LOS ANGELES — David Bell thought the way Tyler Mahle pitched in the first three innings on Sunday was one of the best of his career.
Mahle was working ahead with his off-speed pitches and generating strikeouts with his fastball. He frustrated Los Angeles Dodgers hitters with his fastball and splitter.
Then round four came and nothing went well.
It was just another low point in a week full of low points. The Cincinnati Reds were beaten, 9-1, in Sunday’s series finale at Dodger Stadium and swept in the four-game series, extending their losing streak to six games. It was the first time the Dodgers had swept the Reds in a four-game series since 1975.
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The Reds haven’t led once in their six-game, 54-game losing streak where they’ve been tied or trailed.
“It’s just that anything that could go wrong is going wrong,” Mahle said.
After an off-season where the Reds parted ways with several of their most popular players and a 99-day lockdown, that adds up to a 2-8 record to start the season, the Majors’ worst record. It’s the third time in the last five seasons (2018 and 2019) that they’ve only won two of their first 10 games.
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Mahle gave up seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, tying a career high. He allowed just one hit his first time on the Dodgers’ lineup, totaling four strikeouts, but the fourth inning turned into a disaster.
“I don’t think it has to do with any of their players or anything,” Mahle said. “They have a great lineup, obviously, but I didn’t feel that, like, ‘oh man, they’ve got (Freddie) Freeman coming next.’ I knew I just had to make a good pitch to get them out.”
The Dodgers’ first five batters reached base in the fourth inning. Max Muncy curled a two-run double down the right field line and Will Smith slapped an RBI double into left field.
This is a Dodgers roster that has the luxury of beating 2019 National League MVP Cody Bellinger, seventh on their roster, and Chris Taylor, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract last week. last winter, eighth. Taylor continued the chart-topping in the fourth inning with a two-run double down the middle.
Freeman, who opened the fourth inning with a single, added a two-run single on his second at bat of the inning. He smiled once he reached first base as the Dodger Stadium crowd of 41,167 chanted his name.
“Against this formation,” Bell said, “it’s a very fine line between getting a good pitch and then allowing hasty runs.”
During the six-game losing streak, it was a terrible week that began with team chairman Phil Castellini’s comments mocking fan criticism ahead of the club’s opener. Tommy Pham missed two games due to an outfield collision. Nick Senzel missed four games due to illness. Jonathan India has missed three games with a right hamstring injury and could head to the injured list.
The Reds have the league’s lowest on-base percentage (.254) and second-worst batting average (.180). They’ve averaged 2.5 runs over their losing streak, scoring just one run going into the sixth inning in one of those six games.
“It’s been tough,” Bell said. “It kind of feels like you just go down and we fight to get back there, but we can’t go back. We’ve faced some really good pitchers. In the long run, it’s is like having these challenges early on, playing against these good teams and facing good pitchers should help us. It’s just hard to get through while it’s going on.
Dodgers left-hander Andrew Heaney overpowered the Reds lineup, allowing one hit in six innings. Heaney struck out 11, his highest total since striking out 14 on Aug. 20, 2019. Heaney had three starts with 10 strikeouts last season.
Injuries to several right-handed hitters – India, Senzel, Donovan Solano and Jose Barrero – meant the Reds had four southpaws in their roster. They had no chance against Heaney’s slider, who drew a staggering 14 puffs from the 22 shots the Reds offered him.
“Maybe he’s not the guy that comes to mind when you think of their dominant starters – he’s really good – but he absolutely threw a great game,” Bell said.
Kyle Farmer hit a brace against Heaney in the third inning, which prevented a hit from playing, but the Reds will face two more left-handed starters in their next three-game series in San Diego.