Imagine coming back from a long layoff at work to a large stack of unfinished paperwork. That’s sort of like the rude welcome Reds relievers Logan Ondrusek and Nick Christiani experienced.
Ondrusek, who hadn’t pitched in 10 days, surrendered three runs in the sixth and Christiani, taking the mound for the first time in five days, gave up two runs in the seventh. In all, a struggling Cubs offense scored five of its eight runs and hit two of its three homers off the pair of relievers to power their way to an 8-4 victory over the Reds on Saturday.
If there’s one negative that has come from the Reds’ solid starting pitching of late, it’s the challenge of keeping relievers fresh with live action. Reds manager Bryan Price said Ondrusek would be the last to use his long layoff as an excuse in an excuse-free clubhouse, but rustiness may have played a factor in the relievers’ rough outings.
“It’s been 10 days since he’s pitched in a game,” Price said of Ondrusek. “He’s thrown in the bullpen a lot and had a chance to stay sharp that way. There’s nothing like competition. Competition is really how you keep yourself prepared.”
“The things is, with a five-inning start, things can always be worse,” Price said. We could have been into our bullpen in the second, third or fourth inning. And that, especially early in a long stretch of games, can really hurt you. [Cingrani] was able to battle and keep himself in the game — that was big, throw up a couple of zeros at the end.”
Since tossing seven shutout innings in his first start against the Cardinals, Cingrani has lasted four, 6 1/3 and now five innings in his past three starts. A lack of command has lead to inefficient outings.
“Yeah, I’ve been battling myself the last couple starts and just trying to find that command and consistent mechanics. It just hasn’t been working well the last couple starts,” Cingrani said.
“[Cingrani's] got a special fastball, in that there’s a lot of swings and misses on it, and that being said, it’s got to be on the plate to get swings,” Price said. “What we’ve had a couple of times has been a high pitch count that’s gotten him out of the ballgame, not necessarily a ton of runs, but it’s been a fact that he hasn’t been terribly efficient with his pitches.
“And they laid off some tough pitches. He just wasn’t the same guy we’ve seen most of the time here in Cincinnati — just a little sporadic with his location.”
“And out of all that, we got four runs,” Price said. “They did some good things too, defensively, made the big pitches when they needed to and they had to manage our three- and five-hitters with some guys in scoring position, so you give them a little bit of credit, too, for making some big pitches.”
For Cingrani, he’ll have to prove he can pinpoint what’s hurting his command and consequently, his ability to consistently go deep into games.
“I’m not entirely sure,” he said of what’s plaguing him mechanically. “We’ve just got to keep working on it and see what happens.”