The Cincinnati Reds wore 1961 throwback sleeveless uniforms Sunday afternoon and five players didn’t wear undershirts to display their bulging muscles.
Unfortunately for the Reds, there was no muscle displayed on the scorching hot Great American Ball Park field.
The St. Louis Cardinals held the Reds to one run and scored a 3-1 victory to take three of the four-game series. And when the Reds play day games it is as if they are blinded by the light. They are 13-29 in the daylight.
Cincinnati’s only run came on an eighth-inning pinch-hit home run by Phillip Ervin and he was wearing a red t-shirt under his sleeveless top.
If ever there was proof of fleeting flame it belonged Sunday to Josh VanMeter. On Saturday he was The Big Man, a two-run game deciding home run in a 3-2 victory.
On Sunday, wearing no undershirt to display his guns, he stranded seven base runners during his first three at bats. He stranded two in the first, two in the third and three in the fifth.
The fifth was particularly frustrating for the Reds, losers in seven of 10 since the All-Star break.
They filled the bases with no outs against St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty. And they didn’t sniff a run, didn’t get a ball out of the infield.
Flaherty retired the muscles-exposed Yasiel Puig on a pop-up to second base. Puig may want to locate his undershirt. He was 0 for 3 and didn’t get a ball out of the infield.
Even though Flaherty was pitching a shutout and owned a 2-0 lead, St. Louiis manager Mike Shildt removed him with the bases loaded and one out.
Giovanny Gallegos came on to strikeout VanMeter and Scooter Gennett.
The most unlucky guy of the day was Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani. St. Louis did not hit a single ball hard off him over six innings and he struck out a career-best 11. He gave up four hits and didn’t walk a soul.
Yet he was pegged for his fifth loss against five wins because he received zero offensive support. The Reds stranded 10 and were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
The Cardinals scored two runs in the second without putting a scrape or a scrath on their bats.
What the Cardinals did was steal the game. They stole four bases off DeSclafani in that inning.
Tyler O’Neill led the inning with a bloop single to center. He stole second base. He moved to third on a ground ball and scored on Yairo Munoz’s bloop single to center.
Andrew Knizner also blooped a single to center, putting runners on second and first. But not for long. They concocted a double steal of third and second.
That enabled Munoz to score when third baseman Eugenio Suarez booted an easy-out ground ball for an error and it was 2-0.
That is the way is stood until Ervin bashed his pinch-hit home run off Andrew Miller in the eighth, pulling the Reds to within 2-1.
Raisel Iglesias, fresh off the paternity list after the birth of a son, gave up his eighth home run of the year, a blast into the left field bleachers by Munoz.
That gave Munoz three of the six St. Louis hits for a 3-1 lead, merely preventing the Reds from losing yet another one-run game.
St. Louis closer Carlos Martinez walked Jesse Winker with two outs in the ninth, bringing up Joey Votto as the potential tying run.
Votto made the last out Friday night against Martinez with two on in a 12-11 loss. He grounded out to first. This time he took a called third strike.
The Reds had two on in the first, but Van Meter struck out. They had two on with one out in the third before Puig popped up and VanMeter struck out on a full count.
Then came the bases loaded with no outs scenario in the fifth ...with zero results.
It was extremely frustrating for the Reds because the Cardinals took three of four with Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna, Jedd Gyorko and closer Jordan Hicks all residing on the injured list.
There is no rest to lick wounds. The Reds open a three-game series in Milwaukee on Monday night.
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