Brad Hand looked like a different pitcher after returning from a lengthy, mid-summer sabbatical on the disabled list. On Sunday, he more closely resembled the Hand of old.
The Cincinnati Reds used three Hand walks to their advantage in the fifth inning, converting all of them into runs when Devin Mesoraco unloaded the bases with a grand slam.
The outcome was a 7-2 loss for the Marlins that kept them from sweeping the Reds in Cincinnati for the first time since 2003.
One night after Brad Penny provided the Marlins with a warm-and-fuzzy win in what was his first start for them in 10 years, the rotation’s other Brad was unable to follow suit.
Hand gave up a two-run homer to Mesoraco in the first inning.
But it was the fifth that proved his undoing.
With the score tied 2-2, Hand set the avalanche into motion by walking leadoff hitter Ramon Santiago. A single followed, by a pair of outs. But then things came apart for the pitcher.
After Hand walked Jay Bruce to load the bases, pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and Marlins trainer Sean Cunningham — sensing something amiss — made a trip to the mound to check on the pitcher. Satisfied that nothing serious was wrong, Hand was allowed to continue, and he promptly walked Todd Frazier to force in the go-ahead run.
Hernandez went to chat with Hand a second time. Their discussion apparently did no good, as Mesoraco took him deep a second time, belting Hand’s changup into the seats in left. It was Mesoraco’s third grand slam of the season, equaling a Reds record.
Only then did manager Mike Redmond decide enough was enough and go to his bullpen. By then, it was too late.
Hand’s poor performance on Sunday was in sharp contrast to a string of recent outings in which he had seemed to discover the solution to success. Over his previous four starts, he had gone 2-1 with a 2.02 ERA. He last walked three in a game on May 20, just before landing on a DL with a questionable ankle injury.
But he walked that many in Sunday’s fifth inning alone.