September Shutout: Cincinnati Reds Fall in Baltimore

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Each loss seems to sting and defy logic more than the previous one. On Wednesday night, the Cincinnati Reds were shutout 6-0 by Miguel Gonzalez of the Baltimore Orioles, who threw his first career complete game.

They all count the same in the loss column, but the two losses in Baltimore thus far have been gut wrenching. Certainly a solid pitcher, Gonzalez’s best start of the season came the last time he took the hill against the anemic Minnesota Twins. In that outing, he would go seven innings and allow just a single run. He would obliterate that effort on Wednesday.

Through the front seven innings, Gonzalez had allowed only a single to Ryan Ludwick on just 75 pitches. Still playing his regulars, manager Bryan Price has become handcuffed. With a plentiful number of players now on his roster, he can no longer watch the same retreads fail to produce. Gonzalez would polish off not only his first career complete game, but also his first shutout.

It seemed initially that Dylan Axelrod was destined for the same fate. Retiring the first eight batters he would face, Axelrod had his good arm slot and breaking stuff with him early on. Jonathan Schoop who played long ball deep into the double-decked bullpen in left centerfield, homering for the second straight night, would break the string of batters retired.

The slugging Orioles would not cease anytime soon, with David Lough connecting with just his third home run of the season to leadoff the fourth. Not soon after, Chris “Crush” Davis (he of the sub-.200 batting average) went to the opposite field for a two-run shot that put Baltimore ahead 4-0.

Ultimately, Axelrod would finish out his six innings of work with a respectable final line of just four runs allowed on five hits with nearly half of his outs being groundouts. For what would be classified as the Reds’ number five starter, Axelrod had another solid evening.

Things got messy in the bottom of the sixth when Carlos Contreras would walk the first two batters he would face. Both walks would come around to score on a line drive two-RBI double off the bat of Jonathan Schoop, who continues to blister Cincinnati pitching. At the end of seven, the Orioles would lead 6-0.

Rarely has a third base coach been under as much scrutiny as Steve Smith has been for the Reds. In the eighth inning, trailing by six runs, he threw a stop sign up on Ryan Ludwick after what had been a base hit by Jason Bourgeois in his first at-bat as a Red. Ludwick would have unquestionably scored easily—standing up even. Yet, trailing by six runs with Todd Frazier coming to the plate, Smith was hoping a Grand Slam like the one the previous evening would spark the club. To his dismay, it never came to fruition.

Now falling a game behind the San Diego Padres in the National League standings, the white flag can be waved. Neither Homer Bailey nor Joey Votto seems destined to return this year, and Jonathan Broxton has been shipped off to greener pastures. With a slew of younger players now populating the roster, it is only a matter of time before the former Louisville Bats and Pensacola Blue Wahoos start getting playing time as Cincinnati Reds.

The series finale comes Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. as the Redlegs try to avoid the sweep when they send Mike Leake to the hill opposite Chris Tillman.