men left on base, Reds fans are left to scratch their head as to the Jekyll and Hyde tendencies that have plagued the lineup all season long.
With not much to look forward to on a daily basis offensively, Reds fans can always take solace in Johnny Cueto when he takes to the hill. The man affectionately dubbed “Johnny Beisbol” in Cincinnati gets the ball at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow opposite Josh Tomlin of the Tribe at Progressive Field in the second and final game of the mini-series in Cleveland.