With just 20 career starts under his belt, rookie pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (7-7, 3.71 ERA) might not be as well-known as his former Reds teammates Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, but for the St. Louis Cardinals, his name is one that will not be forgotten any time soon.
Last week at Busch Stadium, DeSclafani pitched seven shutout innings in his first career start against the Cardinals. The Reds’ 1-0 win that night clinched the road series for Cincinnati, their first against St. Louis since 2011.
Tuesday night, DeSclafani was given the opportunity to prove that his performance in Missouri wasn’t a fluke, as he opened a three-game home series against the Cardinals. Facing off against St. Louis pitcher John Lackey (9-7, 2.85 ERA) for the second time in the same week, DeSclafani came out strong and didn’t lose momentum, recording a career-high nine strikeouts and leading the Reds to a 3-2 win.
Reds players Jay Bruce, Marlon Byrd, and Eugenio Suarez all had RBIs in the first inning, giving DeSclafani a comfortable lead. The score remained 3-0 until St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer in the top of the third. To his credit, DeSclafani did not appear shaken by the runs, and he managed to keep his head –and arm— in the game.
In the top of the eighth, Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton made a spectacular over-the-shoulder, diving catch in the top of the eighth to help preserve DeSclafani’s lead, after a line drive by Cardinal Jayson Heyward threatened to tie the game. Aroldis Chapman came on in the ninth to fan two batters and earn his 23rd consecutive save.
The recent trades of veteran Reds pitchers Cueto and Leake left DeSclafani –the most experienced of Cincinnati’s new all-rookie rotation—to step into a leadership position within the Reds bullpen. His repeat performances against the Cardinals hint that he is developing into a talented and driven pitcher. Tonight, left-hander David Holmberg (1-0, 3.00) will make his second career start. As with DeSclafani and Lackey, he will be facing a much more experienced opponent in Carlos Martinez (11-4, 2.61). It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals fare against another Reds rookie.