McCoy: Sonny Gray leaves game with injury, Reds fall to first-place Brewers

Cincinnati Reds' Sonny Gray wipes his head with a towel after exiting the baseball game during the fourth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Cincinnati, Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
Cincinnati Reds' Sonny Gray wipes his head with a towel after exiting the baseball game during the fourth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Cincinnati, Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Credit: Aaron Doster

Credit: Aaron Doster

Another game, another injury for the Cincinnati Reds. And this one most likely cost the Reds a victory over the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

Starting pitcher Sonny Gray warmed up before the start of the fourth inning, signaled the dugout that something was amiss, and left the game with right groin tightness.

When Gray departed, the Reds owned a 1-0 lead and it left it up to the bullpen.

As has been too often the case, the mostly unarmed bullpen couldn’t handle it. Four different bullpen occupants gave up five runs, enough for the Brewers to capture a 5-1 victory.

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And a pair of intentional walks backfired on manager David Bell that led to three runs.

“I never felt it at all,” said Gray referring to the first three innings. “The first warm-up pitch for the fourth inning I felt a little grab that I’ve never felt before. And my head was, ‘Oh no, that’s not right.’

“Then the second one, I hope it was a one-time little thing that’ll go away. It grabbed again,” he said. “I was in limbo, didn’t know what to do. The third one, I threw pretty aggressively, and it was there and that’s when I was like, ‘Dang.’ I knew what was going to happen.

“I had felt good and was in a good spot,” he said. “I knew I wanted to keep going but this was one of those moments where they always say, ‘Don’t make it worse.’ And that was that.”

Gray is scheduled for an MRI Wednesday morning to determine the severity.

Manager David Bell did not hesitate to extract Gray from the game.

“That was a unanimous decision,” he said. “Any time a pitcher feels something in that area, we want to get him out of there. That was an easy call.”

And a fatal one for the Reds on the night Joey Votto returned from the injured list into the lineup. He was 0 for 2 with two walks.

The Brewers have won 10 of their last 11 while the Reds’ four-game winning streak came to an end.

It was the first night that an unlimited number of fans could occupy Great American Ball Park, but only 11,897 showed up on a drizzly night.

The Reds had more than enough chances, stranding runners in eight of the nine innings. They stranded 10 and were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

“We walked six times, but we weren’t able to string any hits together,” said Bell. “We just couldn’t get anything going.”

Cincinnati scored a run in the second inning on a walk to Tucker Barnhart, a double by Kyle Farmer and a single by Shogo Akiyama.

Gray gave up no runs and two hits and struck out five in three innings before he was forced to leave.

Sean Doolittle replaced Gray and the first batter he faced, Avisail Garcia, drove a home run into the left field lower deck to tie it, 1-1.

The Brewers took the lead, 2-1, in the fifth against Ryan Hendrix. He issued two walks, threw to wild pitches to put Luis Urias on third and he scored while Christian Yelich bounced into a double play.

It became 3-1 in the seventh when Brad Brach walked two. The runners advanced to third and second on a ground ball.

Bell decided to intentionally walk a struggling Yelich, who had struck out twice and hit into a double play. That filled the bases for Garcia, who homered earlier in the game. He bounced an infield single up the middle to score a run.

The Reds threatened in the eighth when Milwaukee’s hard-throwing relief pitcher, Devon Williams, walked two. But he also struck out three, including Kyle Farmer to end the inning.

The Brewers put it away in the top of the ninth against Ashton Goudeau with two more runs when the intentional walk blew up on the Reds.

With two outs and a runner on second, Bell decided to intentionally walk Omar Narvaez to face Travis Shaw. He was 5 for 55 when he stepped into the box and delivered a two-run double to make it 5-1.

Of the five runs, four were put on base via walks, a season-long problem for the bullpen with the highest earned run average in the league at 5.95.

“Walks can be frustrating, and we just continue to look for ways to improve,” said Bell. “We’re still trying to get outs, attacking good hitters, make pitches. The idea is to get ahead and get some easy outs and get some strikeouts. That’s our philosophy and it has led to some walks.”

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