CINCINNATI (AP) — After three last-place seasons, the Reds hoped they’d turned a corner. Instead, they’re off to their worst start since the Great Depression.
And there’s no telling how low they’ll go.
Greg Garcia hit two home runs for the first time in his career, powering the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-1 victory Saturday that left Cincinnati with the worst record in the majors at 2-12. The last time the Reds opened a season so badly was 1931, when they dropped 17 of 19.
“You never expect it,” manager Bryan Price said . “It’s a tough spot, but you’ve got to deal with it.”
It’s especially discouraging for a rebuilding team that’s seen attendance drop significantly while it put together three straight seasons with at least 94 losses.
“That’s the way it’s going,” said left-hander Brandon Finnegan (0-1), who made his season debut. “Everything that can do against us goes against us. We can’t find the big break.”
The Cardinals are heading in the opposite direction, winning a season-high three in a row with an offense that’s finally rounding into form. They’ve scored 24 runs and piled up eight homers — by six different players — during the first three games of the series.
Garcia had a solo homer and a two-run shot off Finnegan. He came into the game with a total of seven career homers, including only two last season. Garcia also doubled and scored on Tommy Pham’s double.
Getting a chance to start in a day game after a night game, Garcia — who usually faces right-handed pitchers — got his first career homers off a lefty.
“I hadn’t hit many home runs, so you remember most of them,” Garcia said. “I had an idea there weren’t many against a lefty, if any.”
Garcia also doubled and scored on Pham’s double as the Cardinals pulled away.
“It’s taking advantage of an opportunity — an unlikely opportunity against a left-handed starter,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He had great at-bats. It’s impressive how he stays sharp and is ready to go.”
Pham had a solid game at the top of the lineup. He singled twice, doubled, walked, stole two bases and scored two times. Marcell Ozuna had a sacrifice fly, but his hitting streak ended at 12 games.
Miles Mikolas (2-0) limited the Reds’ struggling offense to four hits in seven innings, including Tucker Barnhart’s homer . It was his best outing since signing with the Cardinals after spending the last three seasons pitching in Japan.
“It’s nice to kind of put that in your back pocket,” Mikolas said. “I’ll be in a good mood the next couple of days.”
The Reds placed their hopes for a turnaround on the top of their rotation staying healthy. The pitching staff has been sapped by injuries again this season and has given up the most runs and homers in the majors. Their 6.04 ERA is by far the worst in the majors.
Finnegan strained his left biceps during spring training. He was activated before Saturday’s game and gave up six hits, four walks and five runs in 4 1/3 innings, throwing 91 pitches on his 25th birthday.
“He wasn’t real sharp,” Price said. “He had a hard time getting things going.”
WALK THIS WAY
Ozuna drew his first walk of the season in his 66th plate appearance.
Greg Holland made his third appearance for the Cardinals and gave up a single during one inning. The Cardinals signed him to a one-year deal on March 31. In his last two appearances, he’s given up one hit and one walk in two innings.
Barnhart was presented with his 2017 Gold Glove Award on the field pregame, and fans received a Barnhart bobblehead. His homer was his second of the season.
Cardinals: RH Luke Gregerson has made another step in his recovery from a strained left hamstring, pitching on consecutive days during a minor league rehab assignment. He got hurt during spring training.
Reds: OF Jesse Winker is expected to miss at least one more day with a sore right shoulder. He was scratched from the lineup on Friday.
Cardinals: Carlos Martinez (1-1) is 6-3 career against the Reds. St. Louis has won six of his last eight starts against Cincinnati.
Reds: Homer Bailey (0-2) makes his fourth start still looking for his first win. Bailey is 6-13 career against the Cardinals with a 5.86 ERA.
— Associated Press —