CINCINNATI—Some losses are easy to take. Some are harder than others. Then you have the true heart breakers. The final stage of losses are the ones that make you sick—literally, like head over the toilet sick.
Friday night's Cincinnati loss to St. Louis falls into the latter category.
Homer Bailey started for the Reds and had his best outing in the three years that the team has been shuffling him up and down between the big club and the minors.
After a single and a walk to leadoff the game, Bailey was talking to himself on the mound. It had all the makings of another typical Homer start. Albert Pujols stepped into the box. He whiffed.
That was the start of something special. Something Reds' fans had been waiting for since they made him their first pick in the 2004 draft.
Credit Louisville pitcher Justin Lehr for teaching him a split finger. Homer now has two pitches to compliment his 97 MPH fastball.
And everyone of those pitches were dazzling on Friday night.
The splitter was looking like a fastball until the batters realized it was about 10 MPH slower and dropping to their feet. His benders were knee buckling. He was consistently placing 97 MPH heaters on the corners until the eighth when he ran out of gas.
Homer hit a guy in the fifth, but did not allow another hit until a two-out double in the seventh. Six and two-thirds of no hit ball—not too shabby.
In the eighth inning, with the Reds up 3-0, Bailey allowed a leadoff single to pinch hitter, Colby Rasmus. He got the next guy on a fly ball to Jay Bruce in right, then walked Skip Schumaker.
His brilliant night was done as Dusty Baker called on Arthur Rhodes to retire pinch hitter Jarrett Hoffpauir who was making his debut in a major league batting box.
Rhodes walked him on four pitches.
Dusty called on the righty David Weathers to pitch to Albert Pujols with the bases juiced. After a few pitches, some strikes and some balls, Pujols hit a pop up to the right side of the infield.
If only Albert had just hit it with a microgram less power, Joey Votto would have made a sweet rail reaching catch. But, baseball being the game of inches, the ball fell harmlessly into the camera bay.
Next pitch, over the left field fence. Grand slam.
The Cards led 4-3 going into the home half of the eighth.
Cincinnati had the heart of the order due up. Votto singled, Brandon Phillips singled, Bruce laid down the first sacrifice bunt of his professional career.
Runners on second and third, one out. Ramon Hernandez lifted a long fly to right. Votto scored. Phillips went to third. Jerry Hairston Jr. struck out to end the inning.
Nick Masset came on to pitch the top half of the ninth. Cardinal catcher, Yadier Molina lined a bullet off of Masset's right bicep. He found the ball and threw to first for the out.
Masset had to leave the game. Danny Herrera came in and quickly got Joe Thurston on a pop to the catcher. Two outs, bases empty.
Next batter, Rasmus singled to right. Brendan Ryan singled to left.
Leadoff man Schumaker hit a routine grounder to the sure handed Paul Janish at short. He muffed the hop.
Bases loaded for that guy with the funny name who took the four-pitch walk off Rhodes in the eighth.
Hoffpauir's single off Herrera gave the Cards a 6-4 lead.
Pujols rubbed it in with a sharp double into the left field corner that tacked on another run. After an intentional walk to bring up the pitcher's spot the inning ended after nine men had come to the plate.
The Reds did tease their fans by loading the bases in the ninth. But it just wasn't in the stars on Friday night as Brandon Phillips took a mighty swing and missed the ball by about a foot.
—Edwin Encarnacion did not start but was activated before the game. He entered in the eighth inning after a double switch.
—Willy Taveras walked in the ninth inning for the first time since May 23 (41 days).
—The writer of this article is now going to put his head over the toilet again.