It is evident what the baseball season has become for the Cincinnati Reds when Fox Sports Ohio devotes most of its pregame “Reds Live” show to a pie in the face.
Hey, who can blame them? There isn’t much else to feature about the Reds these days so why not show Jeff Piecoro slamming a cream pie into the face of broadcaster Thom Brennaman to pay off a bet?
Then the Reds went out on the field and nearly slapped pies in their own faces before holding off the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-5.
After six innings the Reds led 7-1, but they nearly let it slip away as they have so many games this year.
As the game droned on, the background music should have been Ringo Starr signing, “It Don’t Come Easy.”
It took a diving, back-handed stab by first baseman Brayan Pena to prevent possible catastrophe on this night.
The Cardinals scored three runs in the seventh and had the bases loaded with two outs, trailing by three runs. Pinch-hitter AJ. Pierzynski ripped a line drive toward right field off Jumbo Diaz — at least a two-run double and maybe a three-run, game-tying double.
But Pena flattened out and speared it to end the inning.
“If that ball ends up getting down the line, that’s a back-breaker,” said manager Bryan Price. “Pena came up big. Here’s a guy who is a catcher. A catcher, a major-league catcher. He is not a major-league first baseman but he has been outstanding at first base. Momentum was starting to shift and if that ball gets by it is a whole different ballgame.”
Said Pena, “It was one of those plays were you try to do whatever you can to stop the bleeding. They were getting their momentum going. It was a play on which I needed to do my job and I’m happy I was able to make the play.
“I saw it all the way and it was sinking away from me, which is why I had to dive,” Pena added. “Honestly, the fact that I’ve never played that position before and put in so much work, I’m very proud. Mostly I’m thankful for Bryan Price to trust me and put me out there.”
The Reds constructed a 7-1 lead for starter Mike Leake, beginning in the first inning on a two-run home run by Devin Mesoraco, his 23rd.
The Cardinals scored a run in the fourth but the Reds matched it in the bottom half on a two-out triple by Zack Cozart and a double by Leake to make it 3-1.
The Reds thought they tore it open in the fifth with four runs on a run-scoring single by Mesoraco, his third RBI, a two-run double by Brandon Phillips and a single by Cozart.
In addition to his 23 home runs, second on the team to Todd Frazier’s 25, Mesoreaco has 73 RBIs, tied with Frazier for the team lead. And Mesoraco spent two stints on the disabled list.
“I’ve been lucky in that when I’ve been out there I’ve been able to produce for the team,” said Mesoraco. “With runners in scoring position I feel I’ve done a good job. I’ve been able to be counted upon as a run-producer in our lineup. When those opportunities come, I just welcome them.”
Leake had given up one run and four hits entering the seventh. When he gave up a double to Oscar Taveras and a run-scoring single to Kolten Wong he was replaced by Diaz.
Diaz gave up a run-scoring single to Tony Cruz, a one-out run-scoring single to Jon Jay and walked Jhonny Peralta on a full count with the bases loaded to force in the fourth run.
And that’s when Pena’s dive kept the Reds alive. Pena also was on base four times with three walks and a single and scored two runs.
Pena’s eighth-inning single started a two-run rally against Sam Tuivailala, making his major-league debut, culminating in a two-run single by Chris Heisey.
To add absurdity to the inning, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny gave up, sending four straight pinch-hitters to the plate against Reds relief pitcher J.J. Hoover.
Soon, a run was in and the Cardinals had two runners on with two outs. Price brought in Aroldis Chapman to face yet another pinch-hitter, Mark Ellis, who battled for his life through 10 pitches before he struck out as Chapman preserved the 9-5 win, a game that had everything but a pie in the face.
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.