CINCINNATI — Given Homer Bailey’s spot in the Reds’ rotation, Tyler Mahle has the final month of the season to get another look in the big leagues and position himself for 2019. The first start back from Triple-A Louisville didn’t go well on Sunday against the Padres.
Mahle threw 74 pitches in three innings and made 35 of them in two-strike counts. Although he had five strikeouts, he also walked three batters and allowed two runs on five hits, out early from the 7-6 loss to San Diego at Great American Ball Park that was decided on Eric Hosmer’s home run in the top of the ninth inning against Raisel Iglesias.
“It obviously didn’t go the way I planned it,” said Mahle, who is scheduled to make his next start on Saturday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Mahle, who was pitching for the first time since Aug. 30 with Louisville, is usually pitch efficient but often struggled to put hitters away Sunday. He started out in a 0-2 count against Franmil Reyes in the first inning but lost him to a two-out walk on 10 pitches. Another missed two-strike chance came in the third inning, when Mahle fell into a full count with Austin Hedges before allowing a two-out, two-run homer to left field.
“It was just taking a lot of deep counts, foul balls,” Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “[Mahle] got the outs, but I felt like he was in trouble his first two innings, and then the third inning, they got him.”
Mahle never got to take an at-bat as he was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the third.
“We decided to cut it short and go to the bullpen,” Riggleman said. “We’ve got the luxury of doing that here in September. Tyler is a really good pitcher and we’ve seen really good things from him last year and earlier this year. But today, he just didn’t look sharp.”
After he went 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in seven starts for the Reds from June 1-July 6, Mahle was 0-3 with a 16.88 ERA over the next four big league starts before he was optioned to Louisville. He is 7-9 with a 4.96 ERA in 23 starts for Cincinnati.
“He was a little tender in his shoulder about a month ago,” Riggleman said. “I think he’s still working back from that, because earlier he would pitch at 90 [mph], and then next thing you know, he’s at 95. Right now, I’m not seeing that ball come out of his hand the way it was earlier, where he was reaching back when he needed to get 95. Now he’s more in the 92 range. We’re not obsessed with velocity, but it’s just an indication that maybe he’s not feeling the same. It is September.”
Cincinnati was trailing, 6-1, when a five-run rally in the bottom of the fifth against Padres starter Jacob Nix evened the game. The first four batters collected singles, including one for Billy Hamilton when Reyes surprisingly pulled up and let the ball bounce in front of him in right field.
Joey Votto followed Peraza by slugging a 3-1 Nix pitch to center field for a three-run homer — his second in two days.
Reliever Lucas Sims did not fare better after replacing Mahle, allowing four earned runs over 1 2/3 innings — including Luis Urias’ two-run homer in the fourth inning that made it a 4-0 game.
Including Matt Wisler, who picked up the third out of the fifth, the Reds’ bullpen stabilized and retired a stretch of 10 of the next 11 batters as showers soaked the field. Jared Hughes retired the side in the order in the top of the eighth before the game was halted by a 1-hour, 32-minute rain delay.
When play resumed, Tucker Barnhart hit a leadoff double for Cincinnati against Craig Stammen, but was left stranded. Pitching for the first time in a week, Iglesias’ second pitch of his outing was a 1-0 sinker that Hosmer lifted into the first row of seats in left field.
“We don’t make too many excuses for the home runs we give up. We give up a lot of homers, but that one was a Great American Ball Park homer,” Riggleman said. “Hosmer is really a good player, but that might be the only ballpark in the league that it goes out.”
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Votto goes deep: Votto endured a 36-game stretch without a home run from July 9 until Saturday, the second-longest drought of his career. His second homer in two days was a big one as it tied the game. It was Votto’s 11th homer of the season.