Center fielder Billy Hamilton did his best Willie Mays impression Tuesday, but it wasn’t enough to save the Cincinnati Reds, who played another game to forget in a season filled with them.
Hamilton planted one foot on the wall, just to the side of the 404-foot marker, and leaped into the air to make a basket catch, robbing the San Diego Padres’ Carlos Asuaje of extra bases in the third inning.
Hamilton made another diving catch in the fifth. Adam Duvall made a sliding catch as well. The Reds still lost 7-3 in the second second game of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.
“It’s a special outfield,” Reds manager Bryan Price said, “in particular those two guys who came up so big tonight.”
Hamilton’s catch might have been his best, though he’s made so many, it would take a long time to judge the top entries.
“That’s what me and Tucker (Barnhart) were talking about,” Hamilton said. “He said, ‘Man, I’ve seen you make a lot of plays, but I think that’s one of the best ones.’”
Hamilton crashed into the wall after the catch and then held the ball up in the air when he hit the ground. He got up with a smile.
“It would be a different story if I had missed it,” Hamilton said. “If I had missed it, I would probably be laying down there hurting. When you catch it, that feeling goes away. No, it was one of those plays you don’t expect to make every night. I actually thought it was gone at first. That’s why I had to react to it and come back to the left side.”
The Reds couldn’t overcome the struggles of starter Sal Romano (2-4), who allowed five earned runs on nine hits in six innings. His ERA jumped from 4.88 to 5.35.
The ERA for Reds starters stood at 6.01 before the game. It now stands at 6.02. That ranks last in baseball by a wide margin. Baltimore Orioles starters have a 5.57 ERA.
Reds starters have never finished the season with an ERA over 6.00, at least since 1913, which is as far back as BaseballReference.com’s database goes. Only 11 teams since 1913 have seen their starting pitchers post an ERA of 6.00 or above for a season.
The Reds (46-67) fell to 2-3 on the seven-game homestand. They’re 1-4 against the Padres this season. The Reds haven’t won a season series against San Diego since 2012. Since then, they are 10-19.
The Reds drew a crowd of 13,683. It’s the eighth time this season they have had a crowd smaller than 15,000. They’re averaging 24,012. That ranks 26th out of 30 teams.