Final R H E
  Pittsburgh Pirates (88-73) 6 8 1
  Cincinnati Reds (75-86) 10 9 0 
W: Axelrod (2-1)    L: Axford (0-1)
 FanGraphs Win Probability |  The Worldwide Leader’s Box Score    |   Game Photos

A couple seconds after he called Ramon Santiago’s walk-off grand slam, an elated Jeff Brantley said, “This has been a long season. But it was some kinda fun today.”

I attended the game, along with Redleg Nation owner Chad Dotson, and writers Chris Wilson, Chris Garber and Nick Kirby. And indeed, it was some kinda fun.

To say that it was also a day of improbable things would be an understatement matched only by the exaggeration of the Reds’ announcement of 35,000-plus attendance.

The Pirates starting pitcher, 30-year-old Francisco Liriano, scored the first run of his major league career.

The Reds scored 10 runs for the first time since June 21.

The winning pitcher was Dylan Axelrod, who left his last appearance on September 9 one batter into the game with an oblique injury. It had been reported that the injury might be season-ending for the pitcher. Yet he appeared today.

A Reds bullpen pitcher won a game for the first time since July 11, snapping an 0-16 streak. To be fair to the bullpen, a lack of wins in late innings is primarily a problem with the offense.

Ramon Santiago hadn’t knocked in four runs in the last 23 games, yet he hit a grand slam today. It was his second home run of the season.

Aroldis Chapman threw seven pitches. That’s seven more than he managed in the final four games of 2013 against Pittsburgh, adding together the last three regular season games and the play-in Wild Card game. Who-hoo, allocation of resources.

Both the winning pitcher and losing pitcher’s last names began with the letters AX. I suspect it’s axiomatic to suggest that’s a first.

Johnny Cueto goes for his 20th win tomorrow in the Cincinnati Reds final game of the year. Today’s victory may have spoiled the chances for the Pirates to win the NL Central (so sad). But if they are still in it tomorrow, Cueto has the opportunity for a small amount of payback for last year’s play-in game. Tune in.

29 Responses

  1. wildwestlv

    And I think it was Ramon’s first, batting right. Great game.

  2. wildwestlv

    And hearing Greg Brown, of all guys, call Santiago’s walk-off Grand Slam, man, that guy really does have unbridled enthusiasm.

  3. Tom Reed

    A rare comeback in the late innings, and Cueto’s twentieth tomorrow would top off a real tough season.

  4. VaRedsFan

    Has anyone noticed:
    Last year when LeCure was outstanding, he rarely got to pitch.
    This year, when LeCure has sucked, he seems to pitch in every game.

    After typing it, I went to look it up
    2013 63 games 61 innings
    2014 61 games 55 innings

    I guess things aren’t always what they seem

    • ohiojimw

      It is probably the best compliment a middle thru 7th inning reliever can receive when folks think they are not pitching as much as they really are.

  5. redsfan06

    Price is picking up where Dusty left off with Chapman. They don’t want to expose him to the Pirates because they may need him some day…;.like in 2015.

  6. redsfan06

    Tampa Bay just won, assuring the Reds of a bottom 10 finish. That means their first round draft pick is protected against loss for signing a free agent. Instead they would give up their 2nd round pick. Hope Walt can put the opportunity to good use.

    • ohiojimw

      This only applies to the top tier FAs, correct? I’m thinking the Reds are not likely to spend the money for any of those guys. I think they will trade one one of their rotation pitchers who are on line to become an FA after 2015 for the offense they are looking for. When it comes to relievers, I look for the Reds to sign a mid level guy or two to MLB deals plus a number of lower level guys will be signed to minor league look see deals.

      • tct

        It applies to free agents who were offered, and turned down, a qualifying offer from their former team. I believe the qualifying offer was around 14 million last year. Yes, it’s usually players that the reds probably wouldn’t be in the market for. But sometimes the guys who are kind of in a grey area when it comes to whether or not they should be offered a QO, and whether they should accept if they are offered, see their value plummet because of the draft pick compensation. Nelson Cruz and Stephen Drew last year, and Kyle Lohse the year before, saw their market dry up. The reds could possibly be in a position to get a bargain like that without having to give up the first round pick.

      • ohiojimw

        I guess I was hoping (probably foolishly given recent history) that the Reds would have a coherent plan executed to fulfill their major needs prior to Spring Training when these guys start falling through the cracks to cheaper (typically) one year deals.

      • tct

        Coherent plans? You should know better, Jim. But Nelson Cruz ended up being a nice value. The reds problem is that their budget seems to be stretched to the limit, so they probably wouldn’t have 10-15 mil to spend on one of these guys in late January or February even if they did find a nice deal.

  7. Sunbreakthedawn

    I’m grateful the site writers went to one of the year’s best games. You guys have stayed consistent through a consistently rough season. Y’all earned it.

  8. Tom Reed

    A big win for the D-Backs tonight over the Cardinals. Makes the last game of the season interesting for Reds fans.

  9. cfd3000

    I haven’t had much enthusiasm for the Reds the last couple of weeks and haven’t watched as many games but I’m sorry I missed this one. Offense is fun. Wouldn’t it be cool if the Reds could score some runs next year? Glad the RLN boys got to see an exciting game too. Small reward for your dedicated efforts in the face of numbing mediocrity in the field. Hats off to Chad and all the RLN contributors!

  10. Jake

    Hopefully we can win it tomorrow for Cueto, he’s had a phenomenal season

  11. pinson343

    I like the decisions Price made today. Taking out Simon after 5 innings (after he was hit so hard in the 5th), bringing in Axelrod (the Reds secret weapon !) and pinch hitting Pena for Rodruguez in the 10th.

    The Pirates countered by bringing in a lefty – Pena is much better LHed – with only a few innings of ML experience. He was wild, as in wildly nervous. After Pena flied out, I figured Santiago would draw a walk-off walk. But I was OK with his not taking strike 1.

  12. pinson343

    I’m glad too to hear that so many of the RLN writers were there for the game. Must have been a hoot. Some well-deserved surprise fun.

  13. pinson343

    I agree totally that the under-utilization of Chapman is a major problem, and I’m disappointed with Price about it. I thought he’d make a major difference in that area.

    But I think it’s unfair to complain about how Chapman was used Saturda. Chapman was unavailable Friday because of a stiff shoulder that bothered him so much when he pitched on Thursday that Price and the trainer made a visit to the mound. Price wasn’t sure that he’d even be available Saturday, and said he “hoped” he’d be available Sunday to help Cueto win his 20th if needed.

    We complain about people who criticize Votto’s not playing as if they know just what’s going on with his health: we don’t know right now what’s going on with Chapman’s health.

    Chapman helped the Reds win by pitching a scoreless 9th with the game tied. He was due to lead off the bottom of the 9th, of course a pinch hitter was used. Is the complaint that Price didn’t make a double switch so Chapman could go 2 innings ? To evaluate that I’d need to know what double switch people have in mind, but in any case it was hard for Price to know in advance that Chapman was going to have a 7 pitch inning.

  14. pinson343

    After the Reds didn’t score in the bottom of the 9th, I anticipated the 10th with dread, considering that Dennick and Contreres were probably the only two options. Price confirmed after the game that he had only two bullpen options (other than Axelrod), so I think I was right (Parra and Ondrusek seem to be done for the season).

    Anyway was thrilled to see Axelrod come in, even with the obvious risk. At least there was hope. I was also excited when Axford came in, at that point I could smell a win.

  15. pinson343

    I commented in yesterday’s recap how the Reds bullpen’s 0-17 record since the All Star break is beyond mathematically improbable, the odds against such a streak are astronomical. When the score was tied today, I was very aware of the streak. After LeCure gave up 2 runs, it looked like 0-18. Kind of ironic that it took a starting pitcher to end it.

    I agree that most of the bullpen’s losses for a while after the All Star break were the fault of the offense. The bullpen would put up zeros while the offense put up zeros until finally Hoover would come in to end it. But recently that losing streak has largely been due to a crappy bullpen, obviously.

  16. pinson343

    I waffled on whether I wanted the Cardinals to win on Saturday. That was all about Cueto. If the Cardinals win and clinch, it’s easier for Cueto to win his 20th. But winning his 20th to deny the Pirates the division championship would be so much more satisfying. And he owes the Pirate fans something.

  17. pinson343

    Santiago, Negron and Pena could all be part of a strong Reds bench next year.

    • Tom Diesman

      I don’t think we’ll see both Santiago and Negron on the same bench. I think you have to pick just one of them. At least I’d hope you wouldn’t. Schumaker and Heisey are probably set to come back as the two OF with Pena behind the plate. One of Santiago/Negron to cover SS/2B/3B. Then hopefully they’ll find the missing LH bat with pop who can play 1B to fill the last spot.

      • pinson343

        You’re probably right in that Negron can play SS, which was Santiago’s main role.
        Negron can also play the OF.

        And I like Heisey as a bench OFer. Schumaker has a 2 year contract and will definitely return, I hope he improves along with his shoulder.

        The main thing for the bench is finding that LHed bat with pop who can play 1st base and replace Hannahan.

  18. pinson343

    After video review: Mesoraco was safe AND there was obstruction in the first inning play at home. Why do they bother with challenges/reviews ?

    Walker only hit a double, the carom bounced right in and out of Rodriguez’ glove.
    Double and an error.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Didn’t see the game, but certainly did see the review. I believe Mes was safe, but I do think the video replay was lacking a definitive angle. There just wasn’t a shot available to show the tag of Mes and the tag of the plate in direct relationship. The real problem was the catcher’s leg blocking the plate without the ball in his possession. That’s what caused Mes to roll into the home plate umpire. I agree with you Pinson, why bother with replay at all if it is not going to be used legitimately. Right now it’s main purpose is to protect the umpires and that certainly runs contrary to the integrity of the game.

  19. Eric the Red

    Chapman absolutely destroying McCutchen on 3 pitches will be one of the highlights for this season for me. That was incredibly satisfying.