Final
R H E
St. Louis Cardinals (2-2) 4 8 1
Cincinnati Reds (4-1) 1 6 2
W: Wacha (1-0) L: Cueto (0-1) SV: Rosenthal (2)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

Well, the magic couldn’t last forever, right?

The Good:

– Johnny Cueto had some ups and downs, but put together a good final stat line (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). His breaking pitches were working pretty well, his sinker was a little less effective than it was on Opening Day, and he only had one real mistake on the mound today, coming in the form of a Matt Adams home run. Tough loss for the ace and the team, but Cueto did all he could do to prevent it.

– It was business as usual for Todd Frazier today, smacking a line shot on a 3-0 count (you’ve got to think he has the perpetual green light to swing this season) for a homer in the first and lacing a single to left in the fourth inning. On his bobblehead day, Frazier raised his season stats to a .316 average with three homers and a 1.175 OPS.

– Yadier Molina looks mortal, guys and gals. Though the Reds didn’t do much with these gifts, Yadi helped Devin Mesoraco get his first stolen base of the year with a throw well on the shortstop side of second base and allowed Reds’ baserunners to advance on pitches in the dirt on multiple occasions. Though Wacha and Rosenthal were charged with wild pitches, those were both balls Molina used to pick or smother with ease. Alas, he did have an RBI single in the top of the ninth, so his reign of terror isn’t quite over yet.

– 41,525 attended today’s game. Keep it up, Cincinnati.

The Bad:

– Michael Wacha was very, very good. The Reds apparently had a game plan to swing early against Wacha in order to prevent him from utilizing his changeup effectively. That backfired in a couple innings, giving Wacha a four-pitch inning in the second and nine-pitch frame in the sixth. That kept his pitch count down, allowing him to throw effectively into the seventh inning. Mike Matheny put on his Tony LaRussa wig and relieved Wacha by proceeding to trot out four pitchers in a row who each faced a single batter. It worked well enough, with Trevor Rosenthal keeping the Cincinnati bats quiet through the last pitch. The Reds’ lineup was kept off-balance all game, resulting in only six hits.

– On that note, it was a tough day for most of the starters at the plate. Billy, Bruce, Byrd, and Brandon were whatever the opposite of Killer B’s is, going 0-for-15 with four strikeouts. Devin continued his slow start to the season but managed a base hit when Matt Adams whiffed on a tough scoop of Matt Carpenter’s throw. Joey’s march to the MVP award took a slight detour with a 1-for-4 day, though he had two loud outs.

– Jumbo Diaz not pitching the top of the ninth was unwise on Bryan Price’s part. Burke Badenhop entered with just eight pitches heading into the inning, but—with Chapman needing the day off—this spot should have belonged to Diaz in order to get to the bottom of the ninth with only a one-run deficit. Obviously, that did not happen, as Badenhop gave up four hits and two runs after Joey Votto made a nifty play for the first out.

The Good and Bad:

– The defense, which has been so good to begin the season, was a bit Jekyll-and-Hyde today. A couple of great diving plays by Billy and Byrd early helped Johnny out, but Todd’s error in the top of the second eventually led to the Cardinals tying the game. A Cozart throwing error (that I did not actually see because my Time Warner box decided to do a dial-up modem impression for the eighth inning) allowed Randal Grichuk to reach to lead off the eighth inning, which was fortunately nullified by a nice double play to end the frame.

Not-So-Random Thoughts:

– I like how Cozart’s been swinging the bat so far this young season and after his double in the fifth, I was curious if he had made any adjustments to his stance or swing. It looks like he’s tweaked a couple things: I noticed his knees were bent more, his hands were held further back with his front elbow tucked in a little more (akin to Dustin Pedroia or Joe Morgan’s stance), and he’s raising his foot a little higher on his leg kick. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on to see if this pays dividends.

– Thom and Chris were talking during the first inning about Cueto looking “bored” on the mound, partially as reasoning for him switching between the exaggerated twist during his windup and a more straightfoward delivery. I don’t know if that’s really the case, but Chris talking about it made me think of one of Kenny Mayne’s best catchphrases from his old SportsCenter days: “I am amused by the simplicity of this game!”

– Tomorrow’s rubber match is going to be a lot of fun, made even more intriguing by Raisel Iglesias’ debut. He’ll be opposing the Cardinals’ young starter Carlos Martinez in another afternoon affair. First pitch: 1:10 PM.

Random Thought:

– It sure is a banner year for regular ol’ folks appearing on commercials during Reds games. Thanks to Cincinnati Bell, I get to see my ex-girlfriend’s fiancée plan their wedding every half hour. I guess that’s my Gigalife.

57 Responses

  1. redsfan06

    Darn. Just when I was starting to think about an undefeated season. Looking like the Reds have half of a reliable bullpen.

  2. Jeff Morris

    So Far…..the Bullpens giving them problems. I can see a lot of one run losses again this year, unless they fix it!

  3. aae

    Baden hop and Gregg … the grass ain’t always greener I think we have better in housensolutions.

  4. Matt

    Was at the game, and the game itself was pretty boring on the whole. Beautiful day for baseball though, so we had a lot of fun!

  5. charlottencredsfan

    Thanks for the wrap Kevin but I think I was watching a different game:
    – The Reds were swinging early and often against Wacha because he was throwing meatballs. They should have been swinging. He was effective because our bats weren’t. If this was a very, very good performance; we are in trouble because when we do face a pitcher with good stuff…
    – The soft underbelly of the lineup was exposed today. Mes, Bruce, Byrd and to a lesser degree BP and even somewhat lesser Cozart, look horrible. The top three can carry the team but not everyday.
    – The pen is still a scary place. I trust Diaz and Chapman. I want to trust JJ but he will have to earn it. I want to trust Cingrani but I never see him so I don’t know what to think. I do not trust Gregg, Parra or Badenhop.
    – The only thing I see different about Zack is he is no longer swinging a bat like he is digging a ditch. If it is all the rest of the stuff you claim, so be it but at least he is no longer popping up every other AB.
    – I didn’t see movement on any of JC’s pitches. IMO, he survived because he is smart as heck and was able to change speeds and keep it out of the middle of the plate. Of course this is one of the things that make him an ace. Neither starting pitcher was fooling anyone today. I can recall only one really good Wacha offering and Johnny never wowed me today.

    Maybe I’m old and losing it but these are my observations, no offense.

    • Kevin Michell

      None taken! That’s half the fun, getting everyone’s viewpoints.

      I’ll say, though, we’re more in agreement than you think. The Reds hitters were aggressive for the sake of swinging at those early count meatballs in order to prevent the changeup from being utilized. It helps that Wacha’s fastballs were a little more grooved early on, but later in the game those meatballs had been replaced by pitches with better movement. His ability to change speeds is why Wacha made the lineup look foolish today.

      • charlottencredsfan

        I guess but I don’t think “most” our hitters need any help looking foolish. I knew when they didn’t touch Wacha they were finished. If they couldn’t hit him, they had no chance with the back end of the Cardinal bullpen.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Kevin,maybe another sign of Wacha poor stuff today: Cueto who can’t hit water with an oar made contact with every pitch he saw today. I don’t know if Johnny has ever done that. I need to verify that but it’s what my poor memory recalls.

    • eric nyc

      Cueto was not on today. He was missing off the corners on pitches he normally paints. As you said he had no movement on anything – without his inside cutter he can become a pretty ordinary pitcher. Throw in a couple bad errors and it just wasn’t his day. Still, Johnny Cueto Off Day = 7 IP, 1 ER. Offense should have been able to bail him out. Had plenty of opportunities. Seems like year after year this team can only score with HR’s and way too many of them are solo shots.

      • jdx19

        Check out the pitch chart at the Fan Graphs Win Probability link above. Cueto got exactly 0 calls that weren’t fully within the strike zone. Wacha only got 1. Just a small zone today.

      • Eric the Red

        Can you explain how to use that chart? I’m looking at it on a tablet, and I couldn’t figure out how to switch that chart to different pitchers or identify which dots belonged to which pitchers. Thanks in advance for your help!

      • eric nyc

        It may have been a tight zone, but on pitch FX during the game all of the calls he was hoping to get during long ABs were solidly out of the zone and it was easy to watch Mes drift off the plate from his orgiginal setup so regardless Cueto wasn’t hitting his spots.

  6. VaRedsFan

    I echo you opinions about the entire bullpen. I believe Hoover is in the cusp of breaking through to the better half.
    I was fearful that this was the Mes we would see last year, and I was dead wrong. I hope he can regain the stroke. IMO he has become waayyy to pull happy.
    I’m with you that if a pitcher throws 1st pitch strikes, by all means attack them.

    • charlottencredsfan

      My philosophy on hitting is that until you have a strike, you swing only at your pitch. Pitches thigh to waist in the middle of plate are hitter’s pitches. When JV sees 9 pitches in 4 AB’s, you can be pretty sure that pitcher is throwing some fat offerings.

      Mes looks like he is developing the Cozart 2014 problem, he hasn’t showed the power yet so everything he sees, he swings with everything. How about just concentrating on hitting ball back through the box with a nice smooth “controlled” swing??

      • ohiojimw

        it is certainly still early but the seed of the thought has already popped into my mind that maybe they should have waited another year before throwing money at Meso, not that they have any options on the high side of young Wallach currently in the org. I’m applying the axiom here that as long as they have Cozart playing every day, to be a legitimate option, a guy must clearly be an offensive upgrade to the guy he replaces, thus Barnhart is not an option.

      • eric nyc

        I think it’s a little early to be writing off Mes. And we basically just bought out his arbitration years. As you said, we don’t have anyone in the pipeline that looks to be an upgrade so we’d need to draft one anyway and that guy wouldn’t be ready until Mes was near the end of this contract. But I think Mes will be just fine. He’s just off to a cold start. It wouldn’t be as bad if Bruce wasn’t in the same boat. Having both of those guys cold back to back in the lineup is a killer, especially with the back third we have coming right on their heels.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Hopefully no one is writing off Devin but he looks dreadful right now. Remember the line, “anyone is dangerous with a bat in his hand”? They say that about the weakest of weak hitters and that is how I see Mesoraco at the moment. Kid has all kinds of hitting skills and is probably the strongest man on the team and one the strongest in baseball period. That means he needs to relax and let his talent/ strength take care of it. Right now he looks so wound up, I want to give him a sedative. If he does hit it on the screws, the ball could go through the left field fence but he is swinging blind.

        Having two extreme pull hitters (Mes & Bruce) in keys spots (4 & 5) in the lineup, is a little bit of a concern as they seldom carry decent batting averages and are inconsistent. Much better suited to the 6th spot, Hopefully between those two and Bryd, someone gets hot soon. BP & Zack, even when “hot”, can ony do so much.

        Sorry if I’m a bit of a downer but this was a very winnable game. Tomorrow not so much, the Martinez kid can really throw and we have the untested rookie going. Today’s game was the one to win.

      • ohiojimw

        I wasn’t saying write Meso off. I said maybe they jumped the gun in anteing up $28m over 4 years based on 1 strong year when it was just his first year of arbitration eligibility.

      • Eric nyc

        5 games, I’m not worried about Mes. If it lasts 2 more weeks maybe. But I bet he has a couple dingers before then. This is a silly conversation to have right now. Mes is a good baseball player. He’s healthy and just in a cold streak. If this was a week in June we wouldn’t even be talking about it.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Eric, you’re right. After the second half meltdown, I’m a little trigger happy. We’ll get ’em tomorrow.

      • jdx19

        Also, Meso’s BABIP, currently, is .105, which is quite low as you might deduce. Sometimes if you aren’t getting a lot of line drives and your grounders aren’t finding holes things can seem grim. He’ll be fine, I think. Still think he can hit 20HR and go something like .250/.320/.430, which I think is great for 4/$28 at catcher!

      • bhrubin1

        Wait, the kid puts up the 2nd best season by a Reds catcher EVER (with the first being owned by the greatest catcher in the history of the game), and after a five game slump to start the next season, we’re talking about maybe he’s washed up? Is that really what I’m reading here?

      • ohiojimw

        I did not say Meso was washed up. But maybe time will indicate he isn’t nearly as good as last year. What about his first two seasons when he couldn’t replace a journeyman like Hannigan? Yeah, he probably isn’t that player either over the long haul I know. But where does he fit in between?

        If the $13m the Reds will pay him in the last year of his contract (which would have been his first year of free agency decided salary) is at or below market for how he has performed, it will have been a good contract for the Reds. If it is over market, it won’t have been a winning deal for the team.

        Many folks like to complain about the sour back end of multi year deals but few are watching when the die is cast. I’m just saying the situation was such that the team might have done well to see what the guy did to follow up his ‘breakout’ season in 2014 before buying him through his first year of free agency.

      • eric nyc

        Well there’s an obvious flip side to that. If he follows up his breakout year with an equally good or even better year, the price tag goes up dramatically. Such is the nature of sports contracts. They’re all speculative. You make a bet based on what you know and you try to buy at the lowest price tag. The Reds clearly thought Mes’ price tag would go up after 2015 and these past 5 days aside I’m inclined to agree with them.

  7. Tom Reed

    It’s amazing how far a baseball goes when you just make contact, and often that’s to the opposite field.

  8. ohiojimw

    I agree with the comment about at least right now Yadi Molina is looking very ordinary on both sides of the ball. We talk about the Reds guys in age related decline but perhaps often overlook it cuts both ways..

    • jdx19

      I think he looks sickly after losing all that weight.

    • redsfan06

      Yadier, age 32, is experiencing the same type of decline BP, age 33, is going through. Their ISO for the past 3 years:
      Molina 186/158/104
      Phillips 148/135/106
      Both have had to deal with injuries, but the chart doesn’t look promising.

      • CP

        Molina’s .186 ISO was a career high. His .160 ISO in the previous year is probably a better comp, so I don’t know if you can really call the .158 a trend.

        That said, it’s still pretty likely that the Cards simply re-upped at the peak.

  9. Jake

    Well, it wasn’t a good game but we’ll get em tomorrow. I hope the middle of our lineup wakes up cause 1-3 can’t carry the team

  10. eric nyc

    Well you can’t win em all…But we sure looked like the 2014 Reds today. Untimely errors, stranded batters, flailing plate approaches, leaky bullpen, wasting a solid Cueto start. You have to figure Bruce and Mes will get it going at some point. Pretty forgettable game all around. Hoping Price doesn’t pick tomorrow to unveil the B-team lineup.

    • RossGrimsley

      I expect to see Pena, Negron, and possibly Schu tomorrow.

  11. FLA Red

    I’m looking forward to Iglesias’ debut. The Cards’ Martinez is a fire baller as well. Upper 90s. I’m hoping Frazier and Votto can tee off against him. And we need Mes to get on a roll. C’mon, Reds, let’s win the series.

    • ohiojimw

      Agree on all accounts. The guys south of Frazier in the lineup need to start pulling their.

  12. Art Wayne Austin

    The top 3 got on base 5 times, only one run. The next four need to pay to get in the ballpark until they produce at the plate.

    • preacherj

      Exactly. Getting ’em on, and getting ’em over means little if you cant get `em home.

  13. Eric the Red

    1) Billy has seen 7 straight pitches out of the strike zone from Walden. Friday he took them, walked, and scored the winning run. Saturday, down 1 and leading off the inning, he swung at all of them and struck out. Baseball’s weird.

    2) Anybody have anything–even a small sample size thing like past batter-pitcher results–to explain leaving Boesch in to face a LH reliever? That move just baffled me.

    3) I don’t know how Iglesias will pitch. I hope he pitches in such a way that he either stays in the rotation or goes back to Louisville to work on being a starter. My fear is that the bullpen need is so great that he’s going to end up being used to plug one of those holes. (Incidentally, if he goes to the bullpen I bet he ends up on a milk carton as the “long man” while releasing Cingrani from that role, thereby improving both the overall bullpen and the LH portion of it. Gregg goes away, Cingrani gets used in preference to Parra, and Iglesias rots instead of developing into a starter for next year.)

    4) Anybody know who was warming up in the bottom of the 8th when we were still down only a run so there was a chance we’d tie it or take the lead? Chapman? Jumbo? We didn’t get that info from THOM! but there must have been somebody warming up to replace Badenhop in that event and I’m wondering who it was.

    • eric nyc

      The bench is terrible. Price was probably expecting Methany to bring in a lefty to pitch to Boesch when he sent him to the plate. He wasn’t going to send him up, have Methany make the switch, and then send someone else up. Too early in the season to start playing those kind of games.

      • CP

        I wouldn’t call this bench worse than last years, but it has to be pretty close, which is pretty amazing.

        At least Negron can play multiple positions fairly okay, and Suarez is waiting in the wings.

      • Eric the Red

        “Too early in the season”? The bench isn’t like the bullpen, where you wear the guys out by having them appear two games in a row. You wouldn’t rather have had Negron (or another RH bat) up with the tying run on base and two outs in the 8th?

      • eric nyc

        You really want Price to start playing the “Send out a PH/switch pitcher/send out a different PH/switch pitchers again” game? It’s a 1 run game. What happens if you go to extra innings? If you want to see Negron, your gripe should be with Price sending up Boesch in the first place. But it’s not like it was some giant shock that Methany brought in a lefty to pitch to him. It would be worse if Price had to bring Boesch back down because he didn’t anticipate such an obvious move.

      • eric nyc

        Also it was the 7th inning and we still had the top of our order coming up.

      • Eric the Red

        Eric NYC, the rules wouldn’t have allowed Matheny to switch pitchers again. It happens all the time that pinch hitters are taken down after the first reliever is brought in, precisely for that reason. Yes, Price should have figured the Cards would bring in a LH reliever, and that should have been part of his strategy. I can’t believe you’re really OK leaving up a LH batter in that situation to make the last out of the inning with the tying run on base.

      • charlottencredsfan

        What if the game would have gone to extra innings?

      • Eric the Red

        It was a one run game in the seventh and we’d still have had Dominguez, Peña, and Schumaker on the bench. We’d have run out of pitchers in extra innings before we ran out of position players. I’m very surprised you guys think this move made sense.

      • charlottencredsfan

        I agree with you. Wanted you to make that point. First, you have to get to extra innings……………………..

      • eric nyc

        My point is just that with a paper thin bench, if a guy is incapable of hitting left handed pitching then why even have him on the roster? You’re going to use him only in junk situations or only when you want to burn him to get the opposing manager to bring in a lefty reliever? That’s not a very sound long-term strategy. Oh, and for what it’s worth Boesch’s career BA against lefties is .287. Against righties it’s .247. You wanted Negron in that spot…ok. He had a good spring but I honestly don’t think there’s much of a difference between him and Boesch.

      • Eric the Red

        Thanks Eric; that’s exactly what I was looking for with my original question. It probably explains Price’s thinking. Of course, it suggests Boesch may not be a typical LH batter in which case Schu would likely have been a better choice against Martinez today….

        As for your overall point: the only reason I’d have left Boesch in was because I thought he was the best choice vs that pitcher. If I thought any of the other guys on the bench were a better choice–even Peña–I’d have pulled Boesch down regardless of how early it is in the season or how close we are to extra innings. St. Louis was the opponent, it was late in the game, we didn’t have the bullpen available for a long extra inning affair, there were two outs….I’d definitely have burned another player.

    • RedInInd

      After Badenhop was brought in, Parra was the next to start throwing. The pen was empty in the ninth while Manny was doing his job. I was sitting on the right side of the PPG Patio and had a pretty good view of the pen.

      • Eric the Red

        Thanks Redinind. I don’t get that; if our last batter in the 8th had hit a homerun we’d have been leading. He was going to let Badenhop/Parra try to close out the game instead of Jumbo (assuming Chapman wasn’t going to pitch)?

  14. eric nyc

    Well we have some version of the b-team today. Boesch in LF and Pena catching. That wouldn’t be so bad, except for some reason Price also decided that BP should bat cleanup today given how good he’s looked at the plate so far.

    Hamilton
    Votto
    Frazier
    Phillips
    Bruce
    Boesch
    Pena
    Cozart
    Iglasis

    • CP

      To be fair, the best 5 hitters are batting 1-5. Boesch is a complete unknown and Pena’s had a wRC+ under 80 4 out of the last 5 years, and Cozart is…Cozart.

      • eric nyc

        I don’t know why you wouldn’t just move Bruce up a spot. I know he’s cold right now, but so is BP. It’s a nitpick but it seemed Price finally understood BP’s days of being an overly productive hitter are past.

  15. Eric the Red

    My guess is he just wants to give BP a chance to hit with runners on base and see if that helps. Starting Boesch today makes sense because LH batters did considerably better against Martinez last year (and Byrd is old and needs rest and has been terrible at the plate.)