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Bell on DeSclafani: 'Disco was outstanding'

Starter takes tough-luck loss despite allowing 1 baserunner
@m_sheldon
September 15, 2019

PHOENIX -- The only way that Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani could have been better on Saturday vs. the D-backs was if he had been perfect. Arizona mustered just one hit -- and it was the only time a batter reached base safely -- but DeSclafani was on the short end

PHOENIX -- The only way that Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani could have been better on Saturday vs. the D-backs was if he had been perfect.

Arizona mustered just one hit -- and it was the only time a batter reached base safely -- but DeSclafani was on the short end of a 1-0 loss at Chase Field despite seven near-flawless innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Major League Baseball's official statistician, the Reds are the first team in the modern era (since 1900) to lose a game in which they allowed one baserunner.

Box score

“Disco was outstanding tonight. Give him all that credit,” Reds manager David Bell said. “One baserunner. You can’t do any more than what he did tonight. It’s very encouraging for him and for us.”

After DeSclafani retired his first six batters in a row, Nick Ahmed led off the bottom of the third by chopping a soft hit over third base and inside the left-field line. As the ball rolled into the corner, Josh VanMeter muffed picking it up, allowing Ahmed to easily reach third base with what was ruled a triple.

“I went hard out of the box and hit both first and second base really well, and I don’t know if [VanMeter] dropped the ball or just didn’t play it quite right, but I saw a little hesitation and then I took it from there,” Ahmed said of his hit.

Jarrod Dyson followed by lofting a sacrifice fly to deep center field, scoring Ahmed. That proved to be the difference.

“Early in the game, a guy on third with no outs, you obviously want to go for the punchout, but you’re also trying to minimize damage,” said DeSclafani, who had five strikeouts. “If you know it’s going to be like that at the end of the game, maybe you try to strike him out or get a bunch of swings and misses. All in all, I guess that's just the way the ball rolls in baseball, too.”

DeSclafani followed the triple by retiring his final 14 batters while tying his season high in innings pitched. Of the 22 batters he faced, he had 17 first-pitch strikes. Of his 78 pitches overall, 53 were strikes -- including 20 that were called.

“I just tried filling up the strike zone,” DeSclafani said. “Sometimes it’s easier some days than others, but today I felt good. I was just trying to throw quality strikes in the zone.”

Arizona’s contact was weak throughout, as Statcast data had the average exit velocity vs. DeSclafani at only 85.6 mph. He was able to sacrifice racking up strikeouts in exchange for quick outs.

“Whether it’s a strikeout or whether it’s a pop fly or groundout, they all feel good,” DeSclafani said. “When you’re getting them kind of early, it just makes for easier innings, and it’s less stressful. It keeps the pitch count down. That’s how you get through complete games and stuff.”

A complete game was not possible as the offense-starved Reds used pinch-hitter Brian O’Grady to bat for DeSclafani with two outs in the top of the eighth inning. O’Grady struck out against reliever Kevin Ginkel.

“Disco probably gets a complete game there if we didn’t have to hit for him in the eighth,” Bell said. “We had to try to score to try to tie or have a chance to win the game. Otherwise, he was so efficient. He was strong. There’s been a couple times, a lot of our pitchers this time of the year can be fatigued. He wasn’t showing any signs of that, which is good.”

Against Arizona right-hander Merrill Kelly, Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez hit back-to-back singles in the first but were left stranded. Cincinnati didn’t notch another hit until Aristides Aquino’s leadoff line-drive single in the seventh inning that snapped a 0-for-14 skid. They were the only three hits Kelly allowed over his seven innings as the D-backs ended their six-game losing streak. The defeat officially eliminated the Reds from National League Central division race.

The D-backs' win with one hit was the first in the Major Leagues this season and first since the Pirates' 1-0 win vs. the Dodgers in 10 innings on Aug. 23, 2017, when Rich Hill took a no-hitter into extra innings. Cincinnati last lost a game when its pitching staff threw a one-hitter on June 30, 2014, when Mat Latos and Sam LeCure were defeated during a 1-0 loss at San Diego. However, the Padres had multiple baserunners.

Over his past six starts, DeSclafani is 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA, and he is 9-9 with a 3.93 ERA overall. That’s encouraging for the right-hander, who was 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA over his final six starts of 2018. He missed the first two months of that season with a left oblique strain after he lost the entire 2017 season because of a strained elbow ligament.

“Being healthy is No. 1,” DeSclafani said. “I definitely want to finish healthy, and [to] finish pitching well is definitely right up there as well. I didn’t finish great last year, so it’s something I definitely want to do this year. I’ve just got to prepare for these next two starts and hopefully finish well.”

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.