Time for a recap of tonight’s titanic struggle….

Cincinnati 5
Toronto 7
WP: Tallet (5-4)
LP: Owings (4-8)
S: Frasor (2)

–Joey Votto returned. That’s a huge positive.

–Everything else. The Reds are now below .500, and 14-21 since May 14. It’s the first time the Reds have been under .500 since April 12. Yep, they were 2-3 at that time.

–TOS* The Reds did get five runs tonight, which is nice, but they only had six hits. Same old, same old.

–Let’s keep beating on the dead horse, even though it’s evident that Dusty Baker has his head in the sand. Yeah, Willy Taveras sucks and he can’t hit (another hitless night; .220/.269/.273 for a 543 OPS). Everyone can see it except the manager…but that isn’t even what irritates me the most.

It’s the lack of effort that is killing me, though. The guy isn’t even trying. Tonight, Toronto’s Aaron Hill tagged up from first base (!) and advanced to second on a fly ball to straightaway center field. He was able to do that because Taveras is lazy. Wee Willy just ambled back to get the ball, didn’t get behind/under it in order to make a quick, strong throw back to the infield. No, he just went back casually and allowed the runner to advance.

Unacceptable, and I simply cannot believe that Dusty allows this sort of nonsense on his ballclub. At least Corey Patterson tried his best every single day. Willy Taveras is completely useless. Period.

–Jerry Hairston, Jr., on the other hand, is trying as hard as he can, but a shortstop he ain’t. JHJ misplayed no fewer than three balls at short that should have been converted into outs (at a minimum, two of them should have been). Somehow, he was only credited with one error (his ninth on the year).

But this is another example of Dusty Baker putting a player into a position where he is not likely to succeed (see Patterson, Corey and Taveras, Wee Willy). JHJ is not a shortstop. He hits like a shortstop (which is to say, he can’t hit), but he can’t handle the position defensively. Why put him in a place where he’s set up to fail? Is that what being a “player’s manager” is all about?

–Has anyone noticed that Ramon Hernandez is not good? I know the media hasn’t noticed it, and Dusty Baker thinks he’s the Reds MVP. Meanwhile, Hernandez has a horrific OPS (barely over 650), and opponents steal bases at will (three more tonight) against his candy arm.

Meanwhile, his backup is producing offensively and has a cannon for an arm. For some reason, however, Hernandez is immune from criticism. Color me confused.

–Micah Owings was bad tonight. Just bad.

As noted in the game thread, our leadoff hitter hasn’t walked in 17 games. That’s over 10% of a baseball season. Yes, Daniel Ray Herrera and Johnny Cueto each have more walks in June than Dusty’s leadoff hitter.

–Oh, and did we mention that, while Wee Willy was leading off, Dusty batted Chris Dickerson dead last in the lineup. Dickerson, of course, responded by going 2-3 with an RBI. (Taveras: 0-4.)

–One semi-positive is that Jared Burton looked much better tonight. It’ll be great if he can round back into form.

–Has anyone seen Paul Janish lately?

–Honestly, overall, I really believe Dusty is at least an average manager. But, sheesh…this craziness with the lineup and who does/doesn’t get to play in Dusty’s world is complete and utter insanity.

–Did we mention Joey Votto came back tonight! Woo-hoo!

*This Offense Stinks.