Pitching staff has night to forget against Cubs

Pitching staff has night to forget against Cubs

CHICAGO -- Knowing that they would have a fleet of young and inexperienced starting pitchers to break camp, the Reds brought back free agent Alfredo Simon, who was signed with the notion that he would eat innings and keep the bullpen from being taxed too heavily.

Instead he did just the opposite on Wednesday in a 9-2 loss to the Cubs, throwing a whopping 49 pitches to nine batters but recording just two outs in the first inning before being replaced.

"I went behind in the count," Simon said. "I wanted to throw strikes and [keep] the ball down. It went up. I tried to throw strikes so hard. It was not happening today."

Following a leadoff double by Dexter Fowler, Simon surrendered three straight one-out walks -- including one to Kris Bryant with the bases loaded. When the ninth batter -- Cubs pitcher John Lackey -- slashed an RBI single to right field to make it 5-1, Simon was done.

"Sometimes things happen," Simon said. "I'm a pitcher who throws a lot of strikes. Today my balls just ran away. I think that was the trouble."

The two-thirds of an inning pitched was the shortest start of Simon's career, shorter than the 1 1/3-inning stint for the Orioles on April 14, 2009, vs. Texas. Against the Cubs he gave up five earned runs, four hits and three walks, with one strikeout.

It was up to the Reds' bullpen to complete the remaining innings. The relievers also didn't help themselves at times.

Overall, Reds pitchers combined to throw 188 pitches. Dan Straily followed Simon and threw 48 pitches over 2 1/3 innings. Next was Keyvius Sampson, who needed 45 pitches as he labored to get through the fourth and fifth.

The staff walked 10, the most since 10 batters were walked vs. the Indians on July 19 last season. Straily and Sampson allowed two and three free passes, respectively, including a Sampson walk of Lackey in the fourth. Straily also hit a batter.

"It's tough watching 10 walks and a hit batter to begin with, but to do it on a night where it's cold and your defense is out there ..." manager Bryan Price said. "You know guys are trying to do the best they can, it just isn't very efficient tonight. Whenever you get outhit by one and lose by seven, it usually means there's some walks involved, and that was the case tonight."

The relief corps was well rested following a day off on Tuesday and being used for just 2 1/3 innings on Monday. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, Wednesday also marked the first of 15 straight games without a day off.

"That was the most I've ever allowed a starting pitcher to throw in the first inning," Price said. "But we had to try and get through the pitcher's spot there for the last out and try to reset and maybe grind another two, three or four innings out of Alfredo to save the bullpen. We weren't able to do that. I just couldn't go any further with Alfredo at that point. Then it was up to Keyvius and Straily to keep it there, and it just didn't happen tonight."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.