Leake's outstanding effort goes unrewarded
PHILADELPHIA -- Reds pitcher Mike Leake had 107 pitches and one hit allowed vs. the Phillies on Wednesday and was three outs away from the first complete-game shutout of his career. Despite a long top of the ninth as the lineup rallied, manager Bryan Price chose to let Leake try and finish the game.
It was a decision that backfired in a big way as Leake gave up two hits, Aroldis Chapman blew the save and the Reds went on to lose a 5-4 heartbreaker in 11 innings to the Phillies.
"It's one of those things -- you're damned if you do, damned if you don't," Price said. "You take a guy out of a one-hit shutout and then if the same result happens, it's 'why are you taking a guy out? He's given up one hit.' The only way I don't have to answer these types of questions at the end of the game is when our guys are going out there and execute and get the job done.
"If not, there is speculation if the decisions are not right. You only win as a manager when you win the game at the end of the day. I get that. I get the questions and that's fine. I deserve them. "
Leake allowed no hits for 6 2/3 innings, the longest he ever flirted with a no-hitter in his career, before Maikel Franco's two-out single in the seventh. Then he pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth before the Reds stretched their lead to 4-0 in the top of the ninth.
With the top of the order due up for Philadelphia in the bottom half, Price gave Leake the ball.
"Probably if we had one more hitter come up for us [in the two-run top of the ninth], I probably would have pulled myself because it'd be a long sit," Leake said. "I felt like I was still good to go and they fought me well those first two at-bats."
Leake allowed Ben Revere's pinch-hit single, followed by Jeff Francoeur's single on his 119th pitch of the night. Price called on Chapman to get the last three outs. Following a sacrifice fly and a walk, Chapman gave up the game-tying three-run homer to Franco.
"We had a kid throwing a one-hit shutout and the kid leading off the inning was a kid he handled well," Price said. "They led off and pinch-hit with Revere and he got things started. We have one of the best closers in the game coming in behind him with wiggle room. We just couldn't get it done. It's beyond disappointing, I can tell you that. It's very frustrating. I don't even know what to say."
Lost in the outcome was Leake's bounce-back performance. He was 0-3 with a 12.86 ERA over his last three starts after he owned a 2.36 ERA in his first seven starts.
"Just my head was off for a few games, just something I can't probably explain what was going on," Leake said. "It was just a matter of coming back and re-finding what was making me do well."
Leake's final line was two earned runs and three hits over eight-plus innings with two walks and nine strikeouts.
"He pitched a great game," Price said. "It just stinks to not win when a guy pitches like that."