BALTIMORE (AP) - The Cincinnati Reds had just put forth another listless effort in a lopsided defeat, and manager Bryan Price had apparently seen enough.
Moments after Baltimore’s Miguel Gonzalez handcuffed the Reds on four hits in a 6-0 blowout Wednesday night, Price indicated it was time for Cincinnati to formally begin looking toward next year.
“I’m not questioning effort,” he said. “I do think that we’ve gotten to this point now where we’ve got some guys up here that we need to take a look at. We need to see what they’re all about. We’re not doing anything at all offensively, and it makes it a lot easier to start to see what we have in our system, see what we have moving forward.”
The Reds have lost 15 of 21 and are 15-29 since the All-Star break. The only thing keeping them out of last place in the NL Central is the awful Chicago Cubs.
Price has run out of words to describe the way Cincinnati has been playing lately. He isn’t faulting the pitching as much as an offense that is severely lacking punch.
“It’s uninspiring to watch,” he said. “It has nothing to do with effort, but at some point and time, performance has to be the most important thing, and we’re at a point now where we’re just not getting performance. I’ve got to look at giving some opportunities to see what we have here.”
Making his third start of the season, Dylan Axelrod (1-1) gave up four runs and five hits in six innings. Three of those hits were home runs.
“He made a couple mistakes and they got hit out of the ballpark,” Price lamented. “I thought he competed well. Unfortunately, we didn’t do anything offensively at all to give him any support. That’s been an underlying theme to our second half.”
Gonzalez (8-7) had a season-high eight strikeouts, walked one and allowed only one hit through the first seven innings - a line drive single to Ryan Ludwick in the fifth.
The Reds added two singles in the eighth before leaving the bases loaded, and Jay Bruce singled with two outs in the ninth. Gonzalez then retired Ludwick on a grounder to complete the shutout.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” the right-hander said.
David Lough and Jonathan Schoop hit solo shots before Chris Davis connected with a man on in the fourth to make it 4-0. That was more than enough offense for Gonzalez, who has given up four runs over his last 28 1-3 innings.
In his previous 64 major league starts, Gonzalez pitched eight innings on four occasions. This time, he used 117 pitches to go the distance.
The victory was the eighth in 10 games for the AL East-leading Orioles during a homestand that concludes Thursday night, when Baltimore will attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the sinking Reds.
Axelrod retired the first eight batters he faced before Schoop hit his 14th homer, the second in two nights.
Lough led off the fourth with his first home run since June 7, Nelson Cruz doubled and Davis hit an opposite-field drive to left. Davis has 25 home runs and 71 RBIs this season, decent numbers except when compared his totals last year: 53 homers and 138 RBIs.
Schoop added a two-run double in the seventh off Carlos Contreras, who walked the first two batters he faced.
Reds: SS Zach Cozart will likely be sidelined until Friday with a sore right wrist. “He’s going to need a couple of days of letting it be,” Price said.
Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy returned after missing Tuesday’s game with back spasms. 1B Steve Pearce remained sidelined with an abdominal strain.
Reds: RH Mike Leake (10-11) makes his first career appearance against the Orioles in the series finale Thursday night.
Orioles: RH Chris Tillman (11-5) seeks his 17th consecutive start of allowing three earned runs or fewer. He’s got a 2.90 ERA at home.
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