All of Reds country sighed when Tony Cingrani left the game Tuesday in the fourth inning with a lower back strain. At this time of the season, with the National League Central Division lead still in their sights, the Reds can’t afford a major injury.
After a 5-2 loss to the Diamondbacks at Great American Ball Park, Cingrani reassured everyone.
“I’m pitching my next outing,” he said. “That’s for sure. It’s not bad.”
Cingrani (6-3, 2.76 ERA) has pitched so well this season, it’s easy to forget he’s replacing the pitcher considered to be the team’s ace, Johnny Cueto. Cingrani had allowed a total of four runs in his last four starts, and he looked on top of his game early Tuesday, retiring the first 10 batters he faced.
Cingrani got the first out of the fourth, too, but then Martin Prado broke a 0-0 tie with a home run, his 12th of the season.
Later in the inning, after a double by Aaron Hill, catcher Devin Mesoraco visited Cingrani on the mound. Pitching coach Bryan Price soon followed. In no time at all, a crowd that included head trainer Paul Lessard and manager Dusty Baker had crowded around Cingrani.
Price motioned to the bullpen, and Cingrani’s night was over. Cingrani said the back issue has bothered him for a while, but hadn’t been as bad as it was Tuesday. He stressed that he could have continued to pitch and the decision to take him out was precautionary.
“We were quite surprised,” Baker said. “He was throwing the ball well, probably as well as he has all year. For him to say something was wrong and for him to not continue, it had to be pretty serious. It sort of shocked us all. We had to go to our bullpen earlier than expected.”
Alfredo Simon took over for Cingrani and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Sam LeCure pitched a scoreless sixth, but ran into trouble in the seventh.
The Diamondbacks loaded the bases with three straight singles. J.J. Hoover replaced LeCure and ran up a 3-2 count on Paul Goldschmidt, who hammered the next pitch into the stands in left. Goldschmidt, who leads the NL with 100 RBIs, ended Hoover’s scoreless streak after 26 1/3 innings.
“I left it up in the zone,” Hoover said. “I faced Goldy a bunch of times in the minors. You can’t leave that pitch to him up there.”
The grand slam looked grander an inning later when Chris Heisey broke up Patrick Corbin’s shutout with a two-run home run, cutting Arizona’s lead to 5-2.
Corbin, who Baker called one of the best pitchers in the league before the game, stayed in the game after the home run and completed things in the ninth. He allowed six hits and struck out 10, improving to 13-3.
Diamondbacks at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410