McCoy: Reds begin crucial stretch with loss to Tigers

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

For the Cincinnati Reds, now is the time, now is the hour.

Are they going to be condenders, pretenders or offenders?

July is a ‘Make-a-Wish’ month. If they wished the schedule to get easier, they got their wish.

Starting with this three-game series vs. Detroit, the Reds have 13 straight games against teams with losing records. Then after three with Atlanta, they finish July with six more games against losing teams.

That’s 19 of 22 games against losing teams and if they are going to make a move, the rest of this month has Mr. Opportunity rapping loudly on the door.

The road map: Detroit (3), Colorado (4), Miami (3), Washington (3), Atlanta (3), Tampa Bay (3), Chicago Cubs (3).

And they started with a fractured wrong foot Friday night in Great American Ball Park against the Tigers, a team nine games under .500, 16 games out of first place in the American League Central and losers in six of their previous eight.

The Tigers took a liking to the small dimensions of Great American Ball Park and peppered the right field bleachers with four homers in a 5-4 win over the Reds.

Adding to the misery of the evening, the Pittsburgh Pirates throttled the New York Mets, 14-2, and leap frogged the Reds. Pittsburgh took third and the Reds dropped back into fourth in the National League Central.

Cincinnati starter Carson Spiers had given up one home run in 37 1/3 innings when the game began, but the Tigers extracted three against him in 5 2/3 innings.

Two came off the bat of 22-year-old rookie second baseman Colt Keith. One came from No. 8 hitter and rookie Parker Meadows, hitting .096.

The fourth homer was hit by Riley Greene, the first batter Brent Suter faced in the seventh inning as all five Detroit runs came on homers.

It put a damper on the three-game sweep of the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium, but there was a bad sign. During the three victories, the Reds managed only 17 hits, using seven homers to grasp the wins.

And the trend continued Friday. They had only one hit in the first five innings, a solo home run by Spencer Steer. And they had only three through eight innings, Steer’s homer and a pair of infield hits.

Detroit starter Reese Olson began the game with a 2-8 record and the Tigers had lost 13 of his 16 starts.

But there is a story behind that. His earned run average was 3.32 and he owned the fourth-lowest run support of all MLB pitchers, only 2 1/2 runs a game.

He displayed his talent by retiring the first 10 he faced before walking Elly De La Cruz with one out in the second. He was erased on an inning-ending double play.

So Steer’s leadoff home run in the fifth was Cincinnati’s first hit.

The Reds nearly rescued the game in a wild ninth inning against Detroit closer Jason Foley.

They were down, 5-2, when the inning began and scored two and left two on when Santiago Espinal grounded out to second to end it.

The inning began with De La Cruz beating an infield single to second. Even though the Reds were three runs down, he stole second, his 42nd theft.

Foley, realizing the Elly Element was in play, balked De La Cruz to third. After Jeimer Candelario struck out, Steer lined a double off third baseman Matt Vierling’s glove, scoring De La Cruz.

Nick Martini made use of a defender’s glove, too, lining one off first baseman Gio Urshela’s glove into the right-field corner, a triple that scored Steer.

It was 5-4 with one out and the tying run on third base, pinch-runner Blake Dunn. Tyler Stephenson hit one hard to third baseman Vierling.

Dunn ran on contact and slid head first, stretching out his mitten-covered left hand in a close, close play. Umpire C.B. Bucknor called him out. Replay/Review confirmed the out call.

The Reds weren’t done. Noelvi Marte singled to center, putting runners on second and first. Espinal grounded out and the Reds were done.

Detroit’s left-handed hitters took aim at the right field bleachers and deposted four souvenirs there.

—Meadows picked on a 3-and-2 93 mph fastball and drove it 410 feet.

—Keith picked on a 1-and-0 87 mph change-up and drove it 413 feet.

—Keith picked on a 0-and-1 80 mph sweeper and drove it 415 feet.

—Greene picked on a 2-and-2 79 mph slider and drove it 401 feet.

Though it got him no extra points, Steer’s home run was the night’s longest — a 425-footer on a 1-and-1 slider.

The Tigers nearly had another home, one that would have been the first one. In the second inning, Urshe crushed one to straightaway center. But that’s Stuart Fairchild’s No-Fly Zone and, as he does time and time and time, he went above the wall to bring it back.

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