By: Kimberly Wyatt
With the exception of Monday night’s make-up game against the Tigers, commentary on the Cincinnati Reds is beginning to sound like a broken record. The bullpen is inexperienced (Thursday afternoon’s 1-0 loss marked the team’s 29th consecutive rookie start) and struggling. The Reds are more than 20 games below .500 and have lost 12 of their last 13 games. It seems a struggle to even get runners on base. Et cetera. The most recent series against the Los Angeles Dodgers saw more of the same.
Rookie pitcher David Holmberg (1-4, 7.62) had another rough evening on the mound Wednesday evening. In the 3 2/3 innings he pitched, he allowed six runs –including three homers— on seven hits. Five of those came in the fourth before Pedro Villarreal (1-3, 3.12) stepped in to relieve him. For his part, Villarreal performed impressively, allowing just one hit in 3 1/3 innings.
The Reds remained scoreless until the seventh inning, when Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Ivan DeJesus, Jr., and Brayan Pena all helped to bring in three runs. Brandon Phillips had an RBI single in the eighth, bringing the score to 6-4. Reds’ reliever Burke Badenhop (1-3, 3.76) gave up one run in the ninth to end the game, 7-4.
The Thursday afternoon game at Great American Ball Park was less painful to watch, but resulted in another loss nonetheless. Anthony DeSclafani (7-10, 3.84) maintained his composure on the mound as he faced off against superstar pitcher and MLB ERA-leader Zack Greinke (14-3, 1.61). DeSclafani allowed just one run in the second inning. However, as has been the case lately, the Reds’ offense failed to show up, and the game ended without a single run by Cincinnati.
Unlike Monday night’s 10-run sixth inning, the Reds’ late-inning offensive push Wednesday night was not enough to close the gap. And they didn’t do any better on Thursday, when even the team’s more experienced players struggled against Greinke. Factor in the fact that Reds starters are hitting pitch count limits by the fifth or sixth inning –forcing the team to rely heavily on its bullpen—and the overall picture for the remainder of the season looks bleak.