After late arrival to St. Louis, Reds start slow

Greene's early struggles, baserunning mistake in 3rd costly in Cincinnati's loss

July 16th, 2022

ST. LOUIS -- Perhaps a little sloppiness could be expected from the Reds on Friday night.

The team arrived at its hotel in St. Louis at 3:03 a.m. CT after playing a pair of emotionally charged extra-inning games against the Yankees in the Bronx. Cincinnati had just won five of six from two of the top teams in the American League -- Tampa Bay and New York.

“I think all teams should be tired at this point in the season, so we're no different than any other team,” manager David Bell said. “It’s not really an option to think about anyway.”

Unfortunately for the Reds, a baserunning mistake and a tough first inning for Hunter Greene was too much to overcome in a 7-3 loss to the Cardinals in the opener of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.

The turning point was a blunder on the basepaths that scuttled a possible game-altering rally in the third.

After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Cardinals starter Andre Pallante suddenly found himself on the ropes. The right-hander issued walks to Tommy Pham and Kyle Farmer, sandwiched around a Joey Votto RBI single that tied the game at 3. Donovan Solano followed with a single to center field, but Farmer did not see Votto pulling up as he was rounding third. While Votto retreated to the bag, Farmer continued past second, eventually getting tagged out on an 8-2-6 play to end the inning.

“I know Farm, he did have his head up, he looked and he saw Joey coming around third and at that point put his head back down and was really trying to do everything he could to get to third base in that situation,” Bell said. “So, you know, it's a play that you don't want to happen. Our players take great pride in running the bases well, so clearly that was a play that if it had gone different, you never know what could have happened there.”

Farmer got the Reds off to a good start with a two-out two-run single in the first to make it 2-0 Cincinnati. He has a team-high .432 average (16-for-37) and 25 RBIs with two outs and a runner in scoring position.

Pallante responded to the reprieve by retiring six of the final seven Reds batters he faced, and four Cardinals relievers combined for four scoreless innings.

The Reds made it interesting in the ninth, loading the bases and bringing the potential tying run to the plate. Down to the last out, Brandon Drury lined a 100 mph Ryan Helsley fastball to deep center, but the grand slam bid fell a couple of feet short and was caught by Dylan Carlson at the wall.

Drury said he knew what was coming.

“I've seen him do it all year,” Drury said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the league this year. He’s got a good fastball, he's throwing 101 mph. Just trying to be short to the ball and barrel it.”

Greene settled in after a tough first, but his 36 pitches in the opening frame limited him to five innings.

Greene quickly faced a bases-loaded no-outs jam after back-to-back walks to Carlson and Paul Goldschmidt. Greene didn’t record an out until his 21st pitch of the game -- a Nolan Arenado line drive to center that plated St. Louis' first run -- and the Cardinals evened the game at 2 with another sacrifice fly from Brendan Donovan, before Greene struck out Nolan Gorman for his first of six strikeouts.

“The walks were tough, doesn't help, but just some pitches that weren't executed, and you know, that's going to happen and that's where they capitalized every time,” Greene said. “So just learning how to close that gap on pitches that aren’t executed as much as I can.”

Greene gave up a Carlson RBI double in the second before striking out the side in the third. The right-hander's final mistake was hanging a slider to lead off the fourth against Gorman, who drove it over the right-field wall to put the Cards ahead, 4-3. It was Greene's MLB-high 23rd homer allowed this season.

St. Louis broke it open against Cincinnati's bullpen. Corey Dickerson made it 5-3 with an RBI single off Buck Farmer in the sixth, and Donovan plated two more with a single off Ian Gibaut in the seventh.

“I do think our bullpen was a little fatigued tonight,” Bell said. “It would be good to get a good night's sleep and get those guys back out there. They've been doing such a good job for us, and really coming off the series in New York, I asked a lot out of them. So I think that could have been a factor tonight, for sure.”