|Cincinnati RedsÃ‚Â Ã‚Â (8-11)
|Pittsburgh PiratesÃ‚Â Ã‚Â (9-11)
|W: Hughes (1-0)Ã‚Â L: Hoover (1-2)|
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The Reds scored a HamilrunÃ‚Â in the first inning when Billy Hamilton was hit by Francisco Liriano’s first pitch of the game. Hamilton advanced to *third* base on Joey Votto’s soft ground ball and scored on Brandon Phillips’ ground ball to 3B when catcher Russell Martin dropped the ball on the tag. Fun to watch when he gets on, but Hamilton isn’t anywhere close to providing lead-off level at bats for a contending team.
Brandon Phillips, who came into the game on a 1-for-16 streak, had three hits and an RBI. In the third inning, the Reds ran one of their favorite new plays, the back-to-back doubles play with consecutive extra base hits by Phillips and Todd Frazier.Ã‚Â Devin Mesoraco had three more hits, including knocking in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. Ã‚Â Frazier had three hits and two walks in five plate appearances.
Those early season offensive worries? This was the ninth game in a row the Reds have scored at least four runs.
The Reds were able to rest bullpen aces Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton this game. Didn’t even need ’em.
The Pirates scored four runs on four consecutive pitches off Mike Leake in the fourth inning. In case you got up to get a cold one at the wrong time and missed it … Pitch 1: Andrew McCutchen golfed a single into left field. Pitch 2: Pedro Alvarez smashed a double off the RF wall. Pitch 3: Leake hit Neil Walker. Pitch 4: Ike Davis hit a broken-bat grand slam into the right field bleachers.
The Reds rallied for two runs in the eighth inning to take the lead. But they blew a huge opportunity to increase their advantage through a combination of a(nother) bad decision by the third base coach, a bad slide by Jay Bruce, a bad at bat by Zack Cozart and a routine out by Chris Heisey.
In one of many head-scratching managerial moves tonight, Bryan Price brought Manny Parra in to start the eighth inning. Parra had thrown 33 pitches yesterday and recorded only one out. Parra had to face right-handed NL MVP Andrew McCutchen who has hit .334/.421/.579 in his career against LHP. Of course, McCutchen homered on Parra’s second pitch. I have no idea why Price used a LHP in that situation. That is not a manager putting his players in the best position for them to succeed. It’s the opposite of that.
Both Parra and J.J. Hoover were ineffective. In 1 2/3 innings they gave up 4 hits and 3 walks. Hoover was left on the mound in the ninth inning when he was clearly struggling. I have no idea why Price didn’t have someone ready to replace Hoover after he walked the first hitter in the ninth.
Neil Walker’s game winning bloop fell safely into right field when Brandon Phillips turned the wrong way. Then Jay Bruce’s throw to the plate narrowly beat the runner, but took an unfortunate high hop over Devin Mesoraco.
Not so random thoughts
In the second inning, Manager
Dusty Baker Bryan Price had Mike Leake (.222) sacrifice his AB for the second out to bring up a hitter who was batting .210. Mike Leake had doubled and homered in his last game against the Pirates. Both of those were better-hit than anything off Billy Hamilton’s bat this year.
One of the reasons I love watching MIke Leake play is the way he helps the team in the field and at the plate. In this game, he picked Starling Marte off at first base and got down a perfect sacrifice bunt.
The Reds would have scored at least two more runs tonight if Devin Mesoraco’s ABs had taken place in the sixth spot in the batting order. He led off three separate innings. It really requires a What-Would-Hank-Aaron-Do level of stubbornness to keep someone hitting .541/.571/.946 batting that low in the lineup. It’s the anti-Maddon philosophy of lineup construction. Instead of moving your hitters around where they can do the best, you leave them where they are, no matter what.
The Reds have lost 7 of 9 one-run games. This should eventually even out.
How in the world can the Reds take a one-run lead into the eighth inning against the Pirates, face twelve batters in the eighth and ninth innings and never use the three best pitchers in the bullpen? Maybe it was a fit of charitable equity being practiced by Bryan Price. After all, the Pirates best three bullpen pitchers were unavailable tonight. Maybe the Reds’ skipper thought it was only fair for the Reds to tie their three best arms behind their collective back.
Fatal bullpen performance + fatal bullpen management = Baseball death
TopÃ‚Â game thread comments
JDX19: (Billy Hamilton is)Ã‚Â terrible (at bunting). HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got the lowest success % of any hitter in the majors who has at least 1 bunt hit.
John Walsh:Ã‚Â As Hoover throws ball after ball, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d think it was the Reds who were playing with a depleted bullpen.