After displaying championship-caliber play against two top-tier teams, the Cincinnati Reds went to St. Louis and retreated into a closet and locked the door.
The Reds swept Tampa Bay and took two of three from the New York Yankees, but on Friday and Saturday against the Cardinals they more resembled the team that began the season 3-and-22.
They lost to the Cardinals Friday, 7-3, and lost Saturday, 11-3, with ugly pitching a major contributor.
On Saturday it was rookie left-hander Nick Lodolo who put on the sad theatrical mask — two innings, five runs, five hits, three walks, five strikeouts, three hit batsmen and a home run.
Lodolo threw 67 pitches to get six outs and nearly half (33) were out of the strike zone.
The 101-degree day in Busch Stadium started on the right foot for the Reds when Jonathan India led off the game with a home run off St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas.
On Friday, the Reds scored two in the first, only to watch the Cardinals match those two runs in the bottom of the first.
On Saturday, the Reds scored one in the first and once again the Cardinals scored two in the bottom of the first.
Tommy Edman opened with a single and Lodolo retired the next two. Then he went totally out of control.
He walked three straight, the last two on four pitches. That forced in the tying run, and he then hit Edmundo Sosa with a pitch to force in a second run. Sosa was hitting .183 at the time, .106 against left handers.
It got worse in the second inning. Edman singled with one out, but Lodolo got the second out, one out from escaping trouble.
Up stepped Paul Goldschmidt, homerless in 17 games. He ended that by lining one just over the left-field wall, his 300th career homer and a 4-1 St. Louis lead.
It didn’t stop there. Albert Pujols singled and Lodolo hit two batters in a row, Tyler O’Neill and Brendan Donovan, to fill the bases. Sosa scratched an infield single that died behind the mound that scored a run to make it 5-1.
Jeff Hoffman took over in the third and issued a one-out walk that turned into a sixth St. Louis run when Dylan Carlson triple into the right-field corner. And it became 7-1 when Pujols blooped a 120-foot hand grenade into short right field.
A seemingly disinterested Alex Diaz was asked to pitch the seventh and walked the first batter he faced. A throwing error by first baseman Joey Votto loaded the bases and a run scored on shortstop Matt Reynolds’ late throw home on Dylan Carlson’s ground ball.
For the two games, Cincinnati pitchers walked 14 and hit three batters.
Manager David Bell immediately relieved Diaz of his duties and brought in Buck Farmer with the bases loaded and no outs.
He struck out Goldschmidt, Pujols popped to left and O’Neill grounded to third.
Meanwhile, while Cincinnati pitchers were walking or hitting every other St. Louis batter, Cardinals starter Mikolas beat the heat and the Reds — seven innings, one run, three hits, one walk, four strikeouts, 95 pitches.
The Reds took advantage of relief pitcher T.J. McFarland in the eighth when he walked two and Stuart Fairchild reached on error, filling the bases with one out.
With a seven-run lead, manager Oliver Marmol was forced to make a change and brought Johan Oviedo into the furnace heat — the situation and the temperature.
Drury singled for a run and a second run scored on a wild pitch/strikeout of Reynolds.
Those two runs were countered by three for the Cardinals against Hunter Strickland — single, single, three-run homer by Lars Nootbaar to make it 11-3.
About the Author