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Nick Lodolo roughed up by Tampa Bay Rays in worst start of career, blowout loss

Cincinnati Reds' Nick Lodolo throws during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Cincinnati, Tuesday, April 18, 2023.
Cincinnati Reds' Nick Lodolo throws during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays in Cincinnati, Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

Nick Lodolo was pitching as well as any starter in the majors before he faced the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.

Lodolo had the worst outing of his young major league career, surrendering a career-high eight runs on 12 hits, one walk and three hit batsmen. He gave up three home runs after permitting one in his previous three starts.

Poor infield defense combined with Lodolo’s inability to locate his curveball led to the Reds’ 10-0 loss at Great American Ball Park in front of a crowd of 11,304. Taj Bradley, the Rays’ 22-year-old righty, spun 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his second career start.

Innings snowballed on Lodolo after the Reds’ infield failed to turn ground balls into outs. Take the second inning as an example after Rays catcher Francisco Mejía beat out a slow ground ball to shortstop with two outs. Lodolo hit the next batter, No. 9 hitter Vidal Bruján, before serving up a three-run homer to Yandy Díaz.

Cincinnati Reds' Nick Senzel throws to first on a ball hit by Tampa Bay Rays' Manuel Margot, who was safe during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cincinnati, Tuesday, April 18, 2023.
Cincinnati Reds' Nick Senzel throws to first on a ball hit by Tampa Bay Rays' Manuel Margot, who was safe during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Cincinnati, Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

The first three batters reached base against Lodolo in the third inning, including a ground ball single that skipped on the edge of the infield grass and snuck under the glove of shortstop Kevin Newman. All three of those baserunners scored through a two-run triple from Taylor Walls and a sacrifice fly.

It’s one thing when Lodolo isn’t generating many swings and misses, but he was often pitching behind in counts. He threw a first-pitch strike to only nine of his 29 batters. Lodolo lasted 4 2/3 innings, the first time in his last 12 starts he didn’t complete at least five frames.

The Reds were shut out for the first time this season.

Takeaways from the Reds’ loss to the Rays

1. The Reds didn’t have a runner reach second base in their 5 1/3 innings against Rays rookie Taj Bradley, who is considered one of the league’s best pitching prospects. Bradley silenced the Reds with excellent command of his changeup to pair with his 96-mph fastball.

Reliever Yonny Chirinos walked the first batter he faced, Jake Fraley, and he hit Tyler Stephenson with a pitch. With two runners on base and one out, Wil Myers hit an infield pop-up and Newman lined out to right field.

Apr 18, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kevin Newman (28) fields a ball hit by Tampa Bay Rays catcher Francisco Mejia in the second inning at Great American Ball Park.
Apr 18, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kevin Newman (28) fields a ball hit by Tampa Bay Rays catcher Francisco Mejia in the second inning at Great American Ball Park.

2. Reds closer Alexis Díaz, pitching for the first time in five days, struck out the side in the eighth inning. Wander Franco, Isaac Paredes and Randy Arozarena, the Nos. 2-4 hitters in the Rays lineup, whiffed on all six swings they took against Díaz’s pitches.

3. Walls, the Rays’ switch-hitting second baseman, tormented Reds pitching. He hit a 379-foot homer to left field off Lodolo in the second inning and a two-run triple in the third inning as a righthanded batter. As a lefty, he hit a 365-foot homer to right field against reliever Casey Legumina in the sixth inning.

He became the fourth Rays player to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game, joining Geoff Blum, Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist.

Stat of the day

The Rays have homered in all 18 of their games this season, the second-longest streak to begin a season since 1901. The Seattle Mariners homered in 20 consecutive games to start the 2019 season.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Reds vs. Rays game: Nick Lodolo roughed up in worst start of career