It took quite a while for Friday’s odd contest to begin, and there might have been more action before than during.
Tommy Pham slapped Joc Pederson over a reported fantasy football dispute in left field — this is a real thing that happened. After the two were separated and the rain set the game back a couple hours, the Reds had to set off their postgame fireworks before it began thanks to a local Cincinnati noise ordinance.
Then Pham, originally slated to be the Reds’ designated hitter, was scratched from the lineup minutes before the game began.
All that hubbub and preamble was met with some dull Giants play in a 5-1 loss to a Reds team that entered the game with a league-worst 14-30 record and finished it with a still-league-worst 15-30 record.
San Francisco’s ace, Carlos Rodón looked frustrated at times, walking more batters (three) than he struck out (two) — two of which were to Cincinnati’s only lefty, Mike Moustakas — and failing to finish the sixth inning.
On the other side, the Reds turned to rookie prospect Graham Ashcraft, called up for just his second MLB start.
He was outstanding, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing just 4 hits, pitching to consistently soft contact.
The Reds tagged Rodón for a couple runs in the third, with a one-run double from Mark Reynolds and Tyler Stephenson securing a bizarre infield single to drive another run home from second.
Rodón was punished later in the fifth by Brandon Drury, who scorched a 108-mile-per-hour solo home run to left field.
The Giants did have a chance to respond, though. It took them until the eighth inning, but they loaded the bases.
And after all that oddness leading up to that moment, it came down to who else, but Joc Pederson.
Down 3-0, the man with four home runs and 10 RBI over the two prior games came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
Instead, the oddities continued. Pederson’s opportunity was taken from him, as Reds reliever Art Warren caught his jersey, scoring a run and keeping the bases juiced.
That appeared a blessing in disguise for Cincinnati as Brandon Crawford, who had singled twice to that point, turned one over. He dribbled a ball to second for the most straightforward of 4-6-3 double play you’ll see, ending the Giants’ most viable opportunity of the night.
What followed in the next half-inning was another bizarre chapter to a weird night.
With Jake McGee just activated off the 15-day injured list and set to make his first appearance since May 10, he trotted out to the mound, having worked on his mechanics during his rehab stint.
Instead, McGee sat right back down. As he prepared to get set on the mound, the umpires conferred.
McGee was not listed on the lineup card given to home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and thus, was not allowed to join the evenings proceedings. He had to take a seat in the dugout, forcing Jose Alvarez to giddy up and get warm.
Shots of the dugout showed Gabe Kapler and bench coach Kai Correa trying to figure out how on earth they submitted a lineup card without McGee on it.
The moment was one of a few in the less-than inspiring category for San Francisco.
Don’t worry, though, another soon followed.
With the bases loaded and Alvarez looking to escape a jam with just one additional run on the board, he reared back and looked to have secured an inning-ending strikeout.
Instead, it was an ignominious moment for Joey Bart, who’d entered as a pinch runner in the prior half inning. His mitt caught Nick Senzel’s bat for a bases-loaded catcher’s interference call, tallying the second Reds run of the evening.
The Giants order failed to put up a fight in the ninth, going down in order.
It was a night of everything being just slightly off for the Giants, who will have the next two games to exact some retribution against a team they have no business losing to.