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DeSclafani settles in for 5 innings in return

Right-hander encouraged by strong finish to outing in loss to Rockies
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- If Anthony DeSclafani's comeback start for the Reds on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park began like how it ended, it would have been a night worthy of celebration. But while there was no satisfaction gained from the a 9-6 loss to the Rockies, there was reason for optimism for someone who hadn't pitched in the big leagues since Sept. 28, 2016.

After a two-run home run in the second inning by Chris Iannetta gave Colorado a 4-0 lead, DeSclafani retired 11 of the last 12 he faced.

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CINCINNATI -- If Anthony DeSclafani's comeback start for the Reds on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park began like how it ended, it would have been a night worthy of celebration. But while there was no satisfaction gained from the a 9-6 loss to the Rockies, there was reason for optimism for someone who hadn't pitched in the big leagues since Sept. 28, 2016.

After a two-run home run in the second inning by Chris Iannetta gave Colorado a 4-0 lead, DeSclafani retired 11 of the last 12 he faced.

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"I was excited to be out there," DeSclafani said. "I'm glad was able to compete. But at the same time, I'm out there competing. It's not Spring Training. It's not rehab starts. These games count. To go down, 4-0, after two innings, it's not acceptable."

DeSclafani allowed four earned runs on six hits over five innings with one walk and five strikeouts while throwing 91 pitches. He was slated to be the Reds' Opening Day starter each of the past two seasons, only to be derailed by spring injuries. In 2017, a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow wiped out the entire season, then a left oblique strain put him on the 60-day disabled list this year, the same injury that limited DeSclafani to 20 starts in '16. That was still a breakout season, as he posted a 3.28 ERA.

"It feels great to be out there again and competing with the guys," DeSclafani said. "Obviously, I wish things would have gone differently today. I know back in '16 I kind of came back and I was solid from the get-go. I would like to do that now. Tough one today."

Video: COL@CIN: DeSclafani strikes out Blackmon in the 5th

The game started ominously for DeSclafani. DJ LeMahieu led off with a single and Charlie Blackmon followed with an 0-2 triple down the right-field line, which Jesse Winker bobbled in the ball in the corner. Nolan Arenado then walked, and in a bizarre play, Carlos Gonzalez grounded to first base, where Joey Votto feigned a throw home but crossed paths with DeSclafani covering the bag and couldn't get the out as Blackmon scored.

Trouble resumed in the second, when Ian Desmond led off with a single and Iannetta hit an 0-2 fastball the opposite way for his fifth homer.

"[DeSclafani] has good stuff. He's got a good arm," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's got a good live fastball. He's got a good breaking ball. I like the delivery. We took advantage of some mistakes tonight."

The Rockies did little against DeSclafani after that, however, as the mistakes were eliminated. His only blemish the rest of the night was a bunt single by Gerardo Parra, who was then caught stealing.

"Maybe a little rust on him," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "Then I thought he really settled down. The ball was coming out of his hand good. I was very pleased with the results after the first couple of innings. … He looked like his old self."

DeSclafani credited catcher Tucker Barnhart for noticing a mechanical adjustment was needed.

"Tucker made a little suggestion to stay closed longer," DeSclafani said. "That made a better line toward the plate. I was getting later movement on my slider, two-seamer. Maybe a little extra life. I was missing some barrels as opposed to being rotational.

"Three zeros are great. The fact that I can make adjustments and get results is definitely encouraging. That's what you've got to do at the big league level -- make adjustments from inning to inning. The fact that I'm healthy and can make those adjustments is encouraging. But I've got to put together better from the beginning."

The Reds would like to think this was the first of many decent starts ahead for DeSclafani as he tries to get his career back on track.

"We hope it's something we can build on and he can get to where he was a couple of years ago," Riggleman said.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Schebler goes deep, again: Colorado lefty starter Kyle Freeland pitched 6 2/3 innings for the win and took a shutout into the fifth, when with one out, Scott Schebler put the Reds on the board by tattooing the first pitch he saw for a solo homer to right field. According to Statcast™, it left the bat at 110 mph and traveled 424 feet. Schebler has hit three homers over his last five games and eight for the season.

Video: COL@CIN: Schebler smashes a homer into the tunnel

Rally falls short: After entering the ninth inning down six runs, the Reds were able to get the tying run to the plate after a three-run rally against Rockies reliever Bryan Shaw, who started the inning but allowed five hits and recorded just two outs. With two runners on and the score 9-6, the Rockies brought in closer Wade Davis, who struck out Schebler on three pitches to register a save.

Video: COL@CIN: Davis locks down 1-out save against the Reds

SOUND SMART
The last time the Reds notched 17 hits in a nine-innings loss was on Sept. 5, 1984, at San Diego, when both clubs had 17 and Cincinnati fell, 15-11.

Video: COL@CIN: Barnhart knocks a 2-run single in the 7th

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
CarGo goes deeper than Schebler: It was a rough night for two members of the Reds bullpen. Austin Brice allowed two runs in the sixth, and in the seventh, Wandy Peralta issued a four-pitch walk just before he gave up Gonzalez's three-run homer off of the batter's eye in center field. Statcast™ estimated the drive at 473 feet, the 16th longest in Great American Ball Park history and the longest since Statcast™ started in 2015.

"Just unfortunate we let it get away from us in the middle of the game," Riggleman said.

Video: COL@CIN: Gonzalez crushes a 3-run homer to center

HE SAID IT
"That's a good lineup he's facing over there. They're going to get you when you're not sharp. And when you haven't been out there in a big league game for a while, you've got a chance to not be sharp his first couple." -- Riggleman, on DeSclafani

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the seventh with two outs, Winker was waved home from second base on a Votto single and was tagged as he slid into the plate. Umpire Brian Gorman called him out, but the Reds challenged, as it looked like Winker's foot may have touched the plate before being tagged on the back. But after a lengthy review, officials determined that the call stood, because it could not be definitively determined that Winker beat the tag.

Video: COL@CIN: Parra nabs Winker as call stands in the 7th

UP NEXT
Sal Romano will get another crack at the Rockies when the series continues at 7:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Two starts ago on May 25 at Coors Field, Romano was tapped for five earned runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings. His big mistakes were walking struggling catcher Tony Wolters twice, including once with the bases loaded. Romano will be opposed by Jon Gray, who got the win that day.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Anthony DeSclafani