WASHINGTON -- Reds starter Trevor Bauer seemed to be having a perfectly normal -- and a highly competitive -- pitchers' duel opposite Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals on Wednesday afternoon. But in what felt like an instant, everything spun way out of orbit.
In his third appearance for the Reds, Bauer endured one of the worst performances of his Major League career. He was pummeled for a career-high nine runs -- including eight in the fifth inning -- and the Reds were handed a 17-7 rout by the Nationals. Cincinnati was swept in three games.
“We needed a stronger performance out of me today,” Bauer said. “Had two close losses and needed to come away with a win. I felt like I would be able to go out there, keep us in there and give us a chance. It didn’t work out.”
Bauer’s line ended with nine earned runs, eight hits, two walks and four strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings, as he saw his overall ERA jump from 3.74 to 4.12. It’s been a rough few weeks for the right-hander. In his final start for the Indians on July 28, he gave up eight runs (seven earned) and punctuated the outing by heaving a ball over the center-field fence in anger as manager Terry Francona was headed out to lift him from the game.
Three days later, Bauer was traded. When the Reds made the three-team Trade Deadline deal to part with Yasiel Puig and top prospect Taylor Trammell for Bauer, they had no intention of giving up on trying to battle for a playoff spot.
But there has been no surge in the standings and no momentum built. In fact, things have been sliding in the opposite direction. Losers of four in a row, Cincinnati has a 6-7 record since the Deadline. Before the losing streak, the Reds had won 10 of 14 games and came to Washington unbeaten over six straight series.
“At some point after the break, up until now, we played really good baseball. I know the last four games are what we’re dealing with now. ‘How do we turn that around?’ That’s the focus now,” Reds manager David Bell said.
Everything went sideways on Bauer following the first Washington out of the fifth inning.
A Victor Robles double put runners on second and third base for Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who came in batting .148 (8-for-54). Strasburg worked a full count and Bauer gave up an RBI single to right field.
“It did seem to turn right there,” Bell said.
After working a 2-1 count to Strasburg, Bauer threw a cutter to get a second strike. He tried another cutter that missed near the dirt and away to make it a full count. Bauer followed with one more cutter, and Strasburg made a half swing to poke an RBI single to right field.
“I think I made a lot of good pitches to Strasburg there,” Bauer said. “Hits a 3-2 cutter that’s a ball -- check swing -- doesn’t go my way.”
Trea Turner hit a ball on the ground through the middle to set up Washington for back-to-back homers to straightaway center field.
Adam Eaton slugged a 3-2 fastball for a three-run shot, and Anthony Rendon lifted an 0-1 curveball. The Nationals were off and running.
“I was trying to go up and in [on Eaton] with a two-seam [fastball] and do something that would end the at-bat,” Bauer said. “[I] missed down the middle, right in his sweet spot. He didn’t miss it. That was kind of a dagger. Rendon, I throw a curveball that’s on the black, away -- a real advantageous spot for me. He hits it.”
Before the 10-run fifth inning ended and after Sal Romano replaced Bauer, every member of Washington’s lineup had reached base and scored at least one run. Romano closed Bauer’s line when he gave up Kurt Suzuki’s three-run homer.
Bauer said he hadn’t had an inning like that since he gave up five homers in one inning at Triple-A.
“It’s tough. I tried to go to different weapons. I have a deep repertoire, and I had good feel. I felt like I was commanding it.,” Bauer said. “I gave up hits on all six of my pitch types that inning.”
The 10-run rally was tied for the Reds pitching staff’s worst of the season. It also happened vs. the Cardinals on July 19. Romano struggled to contain the Nationals in the sixth inning, and he was charged with a career-high eight earned runs and six hits over just two-thirds of an inning.
Cincinnati's offense scored six of its seven runs in the final four innings, including Aristides Aquino's ninth homer -- making him the fastest player to nine home runs since 1900. Another bright spot was waiver claim Freddy Galvis, who went 4-for-5 with a ninth-inning two-run homer in his first start for the Reds.
“Personally, I had a good game,” Galvis said. “But I prefer to win the game.”
The 17 runs allowed smashed the previous season high of 12 and were the most allowed by Reds pitchers since a 19-4 loss at Cleveland on July 11, 2018.
“It’s not what we expected it to be. We just move on from here,” Bell said.