The Bullpen Blues surfaced for the second straight night for the Cincinnati Reds and this time they didn’t escape defeat.
The men in the ‘pen blew a five-run lead Friday night, but the Reds bounced back to rescue a victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
They were not so fortunate Saturday night and the Reds’ six-game winning streak dissipated in the desert, 8-3.
The Reds led, 2-1, when starter Jeff Hoffman turned matters over to the bullpen in the fifth inning.
Manager David Bell paraded four relief pitchers into the competition and each and every one gave up runs.
Hoffman had used up only 82 pitches after two runner reached base in the fifth. Cionel Perez replaced him and before he could collect the final two outs five Diamondbacks crossed home plate.
Amazingly, only two balls reached the outfield during the five-run spree. The D-Backs used three infield hits, a bases loaded walk and an error to turn the Reds 2-1 lead into a 6-2 hill to climb.
With Carlton Fulmer on the mound in the sixth, D-Backs leadoff hitter Tim LoCastro, the fastest timed sprinter in baseball, beat an infield hit to start the inning, his fourth hit and two never left the infield. Two wild pitches moved him to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly.
Sal Romano arrived in the seventh and he gave up a home run destined for the Mohave desert to Eduardo Escobar, a blast over the high wall in straightaway center.
Escobar started the season 1 for 21, but has homered in three straight games, included a two-run home run Friday that tied the game, 5-5, forcing the Reds to use an extra inning to claim a 6-5 win.
The Reds scored two runs in the second with some textbook hitting. It began with a walk to Eugenio Suarez and a double by Mike Moustakas. Then both Nick Senzel and Jonathan India poked opposite field singles, each driving home a run.
That was it for the Reds offense until it was 8-2 and Suarez ripped his second home run of the season, a shot that landed in the right-center swimming pool, but it didn’t even get the D-Backs feet wet.
Diamonds starter Riley Smith was making his MLB starting debut and he held the Reds to two runs and eight hits over six innings.
It was the first time the Reds, averaging nine runs a game, didn’t score at least five runs in their first eight games.
“Give their hitters some credit, for sure,” said Reds manager David Bell, talking about the D-Backs five-run fifth. “Our infielders were doing everything they could on those infield hits to make a play, but there were some in-between balls that led to some hits.
Their speed came into play, as well.”
That fifth inning began with LoCastro’s lob single to to center off Hoffman, on his way to four hits.
Asked if LoCastro was a pain, Hoffman said, “Yeah, he always is. He is one of those guys you don’t him to hit the ball hard and you don’t want him to hit the ball soft because you saw what he can do. You are trying to punch him out (strike him out), but he did a good job of putting the bat on the ball. The last hit was a good pitch, below the zone. Hats off to him for the night that he had. He is a pain to deal with on the bases.”
LoCastro has started his major league career with 28 stolen bases without once getting thrown out.
Hoffman played the loyal soldier about his removal that led to the five-run uprising, even though he would have liked to stay in.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said when asked if he would have liked to stay in the game. “I had battled through some stuff the whole game. They had some baserunners and were causing some stressful innings.
“I would have like to have the chance to work out of that but at the same time I’m all for whatever DB (Bell) thinks is the right move,” he added. “We have all the faith in the world in our bullpen out there. They put a crooked number up there but that want stop us from giving the ball again.”
The last two nights, though, all that faith in the world has been misguided faith.
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