McCoy: Bauer’s one-hit gem preserves doubleheader split for Reds

They can take away Trevor Bauer’s shoes, but they can’t take away his fastball and breaking pitches.

Before Wednesday’s pair of seven-inning doubleheader games against the Kansas City Royals, Bauer posted on social media that he would wear a pair of special-made spikes.

They were white with red writing that said, ‘Free Joe Kelly,’ a message in support of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly, suspended nine games (since reduced to five) for hitting two Houston Astros batters.

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MLB told the Reds that if Bauer wore the shoes he would be removed from the game and possibly fined and suspended.

So, sporting traditional black shoes with red trimming and no message on them, Bauer methodically mowed down the Royals, a 5-0 one-hit complete game in Game Two.

And it was needed. The Reds were shut down on three hits in Game One, 4-0.

The Reds supported Bauer with a barrage of four home runs, including back-to-back blasts in the third inning by Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez.

Bauer gave up nothing more than a two-out single to Adelberto Modesi in the fifth inning.

Making the effort even more remarkable is that it was 11 days between starts for Bauer, who is 3-and-0 and has given up only two runs in four starts, both runs coming on solo home runs.

It is the second time Bauer pitched a shutout this year on the back end of a doubleheader. He threw a two-hit shutout Aug. 2 against the Detroit Tigers.

Wednesday, he needed only four pitches in a 1-2-3 first inning and struck out the side in the third on his way to a three-walk, nine-strikeout game.

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Of his shoes, Bauer said, “MLB told us this year there would be a new policy that we would be allowed to put comments on the cleats, as long as it wasn’t political. Apparently, that’s not the truth.

“They threatened to eject me from the game and suspend me if I wore them,” he said. “I don’t think they have grounds to do that, saying it would be a uniform violation, even though it’s not under the rules this year. I didn’t wear them because I didn’t want to put my teammates into a situation like that.”

Bauer is obviously the polar opposite from what he was with the Reds last year — 2-and-6 with a 6.89 earned run average.

“I was hurt last year,” he said. “I hurt my ankle my fourth start of the year with Cleveland. That healed fine, but while I was hurt I changed my delivery and changed my mechanics. I was messed up, unable to be myself.”

Kansas City started retread and former Reds pitcher Matt Harvey against Bauer and he kept the Reds at bay until two outs and nobody on in the third.

In the first inning, he caught Winker looking at a slider for strike three and as Winker left the box he gave Harvey a thumbs-up, as if to say, “Great pitch.”

With two outs in the third, Nick Castellanos singled and Winker crash-landed his sixth home run into the right field seats. Suarez followed with a home run.

Nick Castellanos made it 4-0 with a leadoff home run in the fifth against relief pitcher Greg Holland.

While Castellanos was hitting the home run, Fox Sports Ohio broadcaster Tom Brennaman was on the air apologizing for a homophobic slur he made about a city on a live microphone prior to the start of Game Two.

He was removed from the broadcast after his apology, replaced by Jim Day, and indicated he might be fired by Fox and that his broadcasting career could be over.

Meanwhile, Bauer kept rolling and Curt Casali joined the home run derby by connecting in the sixth, the Reds fourth home run.

Manager David Bell tried revamping the batting order in Game One and flew in the face of history.

He batted Joey Votto leadoff. The last time he tried that, last May in Oakland, Mike Fiers pitched a no-hitteer against the Reds.

It wasn’t much better Wednesday against Royals right hander Brad Keller.

The Reds didn’t have a hit until Tucker Barnhart singled leading off the sixth.

And Keller came within one out of a complete-game (seven-inning) shutout. But Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama poked back-to-back two-out singles in the final inning, forcing Royals manager Mike Matheny to go to his bullpen and bring in closer Trevor Rosenthal.

It took Rosenthal four pitches to strike out Josh VanMeter to end it and preserve Keller’s 0.00 earned run average.

Keller, 3-and-0, hasn’t given up a run in his three starts, two against the Reds.

Besides the three singles, the only other runner to reach base for the Reds was Winker, who walked all three times he batted, Keller’s only walks.

Votto at leadoff? He struck out twice, hit into a double play and made a costly error at first base in the first inning.

While Keller was untouchable, Reds starter Luis Castillo couldn’t touch the strike zone with his fastball.

He needed 35 pitches to navigate the first inning, giving up three runs and two hits, an inning that began when Votto dropped a throw from shortstop Freddy Galvis for an error on leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield.

Castillo went to 3-and-2 on three straight hitters. One of them, Jorge Soler, ripped a run-scoring double to left. Ryan O’Hearn dumped a two-run single to shallow center and it was 3-0.

That’s all Keller needed, although the Royals added a fourth run in the fourth on some shoddy glovework.

Mondesi singled off the glove of diving Votto at first, ruled a hit. He scored when second baseman VanMeter never saw a ground ball hit by Merrifield that went right through VanMeter. It, too, was scored a hit.

Castillo, 0-and-3 with a 4.44 earned run average, lasted only 3 1/3 innings and give up four runs (three earned), five hits, walked two and struck out five during a 77-pitch day, only 44 for strikes.

TeJay Antone replaced Castillo and pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings on two hits, a walk and five strikeouts.

The doubleheader came after the Reds were off four days after a player tested positive for COVID-19,

The Reds moved on to St. Louis to begin a four-game series Thursday night. Three Reds players were told they couldn’t fly on the charter with the team and would be taken by other transportation means to St. Louis because theu needed further testing. They were permitted to play in the doubleheader and, as of now, will play in St. Louis.