For the sixth consecutive game, the Cincinnati Reds have stared up at a frowning scoreboard. The Atlanta Braves arrived in town Thursday night and laid the beatdown to a downtrodden Reds club, 8-0.
Forced into duty making just his third career Major League start was David Holmberg. Promoted purely due to his presence on the 40-man roster, Holmberg possesses an ERA of nearly four and a half at Triple-A Louisville. His first start as a member of the Reds went poorly back on July 9 when he allowed five runs on seven hits, while recording just eight outs.
Unfortunately for both Holmberg and the Reds, Thursday night was an almost identical meltdown. Producing only eight outs this time around as well, Holmberg would be hit just as hard. Allowing six runs on five hits and four walks, Holmberg’s ERA begins with the number 18—not exactly where most starters would want it.
Facing a National League All-Star in Julio Teheran on the other side of the diamond, a six-run lead by the third inning became nearly impossible to overcome. With a comfortable lead, Teheran made short work of his night, tossing just six innings en route to his 12th victory. It would take all the way until the bottom of the sixth inning on a double from Brandon Phillips for a runner to so much as reach second base.
The first hit of the night for the Reds came off the bat of Pedro Villarreal, the relief pitcher who was called up earlier on Thursday. Slicing a base hit to right field, Villarreal had to scamper down the line as he peered up to see the game’s premier defensive right fielder in Jason Heyward preparing to rocket the ball to the first base bag. Beating out the throw, Villarreal would get his first hit—but give up plenty while on the mound.
Andrelton Simmons would be the only player to leave the yard on either side tonight via the long ball. Holmberg would be singled and walked to death in the third with a two-run single from Justin Upton, an RBI double from Chris Johnson and a walk to Heyward with the bases loaded.
Things would get no easier for Villarreal. Put in the difficult position of long man that the Reds have truly not needed on many occasions in 2014, he would drill the first batter he faced in Freddie Freeman. That run would come around to score on an infield groundout from Simmons, but Villarreal would leave the bases loaded in the fourth.
Atlanta would tack on their, and the game’s final run, in the fifth. On a sacrifice fly from Justin Upton, the Braves pushed out to an 8-0 lead, one they would never relinquish.
Taking to the hill for only the fourth time in his career, Skip Schumaker tossed his first career hitless inning. Beginning the game in left field and collecting a base hit of his own in the fifth, Schumaker dialed it up as high as 89 MPH while mixing in an arsenal that included a changeup (which he got Andrelton Simmons to fly out on) and a curveball.
There were loud outs recorded, but outs nonetheless. With the bullpen completely exhausted from use (albeit, ineffective use), Schumaker pitching an inning in a blowout was a necessary evil.
On a night where the Reds once again got a poor effort out of a starting pitcher, the offense laid a goose egg in response. Kristopher Negron would come off the bench and wallop a double in the bottom of the ninth in his only at-bat, but the rest of the previous eight innings dragged on from a team that looks to have finally begun to lose the mental battle.
Now losers of six in a row, the Reds’ hopes for a third consecutive Postseason appearance are all but faded out of reach.
Mat Latos will take to the mound at 7:10 p.m. on Fireworks Friday, opposed by Mike Minor of the Braves. With Johnny Cueto unable to slam the breaks on the losing skid, Latos becomes the next ace in line.