DENVER -- Any hopes that simply flipping the calendar to a new month would help the Reds reset were dashed quickly vs. the Rockies on Sunday.
Starting pitcher Reiver Sanmartin faced 10 batters and allowed six runs in the first inning while recording only two outs before his day was done during a 10-1 Reds defeat. It was the club’s 17th loss in its last 18 games as Cincinnati’s record dropped to 3-19. It’s the worst start in franchise history and the worst 22-game start by any Major League team in the last 20 seasons.
"Obviously, we’re not playing how we want to play. We’re not playing how we should be playing,” said Mike Moustakas, who moved from third base to make a start at first base on Sunday. “There are 162 games. Obviously, this isn’t the start you want to get off to, but we have to keep going out there and keep fighting every single day and keep getting after it. There is no quit in this team.”
Sanmartin, who has struggled most of this season, opened by giving up Connor Joe’s soft roller to second baseman Brandon Drury that went for a single. Colorado’s first five batters reached safely, with a two-run single by Randal Grichuk and a two-run homer by C.J. Cron the big first-inning blows.
“My confidence after the first batter got on base kind of just dropped from there,” Sanmartin said via translator Jorge Merlos. “I was afraid of the batter just getting hits. I couldn’t separate the things that I could control and the things that happened during the game.”
Joe walked to load the bases before Sanmartin was lifted from the game for reliever Buck Farmer. The rookie lefty was credited with two-thirds of an inning while giving up six earned runs on six hits and two walks with a balk.
Through five games, Sanmartin is 0-4 with a 13.78 ERA. He’s allowed 20 earned runs over nine innings in his last three starts.
“It’s been tough, really tough, because it’s played with my mind, pretty much,” Sanmartin said.
After the game, Sanmartin was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.
“He needs to go pitch in Triple-A and get his confidence back,” Reds manager David Bell said. “That’s what it’s all about. He’s going to get back here. It’s actually really normal for a young player to get here and things don’t go well and you lose your confidence.”
Trouble resumed in the second inning when Elias Diaz lifted a one-out popup between the mound and plate. Moustakas and catcher Mark Kolozsvary both ran to get under the ball but pulled up. From the mound, Farmer made a late basket-catch attempt for the ball before it landed in front of him for an error on the pitcher.
“It’s a play that needs to be made. I need to make that play,” Moustakas said. “Obviously, it kind of snowballed after that. No excuses. That’s a ball that needs to be caught by somebody, and I was the somebody who should have caught that ball.”
Later in the second, Brendan Rodgers hit a three-run double to right-center field to make it a 9-0 game.
The 2003 Tigers were the last team to start 3-19 or worse. That club lost 119 games, which remains an American League record. The 2018 Reds opened 3-18 and went on to post a 67-95 record.
In situations like this, speculation often grows about changes to the coaching staff. When asked, Bell said a shakeup was not under consideration
“My focus is just finding ways for us to play better. We really just need to play better in all areas,” Bell said. “Our focus is turning this around, that’s it. Getting this going in the right direction. I believe so much in what we’re doing as a team, as an organization.
“We’ve made so much progress, and I just want to keep helping contribute to push that forward. This is a tough spot. I really have a lot of faith in our staff and our team to turn this around. It’s a huge challenge, but I know it’s going to happen. That’s the only focus I have. I haven’t thought of anything else.”