CINCINNATI -- Monday's game vs. the Mets marked the 200th career start for Reds pitcher Homer Bailey, making him only the 25th pitcher in franchise history to reach that milestone. Bailey is the lone veteran of the rotation, but he ran into the same issue his younger colleagues have often encountered in 2018: He put his team in a big early deficit while working a short outing.
Bailey surrendered three home runs and was done after four innings as the Reds fell in a 7-6 loss that snapped the Mets' six-game losing streak. New York took a 5-0 lead after three innings, but Cincinnati pecked away to make the game close with three homers of its own. But the hole was too deep to escape, as the 8-27 Reds lost for the sixth time in their last seven games.
"I just didn't have command on my fastball," said Bailey, who gave up six earned runs and eight hits over his four innings with one walk and three strikeouts. "That's probably the biggest thing I noticed. It's been there for me most games this year. I let a few pitches get too much of the zone."
Two pitches into the game, Michael Conforto hit Bailey's 1-0 fastball inside the left-field foul pole for a homer. It was a two-run game in the third when former Reds star Jay Bruce drove a 1-2 pitch into the right-field seats for a two-run homer. With two outs and following a spectacular diving catch by Adam Duvall, Adrian Gonzalez hit the first of his two homers in the game.
Gonzalez's seven career homers vs. Bailey are his most against any big league pitcher he's faced.
"I've been fortunate in my career against him. It's one of those things that you can't explain," Gonzalez said.
Bailey gave up two hits to begin the fourth inning, which led to Yoenis Cespedes' sacrifice fly. He would have remained in the game longer to preserve the heavily-taxed bullpen, but the Reds rallied in the bottom of the fourth and forced interim manager Jim Riggleman to use a pinch-hitter.
"Homer knew where we were with our bullpen. He was out there taking his lumps," Riggleman said. "He wanted to continue. He had no designs of coming out of that game, he would have pitched seven, eight innings to protect our bullpen. I'm really, really proud of him for the way he went about it as a pro."
Bailey is 0-5 with a 5.61 ERA and the Reds are winless in all eight of his starts. However, his first four starts had him with a respectable 3.42 ERA, but he's got an 8.24 ERA over his last four games with nine homers allowed. Without divulging what he's seeing on video, Bailey has started to spot mechanical flaws that might be contributing to his struggles.
"I noticed a few things. It's going to take little bit of time to sort them out," Bailey said.
Bailey, 32, doesn't seem to be suffering from diminished velocity, as his fastball averaged 94 mph, according to Statcast™. But hitters aren't missing his pitches, either. Of the 44 four-seam fastballs tracked, five garnered swings-and-misses. Bailey has complained in the past that his slider has lacked quality and he used it 12 times with no whiffs and three called strikes.
"We talk about velocity, sometimes we gauge how somebody feels by that. The velocity was there maybe better than it has been," Riggleman said. "He left a couple of offspeed pitches up and they took advantage of it. But some real good professional hitters, Gonzalez and Jay Bruce … they were a force tonight to deal with."
The Reds' rotation is ranked last in the Majors with a 5.68 ERA. It was the second game in a row that a starter worked four or fewer innings.
Mets rookie P.J. Conlon, who was making his MLB debut, retired seven of his first eight batters and kept the Reds hitless until the third inning. Billy Hamilton started the comeback effort by lifting a 1-0 pitch for a solo homer to left field. Conlon was knocked out of the game in the fourth as Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett hit back-to-back one-out doubles for another run.
Gonzalez added another two-out solo homer to right field in the fifth against reliever Jackson Stephens, but the Reds' bullpen tandem of Jared Hughes and Raisel Iglesias posted zeros after that.
Leading off the Reds' sixth against Paul Sewald, Suarez slugged a homer to left field. Following two singles, pinch-hitter Scott Schebler added a sacrifice fly. It became a one-run game in the eighth when Gennett took Robert Gsellman to the opposite field with a solo homer to the left-field seats.
"I don't think we were doing much of that earlier in the season, when we were down by a lot. It's nice to see," Gennett said. "I think if both sides come together there, we end up winning the ballgame pretty easily. It's just unfortunate they got a few balls out there earlier in the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hamilton goes deep: When Hamilton took Conlon deep to left field in the third inning, it extended his hitting streak to a season-high six games. It also gave the Reds some much-needed confidence to try and stay in the game.
"We had everybody being loose in the dugout saying we can keep battling and coming back," Hamilton said. "It's one thing we've been doing. As players when you're down, you don't want to stay down. As a team, we're trying to keep each other up saying, 'Let's go guys, let's go. We've got time and a chance to make a run.' We had a chance to win the game in the ninth. We could have given up early in the game down by that many runs, but we kept battling." More >
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
When he made his runner grab at the warning track on an Asdrubal Cabrera drive to left-center field to begin the fifth inning, Hamilton made a five-star catch, according to Statcast™. It had a 20-percent catch probability, as he covered 96 feet in 4.9 seconds and reached a top Sprint Speed of 30.3 feet-per-second.
HE SAID IT
"The bottom line is we came up short. People get tired of hearing it, but I'll tell you what, it's going to click in. I'm not sure what day it's going to click in, but it is and we're going to make some noise in this division." -- Riggleman
Coming off of an improved start vs. the Brewers on Wednesday, Luis Castillo will try to keep moving forward in his next outing vs. the Mets at 7:10 p.m. ET Tuesday. Castillo made a mechanical adjustment with his arm angle, and it made his changeup and fastball more effective, as he gave up two earned runs and nine hits over six innings in 3-1 loss to Milwaukee. Veteran southpaw Jason Vargas will make the start for New York.