McCoy: Reds rally against shaky Rockies bullpen to earn series split

Cincinnati goes 5-4 on three-city road trip

When Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black goes to his bullpen, the eyes of opposing hitters brighten like the lights that illuminate Coors Field.

The Cincinnati Reds rescued what looked like a lost cause Sunday afternoon against the worst bullpen in the National League (by earned run average).

They were down a run in the ninth inning and scored the tying run on a passed ball and the winning run on a wild pitch for a 7-6 victory.

And that came after the Reds scored four runs in the eighth off the Rockies bullpen to come from 6-1 behind to just 6-5 behind.

ExploreCastillo still optimistic despite struggles

It enabled the Reds to split the four-game series with the Rockies and fly home with a 5-4 record on a three-city road trip.

The ninth inning was pure Coors comedy.

Rockies closer Mychal Givens hit Jonathan India on a full count to open the ninth. Tucker Barnhart forced India at second, then Nick Senzel singled to center, putting the potential tying run on second and the potential go-ahead run on first.

Nick Castellanos flied to right for the second out, with the runners moving up to third and second. Tyler Naquin, who delivered a two-run single in the eighth,

worked the count to 3-and-2, then walked on a full count to fill the bases for Eugenio Suarez.

On the second pitch, Rockies catcher Nunez let closer Mychal Givens’ pitch glance off his glove and Barnhart burst home on the passed ball to tie it, 6-6. Suarez then walked to refill the bases.

And Black trudged to the mound to remove Givens and bring in Jordan Sheffield to face Tyler Stephenson.

And Sheffield threw a wild pitch in the dirt, the ball went through Nunez’s legs and Senzel scored to push the Reds in front, 7-6.

There was more drama to come. Tejay Antone pitched the bottom of the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to Connor Joe. After Trevor Story popped up, Ryan McMahon singled to center, putting the potential tying run on second and the potential winning run on first.

Garrett Hampson grounded to second and India started a zippety-zip game-ending double play.

How did the Reds get the chance in the wild, wild ninth. Well, with a wild, wild eighth.

They scored four times against relievers Yency Almonte and Justin Lawrence — a two-run single by Naquin, a run-scoring single by Stephenson and a run-scoring single by Shogo Akiyama, who had a career-high three hits.

Black brought in left hander Tyler Kenley to face pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, who was 0 for 6 with four strikeouts Saturday night. Winker went 3-and-0, then 3-and-2. Then he flied to deep center, stranding the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first.

That the Reds were able to pull this one out of the back of a closet was unfathomable.

On the ugly meter, on a scale of 1 to 10, Sunday afternoon for the Reds was an 11 for seven innings. And the fact it took a passed ball and a wild pitch to win it says it all.

Poor defense, poor offense and poor starting pitching — the Reds showed it all on a dreary, drizzly day.

The Rockies gave Reds starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman a stark reminder of how it was when he pitched in Coors for the Rockies. While pitching for the Rockies, before he was traded over the winter to the Reds, Hoffman’s career earned run average in Coors was 7.58.

Hoffman wobbled his way through four innings and gave up five runs, five hits and three walks. Only two of the runs were earned because the Reds kicked the ball around on defense like a hockey goalie.

On the other side, Colorado pitcher Antonio Senzatela came into the game with a 1-4 record and a 5.97 earned run average. But on this day he pitched like a Cy Young candidate —  seven innings, one run, four hits, one walk, three strikeouts. Unfortunately for Black and the Rockies, Senzatela was gassed after seven and the bullpen, Colorado’s version of the firestarters, was put to use.

The Reds led briefly, 1-0, in the second when Suarez doubled, took third on a ground ball and scored on Akiyama’s infield hit.

Then came perhaps the most horrendous defensive inning of the season for the Reds, aiding and abetting a five-run Rockies fourth inning.

McMahon began the 27-minute half-inning with a double to center field and Hoffman walked Hampson on four pitches.

Josh Fuentes doubled into the left field corner for two runs and a 2-1 Rockies lead. Daza struck out for the second out and it looked as if Hoffman might escape with limited damage.

But the fun was about to begin.

Dom Nunez drove one into the right field seats, near the foul pole. Umpire Joe West signaled fair, a three-run home run. The Reds asked for a review and New York quickly reversed it. The ball clearly passed in front of the foul pole, a foul ball.

Did Hoffman and the Reds take advantage of that? No, they didn’t.

With his home run taken away, Nunez walked on a nine-pitch at bat. Pitcher Senzatella bunted and Hoffman threw the ball over first baseman Kyle Farmer’s head for an error and a run scored.

Ramiel Tapia hit a shallow fly ball to center field and when Naquin hesitated after a catch and Fuentes tagged and scored. Joe lined one to center that clanked off Naquin’s glove, an error that was ruled a double as the fifth run of the inning scored.

The Rockies added a sixth run in the fifth after relief pitcher Ryan Hendrick retired the first two batters. But another defensive gaffe produced a run. Fuentes singled to left. Daza also singled to left and when Akiyama’s throw to second was wild, Fuentes scored on the throwing error to make it 6-1.

But once the Reds got rid of starter Senzatela, they went to work in the eighth and ninth, gladly accepting Colorado’s charity.

Manager David Bell sent out a curious looking lineup into this game. Winker was given a planned day off until he pinch-hit in the eighth, Suarez was moved from third base back to shortstop, Senzel made his major-league starting debut at third base and Farmer was at first base.

About the Author