Sal Romano probably was pitching for his rotation life for the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday afternoon in Chase Field. And after two batters it looked ominous.
Homer Bailey received word Tuesday that he was out of the rotation and into the bullpen. And with is recent history Romano was wondering if he might shadow Bailey to a chair in the bullpen.
After Romano faced the first two hitters it was Arizona 2, Cincinnati 0. Jarrod Dyson singled and Paul Goldschmidt poked an opposite field home run into the right field corner.
And the D-Backs added another run in the first and a run in the third to take a four-run lead and Romano looked a possum caught in a pick-up truck’s headlights.
Things got much better after that and the Reds rescued a 7-4 victory on a pair of home runs by outfielders Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler.
To make matters gloomy at the start, the Reds were facing Arizona left hander Patrick Corbin, he of a 5-and-1 record and a 2.47 earned run average. He lived up to those numbers by retiring nine of the first Reds.
Then came the fourth inning and salvation for Romano. With one swing of Adam Duvall’s bat the Reds tied it, 4-4, a 441-foot grand slam home run. Duvall was hitting .180 and Corbin struck him out the first time around.
Then came the sixth inning and more salvation for Romano, a two-run 433-foot home run by Scott Schebler for a 6-4 lead.
The home runs and six RBI by Duvall and Schebler was a hot spot for the Reds. The Reds outfield production so far this year is 15th (last) in the National League.
So far on this nine-game western swing, manager Jim Riggleman has scrapped his four-man outfield for two reasons.
All three ball parks, Denver’s Coors Field, Arizona’s Chase Field and San Diego’s Petco Park have mammoth outfields. Riggleman wanted Billy Hamilton to cover all that grass, which Hamilton covers like the morning dew.
And he wanted some offensive production and believed veterans Duvall and Schebler gave him the best option. That meant rookie Jesse Winker has been the odd man out.
And on Wednesday it worked as the Reds avoided a three-game sweep and pushed their record on this trip to 2-and-4.
In his previous five starts, Romano was 1-and-3 with a 7,50 earned run average, giving up 29 hits and 15 walks in 24 innings. On Wednesday he pitched five innings and gave up four runs, seven hits and no walks.
The Reds four-run inning began with singles by Tucker Barnhart and Joey Votto and a walk to Eugenio Suarez.
Duvall was behind in the count 1-and-2 and foul tipped the next pitch that could have been strike three, but catcher John Ryan Murphy dropped the ball. Duvall punctured the next pitch into the great beyond for his grand slam.
The Reds added an insurance run in the ninth off T.J. McFarland. He walked Tucker Barnhart, Joey Votto singled for the third time and Eugenion Suarez singled home a run to push the lead to 7-4.
As usual when the Reds win, the bullpen cleaned it up with aplomb. Wandy Peralta pitched a scoreless inning (one hit), Jared Hughes pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning (one hit, one walk, one double play) and Amir Garrett pitched a scoreless inning (one hit).
Closer Raisel Iglesias came off the disabled list before the game and arrived with two outs in the eighth inning. He struck out Nick Ahmed with two on to end the eighth.
Iglesias, still shaking off rust, gave up back-to-back singles to open the bottom of the ninth. That brought up slugger Paul Goldschmidt, the potential tying run and Iglesias retired him on a 2-and-2 pop foul to catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Adam Duvall made a sliding catch on a low liner hit by Jake Lamb and John Ryan Murphy popped up to end it, the Reds’ 20th win against 37 losses. Duvall made one other sliding catch in left field and Scott Schebler chased a long one down in the right field gap to save a run.