Falling back to the .500 mark, the Cincinnati Reds had their second consecutive one-run loss at home to the Boston Red Sox, this time by a final of 5-4.
Thrust into a starting position a day early, Mike Leake must have been pleased at the fact that he would get a start at home; opposed to on the road in the hitter’s paradise that is Coors Field in Colorado. Those feelings of optimism must have been doubled when the Boston Red Sox produced a lineup card without Dustin Pedroia or David Ortiz in it.
As baseball usually goes, nothing went according to plan for Leake. A shaky first inning unfortunately set the tone for what would be a mediocre start, and ultimately, a loss.
Pesky Red Sox leadoff man Brock Holt got the game started by drawing a walk. He would scamper over to second on a wild pitch in the dirt before coming around to score on a line drive base hit by Daniel Nava. Leake would jam both Yoenis Cespedes and Mike Napoli in on the hands, but both balls were hit so weakly, Nava was able to advance, and ultimately score, putting the Sox ahead 2-0 early.
Continuing to dance around trouble for the next three innings, Leake got some offensive help. Devin Mesoraco would narrowly miss a three-run home run in the bottom of the third, instead having to settle for a warning track sacrifice fly.
The bottom of the fourth produced two of the odder instances in the Reds season thus far, against Boston rookie starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo. With Jay Bruce a late scratch, Skip Schumaker slotted into right field. With just one home run entering the contest, when Schumaker connected with a 3-2 pitch that was a no-doubter, he simply bowed his head and jogged the bases.
With the crowd still in a frenzy from Schumaker’s shot, there was a stunned silence initially when Mike Leake made contact. As Cespedes jogged back and ultimately gave up on the ball, the place went wild as Leake helped his own cause and ripped his second home run of the year.
Blame it on the adrenaline rush of socking a home run 365 feet into the people, but Mike Leake was not the same pitcher when he took the hill in the top of the fifth. Brock Holt was in the middle of it all again, slicing a double the opposite way, getting on base for the heart of order.
There may have been no Pedroia or Ortiz, but there was still Cespedes and Napoli. First, Cespedes would tie the game on an RBI single to left field, followed by an opposite field blast that traveled into the front few rows of right field from Napoli. Those five runs would be all that Leake and Reds pitching would allow, yet it would be all that Boston would need.
The final run for the Reds would come from a triple leading off the fifth inning from Kristopher Negron, who then came home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Todd Frazier a batter later. Sitting at 5-4 in the bottom of the fifth, the scoreboard operator would have the remainder of the game off.
Over the remaining four innings, the combination of J.J. Hoover, Manny Parra, Sam LeCure and Aroldis Chapman would allow only a hit by pitch to their statistics. Parra would strike one batter, Hoover and LeCure two a piece, and Chapman would fan the side heading to the bottom of the ninth.
Skip Schumaker’s third hit of the day led off the bottom of the ninth against Edward Mujica who was called upon to save the game, opposed to dominant closer Koji Uehara. Zack Cozart would follow that hit with a knock of his own, giving the Reds first and second with nobody out—a prime opportunity to at least tie the game, if not win it.
Having been double-switched into the game in the top of the inning, Ramon Santiago was unable to lay a bunt down to move the runners over. At that point, any momentum the Reds may have had in their favor went right out the window. A fly out by Billy Hamilton and a sharp ground out from Negron later, and the Reds had dropped their fourth game to Boston on the season.
With the rest of the National League Wild Card picture scuffling due to injuries and ailments, the 1-4 record the Reds have posted in the series against the last place Red Sox and sub-.500 Marlins is quite the disappointment.
Now heading west for a week, the Reds will make their first and only trip to Denver. The Rockies are currently 27 games under the .500 mark, which is good for last place in the National League Western Division.
The contest will get underway at 8:40 p.m. with Alfredo Simon taking to the hill, opposite Jorge de la Rosa of Colorado.