Derek Lowe had a rough outing and Cincinnati starter Mat Latos kept the Tribe’s bats at bay as the Indians dropped the second game in a row to the Reds Wednesday night, 5-3. The loss drops the Indians’ record to 32-29, though they did not lose any ground in the AL Central as the division-leading White Sox fell to the Cardinals, 1-0.
It didn’t take long for the Reds to get to Lowe. After striking out Chris Heisey to start the bottom of the first, Lowe gave up a one-out walk to Wilson Valdez. Joey Votto‘s groundout moved Valdez to second and Brandon Phillips followed with an RBI single to give Cincinnati an early lead.
The Indians got their chance to strike back in the top of the fourth. Jason Kipnis led off with a bunt single before Carlos Santana worked a walk off Latos and Michael Brantley brought his hitting streak up to 20 games with a base hit to load the bases with nobody out—a golden opportunity if there ever were one. But Johnny Damon struck out, Casey Kotchman hit into a fielder’s choice and Lonnie Chisenhall grounded out as Latos escaped the inning having surrendered only one run.
Lowe got himself into trouble again in the bottom of the inning. Phillips reached with a leadoff single and Jay Bruce worked a walk to put two on with nobody out. Todd Frazier‘s groundout moved both runners up and former Indian Ryan Ludwick followed with a sacrifice fly. The Reds then loaded the bases with one out in the fifth to set the stage for a Bruce sacrifice fly that scored Heisey and gave Cincinnati a 3-1 lead.
The Indians responded with a run in the sixth as Santana doubled and advanced on Brantley and Damon’s groundouts, but Brandon Phillips padded the Reds’ lead with a two-run homer off Nick Hagadone in the seventh. Jose Lopez ripped a 100-mph Aroldis Chapman fastball into the stands in the ninth inning but the comeback was too little, too late as Cincinnati held on for a 5-3 victory and the Reds positioned themselves for a possible sweep in the first round of the Ohio Cup.
The Good: Carlos Santana was in desperate need of a good game, and he got it Wednesday as he reached base twice with a double and a walk. Meanwhile, Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 20 games, and it was fun both to see Derek Lowe get a base hit and to watch Jose Lopez smash a 100-mph pitch over the fence.
The Bad: Technically it was a quality start for Derek Lowe as he held the Reds to three runs (all earned) in six innings, but it was obvious that he wasn’t at his best. The four strikeouts were nice to see—it was just the third time he’d whiffed more than three batters in a game this year—but not at the expense of six walks and a hit by pitch. That he induced only six groundball outs shows that he wasn’t quite himself.
The “Huh?”: The acquisition of Esmil Rogers and the corresponding demotion of Matt LaPorta made for a curious situation as the Indians found themselves with just 12 position players on the roster before a game in a National League park. Had they gotten through the lineup one more time, Manny Acta would have been placed in the unenviable dilemma of letting a relief pitcher hit or pinch-hitting with Aaron Cunningham or Lou Marson.
Interesting Tidbit: Derek Lowe’s seven combined walks and beanballs tied a personal worst. The only other time he allowed that many free passes was April 10, 2010. Amazingly, he got the win in that game as he held the Giants to just one run in six innings.