Suddenly that glossy and illustrious Cincinnati Reds pitching rotation has more cracks than shattered glass.
The rotation has kept the Reds from sinking to the depths all season but now that exclamation point has been bent into a question mark.
Before Thursday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies, the Reds confirmed they are placing starting pitcher Homer Bailey on the disabled list with a flexor mass strain in his pitching elbow. Bailey suffered the injury during his last start.
Then they sent beleaguered starter Alfredo Simon to the mound to face baseball’s worst team. The Rockies had the fewest wins in the majors and had lost 38 of their last 50 games.
And they pounded Simon like a piece of raw meat with a cleaver. He gave up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings and the Rockies won, 7-3.
At least it wasn’t a one-run defeat. The Reds are 1-10 in one-run games since the All-Star break and their previous four defeats all had been by one run.
The Rockies took care of that, especially Charlie Culberson, who blasted a three-run home run in the fifth inning.
The Reds scored two runs in the top of the fifth against Colorado starter Jorge De La Rosa, then shut it down for the night other than a sixth-inning home run by Ryan Ludwick.
Playing at Coors Field, a hitter’s park when base hits fall like raindrops in the spring, the Reds had six hits, three by Ludwick. And he had the only two hits the Reds had after the sixth.
Coors Field doesn’t bother De La Rosa. He is 43-14 for his career there and he pitched seven innings Thursday, giving up three runs and five hits.
Meanwhile, All-Star pitcher Simon, 12-3 at the break, has lost five straight and is struggling mightily. With Simon’s ineffectiveness and Bailey’s lapse onto the disabled list, the Reds appear to be two starters short.
After being staked to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Simon gave up back-to-back doubles in the first, cutting the lead to 2-1.
The Rockies tied in the second with a sacrifice fly by Corey Dickerson and took a 4-2 lead in the fourth when Simon threw away a double-play ball. Instead of two outs and nobody on, there were two on with no outs and both those runners scored.
Then Culberson settled the matter with his three-run home run and the Reds were on their way to their fifth loss in six games, dropping 6 ½ games out of first place.
The Reds have not announced a starter to take Bailey’s place for Saturday’s start, but the logical choice is Class AAA Louisville Bats pitcher Dylan Axelrod. He is 8-8 with a 4.09 ERA. He recently pitched a complete-game shutout and was named International League Player of the Week.
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