CINCINNATI — It looked like reality showed up this weekend.
For two games and one inning, the Milwaukee Brewers made the Reds look bad.
A couple of bad starts. A bullpen blowup. Then Saturday, the Reds' starting pitcher left after one inning.
But the Reds suspended reality a little longer with a 7-5, come-from-behind victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
The key? A lot of offense and more good innings from the unconventional bullpen. Michael Lorenzen earned the save; he's the third Red to get one. The closer, Raisel Iglesias, got the win after pitching the fifth and sixth -- but more on that later.
Saturday’s game shaped up early like a third straight loss. Brandon Finnegan struggled through a first inning. He walked three and gave up two runs, and he did not return for second. It was later announced that he strained a lat muscle. Reds manager Bryan Price said later it was a shoulder strain.
Bottomline, Finnegan is going to miss at least his next start.
Price was somber after the game, even with all the good things that happened — coming back twice, Jesse Winker’s first hit, Scooter Gennett’s big day against old club.
“It’s not a good moment right now,” Price said. “He’ll miss a little time.”
Finnegan, the 24-year-old left-hander, has never had arm problems.
“I talked to doc,” Finnegan said. “He said it’s nothing serious. I have to work on it and get it better.”
Finnegan’s departure left eight innings for the bullpen, which pushes the season average of innings pitched by the bullpen to 5.19 innings per game. That’s a lot. That’s a whole lot.
The starting pitching is looking more and more like the disaster everyone predicted it would be. Consider the projected top three starters — Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Finnegan — all could be on the disabled list by Sunday.
“The starting pitching has to take on more of their workload,” Price said. “There’s nothing we can do about that. That’s the environment we’re in.”
Price has been masterful at dealing with a tough situation.
He did it again Saturday. He sent Robert Stephenson out for the second. Price went unconventional and brought in Iglesias, his best reliever and quasi-closer, to pitch fifth and sixth.
Actually, Price wasn’t being unconventional.
“The reason was I felt he could throw three innings,” Price said. “There weren’t a ton of options.”
Iglesias gave up a home run to newly minted power sensation Eric Thames in the sixth to give Milwaukee a 4-3 lead.
Iglesias’s spot came up at the bottom of the sixth with runners on second and third, so Price pinch hit with Winker. Winker came through with his first hit was a two-run, bloop double.
All first hits are memorable, but Winker’s came in front his grandma who drove with his uncle and cousin from Buffalo last night to see it. It was the first time she saw him hit as a professional.
“They road-tripped it,” Winker said. “It was pretty cool that grandma got to see my first hit in the big leagues.”
The Reds added another in the seventh. That was more than enough for the bullpen, which allowed three runs over eight innings — all on solo home runs.
“That’s huge,” Gennett said. “I think our bullpen is really good, probably one of the best in baseball. I’ve never seen so many guys throw 95, 96 in my life. If the starters get into a little trouble, we have a lot of confidence in our bullpen. We have a couple guys who can throw a few innings. They’re giving us a chance to come back.”
They did Saturday.
Reality will have to wait.
But who knows? Maybe this is real Reds team.
“For the most part, it’s trying to stay in the game and never give up.”
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.