Cingrani undone by bad stretch while Latos pulled from rehab start

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tony Cingrani (52) pitches during the second inning against the San Francisco Giants at Great American Ball Park.

Frank Victores/Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

CINCINNATI — There is a decision looming for Bryan Price and the Reds when it comes to the starting rotation but it might be pushed back after Wednesday’s events.

Mat Latos was pulled from his third rehab start with Triple-A Louisville after throwing one pitch in the sixth inning of a game at Lehigh Valley. There was no official word from the Reds or the Bats on the exact reason for Latos leaving the game early as of Wednesday night, although his wife Dallas tweeted that it was a precautionary move caused by a calf cramp.

Whenever Latos is ready to return to the Reds and pitch in the major leagues for the first time this season it will mean somebody has to go from the rotation, with either Alfredo Simon or Tony Cingrani being the most likely candidate.

Cingrani was on the mound Wednesday against San Francisco and was undone by one bad stretch of three batters in a 3-2 loss. After limiting the Giants to three hits and no runs over the first 5 2/3 innings, including retiring 12 of 14 batters at one point, the Reds’ left-hander gave up what had been a 2-0 lead on a pair of home runs and a single.

The loss was the sixth in eight decisions for Cingrani, including four straight since coming off the disabled list May 18, but if the Reds had been able do more offensively than manage just one base runner over their final 16 batters Cingrani’s fate may have been different. The Reds have scored as many as four run in just three of Cingrani’s 10 starts this season and more than four runs just once, in a 12-4 win against Tampa Bay on April 13.

Cingrani ended up throwing 100 pitches, only 59 of them for strikes. He struck out seven but also walked three (one intentionally).

The first three hits Cingrani allowed were each two-out doubles but he avoided any damage in the first, second and fifth innings. He again got the first two outs in the sixth inning but Michael Morse put the Giants on the board with his 12th home run of the season. Brandon Hicks, who entered the game hitting .178, followed with a single and then Juan Perez, who had just one hit in 21 at-bats coming into the game, homered to left field to put San Francisco up 3-2

"He started the sixth inning with 82 pitches and got two quick outs and a solo homer. No big deal," said Price. "He still had good stuff and was around the plate… The matchups were good but they just didn’t work out tonight."

Cingrani has pitched past the sixth inning just twice this season. He’s walked at least two batters in all 10 appearances this season. He missed two weeks with a sore shoulder. Wednesday night was his fourth consecutive start allowing seven hits after not giving up more than six hits in any of the first 24 starts of his career.

"I had my old mechanics back. I felt pretty good and my arm felt pretty strong," said Cingrani. "Then I threw a couple of bad pitches and we lost the ball game."

The mistake to Perez particularly haunted Cingrani.

"I threw a slow fastball up there and (Perez) put a really good swing on it. I don’t even know who that guy was. I tried to get ahead of him and it backfired terribly on it," said Cingrani. "I saw his batting average. It went up. He had zero home runs and now he has one. It was just one of those ball games."

Latos has been battling injuries and rehab since he showed up in Arizona for spring training. He’s currently working his way back from a flexor mass strain and all seemed well for him through the first five innings Wednesday as he allowed Lehigh Valley two runs on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts on 66 pitches.

According to reports by the Bats’ radio announcers, Latos came off the mound after throwing that one pitch in the sixth inning and was soon joined by Louisville manager Jim Riggleman and pitching coach Ted Power. Riggleman took the ball from Latos after a lengthy discussion. According to the announcers, Latos threw his glove in disgust as he entered the dugout.

Things had gone smoothly enough for Latos in his first two rehab starts for Louisville; he threw 49 pitches in four innings against Buffalo on May 25 and upped that to 81 pitches in 4 2/3 innings at Columbus last Friday.

Price said after the Reds’ game that he wouldn’t know the full extent of Latos’ setback until Thursday. The manager has said previously that he would like Latos to be able to work his way up to six innings and be able to throw between 90-100 pitches in a game before activating him.

The Reds have not discussed publicly their plans for when Latos returns.