One would think that if a team scores four runs in the first inning against Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, that team would win.
One would be wrong.
One would think that if the game came down to a battle between bullpens, the worst (Washington) versus one of he best (Cincinnati Res), the best bullpen would win.
One would be wrong.
THAT’S THE WAY IT went Friday night when the Cincinnati Reds lost yet again, this time by 6-5 in 10 innings to Dusty Baker’s Washington Nationals.
The game ended when Bryce Harper, facing Raisel Iglesias with two outs, two on and a 3-and-2 count, drilled the ball off the right field wall to end it abruptly.
But a whole lot happened leading up to that moment.
STRASBURG, ONE OF BASEBALL’S best, brought an 8-and-2 record into the game but the Reds scored four runs on five hits in the top of the first.
And they added a fifth run in the third inning to give rookie Luis Castillo a 5-1 lead.
Castillo, called up from Double-A Pensacola, survived five walks in five innings, including walking the bases loaded in one inning. He gave up two runs and five hits as the 11th different pitcher to start a game for the Reds this season and the sixth rookie.
He turned a 5-2 lead over to the bullpen. But a tiring bullpen couldn’t preserve a win for him.
MICHAEL LORENZEN GAVE UP two runs, Wandy Peralta gave up the tying run and Iglesias, after retiring the first two batters in the 10th on strikeouts, gave up three straight hits to lose it.
And that worst bullpen?
Well, four members of the Nationals bullpen gave up no runs and one hit over the last five innings to assure the Reds would lose for the 12th time in their last 13 games.
Remember last year when members of the Reds bullpen had a penchant for giving up home runs to the first batter they faced?
BOTH LORENEN AND PERALTA gave up home runs to the first batter they faced. And Lorenzen gave up a home run in Tampa Bay to the first batter he faced in his previous appearance.
Lorenzen replaced Castillo in the sixth and the first batter he faced, Daniel Murphy, homered down the right field line to cut the lead to 5-3. Lorenzen then walked the next hitter, Anthony Rendon, on a full count and the third hitter, Matt Wieters, singled.
After a sacrifice bunt, pinch-hitter Stephen Drew hit a sacrifice fly to the left field wall and it was 5-4.
Peralta came on to pitch the eighth and the first batter, Brian Goodwin hit his second home run of the game — two of the four the Nationals hit — and it was 5-5.
IGLESIAS RENDERED BOTH Ryan Raburn and pinch-hitter Michael Taylor helpless to start the 10th, striking out both.
Trea Turner dropped a single into shallow right field and took third on Goodwin’s single to right.
When Harper came to the plate the Nationals were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Harper remedied that as the Nationals came from behind to win for the 19th time this season.
BILLY HAMILTON, 0 for 18, STRUCK out to start the game. Then the Reds performer a merry-go-round against Strasburg.
Scooter Gennett clobbered his 10th home run. Joey Votto singled and Adam Duvall doubled. Eugenio Suarez walked to load the bases. Scott Schebler hit a sacrifice fly, Devin Mesoraco singled for a third run and Jose Peraza singled to make it 4-0.
Goodwin hit his first home run of the game in the bottom of the first against one of Castillo’s searing fastballs. His fastball was between 97 and 100 for all five innings.
MESOACO, WHO WAS ON base four straight times with two singles and two hit by pitches, singled in a run in the third for a 5-1 Reds lead and the offense was finished.
“Our inability to put some add-on runs on the board really hurt,” manager Bryan Price told writers after the game. “That’s one that was just sitting there for us to win. We weren’t able to get it done.”
Anthony Rendon homered in the fourth, a 454-foot rip, to start the Nationals comeback and the Reds have given up home runs in 16 straight games, one game shy of the club record.
Homer Bailey makes his 2017 debut Saturday afternoon after undergoing elbow surgery in February. He posted a 1.08 earned run average in three minor-league rehab starts.