The terms, “Home, sweet home,” and “Home is where the heart is,” have no fond meaning these days for the Cincinnati Reds.
When the Reds say, “This is our house,” the opposition says, “So what?”
For the 10th straight time, the Reds lost in their home venue, Great American Ball Park.
A 4-1 setback to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday gave the Reds their most consecutive home losses since the 1986 team lost 11 straight in Riverfront Stadium.
And it was a bad pitching match-up. Tyler Mahle started for the Reds and is now 0-and-5 this season at GABP.
The Braves sent rookie Spencer Strider to the mound, Atlanta’s version of Hunter Greene with a plus-100 mph fastball and a knee-buckling slider.
Strider began last season in low-A and advanced to High-A, Double-A, Triple-A and the majors in one year. And he demonstrated why against the Reds.
He held them hitless for 4 2/3 innings and for his six innings he strangled them on one run, one hit, one walk, one hit batsman and 11 strikeouts.
Mahle pitched bravely against the high-octane Braves. Through five innings, the Braves put 10 runners on base, but only two scored.
But he needed 110 pitches to cover those five innings, mainly because of his penchant for getting ahead of hitters, then going to 3-and-2. He went to full counts on eight hitters.
The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Austin Riley’s 20th home run.
It became 2-0 in the fourth, an inning that began with Mahle walking Riley on a 3-and-2 pitch. William Contreras doubled off third baseman Brandon Drury’s glove to put two on.
Mahle walked two straight, the second one on a full count to Michael Harris II that forced in a run.
While Mahle wiggled and wobbled for five innings, Strider breezed through four no-hit innings and the only Reds base runner was a one-out walk to Kyle Farmer in the second.
It became dramatic in the fifth when Farmer became the Reds’ second base runner — the hard way. Strider hit by Farmer on top of his left hand with a 100 mph fastball leading off the inning.
It certainly wasn’t intentional, but Reds manager David Bell charged home plate umpire Tripp Gibson and was quickly ejected. It took bench coach Freddie Benavides several minutes to wrestle Bell off the field.
Reynolds replaced Farmer on first base, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Cincinnati’s first hit, a bloop single to center by Nick Senzel.
The score was Atlanta 2, Cincinnati 1 when Mahle left after five and Art Warren pitched a 1-2-3 sixth.
Then … more bullpen bewilderment.
With one out in the seventh, Warren walked Ronald Acuna Jr. He zipped to third on Dansby Swanson’s hit-and-run single to center.
Reiver Sanmartin replaced Warren and Acuna scored on a ground ball and Swanson scored on Riley’s double to make it 4-1.
In contrast to the Reds’ bullpen, the Atlanta bullpen pitched three hitless innings — A. J. Minter (1-2-3 seventh, one strikeout), Jesse Chavez (one walk, two strikeouts in the eighth) and Will Smith (two walk, hit batsman in the ninth.)
The Reds did threaten in the ninth — more of a threat created by Smith. He walked both Tommy Pham with Joey Votto with one out. He went to 2-and-0 on Reynolds, but he flied to right for the second out.
He hit pinch-hitter Donovan Solano on the foot on an 0-and-2 count to fill the bases. But Albert Almora Jr, swung at the first pitch and flied to the warning track in left to end it.
The Reds struck out 16 times, more than half of their 27 outs — Brandon Drury three times (0 for 11), and two each by Jonathan India, Pham, Votto, Mike Moustakas and