by Steve Mancuso

One pitch

The Reds played tonight’s game with nine pitchers in the bullpen. Seven of them didn’t pitch yesterday. The six best relievers aside from Tejay Antone were available. With the Reds trailing 3-1 in the top of the fourth inning, starter Anthony DeSclafani faced Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong with bases loaded and two outs. 

DeSclafani was making his first start in 10 days. He’d missed time due to the birth of his son. Prior to his previous start, he’d had a wait of eight days. So it’s understandable he’s having a difficult time getting into a rhythm. In another one of his starts, DeSclafani was tipping his pitches and the weak-hitting Pirates scored nine runs in two innings. Tonight, as DeJong walked up to the plate, DeSclafani had walked four batters and given up six hits in 3.2 innings. 

Paul DeJong had missed 25 days earlier this year after testing positive for COVID. DeJong is an excellent defensive shortstop, having been a finalist for the NL Gold Glove last year. But he’d also belted 30 homers in a breakout 2019. That makes Paul DeJong one of the best all-around players in the game. He’s known for hitting fastballs. 

The Reds were managed tonight by bench coach Freddie Benavides. Manager David Bell was serving a one-game suspension for the actions of his club Saturday night and excessive arguing. Benavides, in consultation one presumes with pitching coach Derek Johnson, chose to let DeSclafani face DeJong, despite those six ready relievers. 

DeSclafani got ahead of DeJong 1-2. Then threw a fastball and knuckle curve nowhere near the strike zone. 

Before he became a Reds broadcaster, Jeff Brantley had a major league career that spanned 14 seasons. He knows enough about catcher signs that even when there’s an opposing runner on second and Tucker Barnhart was using a code, Brantley knew what pitch the Reds catcher was asking for. 

“DeSclafani won’t throw his slider. He’s shaken off Barnhart twice.”

Usually, this kind of commentary comes after the fact, with perfect hindsight. 

In this case, Brantley’s foreshadowing was enough warning to pay close attention to where Barnhart set up for DeSclafani’s fateful pitch. Way inside. Barnhart wanted the fastball to DeJong, the pitch Anthony DeSclafani insisted on throwing, inside. 

Instead, in play. 

DeJong hit DeSclafani’s 94.4 mph fastball 409 feet into the humid Cincinnati night. The game was over.

The Reds might have lost despite the fateful pitch. The Cardinals were fielding tough ground balls and the Reds weren’t. The Cardinals were stealing bases when the pitcher let them. The Cardinals were driving in runs when the situation presented. They drew walks. Yes, the Cardinals did the one big thing. But they also did the little ones. The Reds are now 1-4 against St. Louis. The Cardinals are 9-12 against everyone else. 

Michael Lorenzen threw 57 pitches in relief of DeSclafani, 36 for strikes. Over 4 innings, Lorenzen scattered three harmless base runners. He surrendered homers in his first three appearances in 2020, but hasn’t in his last 9, spanning the entire month of August. 

Joey Votto had two hits. Jesse Winker had a double and single. Eugnio Suarez had a single and three-run homer (396 feet) in the 9th inning. Aristides Aquino, starting in his first game in 2020, was 0-4 with three Ks. 

Hardest-Hit Balls
  • Aristides Aquino 110.8 mph| ground out
  • Jesse Winker 110.3 mph | double
  • Jesse Winker 101.7 mph | ground out
  • Eugenio Suarez 101.3 mph | home run
Highest Velocities by Pitcher
  • Nate Jones 97.7 mph
  • Michael Lorenzen 97.6 mph
  • Anthony DeSclafani  97.0 mph
Unluckiest Reds Batted Ball
  • Jesse Winker 101.7 mph ground out, 61% hit probability
Luckiest Opponent Hit
  • Dexter Fowler single, 21% hit probability
What’s Next?

The Reds and Cardinals are at it again tomorrow night at 6:40 pm. After playing 12 seasons in the Korean baseball league, Kwang Hyun Kim is now starting for the Cardinals. Kim shut the Reds out over 6 innings a little more than a week ago. Sonny Gray goes for the Reds Here are the pitchers’ stats: 

Steve Mancuso is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up during the Big Red Machine era. He’s been writing about the Reds for more than ten years. Steve’s fondest memories about the Reds include attending a couple 1975 World Series games, being at Homer Bailey’s second no-hitter and going nuts for Jay Bruce at Clinchmas. Steve was also at all three games of the 2012 NLDS, but it’s too soon to talk about that.

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Thomas Green
Thomas Green
5 months ago

Wow. Great info. Wrong pitch, terrible location. Against one of the better hitters in the lineup. With the bases loaded, and after having allowed more than half of the hitters so far in the evening to reach base, and with a ton of fresh arms available, he was left in the game. Recipe for disaster, also known as losing.