Jared Hughes definitely planned to pitch to contact when he entered the Reds game against Atlanta on Tuesday in the 10th inning with a runner on first base and one out.
It just didn’t go as he hoped. Hughes plunked Kurt Suzuki with a pitch to push the go-ahead run into scoring position before escaping with a groundout and a called third strike. He pitched through allowing a hit in each of the next two innings to keep the Braves at bay and open the door for Scooter Gennett’s walkoff, two-run home run in Cincinnati’s 9-7 win.
“I hit the first guy,” the right-hander said after the game. “I was trying to throw my best pitch, the sidearm sinker. I missed badly, but made the adjustment. I was trying to make contact, but not with the batter.”
The affable Hughes, 32, earned his first win in three decisions since signing a two-year contract with a club option for 2020 on Dec. 26. He had performed mostly as expected. Tuesday’s performance lowered his earned-run average to 2.13, and the only real glitch on his resume was giving up a go-ahead home run to Yadier Molina after the Reds had come back from a 3-0 deficit to forge a 3-3 tie in a 4-3 loss at St. Louis on April 21.
Hughes’ outing on Tuesday was his longest since 2016, when he carded a single-game career high three innings for the second time. He now has reached 2 2-3 innings four times in his career.
“I don’t know if I could have gone another inning,” he admitted.
Interim manager Jim Riggleman appreciated Hughes’ bullpen-saving effort, but he suggested before Wednesday’s game that it might not be the last time Reds relievers spend more time than what’s become normal on the mound.
“What Jared did (Tuesday night), that used to be fairly routine,” Riggleman said. “I know it’s not routine any more. I knew it takes him out of his comfort level, but he’s a veteran. Even though he’s not comfortable, he still can pitch. If someone is a little uncomfortable, they say I can’t pitch. I know (Goose) Gossage and some of those guys were a little uncomfortable some days but went out and gave them three innings. I know that it’s the regular season, and we don’t ask guys to do what they did in the postseason, but I do think we can ask a little more. We asked more of Jared (Tuesday night).
“I think we can raise the bar a little bit for what we can get out of guys. This thing about 65 innings for a reliever and that’s enough – you wish that’s all you needed because your starters are going that far. I think we can get a lot more out of them. We don’t want to get anybody hurt, but to me, it looks like they get hurt anyway.”
Rehab updates: Third baseman Eugenio Suarez went 0-for-3 in Triple-A Louisville’s game against Charlotte on Tuesday in the second game of his rehab appearance. Suarez, on the disabled list since April 9 with a right thumb fracture, went 1-for-2 with a double and two walks in on Monday.
Right-hander David Hernandez, sidelined all season with right shoulder inflammation, allowed one hit and had one strikeout while throwing 15 pitches during an inning of work for the Bats in the third appearance of his rehab assignment and his second in less than 24 hours. He gave up two hits and a run with a strikeout while throwing 17 pitches in one inning on Monday.
Quackenbush clears: Right-handed pitcher Kevin Quackenbush, who was designated for assignment when Cincinnati activated right-hander Kevin Schackelford from the disabled list on Tuesday, cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Louisville.
Heading out: The Reds leave after Thursday’s 12:35 game game for the season’s first interleague matchup, a three-game weekend series at Minnesota. Right-hander Homer Bailey will try for his first win of 2018 in his sixth start in Thursday’s series and home stand finale.
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