It never did, at least not Sunday. Detwiler held the Reds scoreless in his fifth and final inning, but not before Jay Bruce managed to single on a masse shot over the pitcher’s mound and Xavier Paul added a broken-bat single.
“Another positive you can take out,” Detwiler said. “They have to go buy new bats.”
The early outburst gave the Reds more than they needed behind Cingrani, who may well be an emerging star. The Reds selected him in the third round of the 2011 draft out of Rice, where he played alongside Rendon. In his minor league career, Cingrani struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings. Before the Reds called him up from Class AAA Louisville to replace injured ace Johnny Cueto, he whiffed 26 in 141
“He has that motion,” Rendon said. “That’s what he thrives on. He has that little bit of deception. The ball jumps on you a little bit more.”
Sunday, he mowed down the Nationals. The first trip through the lineup, Cingrani retired all nine hitters and struck out four. He struck out leadoff hitter Denard Span to start the fourth, but Span scooted to first because of a wild pitch. Cingrani lost a no-hitter when Espinosa doubled into the right field corner.
After Bryce Harper struck out swinging at a chin-high fastball, Jayson Werth’s walk loaded the bases with one out. Suddenly, the Nationals were down 4-0 but very much in the game. Desmond hacked and missed a 94 mph fastball for strike three.
Up came LaRoche, whom Johnson had moved down to sixth in the lineup for only the second time since the start of 2012. A notorious slow starter and streak hitter, LaRoche entered Sunday with no hits and 10 strikeouts in his last 22 at-bats. Cingrani struck him out in their first encounter in three pitches.
Now, with the bases loaded, he blazed a 1-2, 96 mph fastball over the outside corner. LaRoche took it. Home plate umpire Sam Holbrook called strike three. LaRoche turned and barked at Holbrook, waving his left hand, another show of irritation.
“Some guys, you try to hope for the double play,” said Miller, the Reds catcher. “But with Tony, you hope for the strikeout. That’s the type of guy he is.”
LaRoche’s glove had kept the game nominally competitive, leading to rally-killing double plays in the second and third. But his bat kept letting the Nats down. In the eighth inning, LaRoche popped up against reliever Jonathan Broxton with two outs to leave another runner stranded. He ended the day 0 for his last 26 with 13 strikeouts.
“I’ve got one of two options here,” LaRoche said. “I can keep my head up, keep swinging, or pack up and head home. I’m not ready to go home yet.”