ST. LOUIS -- The struggles of Reds reliever J.J. Hoover have reached the level of historically infamous.
Hoover took the loss on Tuesday night, hitting the Cardinals' Jon Jay with a pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to force in the walk-off run in a 5-4 setback.
The owner of a 1-10 record and a 5.37 ERA in 45 games, Hoover tied the club record for losses among relievers with Harry Gumbert in 1947 and Tom Hume in 1980. Unlike Gumbert and Hume, Hoover's 10 losses have come in consecutive decisions, which set a franchise record.
"You have to be mentally tough in this game," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "This game kicks everybody around. We're getting kicked around right now. If you're not mentally resilient, the game will eat you up and everything takes care of itself. He's a tough kid. There's no doubt that when you're 1-9 going into a game, I don't imagine you can be at the top of your confidence scale.
"That being said, when we've used him in shorter one-inning outings, he's actually been very, very good lately. Where's he has had trouble is pitching two innings or two-plus innings. It's when his numbers have really skyrocketed."
Hoover entered the game with two outs in the eighth inning and got out of a bases-loaded jam for Jumbo Diaz. In the ninth, Hoover did not notch an out. He walked leadoff batter Matt Holliday, gave up a Matt Adams lined single and walked Jhonny Peralta to load the bases before hitting Jay on the leg with his first pitch.
"I wasn't really hitting any spots out there tonight," Hoover told MLB.com. "The first time I had the bases loaded, I thought I executed some good pitches. The second inning, I couldn't find it from the beginning. I wasn't nervous. I wasn't overly amped up. I have all the confidence in the world I can do that job. I didn't have it tonight, and that's very frustrating."
Sorry about tonight Reds fans. That was a terrible job on my part. I will continue to work hard but I am sorry I let the team and yall down.- JJ Hoover (@JJ_Hoover) August 20, 2014
After leaving the clubhouse, Hoover tweeted from his @JJ_Hoover Twitter account: "Sorry about tonight Reds fans. That was a terrible job on my part. I will continue to work hard but I am sorry I let the team and yall down."
On Sunday in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Colorado, Aroldis Chapman walked all four batters in the ninth inning of a non-save situation. Hoover gave up the walk-off homer to Drew Stubbs that lost it -- the second time this season he's given up a homer on the final at-bat.
Tuesday felt much worse.
"In Colorado, I thought I made a decent pitch trying to get back in the at-bat and Stubbs hit to one of the deepest parts of the field, but it looked like it scraped the wall," Hoover said. "I wasn't as mad about that one as I was today. That was probably the worst game of my professional life, and even amateur. I'm just kind of embarrassed by it. I know I'm a better pitcher than that. I was just starting to get on a roll. I just didn't have any feel out there tonight. I just hate that I let the team down again."