Nobody wants to be a Dream Crusher, but reality is reality.
It was absolutely refreshing for Cincinnati Reds fans to see their team finally win a game, 6-5 in 11 innings Sunday in Pittsburgh over the Pirates.
And there were some positives that came out of the Reds second road victory this year in 12 games.
UPPERMOST WAS THE heart-tugging performance of emergency pitcher Tim Adleman. He made his major league debut Sunday, standing in for Raisel Iglesias, placed on the disabled list with shoulder impingement.
Maybe the Reds should use emergency starters all the time. Robert Stephenson is 2-and-0 in emergency starts and while Adleman did not get Sunday’s victory he pitched one of the best games by a starter this year and should have won, but the bullpen intervened. Again.
He went 6-plus innings and gave up two runs and three hits while walking two and striking out six. He pumped strike after strike after strike through the zone, something not seen often this year by the walk-plagued Reds pitching staff.
ADLEMAN IS A FABULOUS story. After pitching at Georgetown University he was drafted low, the 24th round by the Baltimore Orioles, meaning he was not considered a high prospect. He was drafted in 2010 and released in 2012 and nobody came knocking, nobody called.
What’s a guy to do, especially a guy who didn’t want to give up the game? So he signed up to play independent league ball, pitching for a couple of teams in 2012. After that he took part in an off-season throwing program and his velocity jumped from 88-92 to 93-95. He signed with the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Canadian-American Association.
That’s where the Reds spotted him and decided to give him another change. He advanced through the system in 2014 and 2015 without much attention and with no fanfare. But he was invited to spring training this year as a non-roster invitee.
And he impressed.
ONLY BECAUSE IT WAS his turn to pitch in Class AAA Louisville was he the pitcher called up to take Iglesias’s place and the 28-year-old right hander pitched like a 10-year veteran.
Now the bad stuff. The bullpen. Old news, right?
Adleman led, 3-1, in the seventh inning and when his 92nd pitch was a modest infield hit, manager Bryan Price decided to go to the bullpen.
And there went Adleman’s first major league victory. Tony Cingrani gave up a run-scoring single (3-2) and Caleb Cotham gave up a run-scoring single (3-3).
That’s the way it went the rest of the game. The Pirates scored two in the seventh, one in the eighth and one in the ninth against the bullpen.
The Reds led, 5-4, with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth. Ross Ohlendorf needed one out to nail it down. Instead, John Jason nailed it, a home run into the right field seats that tied it, 5-5.
SCOTT SCHEBLER ENTERED the game in the ninth inning as part of a double switch and his double in the top of the ninth gave the Reds the 5-4 lead that Jaso wiped away. Schebler struck again in the 11th, another run-scoring double that pushed the Reds ahead, 6-5.
Finally, Blake Wood pitched a 1-2-3 11th and he is 3-and-0 out of the bullpen.
The jaded victory, acquired with the help of four Pittsburgh errors and despite at least three Reds base-running blunders, wiped out Cincinnati’s six-game losing streak.
BUT, OH THAT bullpen. What is a manager to do? All Price can do is run them out there and stand in the dugout and chant a few Amens and Our Fathers.
It won’t be easy Monday night when the Reds return home from their 1-and-5 trip to New York and Pittsburgh. They not only face the San Francisco Giants Monday night, they face former teammate Johnny Cueto, who comes to town with a 4-and-1 record and a 2.65 earned run average. Everybody knows his nickname is Johnny Beisbol, but who knew his full name is Johnny Brent Cueto Ortiz. But the Reds will recognize him right away.