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Cincinnati Reds drop 10th home game in a row as offense one-hit in loss to Braves

Cincinnati Enquirer logo Cincinnati Enquirer 7/3/2022 Bobby Nightengale, Cincinnati Enquirer

Nick Senzel tried to fire up his teammates in the Cincinnati Reds’ dugout when he ended a shutout in the fifth inning Saturday, but it was Atlanta’s rookie starting pitcher Spencer Strider who brought the heat.

The Reds didn’t have much of an answer for Strider in their 4-1 loss at Great American Ball Park. Strider didn’t even give up a hit until Senzel’s RBI single in the fifth inning. With a fastball that reached 102 mph and a slider that darted underneath bats, the Reds had enough trouble just putting balls into play.

Strider struck out 11 of the 21 batters he faced in front of a crowd of 26,755. Reds hitters whiffed on nearly half of their swings (24 of 50) as the 23-year-old Strider struck out two batters in each of his first five innings.

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Cincinnati Reds center fielder Nick Senzel (15) yells back at the reds dugout after hitting an RBI base hit in the fifth inning of the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 2, 2022. © Albert Cesare / The Enquirer Cincinnati Reds center fielder Nick Senzel (15) yells back at the reds dugout after hitting an RBI base hit in the fifth inning of the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 2, 2022.

After Senzel blooped an RBI single into center field in the fifth inning, scoring Matt Reynolds from second base, he shouted, “Let’s go! Come on!” It was the Reds’ first hit against Strider and it cut their deficit to one run.

"I’m just trying to light a fire under us, get the energy going," Senzel said. "That moment got me pumped up. We’re all competing out there and I’m competing against a guy on the mound that is pretty damn good. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit ‘em, just where you place ‘em."

It was a sign of life for a struggling Reds team, but it quickly fizzled. The inning ended on the next pitch and the Reds didn’t record another hit, though they loaded the bases in the ninth inning with two walks and a hit batsman. Their offense totaled a season-high 16 strikeouts. 

The Reds are on a four-game losing streak and it was their 10th straight loss at home. It is the franchise’s longest home losing streak since 1986.

"I think just losing is wearing on the team," Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle said. "I don’t care where it is if it’s on the road or at home. Nobody likes to lose."

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Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell argues with umpires after Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer (17) was hit by pitch in the fifth inning of the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 2, 2022. Bell was ejected. © Albert Cesare / The Enquirer Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell argues with umpires after Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer (17) was hit by pitch in the fifth inning of the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 2, 2022. Bell was ejected.

Senzel’s RBI single was the exclamation point on a fiery inning. Kyle Farmer was hit by a 100-mph fastball on his left hand to begin the inning and exited the game. X-rays were negative for a fracture. Reds Manager David Bell was ejected during a calm chat with home-plate umpire Tripp Gibson, which enraged Bell who was held back by bench coach Freddie Benavides.

"There’s plenty of frustration – staff, players, myself," Bell said. "I know our players are doing absolutely everything in their power to turn this around. Our staff is doing the same. I’m looking long and hard at what I need to do to help turn this around and get it going in the right direction. That’s really our only focus. (The ejection) had nothing to do with any sort of frustration about losing games. Completely separate.”

It started as a pitcher's duel between Strider and Mahle. The difference was Strider overpowered the Reds' lineup and nothing was easy for Mahle, who walked a season-high four batters. 

Mahle lasted five innings in his shortest start since May 24, but he did benefit from Atlanta's mistakes in key situations. Matt Olson attempted to bunt for a hit with a runner on first base in the first inning, and he pushed it back to the mound for an inning-ending double play.

After Austin Riley opened the second inning with a solo homer, the second consecutive game he’s homered in his first at-bat, Atlanta loaded the bases with no outs through a single, a walk and a hit by pitch.

Mahle was in a 3-1 count to Orlando Arcia when he fired a 95-mph fastball beyond the outside corner and elicited a check swing. Atlanta’s runners assumed it was a walk as Arcia dropped his bat and began removing his elbow guard and Adam Duvall, the runner at first, walked toward second base. Diaz, the first-base umpire, signaled Arcia swung when the Reds appealed the check swing.

Farmer and Jonathan India shouted at Mahle to throw to first base where Duvall was tagged out as he tried to retreat to the bag. Duvall was in disbelief as he briefly argued with Diaz.

Mahle took advantage of the gifted out, striking out Arcia on the next pitch. Then Mahle struck out the next batter to strand the bases loaded.

"Thankfully, Tyler was able to recognize it," Bell said. "That was a big out. We’ll definitely take it. A lot of people screaming to get everybody’s attention right there."

Said Mahle: "I’ve never seen that. I would assume it would be a dead ball, but luckily it wasn’t."

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle (30) reacts to walking a runner with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 2, 2022. © Albert Cesare / The Enquirer Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle (30) reacts to walking a runner with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of the MLB game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Atlanta Braves at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 2, 2022.

Mahle walked in a run during the fourth inning, but stranded the bases loaded once again. Mahle required 110 pitches to record his 15 outs, surrendering two runs on five hits. He had a 32-pitch second inning, a 37-pitch fourth inning and a 21-pitch fifth inning.

"He’s a great pitcher but even tougher mentally and physically," Bell said of Mahle, who owns a 2.58 ERA over his last seven starts.

Atlanta added to its lead with a two-run seventh inning against the disastrous Reds bullpen. Two batters reached against Art Warren and both scored with Reiver Sanmartin on the mound through a groundout and a double. The Reds’ bullpen has yielded 21 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings during the club’s four-game losing streak.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds drop 10th home game in a row as offense one-hit in loss to Braves

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