If the opening game of the doubleheader did not kill off any remaining morale for the Cincinnati Reds, the night cap certainly did the trick. Falling by a final of 10-5, the Reds were trounced late once again by the Colorado Rockies.
In a sequence that almost seems surreal due to the ridiculous circumstances of a complete meltdown in two games on the same day, the Cincinnati Reds effectively ended their own season against the team with the worst record in the National League.
Coming into the night cap, Yohan Flande would take to the hill for the Rockies. Making his Major League debut earlier this season, Flande was yet to even have his club win a game while he was on the hill. He may not have gotten the win personally, but the Rockies offense sure helped him out.
Entering Sunday, opponents were 1-for-22 versus Flande in the first inning. To open the game, Billy Hamilton would lace a double to right centerfield and then move to third on Ramon Santiago‘s infield single. In just two batters, the Reds would set an early tempo.
After the first inning, Flande would allow only one hit through innings 2-5. Retiring nine in a row and 13 out of 14 before walking Santiago to lead off the sixth, Flande had settled in. Much like the opening game of the doubleheader from hell, the Redlegs offense only churned its wheels when the leadoff man reached. Ryan Ludwick would clobber a two-run shot deep into the night to stay ferociously hot within the walls of Coors Field. Another run would scamper across on a booming RBI double off the bat of Brayan Pena, staking the Reds to a 4-1 lead.
Making the spot start on the backend of the two-game set was Dylan Axelrod, who was also making his Major League debut in 2014. His first time with the Reds was a positive one, pitching six sound innings, allowing only two runs while striking out seven. He would exit the game with a three-run lead as they stretched in Denver–normally a margin Reds starters can count on for the bullpen to close out. With all major bullpen weapons having been deployed in the opening game, it became a disaster.
There were nine outs remaining when Carlos Contreras entered the game in the bottom of the seventh. Only he, Manny Parra and Curtis Partch were active, but had not pitched in the opening contest, leaving conventional wisdom to believe the game would be up to them. It certainly came down to Contreras and Parra, although not in the way they would have imagined.
After a four pitch walk to Charlie Blackmon, the floodgates caved. Three straight singles loaded the bases and narrowed the Rockies deficit to just two with their hottest hitter, Nolan Arenado, coming to the plate.
In a form of roundabout coincidence, Arenado hit a hot smash down at his counterpart, Ramon Santiago. Were it Arenado fielding the ball, it almost assuredly would have been a double play due to his defensive wizardry, but with Santiago it became a force out at third base and then a carousel. His throw clearly affected by the oncoming runner, the Reds super utility man chucked the ball down the first base line, caroming into the corner and allowing the tying run to cross the plate. At that point, the air began to seep out of the balloon.
With a bullpen thinner than the padding on the minor league buses Contreras and Partch have traveled on most of the season left, manager Bryan Price sent Contreras back out for the eighth. He would record just one more out, while giving up his fourth and fifth hits of the night (which would also be his fourth and fifth runs). It seemed Manny Parra would be able to escape the predicament after getting All-Star Charlie Blackmon to pop-up with men in scoring position.
As the Reds found out on Sunday (and Saturday if you like the pun), when it rains, it pours. Catching some bad luck on Josh Rutledge‘s sky high infield tapper, the game came down to Corey Dickerson and Michael Cuddyer–Colorado’s two hottest bats. Both would rip two-RBI doubles, Cuddyer’s giving him the ever elusive cycle. Drew Stubbs would add an RBI single just as an extra jab to the ribs after his earlier actions to push the Rockies total back into double digits.
Against a pitcher without a Major League win, Billy Hamilton would be the only Reds player to produce a multi-hit game. Yet, offense was not the problem (for once) in Sunday’s doubleheader as the club scored a combined 14 runs. Unfortunately, Colorado scored 20 and divided them evenly.
The Reds now sit four and a half games out of the second Wild Card slot as the team travels to St. Louis for a three-game set. Getting in in the wee hours of the morning, a weary Reds bunch will take to the field on Monday night at 8:15 with Mike Leake getting the ball against a familiar foe from the Ohio Cup, Justin Masterson. Facing Masterson for the first time as a Redbird, the Redlegs hope the pitcher of old has disappeared along with his jersey association.