CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds wore camouflage jerseys Saturday against the Colorado Rockies, perhaps hoping nobody would see them losing their eighth straight game.
It turned out that it certainly wasn’t the reason. They weren’t hiding anything because after falling behind by five runs in the fifth inning they tore into the Colorado pitching staff like the U.S. Marine Corps and now have a one-game winning streak.
After giving up six runs in the fifth inning, the Reds scored six of their own in the sixth inning, three on a go-ahead three-run home run by Scott Schebler and piled on for a 12-8 victory.
AND DESPITE ALL THE OFFENSIVE weaponry hauled out on this day, perhaps the best individual performance came from the least expected source.
A pitcher. And it was a pitcher called up from Class AAA Louisville as a desperate measure by the Reds because the bullpen was overtaxed and weary.
So they reached down to Louisville to find what they could and selected non-roster right hander Asher Wojciechowski.
Wojciechowski (pronounced wo/juh/HOW/ski) was a starter at Louisville, but was about the only pitcher not used by the Bats Friday night during an 18-inning game. He had thrown a bullpen session in preparation for his next start before the game and wasn’t unavailable.
So the promotion to Cincinnati fell to him by default and the 29-year-old No. 1 draft choice of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010 took full advantage of it.
WHEN STARTER TIM ADLEMLAN AND relief pitcher Drew Storen couldn’t quiet the Rockies, Wojciechowski was shoved into duty and he did it well. The guy they call ‘Wojo’ started the sixth and retired 11 of the 12 Rockies he faced after they hadf scored eight runs on 10 hits in the first five innings.
And it was fitting he wore camouflage because he attended military school, The Citadel, before he was drafted and as pitching coach Mack Jenkins said of the guys’s cool and calm, “The stuff of an Army kid.”
It was 12 up and eleven down, just one single given up. When he had two outs in the ninth, manager Bryan Price replaced him with Raisel Iglesias.
“What a lift for this ballclub,” said Price, whose bullpen is ravaged. “Asher was sensational. He threw strikes and attacked, a real nice recipe for success. He threw 3 2/3 essential innings. He couldn’t have come up bigger. It was beyond impressive, in my opinion.”
WHEN THE ROCKIES LED, 8-3, Eugenio Suarez homered in the fifth to make it 8-4 and then Devin Mesoraco started the six-run sixth with a home run that was finished off by Schebler’s three-run homer.
Mesoraco was mesmorized by Wojo’s performance.
“I’d never seen the guy, never met him,” he said. “I met him in the training room just before the game. That was awesome. That was incredible. He came in pumping strikes and wasn’t afraid at all. He has been around a while but he knows now there are only so many opportunities he can get and he really took advantage today. He located everything and didn’t make any mistakes at all. He was not afraid.”
IT HAS BEEN QUITE THE CLIMB, TOO, for the Beufort, S.C. native who was looking for work, out of a job, in late April when the Reds contacted him.
While he has been in the Blue Jays, Astros and Marlins minor league systems, he appeared briefly in the majors for Houston in 2015 – five appearances, three starts, 0-and-1, 7.16 earned run average on 13 runs in 16 1/3 innings.
He was signed in December by the Arizona Diamondbacks and was in their camp this spring.
“I got released by the Diamondbacks at the end of spring training and I went home for three weeks,” he said. “I continued to throw to the guys at The Citadel — home for three weeks without a job and wondering what was going to happen.”
ON APRIL 21 THE REDS called and offered him an opportunity to start games at Louisville and Wojo said, “I was just happy to be in Triple-A. And now this.”
Yes, and now this.
“That was great, it couldn’t have worked out better,” said Wojo. “To be sitting at home about a month ago, pretty much to this day, without a job and then for a day like this to happen is pretty remarkable. I’m on cloud nine, I feel so good.
“I just threw strikes,” he said. “Once I threw that first pitch for a strike I calmed down and realized it was the same game of baseball I’ve been playing for a long time.”
Thus it was basically a pitcher rescued off the trash heap to come out of nowhere and put the stop to an eight-game losing streak.
“So many sensational things happened for us today and talk about re-invigorating a ballclub,” said Price. “Those home runs by Suarez and Mesoraco and that inning and the three-run homer by Scheblere really brought our groupp back to life, especially after being down so much.”