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Homers, defense doom Cincinnati Reds in 5-4 loss to St. Louis Cardinals

At least the jerseys were cool.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

On a day when the Cincinnati Reds offense largely fell flat and their starting pitcher didn’t exactly have his best outing, that leaves the bullpen as the most likely focus of this here section. Sure enough, the Reds got a very solid outing from rookie Joel Kuhnel, who was making just his second career big league appearance.

It was a good one. A pair of scoreless innings, in fact, in which Kuhnel allowed only a lone walk, nary a hit, hit 97 mph repeatedly on the zap gun, and struck out a St. Louis Cardinal. Not bad, Joel. Not bad at all.

Kuhnel’s bullpen partner Kevin Gausman was even more fantastic, believe it or not. The veteran righty fired a pair of scoreless innings of relief, too, but not only were they perfect, he struck out all 6 batters he faced.

That, folks, will do just fine. Unfortunately, the scoreboard.

Honorable Mentions are due to: Eugenio Suarez, who dingered; Nick Senzel, who singled, walked, and was hit by a pitch; Jose Iglesias, who singled, doubled, and scored twice; and Aristides Aquino, who laid off the junk-funk thrown his way all day and walked twice.

Key Plays

  • Geno got the party started in the Bottom of the 1st, something he has done over and over again this year. He belted a Jack Flaherty meatball some 417 feet over the CF wall, a solo shot to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.
  • Tommy Edman is the peskiest pest that has pested the Reds this year, harkening back to an age when Cardinals like David Eckstein, Skip Schumaker, and Daniel Descalso did so repeatedly. He singled softly into LF in the Top of the 3rd, and that proved to be trouble when Paul Goldschmidt mauled an Alex Wood meatball for a 2-run blast that left the Reds behind, 2-1.
  • Yadier Molina reached 2B on what was otherwise a routine grounder to Suarez at 3B, as the Cincinnati 3B airmailed his throw to 1B on the play. That burned immediately, as Lane Thomas singled into CF to score Molina in the Top of the 4th, and the Reds trailed, 3-1.
  • Edman struck again in the Top of the 5th, hitting a moonball homer that just cleared the LF wall over the 328 foot mark. It, too, was a solo shot. Next up came back to back doubles by Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna - the latter of which sailed over the head of Nick Senzel in CF after he broke in - and the Reds were in a 5-1 hole.
  • The Reds finally touched home plate again in the Bottom of the 7th, and it came against the Cardinals bullpen. Giovanny Gallegos was on the mound, and he allowed back to back singles to Jose Iglesias and Kyle Farmer before ultimately walking Senzel to load the bags. That brought up Josh VanMeter, the lefty, which prompted St. Louis manager Mike Shildt to go to his lefty in Andrew Miller, and David Bell then countered by sending Jose Peraza up in VanMeter’s stead. Then, Peraza did what Peraza so rarely does by taking a walk to force in a run, chase Miller, and bring the slugging Suarez to the plate with the bags still juiced. Alas, John Gant got Suarez to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, and the Reds were still down 5-2.
  • There was a little Reddo rally off closer Carlos Martinez in the Bottom of the 9th, as both Iglesias and Farmer opened the inning with hits, and both later scored after a wild pitch and a 2-run single into RF by Tucker Barnhart. That cut the lead to 5-4, but that was as close as the Reds would get in this, another Sunday afternoon loss.

Tony Graphanino

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • Prior to the start of this one, the Reds announced that Joey Votto had been placed on the 10-day IL, which is the prudent move at this juncture. Today marked the 3rd straight game he’d missed due to his lower back issues, and given that Jesse Winker is still banged up and the club is already operating on a suspension-induced 24-man roster, they simply could not continue to play so shorthanded. IF/OF Brian O’Grady was recalled.
  • Winker, by the way, did not start today, but entered as a pinch-hitter in the Bottom of the 5th.
  • The defense behind Alex Wood certainly did him few favors today, but even then he was still far from sharp. His final line: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R (4 ER), BB, 6 K on 92 pitches. His ERA sits at 5.92.
  • The Reds will welcome the San Diego Padres to town tomorrow, with a 3-game series on the horizon. Monday’s series opener will feature Eric Lauer and Trevor Bauer as the starting pitchers, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
  • Tunes.