Final R H E
  Cincinnati Reds  (35-35) 11 14 0
  Pittsburgh Pirates  (34-37) 4 7 1
 W: Simon (10-3)     L: Volquez (4-6)
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Positives

After Devin Mesoraco was ruled safe at home with the Reds’ sixth run on a play when he was clearly out, FanGraphs calculated the Reds’ win expectancy at 97.3 percent. Billy Hamilton’s line drive single to right field raised their chances to above 99 percent. Clint Hurdle is no idiot. It’s surprising more of the game’s participants didn’t follow his lead and get an early start on dinner in the Steel City.

Lots of Reds players got hits and scored runs. The seven-run third inning was the team’s best offensive frame of the season. Included was a smattering of aggressive base running, good to see. Special note was Todd Frazier going from first to third on Joey Votto’s single to left-center.

Negatives

None.

Not so random thoughts

On Thursday, April 24, the Reds beat the Pirates in Pittsburgh to improve their record to 11-11. They then headed to Atlanta where they were summarily swept in a three-game series by the Braves. Tonight is the first time since then that the Reds have achieved an even-steven record. To get back to .500, the Reds won six out of seven after losing the first two games of the Dodgers series.

The Reds moved to within two games of the Cardinals in the loss column.

Over the past seven games, the Reds have averaged more than six runs. With the bats hot and Homer Bailey pitching at the scene of his first no-hitter, you’d have to seriously consider risking the wrath of Pirates fans and taking a broom to PNC Park tomorrow afternoon, if you’re a Reds fan.

Raise your hand if you had J.J. Hoover scoring a run in this game.

Edinson Volquez pitched four seasons for the Reds, 2008-2011. It’s nearly impossible to comprehend, but in 2008, Volquez went 17-6 and represented the Reds in the All-Star game. Over the next three years, Volquez won a total of 13 games. He pitched the Game One of the 2010 NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies, the night Roy Halladay no-hit the Reds.

Two things occurred to me watching Volquez struggle in the third tonight. First, I thought of all the times he pitched exactly like that for the Reds, yet with a seemingly unlimited rope from Dusty Baker. In 2011, Volquez started 20 games for the Reds, including Opening Day, and logged a 5.71 ERA.

Second, it pointed out how much the Reds starting pitching has improved since Edinson Volquez came to the Reds. In 2008, while he was brilliant, the overall ERA of the Reds rotation was 4.97 (compared to 3.43 today) and their FIP was 4.75 (3.95 today). That season, Homer Bailey made eight starts, was 0-6 with a 7.93 ERA. Aaron Harang was 6-17. Johnny Cueto was 9-14 with a 4.81 ERA. Josh Fogg — Josh Fogg — made 14 starts for the 2008 Reds, with an ERA of 8.23. Someone named Aaron Pettyjohn started a game and gave up eight runs in two innings.

I’ve given Walt Jocketty plenty of criticism the past year about failing to improve the Reds offense. It’s only fair to acknowledge his wildly successful efforts to assemble a tremendous starting rotation. And Bryan Price, who has suffered his share of disapproval here, has also played a crucial role in its development. Edinson Volquez’s all-too-painfully-familiar performance tonight made me appreciate that.