Valiant Effort Falls Just Short for Cincinnati Reds


After a valiant effort to stage a comeback, the Cincinnati Reds were swept out of Baltimore on Thursday night following a 9-7 loss at the hands of the Orioles.

Clearly unhappy with the results from Wednesday evening in which the team did not manage to score a single run, manager Bryan Price underwent a massive lineup shift. Only Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco remained from what has been the regular rotation of starters.

It would not be the offense coming up short on Thursday, but the pitching. All season long, Mike Leake has gone at least five innings in every single start and allowed no more than five runs in any single start. Both of those barometers would fall short on Thursday as Leake was tagged for seven runs in just four innings of work.

Things got messy before they got better for Cincinnati. With two outs in the bottom of the first, the Orioles would just not stop hitting. Nelson Cruz got the party started with a two-run blast, followed by two doubles sandwiched around a walk, which put two men in scoring position for catcher Nick Hundley. Getting just enough of a hanging breaking ball to put it into the sea of orange, Baltimore would jump out to a hefty 6-0 lead. With a lineup that employed five full-time minor leaguers this season, it seemed unlikely the Reds would be able to mount a comeback.

Never the bunch to go down without a fight, the abbreviated version of the Reds would come roaring back. Frazier and Mesoraco would both drive in runs in the third to cut the deficit down to what old manager Dusty Baker used to refer as “Slam range”—or four runs behind.

As a symbolic end to his night, Mike Leake would serve up one final home run to Jonathan Schoop, who out of the number nine spot in the batting order, would club a home run in three consecutive games against the Reds. Still, Leake would miraculously not pick up the loss.

It has been a breakout season for Devin Mesoraco, one in which the proverbial chains that once held him back have been relinquished. He would finish the night 4-for-4 with four runs driven in from the designated hitters slot while Tucker Barnhart caught. Getting the action and the rally going in the sixth, Mesoraco would lead off with a massive blast into the left field stands, his 21st of the year.

With Orioles starter Chris Tillman having done his diligent quality start duty, the Baltimore bullpen was put in charge of nailing down the final nine outs. The pesky combination of Tucker Barnhart, Jason Bourgeois and Ramon Santiago all reached base in the same way they did in the third to spark a rally. With Mesoraco at the plate, he would clean up the basepaths, cutting the Reds deficit to one with a two-RBI double.

Before Tommy Hunter could get his feet wet relieving Brad Brach, Donald Lutz would line a base hit into centerfield that would plate Mesoraco and knot the game up at lucky number seven in the seventh.

Hung with the loss while facing just two batters, one of which happened to get a harmless opposite field single, was Manny Parra. Removed in favor of Sam LeCure, the mustached right-hander would look to wiggle out of bases loaded trouble twice, once by striking out Chris Davis, but unable to retire J.J. Hardy. The veteran shortstop walloped a two-run base hit into left field, putting Baltimore back ahead 9-7.

A final, last ditch effort came down to Chris Heisey against Orioles closer Zach Britton in the top of the ninth as the tying run, but Hardy would once again crush the Reds’ hopes with a diving stop to end the contest.

Swept out of Baltimore and completely demoralized, the Redlegs now limp home to Cincinnati eight games below .500. They will be competing against the New York Mets and their gritty style of baseball that resembles the Reds in terms of solid starting pitching and rock solid defense.

Getting the start on Friday night will be Alfredo Simon, opposed by another big fellow in Bartolo Colon. The usual fireworks down at the yard will follow the 7:10 p.m. start on Friday’s, which will hopefully come after a Reds victory.