SAN FRANCISCO -- The Reds had a couple of chances to leave San Francisco with a three-game series sweep but could not quite finish it off. The Giants scored two runs in the eighth inning against David Hernandez for a 6-5 victory on Sunday at Oracle Park that ended Cincinnati’s
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Reds had a couple of chances to leave San Francisco with a three-game series sweep but could not quite finish it off. The Giants scored two runs in the eighth inning against David Hernandez for a 6-5 victory on Sunday at Oracle Park that ended Cincinnati’s three-game win streak.
There was a lot to unpack from this game so let’s take a closer look at three specific moments.
• Box score
1. Why did Bell go to Hernandez in the eighth?
Hernandez was huge part of Saturday’s 5-4 victory when he pitched two scoreless innings and struck out five of his six batters while looking overpowering. He also threw 25 pitches in that game, but manager David Bell opted to go back to him again despite having right-handers Michael Lorenzen, Jared Hughes and Robert Stephenson in the bullpen.
“That’s the situation we’ve been pitching David in,” Bell said. “After last night, it was a lot to ask out of David. He pitched great last night. It’s the situation we’ll look to use him in. It would’ve been a great effort by him to go back out there today and we asked him to do it. Maybe he wasn’t quite as sharp, but you have to think maybe last night’s outing was a lot to ask of him today.”
Cincinnati had a 5-4 lead in the eighth when Hernandez gave up Evan Longoria’s leadoff single and Pablo Sandoval’s double. A Mac Williamson groundout to shortstop scored the tying run. With two outs, Kevin Pillar lifted a single in front of Nick Senzel in center field to put the Reds down by one run. It was the third blown lead that the Reds had on the afternoon.
“I felt fine. Actually, I don’t think the soreness kicked in from last night,” Hernandez said. “I just didn’t make good enough pitches. I felt like my off-speed stuff was a little more flat than it was yesterday. The leadoff guy gets on. I have to make better pitches after that. It just didn’t work out.”
2. Bell sticks with Mahle against Belt
During his first season as a big league manager, Bell has often relied on data and matchups to make decisions for when to go to his bullpen. But on Sunday for the seventh inning, he trusted his gut after watching starter Tyler Mahle pitching so well through six as he retired 10 in a row and 11 of 12 batters.
“David asked me if I was feeling good. I didn’t give it a second thought,” Mahle said. “He gave me a chance to go out there and throw another inning. I blew it. But I’m happy he has that faith in me.”
While leading by a 4-2 score, Mahle walked Brandon Crawford to begin the seventh. With one out, the Giants sent lefty hitter Brandon Belt up to pinch-hit. The Reds had two relievers warming up, including left-handed reliever Zach Duke.
Bell stuck with Mahle, but on a 2-2 curveball, Belt lifted the game-tying two-run homer to right field.
“It is a tough decision,” Bell said. “You think, ‘Worst-case scenario it’s a home run and it’s a tie game,’ and you want to give Tyler that opportunity. Really, for me, we’ve made a lot of decisions the other way too where we go to the bullpen. In that situation, I just really liked how Tyler was throwing the ball still. I know he’s at the end right there, but just made the decision he had a couple of more hitters.”
Puig vs. Bumgarner
Old rivalries didn’t end when Yasiel Puig was traded from the Giants’ bitter rival, the Dodgers, to the Reds in December. Throughout the series, fans booed Puig, and it clearly didn’t bug him.
The Reds had a 3-2 lead when Puig led off the top of the sixth inning with home run to left field on the first pitch from Madison Bumgarner. Then did a monster-sized bat flip of his pink bat to celebrate.
“He’s a quick study. It only took him seven years to learn how to hit that pitch,” Bumgarner said, throwing shade at his ex-divisional foe in the National League West.
After a slow start that still has him batting .217/.269/.392, Puig has been showing signs of finding his swing. During his current season-high four game hitting streak, he is 6-for-16 (.375) and hit two homers at San Francisco on the weekend.
“I’m still working on my swing and everything,” said Puig, who sported a new platinum-blonde mohawk for the game. “I thank God I have a couple of hits in the last couple of days. Now, I need to keep practicing and keep working hard to help my team and help myself coming out from last place and put up better numbers for myself too.”
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.