Things were going well for the Cincinnati Reds entering the 6th inning as they held a 3-1 lead on Tuesday night. But the bullpen stormed into the game and slipped and fell on 14 bananas over the next several innings as they combined to give up one inherited run and then ten runs of their own as the Chicago Cubs blew past the home team in an 12-5 victory.

Final R H E
Chicago Cubs (2-3) 12 16 0
Cincinnati Reds (3-2) 5 9 2
W: Alzolay (1-0) L: Farmer (0-2)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

Luis Cessa took the mound for the first time this regular season on Tuesday night and things didn’t get out to a good start for the righty. He would give up singles to three of the first four batters, loading the bases with just one out. Trey Mancini came through for the Cubs with a sacrifice fly to put Chicago up 1-0.

In the bottom of the 1st Jonathan India continued his hot start to the year with a leadoff double. He’d come around to score on a single by Jake Fraley that tied the game up. Two innings later the Reds would grab the lead when TJ Friedl unloaded on a 95 MPH fastball from Hayden Wesneski and put it into the seats in right field, making it 2-1. The next inning saw the legend of Jason Vosler grow to proportions rivaled only by Paul Bunyan as he hit his third home run of the season to extend Cincinnati lead to 3-1.

Luis Cessa settled in after the rough 1st inning, and he even got some help from his defense. Will Benson ended the top of the 4th inning by climbing the wall down the left field line and reaching into the seats to catch a foul ball for the third out of the inning.

Luis Cessa was cruising along with a 3-1 lead in the 5th. After getting two ground outs to begin the inning, an error by Kevin Newman extended the inning. Back-to-back walks would load the bases, but Cessa buckled down and got a lazy fly out to shallow right-center to end the threat and keep the lead at 3-1.

In the 6th inning Trey Mancini struck out to begin the frame, but Patrick Wisdom doubled off of the wall in center on the 83rd pitch of the night for Cessa. That was the final pitch he threw as the Reds called on Ian Gibaut out of the bullpen to face the bottom third of the Cubs order. He gave up a single to Eric Hosmer that made it 3-2, and on the throw to the plate Hosmer took second base to put the tying run in scoring position. Gibaut would strike out Yan Gomes and Miles Mastrobuoni to squash the rally and keep Cincinnati up by a run.

In the top of the 7th inning Buck Farmer took over and on the first play of the inning he gave up a double off of the wall. On the play TJ Friedl hit the wall hard as he tried to make the catch, resulting in the trainer and manager David Bell heading out to check on him but Friedl was able to stay in the game. A walk followed to bring up certified Reds killer Ian Happ, and he did what he does – doubling down the left field line to tie the game up at 3-3.

That was enough to make a call to the bullpen and Reiver Sanmartin entered the game to try and strand the two runners that were on base with no outs when he entered the game. He didn’t make it easy on himself, walking the first batter he faced to load the bases. Trey Mancini then singled in a run on the second pitch he saw to put the Cubs up 4-3. Two pitches later it was another single, but Patrick Wisdom’s single brought in two runs as Chicago extended their lead to 6-4. When things started to look like they might work out in the Reds favor on a ground ball to Jonathan India, but the ball clanked off of his glove for an error to load the bases.

That led to yet another pitching change and Joel Kuhnel entered the game for his first appearance of the season. Kuhnel induced a grounder up the middle for an easy double play, but another run crossed the plate on the play and made it a 7-3 ballgame. Another single followed as the disastrous inning continued and it was 8-3 at that point. A nice play up the middle by Kevin Newman mercifully ended the inning that saw a 3-2 Reds lead turn into a 5-run deficit.

Things didn’t get much better in the 8th. Kuhnel walked the leadoff batter and then on a chopper by Ian Happ, Kuhnel and Jason Vosler both made a play for the ball and no one covered first base. Cody Bellinger followed with a single to load the bases with no outs. A force out brought in a run to make it 9-3. Patrick Wisdom followed with an RBI double that made it 10-3. A double off of the wall would make it 11-3.

In the bottom of the 8th inning the Reds made an attempted at a comeback. Jonathan India singled and David Bell called on Stuart Fairchild to pinch hit. And pinch hit he did, right out of the ballpark for a 2-run homer to make it 11-5. The Cubs got one of those runs back in the top of the 9th, leaving the Reds in need of a touchdown and an extra point to tie the game up. Wil Myers led off the inning with a single to try and get a big rally started. It was the only hit they would get as Chicago evened up the series at one game a piece.

Key Moment of the Game

When the Reds bullpen door opened.

Notes Worth Noting

Will Benson is 0-12 with nine strikeouts to start the season.

Tony Santillan threw a hitless inning while on rehab assignment with the Louisville Bats. He walked one and struck out two, while throwing 22 pitches. Nick Senzel went 1-4 with a double, walk, and a run in his first game on rehab with Louisville. Joey Votto went 1-5 with a run scored on the night with the Bats.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Chicago Cubs vs Cincinnati Reds

Wednesday April 5th, 12:35pm ET

Marcus Stroman vs Hunter Greene

63 Responses

  1. Bdh

    Pretty happy with how Cessa battled and overall the offense looks good.

    A few changes in the next week and this looks like a team that will cause some problems

    1 – Votto returns and with Vosler being an extra left handed bat it looks like Benson should be the one sent down to gain any confidence at all

    2 – Santillan comes back replacing Kuhnel and giving the bullpen another high leverage arm

    3 – Anderson replaces Overton if Overton’s next start is like his 1st was. One of Weaver/Cessa to the pen potentially if Anderson is doing ok.

    Hopefully Sims and Senzel perform well enough to force a move as well.

  2. Nicole Cushing

    Buck Farmer, y’all. Bucccccck Farmerrrrr.

    • Bdh

      He got the same guys 1-2-3 yesterday but why is he pitching in 4 out of 5 games is the bigger question.
      Bell made the statement the other day that Diaz wouldn’t throw a 3rd night (after throwing only 9 and 10 pitch innings in those 2 games before). For some reason he’s fine with Farmer (whose velo has been down to start the year) going 4 out of 5 though.

      • MBS

        The problem is 3.1, 5, 7, 4, 5.1, only Lodolo made it out of the 5th. I’d expect longer outings by this group on their 2nd go round. Hopefully Greene goes deep tomorrow, plus the day off, and the pen should be in good shape.

      • MBS

        @LGR, only Ashcraft. I feel better about this time around. Greene should be more relaxed than he was on opening day, and I have the most confidence in Lodolo day in and day out. Ashcraft just needs to keep doing what he was doing in spring and his 1st start.

        Cessa seems solid, and should be stretched out enough. Overton is the biggest question mark, but even he seemed passable as a 5th starter.

  3. Bdh

    It’ll be easy to watch a lineup of

    1 – India – 2B
    2 – Friedl – CF
    3 – Fraley – LF
    4 – Stephenson – C
    5 – Votto – 1B/DH
    6 – Myers – RF
    7 – Vosler – DH/1B
    8 – Steer – 3B
    9 – Barrero/Newman – SS

  4. Redsvol

    lost in the loss is that Cessa pitched a good game and if he could have gotten it to the 6th inning it might have been a different game.

    Bell is using the bullpen too much right out of the gate. He can’t use 5 relief pitchers a night. Guys are not used to pitching back to back nights – especially after they’ve been babied all spring. Its April, not a pennant race. Some of them have to get used to pitching multiple innings in order to use less relievers per night. He did this 1 inning per pitcher stuff last year and it drives me crazy.

    Good news is the offense is capable of scoring 5 runs a night and Cessa may be a decent rotation piece. Bad news is, the Guardians know how to scout their own players very well.

    • SteveAreno

      Middle relievers must be given the chance to go two full innings or more. I noted last year his one inning limit on our relievers wasn’t a good idea.

      • Colorado Red

        Keeping Bell was not a goo idea.

  5. Trainradio

    This team’s Achilles heel. The bullpen.

  6. Reddawg2012

    It feels like the bullpen is already being overused. I guess a couple 4 inning outings by Greene and Overton in the first five games will do that.

  7. LDS

    Bell’s typical bullpen usage comes back to haunt the Reds. You have to let the starters go deeper in the game. And relievers have to go more than 5-8 pitches and 2/3 of an inning, e.g. Gibaut tonight. Otherwise, he’s just burning arms. And we’ve seen this his entire tenure.

    • greenmtred

      We have seen weak bullpens his entire tenure. We’re seeing starters who don’t make it out of the 5th inning. If the pen had relievers who were reliable, I’d agree with having some of them pitch more than one inning, but since few can be counted on, burning a guy up leaves fewer options for the next game. Now for something controversial: I wouldn’t have objected at all if Bell had brought Diaz in early–maybe right after Gibault. The game was completely winnable at that point, and the situation illustrates perfectly why using your best reliever in strictly proscribed end of the game situations makes little sense.

  8. MBS

    Votto, and Senzel are just around the corner, and Santillan and Weaver seem to be getting close. Plus McLain is picking up where he left off this spring, .385 BA, .529 OBP, 1.298 OPS.

    This club is getting healthy, and deeper with the young prospect forcing their way onto the club.

    • SteveAreno

      Watch Henry Ramos force his way on after he gets through this bizarre suspension.

      • MBS

        I’m game, he was exciting to watch in spring.

  9. Melvin

    Really can’t complain about Cessa tonight especially considering he’s a 4th/5th starter. The offense for the most part is not too bad so far. Just a bad night for the bullpen. Kuhnel is probably not long to stay up at the ML level.

  10. Jim Walker

    When is it OK to start to worry about Votto? In his 3rd rehab appearance Tuesday, JV got a hit; but, he also struck out 3 more times. In 14 PAs over 3 games, his K rate is 50%. His batting average is .231. If my quick math is right, his OBP is .286. Against AAA pitching.

    I’ve seen about half of his PAs via MiLBTV. It is hard to watch because he looks like Joey Votto until swings and doesn’t make contact. Sadly, he looks a lot like the JV we saw in 2022 versus a rejuvenated guy who might give his 2021 numbers a run for their money in a last hurrah.

    At least it is still relatively early. By my count, Votto has 15 rehab days left. Hopefully, things will come into place for him in that allotted time.

    • Melvin

      To me he doesn’t look like he has his fastball timing down yet. He’s always taken a long time to get going even after the season started with a full ST. His hits look good. I think it will just take time. If HE says he’s not ready especially for opening day then he MUST need more time. We know he’s working as hard as possible to get there.

      • Jim Walker

        My concern is whether JV is making progress or even treading water at this point.

        In ST he had 26PAs and K’d 6 times versus pitching BBRef rated in composite as AAA level pitching. However, he has already K’d 7 times in 14PAs vs official AAA pitching.

        As ST was winding down, Bell seemed to give the impression they thought JV just needed to go on a quick rehab to game condition his legs and fine tune his swing. So far, it seems like he is further off than that.

      • Melvin

        I’m not sure but I think he’s Kd a lot in other ST years. This is still ST for him. I guess we’ll see.

      • Melvin

        Also have to remember, it’s David Bell talking.

    • Rednat

      I’m honestly not excepting much from Joey at this point. Just getting back on the field here at gabp would be a good spiritual lift for the team and fan base. Same with Senzel. We are losing 100 games with or without Nick and Joey but their comeback is at least something to look forward to.

      • TR

        When Joey Votto is ready, I’d use him in the DH position. Let Vosler and Stephenson handle first base when appropriate.

      • greenmtred

        I agree, TR. Vosler may crash and burn, but he seems to be a solid defensive first-baseman with some pop in his bat. Larkin was saying that the coaches were impressed with him in ST.

    • LDS

      As Dylan Thomas wrote: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”. Votto is trying but sadly as many here know all too well, sooner or later, time always wins.

    • AMDG

      It’s a little too late to ‘start’ worrying about Votto.
      Over the past 3 seasons, he is hitting a paltry 0.237 for the Reds.

      And his K rate has steadily increased from: 19% -> 24% -> 26%

      Even in his rehab stints at L’ville over the past 3 seasons, that K rate has climbed:
      23% -> 29% last year -> 50% this year

      Generally, a lot of commenters on this site refuse to accept that Votto is not a great hitter at this point in his career. But eventually we need to recognize that such beliefs don’t seem to be supported by the data.

      • SteveAreno

        Of course he is not but they find it so hard to let go. His substitutes are doing so well too.

    • Doc

      About 3-5 years ago was the time to start worrying about Votto. He hasn’t had consistently good starts to a season in about that long.

    • old-school

      @ Jim- I dont know that worry is the right term. It looks like hes going to play out the home stand in Louisville and not join the team in Philly. Cant imagine he goes to Toledo with the Bats next Tuesday so he will either join the Reds Monday in Atlanta or Next Thursday for the home series against the Phils.

      Votto is going to give it a go and we will all just have to see. I am really liking the top of the order against lefties with India/Friedl/Fraley and Stephenson. Id put Votto in the #5 hole and tell him to drive in runs cause these guys ahead of you are going to be on base. Myers can clean up in the 6 hole.

      Votto is too slow and he’s not his on base machine self or his old OPS 900 self to be in the 2 or 3 hole, but in the 5 hole I think he could put bat to ball if he decided too and be an RBI machine. If he takes his walks then Myers is right there.
      The ball appears to be live in GABP already so he can help this team.

      • Jim Walker

        Right now, the AAA guys are throwing strikes Votto can’t touch. He has 7Ks and 1 BB in 14PAs. Since we are being encouraged to bet on baseball derivatives now, from what I’ve seen of Votto at AAA, he might look almost as lost at MLB as Benson has for the most part.

      • Jim Walker

        They can suspend the rehab without activating him or losing the remaining rehab days. It might be a plan to do that and bring him to Cincy to work with video and in cages on his own then send him back to AAA for more rehab swings later.

    • Bob Purkey

      Is Joey any worse than Benson? Benson can field, can’t hit. Not sure if Joey can do either at this late point in his career.

  11. Rcsodak

    Why is everybody so enthralled with sanmarten? He rarely throws a clean inning. He needs gone.

    • David

      Well, he certainly stunk it up tonight.

      If Greene doesn’t last at least six innings tomorrow, the Reds will get pulverized again.

      And yes, this looks and sounds a lot like last year. It’s like Deja Vu all over again.

    • DHud

      Because he threw 40 innings of relief with a sub 4 era last year

      Reds aren’t in any position to be casting those kind of arms aside

  12. Rednat

    Seems like attendance is down from last year so far. The Sunday game was only 14 k. Way down from last year. And cubs only drawing 12 and 14 k…. Ouch.
    What happens if attendance continues to tumble as the season continues? Interesting thing to follow.

  13. LGR

    Is it just me or does like.. 90% of the guys in the pen just look.. out of shape? Not that you have the be a physical specimen to pitch, but I swear that’s how it is a lot of the time with this team.

  14. CI3J

    Bell really needs to stop micromanaging the bullpen. Let the pitchers pitch. There’s no need to use 5 or 6 pitchers every single game.

    Case in point: Why wasn’t Gibaut allowed to keep pitching after the 6th? Surely he could have gone another inning, at least.

    The number of pitchers the Reds have used, by game:

    3/31 – 6
    4/2 – 5
    4/3 – 4
    4/4 – 7
    4/5 – 6

    The most recent data I can find suggests that teams, on average, use 4.5 pitchers per game. Through 5 games, Bell is averaging 5.6 pitchers used per game. That is not sustainable over a full season. You can argue and say it’s the starters’ fault for not going deeper into games, but:

    1. Bell is pulling the starters too soon, and

    2. Bell is still using way too many pitchers after the starters leave

    Bell keeps inserting himself into games instead of just letting his players do their jobs. I really wish he’d just get out of the way and let them play.

  15. Kevin H

    Cessa threw 85 pitches, why couldn’t he go longer. As many have said Bell already over using the pen.

    • wkuchad

      We know enough to make an educated guess. He barely pitched in the WBC and still needs to be stretched out. He didn’t have much of a spring training like the other starting pitchers.

  16. Reddawg2012

    I’m a little concerned about the folks on Reds Twitter. It’s like a full blown meltdown for some people lol. Yes, it was a bad loss. But this is a bad (hopefully exciting and encouraging, but bad) team. The most optimistic people picked the Reds to lose 85-90 games this season. There will be plenty of losses. Buckle up.

    • Kevin H

      Lol good point. Lost in this loss, reds scored 5 runs. Offense is doing well.

      • Doc

        Four of those runs scored on the HR. Are they reverting to the HR or K mentality?

  17. AMDG

    The top-4 (Lodolo, Greene, Cessa, Ashcraft) of the Reds’ rotation seems promising in their first starts. They have compiled a 3.48 ERA with a 2.78 BB/K ratio.

    There were no high expectations for that 5th starter spot (be it Overton, Weaver, Williamson, or whoever). So that is what it is.

    And the bullpen has been subpar – as expected. Although with an ERA just below 5.00 they have arguably been better than expected. Perhaps if Sims, Santillan, and Antone ever pitch for them, the group may improve from “bad” to “below average”?

    • Kevin H

      They were very solid until lastnight. That game naturally ballooned the Era. I do think Bullpen is better than last year.

      As someone has said I am gonna wait til mid may before forming a opinion on bullpen

  18. Lone Wolf

    Today was awful. A combination of mismanagement and poor bullpen construction did the Reds in. Shouldn’t we have at least one long reliever in the bullpen? Based on modern ideas about starting pitching, you’d think a team would have a couple guys in the pen to pitch 3 innings each time they go out there. And couldn’t Bell ask one of these guys to take one for the team?

  19. Mark Moore

    I pulled a Clete and only checked the score later. Mama said we’d have days like this, but getting murdered by the Stupid Cubs always hurts.

    Wipe it off the books and head out there again today. Let’s hope the Cubs Cub today and we get through the first 6 games 4-2. I think we’d all take that, especially compared to last year’s start.

  20. old-school

    @ LDS- we can all take a deep breath.
    Barrero is playing SS and in the lineup today.
    What’s interesting is neither Benson or Fairchild is in the lineup.
    Fraley/Friedl/Myers man the OF. TS at DH and Lou Gehrig at 1b.

    • Jim Walker

      Yep. Glad to see it isn’t a typical getaway day lineup. Bell also artfully dodged officially benching Benson by not starting Fairchild vs RH pitching in his place.

      Even though Fairchild’s HR Tuesday was in garbage time, for better or worse, a lot of managers would have brought him back as a starter today. This said, the lineup Bell is starting today looks like his best lineup, presuming Friedl and Barrero are healthy.

    • Jim Walker

      I don’t see any signs in the tea leaves with both Benson and Fairchild not starting today.

      Votto is nowhere near ready to come up. They’ve said all along Senzel would be at AAA for an extended period; and, if memory serves correctly, he won’t be eligible for several days anyway. Ramos appears to still be on MiLB suspension. Plus, after a 10- 2 week layout, they will want him to get some swings in at AAA.

      In prior years, the Reds might have made a move to get another pitcher up at the expense of a position player spot; but, the 13 pitcher rule blocks that.

  21. Jim Walker

    The Reds have their fresh arm for today. Kevin Herget was selected from Louisville. Kuhnel was optioned after throwing 35+ pitches Tuesday. Bennett Sousa DFA to open the 40 man spot for Herget.

    Let’s hope things are as simple as that since Herget was listed on the official Bats site as their probable starter tonight (Wednesday).

    • David

      This really won’t fix things, but who knows?
      Kuhnel was kind of lousy last year, but they held on to him.
      Kind of bummed that they DFA’d Sousa. But he might stay with the team….who knows?
      Herget was a guy that I think did not get a long enough look in Spring Training, but I could be wrong about that, too. I thought he would be a darkhorse to be the 5th starter.
      After all this, the Reds are 3 and 2 (that’s a 0.600 winning percentage), albeit against the Pirates and Cubs. Hopefully Greene can give them at least 6 innings today, so they bullpen doesn’t get burned down again.
      The Phillies won their first game of the season last night, and are now 1 – 4. Looking briefly at their games so far, their pitching seems to be kind of bad. Mostly.

  22. MBS

    I think the team realized they need someone who can go 2+ innings out of the pen. Hopefully he won’t be needed in that manner tonight.

  23. gusnwally

    The real crime will be Friedl getting fewer at bats when Senzel comes back.

  24. Michael

    Yes indeed a crime if we get a .600 ops from Nicky. His CF defense is nothing to write home about either.