On the Ugly Scale, the Cincinnati Reds are off the charts these days. They’ve gone from ugly to uglier to ugliest on this eight-game western swing.
It was bad enough that they lost again Friday night, the fifth time in six games on this trip, but they once again lost starting pitcher Johnny Cueto in a 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers.
It was the second straight shutout suffered by the Reds after they lost in Oakland 5-0 on Wednesday.
For the third time this season Cueto suffered pain in his right lat and is more than likely headed to the disabled list for the third time this season.
It was evident in the first inning something major was amiss with Cueto. He threw only fastballs and change-ups, no breaking pitches.
And he gave up a run, although it was a cheapie on an infield hit, stolen base and broken-bat single by Adrian Beltre.
But he threw only three pitches in the second inning to Mitch Moreland, walked around the mound holding his side, and left the game.
Tony Cingrani replaced Cueto and The Ballpark at Arlington became a Cincinnati disaster area.
Cingrani walked four in the inning and two of the bases on balls forced in runs to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
He should have escaped with no runs, though. With two outs and runners on first and third, Ian Kinsler broke for second. Devin Mesoraco’s throw easily beat Kinsler but second baseman Brandon Phillips dropped the ball.
Cingrani then walked the next three.
And there was another defensive lapse by the Reds in the fourth withBeltre on second. Jurickson Profar singled to right. Jay Bruce figured the slow-footed Beltre would stop at third.
Beltre did make a slight hesitation, then kept going. Bruce lobbed a throw to second base — didn’t even throw to the cutoff man, Joey Votto. And Beltre scored to make it 4-0.
While the Reds were ignoring defense on this night, Rangers shortstop Profar made two video-highlight plays and third baseman Beltre ended the game with a brilliant backhanded play on Chris Heisey.
On the other side, the Reds continued to play offense with broken bats.
They had runners on first and second with no outs in the second inning, but Todd Frazier rolled into a double play, and with a runner on third Heisey popped up.
They had a runner on first with one out in the fifth but Heisey rolled into a double play.
They had runners on first and second with no outs in the seventh but Bruce flied to center and Frazier popped to second. Heisey walked to fill the bases but Mesoraco grounded out.
Mesoraco started his first game with Cueto on the mound, but that’s because Ryan Hanigan twisted his ankle on this trip and was unavailable and won’t play Saturday or Sunday, either.
So let us add ‘em all up. In the six games on this trip, the Reds are 4 for 48 (.083) with runners in scoring position. They have gone 22 innings without finding home plate, their longest streak since they went 23 scoreless innings in July 2010.
To dump additional negative news on the Reds, the Pittsburgh Pirates won Friday night, pushing the third-place Reds 4 ½ games out of first place in the NL Central, their biggest deficit of the season.