It is tempting to say Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price is so tired of watching his team play abysmal baseball that he didn’t want to watch it Saturday afternoon.
So he purposely got himself ejected before the game against the Cleveland Indians even began. He was ejected during the pregame meeting at home plate with the umpires.
It is logical to assume Price might have, indeed, gotten himself ejected in an effort to light a fire under his moribund team.
Price refused to shake hands with the umpires during the lineup card exchange and began “discussing” the strike zone used by home-plate umpire Manny Gonzalez on Friday night.
Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Marlon Byrd all had questioning discussions with Gonzalez on strike calls. After a four-minute umpiring critique, Price was eventually ejected by Jim Reynolds, Saturday’s home-plate umpire.
Price certainly had to be in a foul mood, and not only because his team had lost six straight. He also learned before the game that Sunday’s scheduled starter, Johnny Cueto, won’t make that start due to elbow soreness. Raisel Iglesias will make the start and Cueto’s next start is up in the air.
And Price also learned that after trying to squat during a play-catch session in Kansas City, catcher Devin Mesoraco had a relapse on his hip impingement and said it isn’t likely he’ll catch in the immediate future.
And still trying to find a magic batting order, the lineup card the umpires eventually received had Skip Schumaker in left field, Brennan Boesch in right field and Jay Bruce at designated hitter.
All the machinations failed. The Reds lost their seventh straight, 2-1. They have been outscored 49-17 in those seven losses.
The pitching matchup seemed a gargantuan mismatch — Cleveland Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who had struck out 30 in his previous two starts, against Cincinnati’s Anthony DeSclafani, 0-4 with a 6.38 ERA in his previous five starts.
On this day, though, DeSclafani looked like the Cy Young guy. He went seven innings and gave up one run and three hits while walking two and striking out six.
Kluber gave up nine hits in eight innings (no walks, seven strikeouts) but, as per usual, the Reds couldn’t do anything with those hits. They were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position, permitting Kluber to hang on. And no runs for Kluber is modus operandi. The Tribe gives him 2.18 runs per start, fewest in the American League.
The Reds put their first runner on base in four of the first six innings and pulled in one run in the process.
Of course, also as per usual, the bullpen wiped out all of DeSclafani’s diligent work.
Tony Cingrani arrived in the eighth and gave up a run, starting the inning by walking second-string cather Roberto Perez, who was hitting .176 with 14 hits and 18 walks.
Michael Bourn bunted into a fielder’s choice, but Jason Kipnis doubled up the left-center gap and Bourn scored from first base for a 2-1 lead.
Bruce, who has a six-game hitting streak, led the second with a single and Brayan Pena doubled him to third. But the only run they got came on a sacrifice fly by Zack Cozart, who is 1 for 26.
Using Boesch in right field instead of DH and using Bruce at DH was costly in the sixth. With two outs, Kipnis lobbed one to right field and Boesch dove and gloved the ball. But it trickled out. Bruce probably makes the catch.
DeSclafani then walked Carlos Santana and David Murphy singled to center to tie the game, 1-1.
The lineup scramble didn’t work, either. Schumaker was 0 for 4 and Boesch was 0 for 3.
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