Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….
WP: Halladay (1-0)
LP: Volquez (0-1)
–None. I waited fifteen years for that?
–The Cincinnati Reds, in their first playoff game in fifteen years, just got no-hit on national television by Roy Halladay. A complete embarrassment, from beginning to end.
–Where to start? I guess we can start with Edinson Volquez, who had no control whatsoever from the very beginning. Actually, I thought he was going to be fine. He looked good to the first couple of hitters, hitting 97 on the gun. Then Victorino stuck his bat out and lucked into a double and things went downhill from there.
–After what transpired later, with the no-hitter, some (all) of this stuff is moot…but the Reds had a chance to stay in the ballgame early. With two outs and a 1-0 score in the bottom of the second, Volquez got Wilson Valdez to hit a bouncer up the middle which Orlando Cabrera was able to reach easily. Instead of making the simple throw to first to end the inning, Cabrera tried to make a crazy flip of the ball to Brandon Phillips at second. The flip went ten feet wide of BP, all hands were safe, and the Reds missed a golden opportunity to get out of the inning with just a one run deficit.
–On the very next play, Roy Halladay (Halladay? Really, Volquez?) hit a ball to left field that any competent left fielder would have caught for the third out. Jonny Gomes bungled it, as usual, and the gates remained open until the Phillies had made it 4-0.
–The Reds weren’t going to win this one anyway — at least, not the way they were “hitting” — but Cabrera and Gomes played pitiful defense to allow three runs to score. (Not to absolve Volquez from his responsibility for the mess, but I thought these veterans were supposed to play better when the bright lights were turned on.)
–The Reds hit exactly one ball hard all night long, and that one was by pitcher Travis Wood. A joke.
–Gomes had two of the worst ABs I’ve ever seen in the playoffs. Some of that, obviously, is due to Halladay, but still….
–I lied above. There were a couple of positives, but I just couldn’t bear to slap that label on anything after a game like this. First positive: Travis Wood. Wood relieved Volquez in the second after the Reds were down 4-0, and he proceeded to shut down the Phillies. In all, Wood pitched 3.1 shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk. He looked just great.
Travis Wood showed no nerves whatsoever on the playoff stage. That guy is amazing. I haven’t checked Baseball-Reference, but Wood must lead the league in moxie.
–The bullpen looked great as a whole. Logan Ondrusek and Bill Bray pitched three no-hit innings. Tally that up: after Volquez left the mound in the second inning, the Phillies had just one hit. That’s great work by the pitching staff.
–I said above that tonight was an embarrassment on a national stage, and it was. But let’s not overstate the importance of the game. The Reds are only down 1-0 in the series, and there was a pretty good chance they were going to lose to Halladay anyway, no-hitter or not. If the Reds can bounce back — and we’ve been watching this team bounce back all season long — and win Game Two on Friday, they can return to Cincinnati with a 1-1 series in two. That would be great.
–A lot of people are complaining about Dusty Baker’s decision to start Edinson Volquez in Game One. I’m not going to go there; I think it was a defensible choice, as I’ve said here before. After a while, however, it was clear to me that Volquez was trying to throw the ball as hard as he could and had no command at all. Dusty probably should have pulled him earlier and gone to Travis Wood or Homer Bailey before the Reds got too far behind. Instead, he waited until the horse had galloped away before closing that barn door. It’s what Dusty has done all year in those situations, but it’s disheartening to see him fail to mix up his handling of the starters in the post-season.
Either way, that decision and the defensive lapses mentioned above didn’t matter at all. Halladay was dealing.
–Cabrera embarrassed himself after the game by whining that the ump gave Halladay a no-hitter: “(Halladay) and the umpire pitched a no-hitter. He gave him every pitch. Basically, we had no chance.” That’s classless, OC.
–We can’t pin this one on Dusty. He put out the same lineup that led the league in runs all year. They got embarrassed by a Hall-of-Fame pitcher. You have to tip your cap to Halladay. He was just amazing tonight. If the opponent were someone other than the Reds, that performance would have been a pleasure to watch. Epic.
–Funny how the guys who shined brightest tonight were Roy Halladay (no playoff experience), and for the Reds, a couple of rookies and a guy who spent most of the season in AAA (Wood, Ondrusek, Bray). Meanwhile, the Reds got no contribution whatsoever from anyone with playoff experience. Maybe that experience is overrated?
–I’m starting to get a feeling that the Reds may not sweep this series.
–I don’t know what else to say. It was an awful, awful game. But it was just one game. If the Reds had lost a squeaker, 5-4, we’d still be in the same spot (well, except that we wouldn’t have to hear about this game for the next thirty years). There’s no reason to be disheartened, or to claim that the Reds season is over. It isn’t. Accept that tonight was terrible, and hope for better things on Friday.
Believe me, a win Friday will make everything better. I guarantee Dusty has told his troops that same thing.