That’s 23 zeros, the number of innings the Cincinnati Reds have gone without putting a spike on home plate.
For the second straight game, Thursday night in Progressive Field, the Reds were shut out by the Cleveland Indians, this time by 13-0,
On Wednesday, they were shut out by Mike Clevinger and four relief pitchers, 2-0.
On Thursday, they were blanked by Carlos Carrasco and three relief pitchers.
The last time the Reds scored a run was Tuesday night, three games ago, on a fourth-inning home run by Eugenio Suarez off Shane Bieber, but the Reds lost that one, too.
“No question we have to score runs and play better ... and we will,” said manager David Bell. “It is not easy when things are not going your way. And that’s the time to remain tough and determined and it pays off.”
Asked if a 13-run drubbing serves as a wake-up call, Bell said, “Our team doesn’t need a wake-up call. No one likes to get beat whether it is a one-run game or by any score, they all count the same. We hate it and we have to figure out a way to play better.”
Catcher Tucker Barnhart believes that the entire batting order is pressing as the goose eggs pile up.
“If you are trying to grind out runs and all that stuff, the pressure escalates on everybody, myself included,” he said. “It is human nature. It is something we as players try as hard as we can not to do, but it happens. Just as they say hitting is contagious, the opposite is true.”
The victim of non-support on this night was Reds starter Luis Castillo, who gave up three runs, four hits, four walks and struck out nine in five innings.
When he left after six innings, the Reds trailed by 3-0. Then came the bullpen. Jose De Leon, called up prior to the game, and Cody Reed combined to give up 10 runs in the seventh inning.
Castillo and Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez grew up together in Bani, Dominican Republic and Ramirez got the better of their matchup.
Ramirez hit a one-out, home run 10 rows deep into the right field seats in the first inning. Castillo had two outs and nobody on in the fifth, but walked Cesar Hernandez and Ramirez tripled into the right field corner to make it 2-0. Ramirez scored on Francisco Lindor’s single.
Relief pitcher De Leon replaced Castillo in the sixth and went 1-2-3 with two strikeouts.
It was not pretty in the seventh. It was plug ugly of the lowest denominator.
De Leon issued three walks with the bases loaded and a two-run bloop single to Franmil Reyes, turning a 3-0 deficit into 8-0. He walked the last two batters he faced to force in runs before he was mercifully dismissed from the mound.
The damage was five runs, four walks and four singles.
The bullpen misery continued when Reed took the mound and immediately gave up a three-run double to Cesar Hernandez and it was 11-0 as the Tribe showed no mercy. Ramirez followed the Hernandez with a home run and the fast-mounting scoreboard read 13-0.
To save bullpen arms, position player Matt Davidson pitched the eighth for the Reds. And he did what the regular bullpen inhabitants have rarely done this year. He pitched a scoreless inning, starting it with a strikeout of Oscar Mercado on a 68 mph cureveball. He gave up a harmless two-out single.
Carrasco, diagnosed with leukemia last year, is back and back in a big way.
In six innings, Carrasco gave up one hit, a leadoff double by Jesse Winker in the second. He walked four and struck out eight.
Winker, who had the Reds only hit until a Shogo Akiyama single in the eighth, took a dubious strike three call, low and inside, in the sixth. He exchanged excessive verbiage with plate umpire Jerry Meals. He argued a strike call earlier in the count and Meals gave him no benefit of the doubt on strike three.
The strikeout call ended the inning with runners on third and second, Cincinnati’s only legitimate threat of the night.
Manager David Bell earned an ejection when he filled Meals’ ears with words of protest over the call.
And how much does the Reds offense miss Mike Moustakas, out with an injury? They are 0-and-6 when he is missing and 5-and-2 with him on the field.
More on the negative — Nick Castellanos’ 12-game hitting streak to start the season came to and end when he went 0 for 3 with a walk.
After winning the first game of the four-game series (two in Cincinnati, two in Cleveland), the Reds lost the last three to drop to 5-and-8 on the season.
And the Ohio Cup, given each year to the winner of the season series, remains in Cleveland, where it has resided since 2014.
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