McCoy: Weaver, Diamondbacks handcuff Reds

Cincinnati Reds' Eugenio Suarez flips his bat in the air after striking out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning of a baseball game Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Phoenix.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Cincinnati Reds' Eugenio Suarez flips his bat in the air after striking out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning of a baseball game Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Credit: Ross D. Franklin

Credit: Ross D. Franklin

Arizona right-hander takes no-hitter into seventh in 7-0 win

The computer printouts indicated that the hit-happy Cincinnati Reds would have live batting practice during Sunday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Why? They were facing Luke Weaver, a pitcher who was 1-and-9 last season, most losses in the majors. And he gave up eight home runs in 14 1/3 spring training innings. And he gave up three home runs in his first start this season.

The computer was majorly discombobulated on this one.

Weaver? More like Seaver.

Weaver retired the first 17 Reds and didn’t give up a hit until there was one out in the seventh inning, a broken-bat seeing-eye ground ball up the middle.

His perfect game ended with two outs in the seventh when he hit Tyler Stephenson with a pitch. He walked Joey Votto on four pitches with one out in the seventh and then came Suarez’s single to break up the no-hitter.

Those were the only three baserunners in the seven innings Weaver worked.

While Weaver was mesmerizing Cincinnati hitters, Arizona hitters staged a festive hitting picnic in Chase Field en route to a 7-0 victory.

It was Cincinnati’s second straight loss and they dropped two of three to the Diamondbacks, the first series they lost after winning seven straight dating back to last September.

There was a symbolic home run hit off Reds starter Jose De Leon in the third inning, a three-run rip by David Peralta that belly-whomped into the right center swimming pool. It was splashdown time for the Reds.

Peralta’s home run turned a 1-0 lead into 4-0. In addition, Eduardo Escobar homered for the fourth straight game, three straight against the Reds, a long drive that was last seen headed for the Grand Canyon.

On Peralta’s home run, De Leon said, “I was trying to go up-and-in. I left it right there. He has been one of their best hitters for a long time. He made me pay for my mistake.”

Another mistake, perhaps a bigger one, came in the fifth inning after he worked diligently to get out of a bases-loaded situation. The D-Backs didn’t score when De Leon struck out Christian Walker.

But he gave up the two-run home run to Escobar in the fifth, pushing the score from a workable 4-0 deficit to an unlikely comeback score of 6-0.

“That was a change-up and I think he was sitting on it,” said De Leon. “He saw it way too good out of my hand. It’s disappointing when you get out of a jam. The next inning, you hope you can get through a 1-2-3 inning to get your offense going. But I couldn’t do that.”

Another painful point was what second baseman Josh Van Meter did. Van Meter was traded by the Reds before last season for pitcher Archie Bradley. Bradley is gone, but Van Meter is still with the D-Backs and he was on base five straight times with a single, double and three walks. He scored a run and drove in a run.

While he gave six runs, eight hits, three walks and two home runs in 4 1/3 innings, De Leon struck out nine, tying a career high, doing it mostly with an ever-improving slider.

“The slider had good bite today,” he said. “I should have gone more to it, I think. But it was my first time that I really had it going so I didn’t know exactly how to use it was going as well as it was today.

“It’s learning every time out,” he added. “When it goes good, you learn. When it goes bad you have to learn more. Out of adversity I take this as a learning opportunity.”

The story, though, was Weaver. He and his catcher, Carson Kelly, came to Arizona together from the St. Louis Cardinals in a trade for Paul Goldschmidt.

The roomed together in the minor leagues in the Cardinals system and they worked together like Olympic ice dancing partners and they certainly iced the Reds.

“I played against Luke and Carlson when they played together in the Cardinals minor leagues,” said Kyle Farmer, who played second base for the Reds on Sunday. “They came up together and they are a great battery. Carson knows what Weaver does well. They’ve been together a long time so they know when to call pitches and what-not.

“Weaver was spotting up his fastball pretty good,” Farmer added. “I was talking to Jonathan India in the dugout and he said, ‘If you can spot your fastball in and out and throw strikes, it is pretty tough to get a hit. And he has a real good change-up.”

After a 6-1 start that included a six-game winning streak, the Reds lost two straight to the D-Backs and were outscored 15-3. They open a three-game series Monday night in San Francisco and will face former Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto on Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ve all been through this so many times and we have a long way to go,” said Reds manager David Bell. “We like where we are, we like our team, we love our team. That’s just the way it is and that’s the great thing about the game.”

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