April 2, 2014

Opening Night

Game 2 Cingrani vs. Wacha

Fallout from opening day has people reaching for the panic button.  I've read everything from bench Billy to bat him ninth.  After four at bats, both notions are absurd.

I don't cut the home team any extra slack, but I'm not ready to start drawing conclusions from one game.

If the Reds win the next two, opening day would and should be totally forgotten.

I do understand that people are fearful that we are seeing more of the same crap that we have seen under Dusty Baker.  It scares me a bit as well, but let's hope that Game 1 was the exception rather than the rule.
April 4, 2014

Reds Lose Series Opener in New York

The Reds have lost for the third time in four tries.  All have been one-run losses, with tonight's score of 4-3.  The Reds were 2-9 with RISP, leaving ten on base.  This has been the recurring theme with this team for the past few years.  I was truly hoping that hitting approach/situational hitting was going to be the focus of the 2014 spring training.  I didn't see much to lead me to believe that it was being worked on, and right now we are seeing the result of that.

In the first four games, the Reds have stranded 37 runners.  Folks will chant, "It's early."  It is never too early to display sound fundamentals and an astute hitting approach.  As I said, we should have been seeing that being ingrained in Goodyear, AZ.

On the upside, Jay Bruce hit a 2-run home run and was responsible for all three Reds runs.

Billy Hamilton was held out of tonight's starting lineup.  In his stead, Roger Bernadina collected 3 walks while striking out twice and scoring a run.  Hamilton was brought in to run in the 8th inning.  He was caught stealing in his first attempt of the season.

In the 9th, Bernadina walked with 1 out.  Brandon Phillips singled, bringing Joey Votto to the plate with 2 on.  Votto swung at the first pitch, popping out to left field.  Bruce struck out to end the game.

Of note, Brandon Phillips hit a ball in the first inning that looked to be destined for a home run.  Eric Young Jr. timed it, reached over the wall and took it away.  That turned out to be the difference in the game.

Playing conditions have been flat out rotten.  I have never understood why MLB does not play the first ten games or so in warm weather venues and domes.  These athletes are paid hundreds of millions of dollars, then you have them play in cold, wet conditions with long delays, trying to avoid a rainout/double header situation.

This would allow more tickets to be sold in much better weather for the so called foul weather climates.

April 12, 2014

Reds Drop Another One Run Affair

But wait, that was the headline yesterday!  Unfortunately, we could cut and paste this almost on a daily basis.

Bryan Price opened the day by moving Joey Votto in the #2 slot, flopping Brandon Phillips to the #3 hole.  Despite what the stat heads will tell you, that is an idiotic move.  First and foremost, you must understand the role of the #2 hitter.  I don't like putting those restrictions on Votto.  Secondly, I prefer a RH bat in the #2 slot.  I want that hitter, AT MINIMUM  to make the 2nd basemen move to his left to field the ball.  Brandon Phillips does that well.  Joey Votto hasn't pulled the ball in two years!

It appears Bryan Price is feeling the pressure and may be listening to the fans.  If you listen to the fans, you will eventually be sittin' with the fans!  Batting Brandon Phillips 3rd, lets him be undisciplined and swing from the heels.  It is a BAD move for BOTH players.

Price's management technique was to be progressive and aggressive.  To date, he is over-managing.  His strategies are not only not working, they are blowing up in his face.  His shifts have been a disaster.

In the Dusty Baker years, the Reds were horrid with their hitting approach/situational hitting and displayed a low baseball IQ.  Not only has it not improved thus far under Price, it may actually be worse!

Case in point, in the bottom of the 4th, Joey Votto led off with a double.  Brandon Phillips singled to CF.  Joey Votto was thrown out by 15 feet at the plate.  First out of the inning at the plate?  Really?  Low baseball IQ is an understatement.

Then Phillips tries to steal 3B with one out.  Nailed by Hanigan!  Even lower baseball IQ!  Bruce proceeds to strikeout.  So you have a double followed by a single.  The pitcher still faces the minimum and escapes the inning.  To be this foolish......you have to try!  Absolutely horrible baseball.

The Reds have now been involved in SEVEN one-run games, winning only two of them.  They have wasted one solid pitching performance after another.  Final score, Rays 1, Reds 0.

Don't press the panic button, but at least know where it is located.  This is a weak roster (missing a bat or even two), that is right now, poorly managed.

April 19. 2014

Cubs Double Up the Reds 8-4

In pretty much a similar fashion to his last start, Tony Cingrani battled himself from the first pitch on Saturday.  He did manage as always to keep his team in the ball game.  Cingrani left after 5 innings, having allowed 3 runs on 5 hits.

That's where problems grew for Bryan Price.  He really had no solution for long relief.  Last year's long reliever, Alfredo Simon is a little busy right now.  He has been doing a brilliant job of covering the spot of Mat Latos in the Reds rotation.  Who was that smart guy calling for Reds to sign FA, Aaron Harang in March?

So on came Logan Ondrusek.  Castro singles to RF.  But Ondrusek struck out the next batter while Mesoraco to Phillips cut down Castro trying to steal.  That emptied the bases, and it looked as though the Cubs may help the Reds out. 

Not so, with 2 outs, Castillo singled to CF.  Then Ondrusek hung a big fat pitch to the .138 batting Darwin Barney, and he deposited it into the left field seats.  Ondrusek then allowed 2 more Cubs to reach before giving way to Nick Christiani.  The Cubs went on to score another run.  Major damage done as a 3-2 game was now 6-2 in favor of the Cubs.

The Reds bounced back with a couple of runs in the 7th making it 6-4 Cubs.  But Christiani gave them right back in the bottom of the inning leading to the eventual final score of 8-4.

The Good.... Billy Hamilton collected 3 hits today.  Jay Bruce added 3 of his own.  Votto and Mesoraco each chipped in with 2 hits each.  While it was a bit late starting, the Reds offense should have been good enough to win.

The Bad.... Brandon Phillips hung a big ole 0 for 5 and looked bad doing it.  Keith Olbermann ripped him in a segment on Friday night.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvw7B4ngJwI

Phillips does look distracted if not downright disinterested at times.

The Ugly.... With Billy Hamilton on first base and no outs, Joey Votto went after the first pitch, hit it up the middle into a tailor-made double play.  THAT is why that over the long-term, batting Votto 2nd, especially with Phillips behind him, will be a failure.  Phillips was working the count, allowing Billy to run and hitting behind the runner while batting 2nd.  Yes Votto has been on fire.  But how many of those AB's were solid situational hitting as a #2 guy? 

If you are telling me Joey can hit better batting 2nd than 3rd, I'll ask why.  I can promise you that Phillips will be more value hitting 2nd as opposed to 3rd.  I would like to see Hamilton-Phillips-Votto-Mesoraco.  That won't happen for a LONG time, because fans and Price are convinced that moving Votto to 2nd suddenly caused him to hit.  Correlation is not causation.  Over the long term, Brandon Phillips will kill the reds in the #3 hole, where as he could help them by batting 2nd.

The Reds will never make the post season having to play Hamilton, Frazier and Cozart every day.  We have not come close to seeing what we have in Hamilton yet.  His history shows that he takes a little time to adjust at each progressive level.  So Hamilton stays.

With the Frazier and Cozart, what you see is what you get.  At least Cozart can play defense.  In the field, Frazier is adequate at best.  He turned his head on a ball today that cost the Reds a run.  It was hit very hard, but it's a play that a Major League third baseman needs to make.  He could have turned a DP and gotten them out of an inning.
Instead he bobbled and got only the out at third base.  You won't find stuff like that on the stat sheet.

The Reds clearly have no one on their bench or down in AAA to challenge either Frazier or Cozart.  For that problem you look squarely at Walt Jocketty.

I mentioned Phillips earlier.  It looks like he is disinterested at times.  Is he disconnected from this team?  Brandon was the kingpin with Dusty Baker.  He was flat-out coddled at times.  Is this all coming home to roost?

I hope not.  Because I see some guys excited about 'Bryan Ball' and playing their hearts out.  When a guy seems disconnected it really sticks out.  I mentioned this at the time, when switching Votto and Phillips in the lineup, Bryan Price was asked, "Did you talk this over with Brandon and Joey."  Price's response, "We talked it over with Joey."

April 7, 2014

The Epidemic Continues

Tony Cingrani was seemingly battling himself from the very first pitch. He loaded the bases in the first inning and Yadier Molina cleared them. It was 3-0 after one inning of play and St. Louis never really looked back.

Cingrani was able to right himself a bit, but he was really racking up his pitch count. He was pulled after 4 innings, giving way to Nick Christiani. Christiani pitched two scoreless innings. In the 7th inning, on came Trevor Bell. St. Louis scored 2 more runs and essentially put the game out of reach.

Billy Hamilton collected a hit to RF in the 1st inning. He never even hesitated rounding first base. He slid into second, not even drawing a throw. Brandon Phillips moved Hamilton to third with a bunt. Then Joey Votto failed miserably. Hamilton was going on contact when Votto hit a dribbler to second base. Hamilton was caught in a run down, and the epidemic of leaving runners on, continues.

The Reds score a couple of runs in the 9th in a non-save situation. Final St. Louis 5, Cincinnati 3.

I can pretty much cut and paste. The Reds hitting approach/situational hitting remains dismal. It was dismal under Baker. It was dismal in the spring under Price. They clearly were not working on it, when in fact it should have been emphasized. Now they are paying the price......or should I say Price?

About the author:
Danny Palmer is a Sports Enthusiast/Critic
Host of Reds Line on WICW Radio in Longboat Key, FL
"If you are looking for political correctness, click away now!"
April 2, 2014

Harang's Debut

Aaron Harang made his debut in a Braves uniform today.  His pitching line, 6 2/3 innings, 0 runs on 2 hits. 
He leaves the game leading 1-0. 

Another missed opportunity by Walt Jocketty. 

The important thing is, the Craft Beer stand is open!
April 2, 2014

Reds and Bryan Price Record Their First Win

Opening Night....After a lengthy rain delay, game 2 of the 2014 season finally got underway. Those who waited it out were treated to another outstanding pitcher’s duel. Tony Cingrani and Michael Wacha were nothing short of brilliant! Manny Parra and J.J. Hoover followed Cingrani with two shutout innings before Chris Heisey delivered the winning run with a base hit to left field in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the Reds a 1-0 victory.  The first, of what we hope will be many, for Bryan Price.

Descriptions, accounts and stats are available everywhere. I hit the high points, then I hope that I can deliver some points that you may not read elsewhere.

Over the past couple of seasons, the Reds have looked almost in awe of the Cardinals. I’m not really seeing that in these first two games. Despite the outstanding pitching against the Reds, they have seemingly been content to go toe to toe with one of the National League’s perennial powers.

The thing that really jumped out at me tonight came in the 8th inning with Manny Parra on the mound. Parra struck Bourjos out swinging to begin the inning. But he gave up a two-strike double to deep CF to Wong. St. Louis sent a RH hitter, Robinson to the plate. I assure you Dusty Baker would have pulled Parra right then and there. Instead price allowed Parra to continue, knowing full well the lefty Carpenter was standing in the on deck circle.  Parra induced Robinson to line out to LF. Carpenter followed with a looping liner that Zack Cozart made a fine play on, to get the Reds out of the inning.

What does all that mean? There is your first glaring contrast between Baker and Price. Baker would have burned three pitchers in that 8th inning. Price allows Parra to work himself out of it. Cozart picked him up with a nice play.  The bullpen is not taxed.  Price had no idea how long this game may go on.  I think it was astute managing on the part of Bryan Price.

In the 9th Frazier booted a ball. Hoover picked him up by striking out Matt Adams to end the inning. Little things add up folks. A nice win by the Reds to keep any further pressure from building. You cannot win a pennant in April, but you can sure lose one. Game #2 or not, this was a BIG win by the Reds.
April 3, 2014

Reds Drop Rubber Match With Cards

First I must commemorate this date.  40 years ago today, 33 people lost their lives and the town of Xenia, Ohio was changed forever.  It was a devastating event.  But the resolve of the people in Greene County, allowed them to sort through the rubble and rebuild their city.  Xenia Lives!

Homer Bailey was staked a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but he was unable to hold it.  Christiani, Bell, Ondrusek and Partch followed Bailey from the pen.  Trevor Bell gave up a CRITICAL 3 spot to help put the game out of reach for the Cardinals.  Final score St. Louis 7 - Cincinnati 6.

This is the first game that can perhaps allow us to focus on the injuries a bit.  At least three guys pitched in this game that had it not been for injuries, may not even be on the roster.  Those three being, Christiani, Bell and Partch.  And there were times this spring that I wondered if Logan Ondrusek would make the team.

As far as Bailey goes,  he's a front of the rotation guy who should be able to take the ball anywhere in the rotation.  I spoke the other day of Tony Cingrani displaying 'Ace Mentality'.  I have seen Homer Bailey display the same, but I did not see it yesterday. 

It is said that a starting pitcher in the big leagues has his best stuff maybe a handful of times per season.  Guys who emerge as top notch pitchers are those who learn to battle when they do not have their best stuff.

Again, Homer had the three run lead at home against the Reds number one nemesis.  I want to see more mental toughness.  I predicted 85 wins.  If the Reds are to exceed that total and get to the post season, they cannot let games like this one get away.

The offense came to life a bit.  Joey Votto went 3 for 4 with two doubles.  The problem being, Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips went a combined 1 for 9 in front of him.  Todd Frazier had a BIG day going 4 for 5 with two HRs.

Plenty of runs to win the ballgame.  Yes, Hamilton and Phillips are a concern.  But since Bryan Price opted not to form his lineup and allow them to play together for several games to conclude the spring, I'm not going to get overly excited about individual performances for several more games.  I said it then and still believe that was a big mistake on Price's part.  But that did not cause the Reds to lose yesterday's ball game.

The Reds open a series in New York tonight against the Mets.  It is time to bounce back.  The last thing this team needs is to allow any significant gap to develop between themselves and the teams ahead of them.  But there is absolutely no need to overcorrect the steering at this time.
April 5, 2014

Mets Topple Reds With Walk-Off Grand Slam

It had all the makings of another 1-run ball game.  Ike Davis had other ideas.  J.J. Hoover never recorded an out in the 9th inning.  Davis was summoned off the bench, he delivered, final result Mets 6, Reds 3.

Brandon Phillips hit what appeared to be a BIG home run at the time, giving the Reds a 3-2 lead.  Sam LeCure pitched a scoreless 8th, before the fateful 9th rolled around.

You probably couldn't script a worse start for manager, Bryan Price and his Reds.  They have been plagued by injures.  Their offense has been stagnant.  Billy Hamilton and Zack Cozart have struggled mightily out of the gate.

I will once again point to what I thought was a very poor spring training conducted by Price and his staff.  Despite Jim Kelch yelling that spring training was too long and everyone was ready to leave, this ball club was nowhere near properly prepared to start the season.

Hopefully, injuries will heal, players will begin to relax and settle into their roles in the coming days.
April 5, 2014

Pre-Game Notes

Billy Hamilton has been scratched from today's starting lineup.  He jammed a finger on his stolen base attempt in last night's game.  He is listed day to day.
April 6, 2014

Pre-Game Thoughts, Final Game Of The Series

Talk show fallout after yesterday's game leaves me shaking my head.  People were calling in and complaining about Joey Votto.  TONS of people second guessing the use of J.J. Hoover.  Why wouldn't Bryan Price reasonably expect Hoover to handle the bottom of the Mets order?

It was a bad outing, but a couple of things lost here.  Joey Votto opted to throw to second base on the bunt.  The runner was called out.  But as we all know, the replay reversed it.  So without the replay, the Mets may have never mounted that rally.  If Joey had opted to get the sure out, perhaps they walk the next guy intentionally and the outcome may have been different.

So, I really don't get the second guessing of Price relative to that 9th inning.

The Reds need to bank this one today.  I'm not real comfortable with Alfredo Simon getting the ball.  But it would not be good going to St. Louis at 1-5.
April 8, 2014

Bailey Coughs Up 4-0 Lead

For the second straight start, both coming against the Cardinals, Homer Bailey was staked to an early lead.  Last start it was a 3-0 lead, tonight it was a 4-0 lead.

The ugly epidemic looked like it had been at least temporarily stymied.  Reds put runners in scoring position and scored them. 

Jay Bruce badly misplayed a ball in RF and it was costly.  It was scored a double but Jay Bruce would tell you that's a ball he should catch with little difficulty. 

The bottom line to this ball game.  The offense finally figures out how to plate the runners, then the pitching and defense can't get the job done.
April 6, 2014

Reds Salvage The Final Game Of Three With The Mets

Another one-run ball game, this time it falls in favor of the Reds.  Alfredo Simon and Manny Parra were brilliant!  The Reds offense only put two runs on the board, but Simon and Para made it stand up for a 2-1 Cincinnati victory.  Simon allowed one run on four hits, striking out six over seven innings.  Parra pitched a perfect 8th and 9th, striking out two batters.

The win allows the Reds to move on to St. Louis with at least a little momentum.  The Reds recorded 8 hits in all, with Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwick collecting two each.

Bryan Price groomed Simon all spring long.  It was a clear and decisive project to have him ready as a starter, should the need arise.  It was a wise move on the part of Price and it paid big dividends today in New York.

The Reds are 2-4.  All games except yesterday's walk-off have all been one-run affairs.  Get used to those tight games Reds fans, that's the way this team is built.
April 15, 2014

Reds 'Split'

On a cold and blustery evening the Reds and Pirates had to conclude last night's soggy affair before taking on the regularly scheduled game for this date.  They resumed in the 7th inning tied at 7-7.

The Pirates were able to push a run across, while the Reds went pretty much without a whimper.  Final score 8-7.

Mike Leake pitched the nightcap.  He pitched fairly well, being his own worst enemy in the field when he uncorked a wild throw into CF when attempting to start a double play.  He pitched his way out of any further problem there.  Leake more than made up for it with a couple hits, one being a 2-run home run.

The bullpen was very shaky.  Manny Parra gave up a couple of runs.  Broxton turned it into an absolute adventure in the 9th inning before earning the 'save'.  He hung a curve ball to Andrew McCutchen and got away with it.  It says 'Save' in the book, but in reality it was an 'escape'.  This guy is a 'fake closer'.  I have zero confidence in him.

The GREAT news, the Reds scored 7 runs on 15 hits!  Joey Votto was 4-4.  They had the aforementioned hits and 2-run homer from Leake.  Todd Frazier hit a 2-run home run  Devin Mesoraco continues to scald the ball, collecting 3 more hits and 2 more RBIs.  That ties Mesoraco for the team lead in runs batted in. 

Final score of game 2, Reds 7, Pirates 5.  For now, splitting these games are a big ole 'sister kiss'.  It's best that they won the second one.  Hopefully it will give them the momentum to win their first series of the season tomorrow afternoon.  The Reds have scored 26 runs over the last three games!

Random Thoughts.......

It was very interesting that in concluding the first game, Bryan Price having to go to his bench fully intended to play Billy Hamilton at SS had the Reds found a way to tie the game.

Chew on these numbers and digest them for a minute.

Mike Leake in 116 Big League starts:
43 wins    30 losses       3.95 ERA

Homer Bailey in 146 Big League starts:
49 wins    46 losses       4.32 ERA

April 11, 2014

Reds Drop Another One Run Affair 

David Price was absolutely brilliant through 8 1/3 innings.  Joey Votto then chased him with an opposite field shot making it a 2-1 ball game.  Price was relieved by Grant Balfour. 

Balfour struck Ryan Ludwick out looking.  He then proceeded to load the bases with three straight walks.  The last coming when he was clearly pitching around Devin Mesoraco after wild pitching the runners to 2nd and 3rd. 

Brayan Pena came on to pinch hit.  Balfour struck him out looking to end the ball game.

Twitter then exploded with Reds fans complaining about the plate umpire and his strike zone.  You really display your lack of understanding of baseball when you take part in such 'fine whine'. 

Umpires come with a reputation.  You often know what to expect from a plate umpire and his strike zone before the first pitch.  It is frequently addressed in a pre-game meeting right along with scouting reports.  The manager or hitting coach may tell you, "Joe is behind the plate tonight.  He's got a big strike zone.  Make sure that you protect yourself real well with two strikes."

The plate umpire tonight was clearly giving a 'big corner'.  As a hitter, if you take a called third strike, you have no one to blame but yourself.  Fans can bellyache all they want.  But the real fault lies with the player.  When you get two strikes on you, the hitting window now becomes strike zone plus.  Meaning, anything that is in the zone + the fringe.  If it is close enough to call, it's too close to take!

Another solid outing by Cueto, plenty good enough to expect a win.  Instead the Reds fall to 3-7 and sit in the cellar of the NL Central.
April 9, 2014

Meep!  Meep!  Billy!

The Reds shake the spell.  It did not come without the ugly.  Billy Hamilton led off the game with a triple.  And then, exactly as we saw them do in spring training, the Reds proceeded to leave him standing there.  Phillips struck out swinging.  Votto struck out looking.  Bruce grounded out to first.  Ugly with a capital U! 

Devin Mesoraco got the Reds going in the 4th.  He hit a home run with Heisey on base.  2-0 Reds.

Mike Leake was brilliant.  He pitched 8 shutout innings. Manny Parra closed them out in the 9th.  The Reds win it 4-0.

So that's it, right?  Wrong!  There was this matter of Billy Hamilton.  After three starts, people chirped of sending him to AAA.  They suggested dropping him in the order.  Perhaps today's look at this kid's tools and the effect that he can have on a ball game, people will be willing to let him grow into the role.

Billy was 3 for 4 with a walk.  The lone out that he made, he was robbed on a fine play by Matt Carpenter at 3B.  I have been playing and watching baseball for a half century.  I have never seen a player with tools like this.  He is both fast and baseball fast.  There is a difference.

I was not alone in my astonishment.  Hal McCoy has covered baseball for 42 years.  His description is riveting!

Link to Hal McCoy.

April 13, 2014

Reds Bats Come Alive

I delayed this column for a couple of reasons.  The Reds hit three home runs en route to a 12-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at GABP Sunday.  Before putting the victory under the microscope, I wanted to savor it, I wanted to revel in it!  Also, I didn't really want to tip my hand or influence people before doing last night's Reds Line program.

Votto,  Mesoraco and Heisey all want deep.  All of them were bolts too.  That's a great thing.

Yes, Joey Votto hit a home run in the #2 slot.  As many were quick to point on social media, moving Joey to the #2 slot made the Reds instantly better.  Whisper..pssst...please ignore the fact that the Reds were shut out 1-0 on the previous day with Joey Votto batting in the two hole.  Also ignore, that HR is his only hit.  Small sample yes, but I have zero indication that he will hit like a #2 hitter.

As you have probably heard me say ad nauseam, the #2 hitter has a very special role.  You have to give Billy Hamilton a chance to steal a base.  You have to be willing to hit behind the runner and so on.  The fact is Billy Hamilton was standing on first base.  Joey Votto had a 1-0 count when he hit the home run.  You scream SUCCESS!  I scream, it's a damned good thing he hit it out.

I do NOT want the restrictions of the #2 slot imposed upon a hitter like Joey Votto.  Now if you tell me that we are going to bat him second and allow him to ignore the restrictions of the #2 slot, I would say, what are you thinking?

By the way, Brandon Phillips hit a single behind Votto and never scored.  Had they batted in the 'proper order' and all things remained equal, Joey Votto would have hit a 3-run homer.

But the Reds scored 12 runs, so on this date, no harm.  So if you say it didn't matter, on this date, in this game, you would be exactly correct.  Now take a look at the other 11 games, then look at the 150 games remaining.

Aside from that, we saw more antics on the bases.  Bryan Price and his base coaches want to be aggressive.  Fine!  I'm all for that.  But there is a distinct line between aggressive and stupid.  If the infield is drawn into the grass, no matter how much you want to, you CAN NOT play 'go on contact'.  Major League baseball players will cut you down 9 out of 10 times.  The Reds don't get enough runners on base to be wasting them with such foolishness.  The Reds managed to get two guys cut down at the plate on the SAME play!

Bryan Price is trying so hard not to be Dusty Baker, he has no identity for Bryan Price.  And in doing so, he is allowing team's baseball IQ to plunge into the abyss. 

The good news is, sometimes you can out score your own stupidity.  Right now this team has done that one out of twelve tries.  So it would behoove them to sharpen their thinking and fundamentals.

April 14, 2014

Reds, Pirates Suspended After Six Innings

With temperatures in the 40's, and a driving rain throughout most of the game, the Reds and Pirates have combined  for TEN home runs....so far.  Those ten home runs are already a Great American Ball Park record.

With conditions that are normally less than favorable for the long ball, this barrage has me raising an eyebrow at the baseball itself.  Did MLB slip in some 'rabbit balls' here and there?  Two teams struggling to score runs, playing in  wet, cold conditions, suddenly play home run derby?

The Reds and Pirates bounced the lead back and forth inning after inning.  Homer Bailey, after a shaky start, was again given a lead only to give it right back to the Pirates in the top of the 5th inning.  All three starts, Bailey has enjoyed a lead in the ball game, only to relinquish it.  I would love to cast this performance off and blame it on the weather.  But having seen the previous two starts, I can hardly set this one aside.

These multi-million dollar players were playing in pathetic conditions, with puddles forming all over the field.  The grounds crew worked feverishly and must have used a truck load of 'Diamond Dry' between innings.  The message is very clear that the safety of the players nor the comfort of the fans is important.  MLB has apparently told these umpires to avoid doubleheaders at all cost!

The game, now tied at 7, will resume at 5:30pm today, to be completed before the regularly scheduled 7:10pm game.

The Reds could really start the healing process by grabbing both of these games today.  Splitting them is a bit of a 'sister kiss'.  Dropping them both would be near disastrous.
April 20, 2014

Reds Thump Cubs 8-2 To Take Series In Chicago

Good news on multiple fronts today.  Reds bats were awake with 15 hits recorded.  Zack Cozart who has struggled mightily, had a three hit day, one of those being a home run in the 7th inning.  Devin Mesoraco continues to scald the baseball also collecting three more hits.  Devin at the plate has been aggressive, hitting the ball on the screws, downright MEZmerising!

What really got my attention was Mesoraco on defense.  At least three different times in this game, I saw him shift his body and block balls in the dirt.  He did not reach or stab.  He blocked them with text book mechanics.  After watching him on the previous day, I have to think this is something that Mesoraco and Price have discussed.  It was like night and day.

On the mound, it was Homer Bailey perhaps inching more toward his real self.  Bailey scattered 6 hits over 6 innings without allowing a run.  Still a ways from vintage Bailey, but much better than we have seen up to this point.  Bailey missed a portion of spring training with a groin pull.  Let's hope that he is just now winding into shape and better things are to come.

Bruce, Frazier and Ludwick also had a multi-hit day.  Bruce hit his 3rd HR of the season in the 7th inning.

The Reds hit with two outs in this game.  That in and of itself was a breath of fresh air.

The win brings the Reds back to within 2 games of the .500 mark, now sitting at 8-10.  As always, we must temper the enthusiasm with the modifier, "It was the Cubs".

Important week coming for the Reds.  They head into Pittsburgh for four games, then on to Atlanta for a weekend series before returning home for three with the Cubs.  They will follow that with four games at home against the Brewers.  FOURTEEN straight games before finally enjoying a day off on May 5th.  Let's hope for a celebratory Cinco de Mayo!

While it is only April, the next 14 days could well define this team.  7-7 won't kill them.  4-10 could put them in a deep hole.  10-4 can make them a serious contender.
April 18, 2014 

Reds Down Cubs 4-1 

Game time temperature was 38 degrees with the wind chill it was 32 degrees.  It's a day when you run you multi-million dollar athletes out there and hold your breath.  The Reds won the ball game but didn't escape unscathed.

Brandon Phillips swung at a pitch in the first inning and immediately grabbed for his back.  He completed the AB with kind of a half-swing single up the middle.  He took a similar swing in his next AB and was clearly in some degree of discomfort.  Bryan Price then opted to take Phillips down while inserting Ramon Santiago in his stead.

Jeff Samadzija and Alfredo Simon were rolling along locked up in a scoreless affair through 4 innings.  Devin Mesoraco singled to leadoff the Reds half of the 5th.  Playing Bryan Price baseball, Mesoraco stole second.  But then Zack Cozart was unable to advance Mesoraco to 3B, he struck out swinging.  Unacceptable!

Simon had an unintentional swinging bunt that wound up moving Mesoraco to 3B on the fielder's choice.  With two outs, Billy Hamilton came to the plate and doubled Mesoraco home to give the Reds a 1-0 lead,  Votto walked, Hamilton stole 3rd before Santiago popped out to RF.

Jay Bruce led off the 6th inning with a double.  AGAIN the Reds fail to move the runner to 3B as Todd Frazier struck out swinging.  Again....unacceptable!

Ryan Ludwick reached on catcher's interference.  The cubs pitched around Mesoraco to get to Cozart, and it nearly worked.  Cozart hit a tailor-made 5-4-3 bouncer to third base.  But, Devin Mesoraco went in HARD at second base causing an errant throw to first base on the attempted turn.  That hustle play allowed 2 runs to score and gave Simon and the Reds a little daylight to work with.

Simon surrendered a single in the 7th.  Sweeney hit a ground ball to 3B.  Todd Frazier committed an error putting runners at first and second.  Sam LeCure was brought on in relief.  LeCure worked out of the inning with minimal damage, 3-1 Reds after 7 innings.

In the 8th inning, Frazier walked.  Playing Bryan Price ball, he stole second.  Ludwick reached on an infield single while Frazier moved on to third.  Frazier then scored on a wild pitch, posting what would be the final score of 4-1.

The Good.....'Bryan Price Ball' is beginning to show itself.  The Reds are aggressive on the base paths.  In fact, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that their aggression and hustle was the key to today's victory.  And don't look now, but the Reds have pulled within two games of the .500 mark.  Is that something to celebrate?  Yes!  Considering the injuries and dismal start, absolutely yes.  I would love to see them get these next two and leave Chicago even Steven.

The Bad...... The Reds are still DISMAL with a runner at second and no outs.  What's the minimum?  Anyone?  Move the damned runner!  We are not asking you to bunt or totally give yourself up.  But if you are going down, go down by hitting the ball to the right side.  Those runs add up quickly.  It didn't hurt them today, but it could hurt them tomorrow.  All my readers have this memorized.  Someone send a copy to the Reds!

The Ugly..... The weather.  It was downright raw in Chicago today.  It is hard on the players and hard on the fans.  As we have seen early on this year, MLB will risk anything and anyone to avoid the term doubleheader.

April 16, 2014

Cueto Hurls 3-Hit, Complete Game, Shutout!

Johnny Cueto chalked up a career high 12 strikeouts, going the distance shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0, Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.  Cueto appeared to be in total command while creating his masterpiece.  Use all of the adjectives for this performance.....BRILLIANT!

Billy Hamilton led off the game with a walk.  He promptly stole second.  Pirates pitcher, Francisco Liriano appeared to be visibly shaken.  He then wild pitched Hamilton to third, and subsequently wild pitched him to the plate.  In the meantime, Votto had walked.  The Reds scored a run with out benefit of a hit.  That's the 'Billy  Effect'.

Now you have Joey Votto standing on 2B with no outs and Brandon Phillips at the plate.  This is where as a hitter you ask yourself, 'What is the minimum'?  Meaning, the very least I want to walk away from this AB with.  The answer in this case is CLEAR......beyond clear.  It is of absolute necessity that Brandon Phillips gets Joey Votto moved to 3B.  Instead, Phillips swung from the heels and flies out to CF.  This is absolutely selfish!  It is a disgusting display of baseball at any level.  At least show me that you intended to do the right thing.

This was my biggest fear about moving Phillips to the #3 slot.  He was treating the #2 slot with the respect that it deserved and getting the job done.  Is he sulking?  Is he just that clueless?  Or is he just plain selfish?  This was an abject failure that could have hurt the ball club.  Today it didn't, tomorrow it might.

Meanwhile, Joey Votto has suddenly started crushing the ball in the #2 slot.  Why?  Seriously?  Joey Votto is mentally stronger in the #2 slot?  That to me is totally inexplicable for a Major League Baseball player.  But whatever, it has seemingly worked for Votto.  It may have sent Phillips mentally south. 

In the bottom of the 5th with runners at second and third, Votto struck out swinging.  At least it was swinging and later he certainly made up for it delivering a BIG 2-run home run.  With 2 outs in the 7th and Hamilton aboard, Votto's homer changed a 1-0 game to 3-0, finally giving Johnny Cueto a little breathing room.

One other case of 'do the minimum'.  In the 8th inning, Zack Cozart comes to the plate with runners at second and third and one out.  He swings at the FIRST pitch and hits a bouncer to SS, Bernadina is cut down at the plate.  This is a guy hitting slightly over a buck!  He swings at the first pitch and it is a miserable failure.  Again, it didn't hurt today, but it may hurt tomorrow.  If the Reds want to be a winning ball club and a contender to reach the post season, these are the things that need to be fixed.  And if Bryan Price doesn't discuss this with these players, he is remiss and the problem will continue.

But the great news today is that the Reds have put together back to back wins while capturing their first series of the season.  And it came against a division rival.  I just hope that Bryan Price manages after wins as well as losses.  It is critical to the team's long-term success.

So what is wrong with this guy writing all of this stuff?  Will he EVER be satisfied?  I am very satisfied with this win.  And rarely will we see a perfectly played baseball game.  I merely point these things out as markers.  If the Reds work on fixing them, they will be fine.  If they don't, they will struggle.

April 24, 2014

Reds Take 3 of 4 From The Pirates

I don't want to over-complicate things.  Sometimes you get the key hit while your guys out-pitch their guys.  It's about as simple as that.  Ryan Ludwick collected a timely  6th inning double to score Votto and Frazier.  That turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.  Ludwick had 2 of the total 5 hits from the Reds.

Tony Cingrani, Logan Ondrusek, Sam LeCure and Jonathan Broxton made it stand up.  Ondrusek has been shaky to say the least.  I'm clearly NOT a Broxton fan.  But let's heap some credit on them and Sam LeCure today.  They all got the job done in fine fashion with LeCure striking out the side in the 8th inning.  Perhaps this will be the start of something good from the bullpen.

Despite giving away the first game of the series, the Reds take the next three and now sit on the .500 mark at 11-11.  That shows a lot of character!

The Good..... The pitching and the timely hit by Ludwick!  Not letting the give away game on Monday get into their collective heads.

The Bad.... Brandon Phillips misplaying a ball he should have had, allowing the Pirate run to score.  Don't look on the score sheet, it's not there.  The ball bounced four times in the infield and was not hit very hard.  Brandon opted to make a sliding stop (web gem), when a stand-up play may have sufficed. 

The Ugly.... I could cite this on a daily basis, the official scoring in MLB is dismal!

I'm elated that they got 3 out of 4.  I'm elated that they are back to the .500 mark.  Winning erases a LOT of things!
April 23, 2014

Reds Larceny Leads To 5-2 Victory Over The Pirates 

The Reds were 4 for 5 in the stolen base department Wednesday evening in Pittsburgh.  Alfredo Simon was shaky out of the gate, but he was able to right himself and battle for 6 2/3 innings.  He gave up 2 runs on 4 hits.

But on this night it was 'Bryan Ball' that prevailed.  The Reds were running on the base paths and making things happen.  That allowed them to squeeze 5 runs out of only 6 hits.

The combination of running and doing the minimum with the bat was the successful formula.   Very blue collar but solid baseball performance.  The Reds were 1-9 with runners in scoring position.  It reads dismal in the stats.  Yet, isn't it amazing what happens when you just do the minimum and make a 'quality out' by moving runners?

The Good.... 2 hit night for Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce.  Billy creates havoc for the defense when he is on base.  Mesoraco could have easily been on the multi-hit list had he not been robbed on a screamer he hit down the third base line.

The Bad.... Joey Votto mental lapses.  He fielded a bunted ball that was going foul.  He committed another error by misplaying a ground ball.  He was caught stealing on the back end of a double steal.  But wait, we are supposed to be aggressive, right?  In that situation, most of the time, let Billy get to 3rd.  You can go on the next pitch, if they throw on you at all, it affords Billy the chance to come to the plate.  It didn't hurt tonight, but it might tomorrow.

The Ugly.... is Brandon Phillips batting third.  While he and Frazier were each 0-fer, Phillips did work a key walk.  Jonathan Broxton, I detest watching this guy pitch at all, let alone in the 9th inning.  Marty was saying what a great job he did to earn the save.  What great job?  He surrendered 2 hits forcing himself to have to face Andrew McCutchen.  He got away with a hanger that McCutchen fouled off, before inducing him to ground out to SS to end the game.  Marty says 'Great Save'.  I say fortunate escape.

April 22, 2014

Reds best Pirates 4-1, Another Complete Game For Cueto

Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez locked up in a dandy, Tuesday night at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Both pitchers were pretty much having their way with the opposing hitters. It was a scoreless affair through 6 innings. In the 7th, the Reds were finally able to dent the plate.

Jay Bruce led off the inning with a single. Todd Frazier hit a seeing eye single that found it’s way through the middle. Ryan Ludwick does his job and achieves the minimum by flying out deep enough to RF to move Bruce to 3B with one out. Brayan Pena then ‘doubled’ to RF. Bruce scored making it 1-0, as Frazier moved on to 3B.

The play at 2B involving Pena was reviewed. The call was overturned and Pena called out. Zack Cozart then delivered a huge 2-out double down the LF line to score Todd Frazier, 2-0 Reds.

The Reds tacked on another run in the 8th. Billy Hamilton led off the inning with a single. Joey Votto followed with a single to RF, moving Hamilton around to 3B easily. Phillips struck out swinging. Unacceptable! 1st and 3rd and no outs, your 3rd hitter is expected to get the minimum done. Jay Bruce picked Phillips up with a single to RF, scoring Hamilton making it 3-0 Reds.

In the 9th, the Reds add an insurance run. Brayan Pena hustling all the way, beat out an infield single. Pena stole 2nd. It appeared they had him dead to right, but the ball came loose. Zack Cozart grounded out by hitting a little chopper in front of the plate that moved Pena to 3rd. Not pretty by any means, but Cozart achieved the minimum, moving the runner to 3B.  Johnny Cueto helped himself with a solid single to RF, scoring Pena, 4-0 Reds.

Johnny Cueto went out to the mound in the 9th looking to record his second straight complete game shutout. But it wasn’t to be. After Neil Walker had lined out to CF, Andrew McCutchen crushed a home run to RF erasing the shutout. Alvarez then grounded out. Martin walked and then it became questionable as to whether Cueto would be able to complete the game. But Ike Davis flew out to LF. Cueto completes the game and Bryan Price is spared from having to dip into his bullpen.

The Good... The Reds found the way to get the minimum done. For the most part, when they had a runner on 2B, they got him over and got him in. This is CRITICAL to the success of any ball club.

The Bad... The replay on Pena at 2nd base looked inconclusive at best. Hopefully New York was looking at something more than we were provided with.

The Ugly... Phillips failing to do the minimum in the 8th inning. It didn’t hurt tonight, but it could tomorrow. And the fielding of the ball girl on the right field foul line. She was pretty much 0 for the night!

From The Mailbag....

Danny, you have been openly critical of Reds third base coach, Steve Smith all season long.  I agree with you.  Friday night, the Reds lost a one run ball game.  In the fist inning, Steve Smith got Joey Votto thrown out by thirty feet at the plate.  Why no Steve Smith rant on this one?  It ended up costing them the game.  Art - Sidney, OH

Art,  when the right fielder caught the ball, it was deep enough to take a shot.  But MOST IMPORTANTLY, when he caught it, that was the second out of the inning.  You had better run in that situation.  In fact, I would have been screaming at Steve Smith had he not run Votto.  The throw was perfect and Votto was out from here to there. 

I believe I am going to officially label Joey Votto as 'deceptively slow'.  The guy is even slower than he looks!  Remember, the number of outs is a critical factor in when to run or not to run.  Thanks for the question, Art.
April 25, 2014

Braves 5, Reds 4

The Braves scored early and often against Homer Bailey and the Reds.  Justin Upton took Bailey deep with two mates aboard in the 1st inning, putting the Braves quickly out in front 3-0.  The Braves followed that with solo runs in the 2nd and 3rd innings, making it 5-0.

The Reds finally got on the board in the 6th inning, scoring 2 runs.  They came back with 2 more runs in the 7th inning, and suddenly we had ourselves a ball game.

It remained 5-4 Braves going into the 9th inning.  Roger Bernadina led off the inning with a single to RF.  Zack Cozart  then walked on four pitches.  Runners at 1st and 2nd and no outs.  Okay class, in this inning or any other inning, what do we expect from incoming batter?  Anyone?  Do the minimum!

The batter was Brayan Pena.  He made a couple of feeble bunt attempts before striking out swinging.  To that we say what?  Unacceptable!  A hit would have been nice.  A home run would have been phenomenal.  But please just do the minimum!  Pena didn't, and runners were still standing in the same spot as he headed back to the dugout.

It was then Chris Heisey's turn.  Heisey struck out looking.  Another HUGE no!  Yes there were a couple of questionable calls in the count.  But when you have two strikes, you are in a strike zone plus situation.  That means any strike plus anything close.  Yes that includes the 'questionable' pitches as well.  If it is close enough to call, it was too close to take!

Joey Votto followed with a ground ball to 3rd.  The play was reviewed and it appeared the umpire got it right, game over.

When the dust settled, the Reds had dropped yet another 1-run ball game.

The Good.... The Reds didn't give up at 5-0.  They fought until the final out.  A far cry from some of the sleep walking we saw out of this team last year.

The Bad... Homer Bailey continues to struggle.  Todd Frazier left the game hurt.

The Ugly.... Red hot Devin Mesoraco limped off with a pulled hamstring.  It's not a question if he is going on the DL, it's how long.  I wrote the other day, I don't know where this team would be without Mesoraco.  Well we are about to find out.  Also under the 'Ugly' goes Pena's 9th inning failure.  What were we looking for there?  Anyone?

April 26, 2014 

Reds Drop Second Straight To Braves

The Reds were only able to muster 5 total base runners in Saturday night's game with the Braves.  They had 2 hits along with three walks, and that pretty much sums it up. 

David Hale was brilliant.  In the first inning, Hale gave up a hit to Brandon Phillips.  Ryan Ludwick followed that with a double that brought Phillips around to score.  Who would have guessed that would not only be the end of the scoring but the final hit of the game for the Reds!

I'm not sure I would categorize this as a '20 percenter'.  This looked closer to the Reds sleep walking acts we grew accustomed to under Dusty Baker.

Atlanta played long ball against Mike Leake, recording three in all.  Final score, Braves 4 - Reds 1.

The Good.... Aroldis Chapman threw without a protective screen today.

The Bad.... The silent bats.  Todd Frazier is day to day.

The Ugly... As I projected here 24 hours ago, Devin Mesoraco has been placed on the 15 day disabled list.  I hope the lack of offense in this ball game is not a precursor of things to come without Mesoraco. 
April 27, 2014 

Reds Swept By Braves

We can cut and paste all of the adjectives we used for Johnny Cueto in his last outing.  All but one that is, we cannot use 'winner'.  And that's dirty a shame.  Never do you want to see a team waste a pitching performance like we witnessed from Johnny Cueto in Atlanta on Sunday.

The pitching line on Cueto, 8 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 11 K's, 3 BB.

The Reds offense managed only 5 hits again.  The Braves weren't much better.  J.J. Hoover muffed a come-backer that extended the 10th inning.   That set-up the game winner off the bat of Freddie Freeman to deep CF, pushing across the game's only run.  Final 1-0, Atlanta

The Good... Ryan Ludwick collected 2 of the 5 hits, pushing his season average to .290.

The Bad... If everyone is so dizzy over Joey Votto batting 2nd, don't complain when people like me demand that he think and perform like a #2 hitter when the situation calls for it.  In the Reds half of the 3rd inning, Billy Hamilton reached via a bunt single.  He attempted to steal 2nd.  Joey Votto took the pitch. Hamilton was called out on a close play.  If you have less than 2 strikes, you are obligated as a hitter to swing at that pitch.  The later the swing the better.  You attempt to disrupt the rhythm and line of sight of the catcher.  Granted, it's only a split second.  But that's all a guy like Billy Hamilton may need.  Yes, I know that you don't see it as much as you used to.  It's another lost fundamental in today's selfish game of MLB.  Yes, I'm micro-criticizing here.  When a team has lost 9 of 12 one-run ball games, it's the smallest of things that can make a difference.

The Ugly.... The Reds Roster!  This roster was anemic BEFORE the injuries.  This has now forced Walt Jocketty's hand.  This team MUST make a move.  I hate to sit here in the final days of April and predict doom and gloom.  But without a move, this team is going to fall to a deficit from which they will be unable to recover.  This is not a situation where they can tread water until the trade deadline.  This needs to be dealt with now.  Grabbing a guy off the scrap heap will not get it done.  The Reds will not get the needed help by swapping Brandon Phillips.  They have been trying to trade Brandon Phillips for six months.  It's going to take Phillips and one of the crown jewels.  To get something of quality, you have to give up something of quality. 
April 29, 2014

Reds Down Cubs 3-2

After game one of the series was washed out last night, Tuesday night's game could not be played without interruptions.  But the conditions did not dampen Billy Hamilton nor the Reds.  Hamilton went officially 3 for 4 with a BB and his first big league home run.

The Reds won a 1-run ball game!  That is news in and of itself.  That brings their season record to 4-9 in that department.  Final Score, Reds 3 - Cubs 2.

Alfredo Simon picked up his 4th win in April.  He battled the elements going 6 innings giving up 2 runs on 5 hits.  Ondrusek and LeCure each recorded a shutout inning each.  Broxton closed it out with a perfect 9th, recording his 5th save.

The Good... except for his final AB, it was a big Billy Hamilton night!  He had 3 hits with a home run, while walking once.  He also made a couple of really nice plays in CF.  Zack Cozart had 2 hits, including a triple.  2 hits for
Brayan Pena and a BIG 2-out pinch hit from Chris Heisey.

The Bad... The weather!

The Ugly.. Reds loaded the bases in the bottom of the 8th with no outs.  Hamilton grounded into a fielder's choice.  Votto hit into a DP to end the inning.  That is unacceptable!  It didn't hurt tonight, but it might tomorrow.

April 30, 2014

Cubs Pound Reds 9-4

The name of the night is Tony Cingrani.  Cingrani only managed to pitch 4 innings.   He gave up 3 runs on 6 hits while running up a pitch count of 79.  This is several bad outings in a row by Cingrani.  He is really taxing the bullpen.  The poor performances and low velocity has to provoke even the most devout Reds fan to ask, what is wrong with Tony Cingrani?

Nick Christiani relieved Cingrani.  He surrendered two more runs in two innings work.  But it looked as though the Reds may prepared to go toe to toe with the Cubs offense.  After 5 innings, the Reds still only trailed 5-4.

Sean Marshall came on in the 9th to try and keep things close.  But the Cubs treated Marshall rudely with some effective hitting and yet another error on Joey Votto.  When the dust had settled, the Cubs had scored 4 times opening an insurmountable 9-4 lead.

The Reds have painted themselves into a corner where they really can't afford to lose to the Cubs on their home field.  But lose they did, splitting the rain-shortened, two game series.

Milwaukee comes to town for a big 4 game set.  And yes, here we sit on this final day of April looking at a fairly critical series.

You have to wonder what, if anything, is going through Walt Jocketty's head.  He can't seriously believe that he can stand pat with this roster and entertain any thoughts of reaching the post-season.

The Good...... A couple of more hits for Zack Cozart.  A couple of RBIs for Todd Frazier.

The Bad..... Losing to the Chicago Cubs.

The Ugly... The string of bad outings by Tony Cingrani.  You almost have to feel that the Reds are going to have to put him on the DL or send him to Louisville if he doesn't turn things around quickly.  It's not like we have a stable of stars pushing to take his spot in the rotation.

Looking at the schedule before opening day, I said that I would be thrilled to be sitting on the .500 mark at the end of April.  And I would have been.  Instead the Reds close out the month with a record of 12-15.

April 21, 2014

Reds fall to Pirates 6-5

The Reds dropped the first of a string of 14 straight games, Monday night at PNC park in Pittsburgh. This is one of, if not the most disturbing losses of the season. Twitter exploded after the loss. There were those that blamed Phillips, those that blamed Hoover, those who blamed Mesoraco or even Leake. No, the blame tonight indeed lies with guys in Reds uniforms, but you will not find them in the box score.

This loss rests squarely on the shoulders of Bryan Price and even more so on his third base coach, Steve Smith. In the 8th inning, with the Reds trailing 4-3, Brandon Phillips hit a single to lead off the inning. Todd Frazier followed with a single to CF, moving Phillips around to 3rd base. Jay Bruce tied the game by hitting a double, scoring Phillips and moving Frazier to 3B. Ryan Ludwick was intentionally walked to get to Devin Mesoraco. YES! You are reading that right. they opted to load the bases with no outs to pitch to the red hot, Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco laced a hard shot to LF. Frazier scored but Bruce was cut down, recording the first out of the inning at home plate. That is a baseball sin! You NEVER make the first out of an inning at third base and certainly not at home plate.

If you don’t send Bruce, you have just taken a 5-4 lead while still having the bases loaded and no outs. Instead, you now have one out and runners at 1st and 2nd base. Zack Cozart popped up to the catcher making out number 2. Chris Heisey hit for Mike Leake. Heisey had a GREAT AB! He battled into a double digit pitch count, before eventually finally flying out to CF.

Even though the Reds had the lead, you could just feel the reverberations of the missed opportunity. It was like Steve Smith stuck a pin in the Reds big inning balloon. This is the second time that Steve Smith has gotten a Reds runner gunned down at the plate with NO OUTS!

The rest is history, the Pirates tied it in the bottom of the 8th and went on to win it in the bottom of the 9th. It was a cue shot off the bat of Neil Walker that eluded Brandon Phillips. Jay Bruce came up firing. It looked like they had a good shot of getting the runner at the plate. The ball skipped past Devon Mesoraco, game over.

But with every fiber of my being, I don’t think we spend much time talking about any of this, had Steve Smith not run this ball club out of yet another inning. In the post game interview, Bryan Price was again defending the base coaching blunder in the name of being aggressive. Once again, there is aggressive, then there is stupid. Getting a runner thrown out at the plate with no outs is the latter.

At the end of the day, this is not only a game the Cincinnati Reds should have won, it is a game that they flat out gave away. The 2014 Reds are not good enough to be giving away games.

The good..... Three hits each for Phillips, Frazier and Mesoraco. We continue to be MEZmerised. This guy is seeing beach balls. He can’t wait for the ball to get to the plate so he can crush it.

The bad.... We are turning Ike Davis into Babe F. Ruth! He hit his 2nd grand slam, in his 2nd uniform against the Reds this season. BOTH crushing blows. But then again, most grand slams are.  The Reds have served more grand slams to Ike Davis this month, than Denny's!

The ugly.... Steve Smith! He gave this ball game away.  All losses are equal in the loss column.  But they are not equal in psychological effect.  This is a real tough loss.  It's imperative that the Reds quickly put this behind them.  Otherwise it could linger into something much more destructive.