McCoy: Starters otherworldly, bullpen ghastly as Reds lose to Tigers again

Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen reacts after giving up a two-run home run in the ninth inning against the Tigers on Sunday, July 26, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen reacts after giving up a two-run home run in the ninth inning against the Tigers on Sunday, July 26, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

It was no state secret that the Cincinnati Reds entered this season with a state-of-the art pitching rotation.

But ... wow. After three games, the rotation appears otherworldly.

The bullpen? Ghastly. For the second straight game against the Detroit Tigers, the bullpen was abysmal and the Tigers scored a 3-2 victory Sunday afternoon in Great American Ball Park.

ExplorePhotos from Sunday's game

Sonny Gray was superb. Luis Castillo was fantastic. And there are no words to describe Trevor Bauer, other than to say he was better than Gray and Castillo, which was nearly impossible to do.

—On Opening Day, Gray gave up one run and struck out nine over six innings.

—On Day Two, Castillo gave up one run and struck out 11 over six innings.

—On Day Three, Bauer gave up one run and struck out 13 over 6 1/3 innings.

With 33 strikeouts, the three Reds starters tied a Major League record for most strikeouts during the first three games of a season. And they walked only four and gave up 11 hits in 18 1/3 innings.

And now the sobering news. The Reds are 1-2, losing two of three to start the season against the Tigers, losers of 114 games last season.

History repeated itself in the span of two days. The bullpen destroyed everything the starters spliced together.

ExploreReds dealing with off-field distractions, faulty bullpen

In fairness, Amir Garrett had his second straight solid performance when he replaced Bauer in the seventh with a walk and a strikeout. Pedro Strop followed him with his Reds debut in the eighth with a walk and two strikeouts.

It was 1-1 entering the ninth inning, but Michael Lorenzen walked Miguel Cabrera after he had him 0-and-2, and gave up a two-run home run to C.J. Cron.

On Saturday, Lorenzen gave up a two-run home run in the eighth inning that turned a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 deficit that eventually was a 6-4 defeat.

Asked in a post-game interview about losing a couple of games after the starters were nearly unhittable, Lorenzen said, “Just losing games is tough no matter the situation is. I work as hard as I do to find success on the field.”

Lorenzen hit the speed gun at 101 and 100 miles per hour during his inning, but manager David Bell said Lorenzen doesn’t yet have a good feel.

“After Friday night we were definitely riding high with that big win,” he said. “And then lost a couple of tough games. We still believe the bullpen is a strength for our team they’ll get the job done. Lorernen is still tring to find his feel. The velocity is there and is stuff is there. It is a difficult game when you don’t have your feel.”

Bauer’s reaction to the team losing two of three to the moribund Tigers?

“It sucks,” he said. “We had a real good chance to win all three. We hold ourselves to a high standard and we should have won all three games.”

When Bauer pitched for the Cleveland Indians, he once threw a ball over the center field wall from the mound when manager Terry Francona came to get him.

When Bell came to get him Sunday, he turned toward center field and faked throwing the ball, then smiled and handled the ball to his manager.

“Just having fun, trying to keep the game light and entertaining for the fans,” said Bauer. “I get worn out a lot about it (throwing the ball over the wall) on Twitter, like, ‘Oh, throw the ball over the center field wall like a baby, have another temper tantrum.’ So I figured I’d give the trolls something else to chew on.”

He gave the Tigers a whole bunch of strikeouts to chew on.

After Cron’s home run, the Reds didn’t die easily. They almost pulled it out in the bottom of the ninth against closer Joe Jimenez.

Freddy Galvis doubled and Aristides Aquino doubled to make it 3-2 with no outs. Curt Casali flied to center and Aquino took third, the potential tying run with one out.

Jesse Winker was hit by a pitch, an unfortunate happenstance for the Reds. That put a runner on first base, a potential double-play situation. And that’s what happened. Joey Votto grounded into a 4-6-3 game-ending double play.

Until the ninth inning, the Reds offense took the day off against Detroit starter Sterling Turnbull, who was 3-17 last season with a 4.61 earned run average.

But he held the Reds to one run and three hits over five innings, with four walks and eight strikeouts. Center fielder JaCoby Jones saved him in the when he leaped above the wall to snag Casali’s bid for a two-run home run.

Bauer gave up only two hits, but one was a two-out third inning home run by Niko Goodrum. On Saturday, Castillo struck out the side in the sixth and then was removed after 91 pitches. On Sunday, Bauer struck out the last three batters he faced and was removed after 105 pitches.

The Reds tied it in the fifth on a walk and two bloop singles by Winker and Votto. And they had the bases loaded with two outs when Nick Castellanos struck out on three pitches.

That’s the way it stayed until Cron’s two-run home run in the ninth.

The original lineup included Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel, but both were scratched. Moustakas reportedly woke up, “Not feeling well,” and Senzel’s removal came after he reported also not feeling well when he woke up.