By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer
The Reds saw the potential advantage on paper and reacted accordingly.
Previous results suggested the Indians might be susceptible to left-handed starting pitchers.
So the Reds reworked their pitching staff before Friday's game, calling up veteran lefty Jesus Sanchez from Triple-A to make the first of two scheduled starts. The strategy backfired.
The Indians scored six runs off Sanchez in 4 1/3 innings and added three more against left-handed reliever Mike Matthews, who replaced Sanchez in an eventual 15-2 win against the Reds before 36,156 fans at Great American Ball Park.
The 13-run loss is Cincinnati's worst this season. The Reds have lost five of their past six overall and are 8-15 in their last 23.
Three Cleveland players - catcher Victor Martinez, center fielder Coco Crisp and third baseman Casey Blake - hit three-run home runs Friday.
Second baseman Ronnie Belliard gave Cleveland a 2-1 lead with his two-run homer off Sanchez in the second inning, and was the apparent target of a pitch thrown by Reds reliever Phil Norton in the sixth inning.
The last time the Reds and Indians played each other, June 13 at Jacobs Field, Cleveland pitcher Cliff Lee threw over Ken Griffey Jr.'s head in the at-bat that followed Griffey's 499th career home run. Lee earned a six-game suspension because of his actions.
So when Belliard led off the sixth inning, and Norton's first pitch was thrown low and behind Belliard's legs, home plate umpire Paul Schrieber warned Norton and both benches.
Indians reliever Bob Howry hit Reds right fielder Jacob Cruz in the eighth inning, but Schrieber took no action. Aside from that moment in the sixth, the Reds showed little life Friday.
Cleveland starting pitcher Kazuhito Tadano, making his first major-league start, struck out the first four batters before loading the bases in the second inning.
Reds right fielder Jacob Cruz singled, catcher Jason LaRue doubled and first baseman Javier Valentin walked on four straight pitches.
That brought up third baseman Brandon Larson, who drew a walk that scored Cruz from third.
Tadano then struck out Sanchez looking and got center fielder Ryan Freel to pop out to third base to end the inning.
No Reds baserunner touched second base from the third inning to the fifth against Tadano.
Second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez ended that string with a leadoff home run in the sixth inning that made it 9-2.
Tadano came out after the seventh inning. He allowed four hits, walked two and with 10 strikeouts became the first Indians pitcher since Chuck Finley in May 2002 to strike out 10 or more batters in a game.
The Indians were 9-17 against left-handed starting pitchers prior to Friday's game.
Though Sanchez is not considered one of Reds' best prospects - he's with his sixth major league organization - he had been consistent at Triple-A this season.
In 17 relief appearances and five starts at Louisville, Sanchez went 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA.
The Reds signed the 29-year-old as a minor league free agent in January. Sanchez worked primarily as a starter in spring training, and did well enough to get a considerable look.
He had a 2.16 ERA prior to his last spring outing when he allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings, and was reassigned to minor-league camp April 1.
Friday was his first major league start in more than three years. Sanchez started off well by retiring seven of the first eight batters he faced.
A one-out single up the middle by Tadano in the third inning preceded Belliard's 422-foot home run that landed in the left field bleachers.
Sanchez allowed one run in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Crisp, and the Indians scored three more in the fifth on Martinez's home run before Sanchez was pulled from the game trailing 6-1.
In addition to the six runs, Sanchez allowed six hits, walked three and struck out two.
Matthews came in and struck out the first batter he faced before allowing a double and a walk leading up to Crisp's home run that made it 9-1.
Todd Van Poppel, who was moved back to the bullpen with Sanchez's arrival, allowed six runs on seven hits in the eighth inning.
|Van Poppel p||0||0||0||0||0||0||.133|
E-Blake (10). LOB-Cleveland 4, Cincinnati 9. 2B-Belliard (24), Vizquel (13), Merloni (6), LaRue (12). HR-Blake (14), off Van Poppel; DJimenez (5), off Tadano; Crisp (4), off MMatthews; VMartinez (12), off JSanchez; Belliard (5), off JSanchez. RBIs-Belliard 2 (34), Vizquel (35), Lawton 2 (46), VMartinez 3 (60), Blake 3 (44), Crisp 4 (26), DJimenez (24), Larson (11). GIDP-WPena.
|Tadano W, 1-0||7||4||2||2||2||10||101||4.62|
HBP-by Howry (JaCruz). PB-LaRue.
|JSanchez L, 0-1||4 1/3||6||6||6||3||2||100||12.46|
Umpires-Home, Paul Schrieber; First, Ed Montague; Second, Jerry Meals; Third, Derryl Cousins.
T-3:03. A-36,156 (42,271).
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