Final R H E
  Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74) 1 7 0
  Cincinnati Reds (76-86) 4 7 0 
W: Cueto (20-9)    L: Watson (10-2)    S: Chapman (36)
 FanGraphs Win Probability |  The Worldwide Leader’s Box Score    |   Game Photos

The last act was fitting of the absurd play.

In a year of improbable things, bad luck and no offense, Game 162 was a microcosm of the Cincinnati Reds’ bizarre 2014 season, except that no Reds player was injured and Steve Smith didn’t get anyone thrown out at home.

With the surreal image of Joey Votto and Sean Marshall cheering together in the Reds dugout, Johnny Cueto knocked a single up the middle to score Jason Bourgeois with the game-winning hit.

Bourgeois, on a play of infinite hustle, had tripled on a line drive to left center to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning. Zack Cozart’s season of frustration at the plate continued, as his line drive ticketed for the left field corner was snagged by Pirate third baseman Josh Harrison.

Johnny Béisbol was then allowed to hit by manager Bryan Price, even though the situation called for exactly the opposite. This was done so Cueto could continue on to the mound in the ninth inning at a pitch count of 107. This was done despite the fact that Cueto was the least likely player in that dugout to knock in Bourgeois with the go-ahead run. And, of course, the move worked.

When Cueto’s ground ball improbably found its way through the infield into center field, the Reds had the lead and Johnny Cueto essentially his 20th win. Kristopher Negron followed with a loooooong home run off the facing of the second deck in left center field. Negron was 3-for-4 and raised his on-base-percentage to .331 over 158 plate appearances. I may be falling in love.

More in accordance with this season’s script, Cueto gave the Reds a lights-out start, allowing one run on six hits and no walks. Cueto struck out seven to tie Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals for the NL lead in strikeouts with 242. Cueto also led the NL in innings pitched with an impressive 243.2 and lowest opponent batting average.

Aroldis Chapman struck out three of the four batters he faced, which meant 106 Ks out of 202 batters. That’s 52.2 percent. That’s good. In fact, that’s an all-time record for pitchers throwing over 50 innings in a season.

Also according to form, the Reds offense struggled to score for the first seven innings off Pirates ace Garrit Cole.

After Cueto hit Andrew McCutchen with a pitch in the top of the eighth inning, the Pirates fans booed and briefly reprised their idiotic Cue-to chant. A few minutes later, Cueto dropped the ball into center field and squashed the Pirates’ hope for winning the NL Central. Pittsburgh now heads back home where they play the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card play-in game, having used their best starting pitcher in today’s losing effort.


This is the final Redleg Nation recap of the 2014 season. Thanks for reading.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back, starting the discussion of 2015 and how the Reds can get the offseason right.