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Setup trio uncharacteristically off in late loss

July 7, 2018

CHICAGO -- Of late, a Reds lead in the latter innings has been safe in the hands of their bullpen, especially the setup trio of David Hernandez, Amir Garrett and Jared Hughes. But in Saturday's 8-7 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, a whole lot went wrong after starter Matt

CHICAGO -- Of late, a Reds lead in the latter innings has been safe in the hands of their bullpen, especially the setup trio of David Hernandez, Amir Garrett and Jared Hughes. But in Saturday's 8-7 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field, a whole lot went wrong after starter Matt Harvey departed and the relievers combined for five runs.
That included the go-ahead four-run eighth.
"We've asked a lot of our bullpen. They've been in a lot of games, accumulating some appearances and innings," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "They were throwing the ball really good. Both Amir and Hughes had two days off heading into today, so we felt really good about finishing this game off if Matt went deep in the game, and he went deep enough for us."
Cincinnati, which had leads of 5-0 in the third inning and 7-2 in the sixth, saw its five-game win streak against Chicago end.
Garrett came in with a 2.89 ERA and a staff-leading 41 games. Hernandez compiled a 0.98 ERA in his previous 16 outings and a 1.80 ERA in 25 overall. Hughes posted a 0.93 ERA in his previous 23 appearances and a 1.37 ERA in 39 overall.
After Harvey gave up a run in the sixth and got a second out, Hernandez finished the inning. In the seventh, Javier Baez connected on Hernandez's 0-1 pitch for a leadoff homer to the left-field bleachers. It was the first home run Hernandez allowed since Sept. 23, 2017, for Arizona -- a streak of 32 frames.

Garrett, who got three outs in the seventh after Hernandez was lifted, could not retire a batter in the eighth. Garrett's first two hitters -- Victor Caratini and Addison Russell -- walked, and pinch-hitter David Bote got a 1-0 count before he singled to load the bases with no outs.
"When you get behind, bad things happen," Garrett said. "I put Jared in a bad spot today. Getting the bases loaded with no outs, not too much good can come from that."
Hughes took over and gave up a Benjamin Zobrist two-run double to left-center field.
"Zobrist did an incredible job getting underneath that ball," Hughes said. "I put it below the zone exactly where I wanted it down there, hoping to get the ground ball. He got underneath it and got it into the outfield."

Albert Almora Jr. struck out before the sinkerball-throwing Hughes got exactly what he usually expects, a ground ball from Baez. It was a comebacker to the mound, but the ball went off of Hughes' glove, and he fell down trying to recover it as Bote scored the tying run.
"I just didn't make the play to Baez. It was right there in my glove," Hughes said. "I've got to work a little harder on fielding so next time I'm out there, I make that play."

The Reds moved their infield into double-play depth for Anthony Rizzo, and Hughes got another ground ball. But there was only a play to first base as Zobrist scored the go-ahead run.
"The wheels fell off in the eighth," Riggleman said. "We weren't going to use [Michael] Lorenzen and [closer Raisel] Iglesias today, so we were going to ask a little more from Amir and Hughes to try and finish it off."

Harvey had one out in the sixth inning when Russell lifted what might normally be a routine fly ball to right field. But Scott Schebler lost it in the sun and couldn't make the catch as the ball dropped in for a double. Cubs relief pitcher Randy Rosario followed with his first big league hit with an RBI single to center field.

Next, Schebler lost another ball in the sun -- Zobrist's fly to right-center -- that was caught at the last moment by Billy Hamilton.
"It's a really helpless feeling. It doesn't make it any better," Schebler said. "You can't do anything about it. It just sucks. The whole sequence sucks. You're running in and you kind of have an idea of where it's at. You're trying to communicate that you can't see it. You look dumb. It's just the way it is."

During the Reds' TV broadcast, former pitcher Tom Browning was interviewed on the rooftop across from the ballpark -- the same one he visited while in full uniform 25 years ago on July 7, 1993. During that game, Kevin Mitchell hit a third-inning home run as Browning watched with his legs dangling over the side of the roof's railing.
On Saturday, Browning told Reds TV reporter Jeff Piecoro the following:
"I'm looking for a three-run homer," Browning said. "Obviously, we've already got the lead. Maybe we'll add some insurance runs this inning and kind of duplicate what we did back in '93."
Moments later, Eugenio Suarez connected for a three-run homer to give the Reds a 5-0 lead. More >

After the Baez comebacker, Riggleman went to the mound to visit Hughes but primarily to tell first baseman Joey Votto to play behind the runner at first base.
"It was so loud that we were yelling and he couldn't hear. So I went out to the mound to tell him to play behind the runner," Riggleman said.
But home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson thought that was the Reds' second mound visit to Hughes, which would've required his exit from the game. Hughes walked off the mound but came back after umpires conferred and correctly noted there was only one mound visit for Hughes. Pitching coach Danny Darwin had come to talk to Garrett earlier in the inning.
"He thought that Danny Darwin had gone out to see Hughes," Riggleman said. "I thought, well, I guess he did that and I didn't know. Danny always tells me when he's going out, but I thought maybe he wanted to say something to Hughes and I didn't notice he went out there.
"Tucker [Barnhart] said that was with Amir. So I ran it by the umpire and he said, 'Let me check.' I couldn't remember [Darwin] going out for Hughes, so I just thought he must have, and I'm kinda embarrassed by it. But we got it right."

"I've got to use it to motivate me, right? We all should use it to motivate us any time it doesn't go the way that we want. We should use it to drive us to come out here tomorrow and win." -- Hughes
For Sunday's 2:20 p.m. ET game to conclude the series, Luis Castillo will start for the Reds against Cubs ace Jonathan Lester. Suarez, who will learn whether or not he has made the All-Star team for the first time on Selection Sunday when the rosters are revealed, is a .286 career hitter with two home runs against Lester in 28 at-bats.

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