Anthony DeSclafani was making his first start in a Reds uniform since September, 2016. And I’d heard all the pessimism on the radio. It had been so long since AD had pitched. There was the oblique injury. The elbow injury. The oblique again. The Reds have seemed so unlucky with the health of pitchers. When one returned, another one bit the dust. Then another one gone and another one gone.
Given that recent history, whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother, you were right to be worried.
But wait, I thought. There’s no need to feel down. Contrary to conventional wisdom, DeSclafani, not Dan Straily, had been the Reds top pitcher in 2016, even though he’d only managed just 120 innings in 20 starts. And as I remembered that season had followed on the heels of a 31-start, 3-WAR 2015 for DeSclafani, I started to get so excited, I just couldn’t hide it.
Besides, the amateur draft is always cause for optimism. It’s raining men. So despite the Reds recent losing ways, my mood began to improve. Satisfaction came in a chain reaction when I saw odd-man-in Jesse Winker atop the lineup.
I thought, that’s the way. Uh-huh, uh-huh.
Cincinnati Reds 6 (21-40) • Colorado Rockies 9 (31-29)
For his first start back, Anthony DeSclafani was terrific. That’s a fact, ain’t holdin’ nothing back. As Jeff Brantley said, in a situation like that, DeSclafani would be emotional and adrenaline-filled for the first two innings. He was victimized by lousy defense (Winker and Votto) and a 360-foot GABP-special home run. But DeSclafani retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. That one base runner was a bunt by Rockie clean-up hitter Carlos Gonzalez.
After not pitching in an MLB game for a year-and-a-half, DeSclafani got as many swings and misses tonight (10) as Romano has in any start this season and more than Harvey has had in any game (9).
— Matt Wilkes (@_MattWilkes) June 6, 2018
DeSclafani struck out five and walked one on 91 pitches over 5 innings. He averaged 93 mph on his fastball, a bit higher than the 92.5 mph he averaged in 2015. Overall, his performance was encouraging. Get up everybody and sing.
A chunk of the bullpen was burning out of control awful. Austin Brice struggled in his inning of work. He gave up three hits and two walks (one intentional). Wandy Peralta continued his slide since last April. He’d given up three runs by the time he recorded an out. Carlos Gonzalez smacked a 472-foot homer to centerfield.
Dylan Floro pitched a shutout 8th inning. Amir Garrett pitched a shutout 9th with two strikeouts.
Scott Schebler hit another homer, his 8th of the season. It was a 424-foot bomb off lefty starter Kyle Freeland. That’s how I like it and want more, more, more. Singles by Schebler, Jose Peraza, a walk by Jesse Winker and single by Tucker Barnhart produced two more runs in the 7th.
Joey Votto lined a single to left field, but Billy Hatcher sent Winker who was thrown out at home. Brantley complained that Winker is slow. Thom said Winker was “out by 20 feet.” In reality, the throw beat Winker by 5 feet and the play was close enough that replay was inconclusive. For the record, Winker is faster than Suarez, Votto, Barnhart and Gennett, according to StatCast.
The Reds rallied in the 9th and brought the tying run to the plate. New catcher Curt Casali doubled as a pinch hitter. He scored on a ground out by Winker. Singles by Barnhart, Votto, Gennett and Duvall plated two more runs. Schebler struck out to end the threat.
Barnhart and Votto had three hits. Gennett, Duvall, Suarez and Schebler had two hits. Winker had a hit and walk. The Reds outhit the Rockies 17-12.
For the record, there weren’t any plays in CF tonight that Scott Schebler didn’t get to that Billy Hamilton would have caught.
Look, the season hasn’t begun the way any of us wanted. A bunch of the players have been disappointing or inconsistent. One manager fired, an interim guy who deserves to be. A front office struggling to keep it’s act together. But Reds fans have to party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine, with Barry Larkin, Sean Casey, Aaron Boone and Greg Vaughn, when we can. We need emotional rescue every chance we get, even when the moment is small, but positive. If it’s something we can share, we can steal it.
Tonight was one of those. Celebrate, come on.
Disco is back.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce’s 2010 homer and Homer Bailey’s 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.