Three Washington runs in the ninth inning against Reds closer Alexis Diaz gave the Nationals a 7-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds  before 39,674 at Kids Opening Day at Great American Ball Park.

Final R H E
Washington Nationals (1-1) 7 11 0
Cincinnati Reds (1-1)
6 10 0
W: Harvey (1-0) L: Diaz (0-1) SV: Finnegan (1)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

It was shaping up as another game with Nick Martini as the hero. His two-run pinch-hit double in the bottom of the eighth gave the Reds a 6-4 lead, sending a large crowd into delirium. But closer Alexis Diaz’s slump that marked the end of the 2023 season and most of spring training continued, as he allowed Washington to score three wildness-aided runs in the top of the ninth in a gut-wrenching loss.

The Offense

Reds batters went 10-for-34, drawing three walks and striking out eight times.

For the second consecutive game, Martini was the offensive star. Pinch-hitting in the eighth for Santiago Espinal, his double scored what were the go-ahead runs at the time. But the bullpen couldn’t finish the job.

In the bottom of the second inning, second baseman Espinal reached on an infield hit, his first as a Red, then stole second base. With two outs, Stuart Fairchild lined a single to left field which was fielded by Jesse Winker, not known for his defensive prowess during his tenure with the Reds. But a perfect one-hop throw home was in time to nail Espinal at the plate to maintain a scoreless tie.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Jeimer Candelario took care of that deficit with two out and nobody on with a 379-foot solo shot into the left field lower deck to tie the game — also his first hit as a Red.


Elly De La Cruz led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a beautiful bunt single, but was thrown out attempting to steal second when he lost contact with the bag. Fairchild followed with a one-out single that probably would have scored De La Cruz had he been safe. But Luke Maile then launched one 374 feet into the right field lower deck, continuing his hot hitting from spring training play, to give the Reds a 3-2 lead. Will Benson then followed with a gapper to right-center for a double that spelled the end of the day for Nationals starter Patrick Corbin. Former Red Derek Law entered, and Jonathan India greeted him with a hit to center that scored Benson for a 4-2 lead.

With the score tied at 4 in the bottom of the eighth, India led off with a single. Pinch-runner Bubba Thompson then stole second. Two outs later, Candelario walked, and Nick Martini then pinch-hit for Espinal:

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth, Maile drew a one-out walk to become the possible tying run. But Washington closer Kyle Finnegan struck out Benson swinging and grounded out pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson for the final out.

India’s two hits were the most for any Red today. Martini’s statistics now: .600 batting average, 7 RBI, 2.600 OPS.

The Pitching

Reds pitchers allowed 11 hits and six walks, while striking out 14.

In his first three scoreless innings, Greene threw nine pitches of 100 mph or more. But much more importantly, he showed the ability to locate his breaking and offspeed pitches more often than not in the strike zone. After walking the first batter of the game, Greene settled down to allow only two hits while striking out five over the first three frames. The first splitter he threw in actual big-league competition resulted in a double-play grounder by Eddie Rosario to end the top of the second.

But the mastery eluded Greene early in the fourth. He walked Winker to lead off the frame, and Joey Meneses followed with a double off the left-field wall to put runners on second and third with nobody out. He struck out Joey Gallo looking on a 100-mph fastball for the first out. Keibert Ruiz then looped one to shallow center which shortstop De La Cruz and centerfielder Stuart Fairchild converged on. The ball dropped just beyond De La Cruz, who picked up the ball on one hop and fired home, but Winker’s slide eluded Maile’s tag to put Washington up 1-0. A strikeout and a popup ended the inning with no further damage.

In the top of the fifth, C.J. Abrams walked with one out and stole second. Lane Thomas then followed with a walk. Winker then hit a one-hopper back to the mound that Greene had to reach for and it glanced off his glove, loading the bases with an infield hit. On Greene’s 100th pitch, Joey Meneses then hit a looper to center that was caught by Fairchild, who then seemed to lose concentration and didn’t even look the runner at third, Abrams, back. Abrams trotted home on that apparent mental error to give Washington a 2-1 lead. This turned out to be a very consequential mistake in what became a one-run loss. Manager David Bell then pulled Greene for lefty Justin Wilson, who retired Gallo on a ground-out to end the inning.

Greene went 4 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out seven. He looked very much like the Greene we have become used to seeing: impressive speed on his fastball, but unable to locate his breaking and off-speed pitches consistently.

In the top of the seventh, Fernando Cruz allowed a leadoff triple to Abrams, who then scored on a wild pitch to draw the Nationals within 4-3. With that still the score in the top of the eighth, Ruiz crushed one 397 feet to right off Lucas Sims to tie it at 4-4.

Up 6-4 in the top of the ninth, Diaz allowed a leadoff walk to Abrams who stole second and scored on Winker’s single to make it 6-5. With runners on second and third with one out, Diaz walked Joey Gallo to load the bases, and then hit Ruiz with a pitch to tie it. With Brent Suter now on, Eddie Rosario hit a sacrifice fly to make it 7-6.

What’s New(s)

Diaz has shown no sign of recovering from whatever caused his late-season slump last year that continued through a difficult spring training performance and now today’s game. Bell needs to pull him from the closer role and put him in some other role until some remedy can be discovered. You have Emilio Pagan, a former closer, and Tejay Antone who both have late-game experience. They can be given a shot.

This is now officially a serious problem. If you’re a team that expects to contend and play to win a division, you can’t continue to run Diaz out in those situations until he shows he has gotten himself righted. We’re past the point of “we’re going to stick with our top guy,” because right now, he’s not.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds

Sunday, March 31, 1:40 p.m. ET

Jake Irvin vs. Nick Martinez

124 Responses

  1. Melvin

    Poor defense and poor relief pitching lost this one. Obviously.

    • Melvin

      Base running didn’t help either by the way. Here’s wishing for more accountability this year.

  2. Ksdavis

    But. I thought spring training results didn’t mean anything

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I respectfully disagree. If that were so, you’d have to ignore Tony Santillan’s performance and classify it as meaningless. I don’t think anyone with the Reds organization or Reds fans believe that is true.

  3. Beaufort Red

    As Tom said my biggest concern is that Diaz is put in anymore close out games. He needs to go to Louisville and work on whatever isn’t working. This may seem extreme after one game but it’s actually the second half last year, spring training and today. If he can’t find it in Louisville at least he isn’t costing us games. And this one isn’t on Bell. Up 2 runs you bring in your closer. It’s in Diaz.

    • MBS

      It’s not a crazy idea, and they could bring up Santillan. Santillan, Pagan, and Antone would give Bell a few options to close out games.

      • VaRedsFan

        If they did, Bell’s default move would be to go to Sims.

    • Justin T

      I think just about everyone agrees on the Diaz concerns. As far as Bell goes, when he started emptying his bench in the 7th it wasnt a good sign. Sure wouldve loved to seen India with the bat in his hand against a closer w the game on the line instead of a cold pinch hitter off the bench. Its the little things that add up w Bell. India runs well enough to do what is needed in that situation, a pinch runner takes out one of your best players and its a one run game late extra innings could easily happen. I understand you need a run there but India seems to be running just fine. Just minimize risk instead of compulsively emptying your bench is my only ask of Bell. I am giving him a fresh start this year and I applaud the move hitting Martini for the new guy late. Players do play hard for him, just stop over-managing!

      Loved seeing EDC bunt that shows the kids commitment and he is willing to try to improve his craft. Still not sure if he is a shortstop, that ball up the middle late- he leaned the wrong way off the bat and never got his balance back. Thats a natural instinct to not do that for a good shortstop (or one who isnt 6’5). Again, I think he could improve and seems more than willing to work on it.

      But 90% of this was on Diaz, he looks lost. Defintely throwing and not pitching which never works in MLB.

      Its early and I think we have seen enough to know this team will be a thrill ride all season. Cheers to all of you, enjoy the beautiful evening.

      • Frogem

        Your point is so we’ll put! “Just minimize risk instead of compulsively emptying your bench is my only ask of Bell.”

        Agree, Bell is like a kid in a candy shop, having little self control as he succumbs to impulse. There is an element of added chaos and thus mental tax on the players with a manager who is constantly jacking with his toys.

        Meanwhile, his players are lacking the discipline, training, or lack of execution to not hold the runner on 3rd (Fairchild) or continually walking batters while excessively nibbling the edges of the plate no matter who the batter is, even against a 0.295 OPB/0.677 career hitter (Abrams). Walks are not equal… you walk a Ohtani, you don’t walk an Abrams. Simple.

      • greenmtred

        Bell has gotten lots of heat in the past for not going all in to get a win because he’s overly concerned with later innings and upcoming games. I was surprised he pulled India at that point, but I think that, in doing so, he was playing for the win: India still has plantar, and even fully healthy he’s not as fast as Thompson. There are certainly hits that would score Thompson but not India. And Thompson did score. What didn’t work was Diaz. Sims, too, because, had he held the lead in the eighth. the Reds may well have added to the lead.

      • Justin T

        @greenmtred

        I understand he gets criticized for not going for a win sometimes but that doesnt make it right to go all the way the other way. Sometimes it gray and not black and white. Bell’s main problem is lack of feel for game situations like this. At the end of the game you have Stephenson at the plate instead of (the hot bat) India at the plate because the manager pulled him from the game for a pinch runner. Respectfully disagree with you on this one but I will continue to try and give him some benefit of the doubt. Today is a new day.

      • greenmtred

        Thanks, Justin. I was just positing a theory. I don’t know with certainty what goes into any manager’s decisions. I do know with certainty that they all mistakes from time to time and that hindsight is 20/20.

    • Todd Miller

      You are 100% correct on your assessment of Diaz.

      • TR

        My opinion regarding Diaz is that he was made closer too soon without enough experience as a reliever. Either use him earlier for an inning to regain confidence, or else Diaz needs time at Louisville to work things out.

    • mac624

      I suspect that’s probably the plan, but Diaz is going to get more than 1 opportunity to close a game. Now if he blows another game or two within the next few days, then obviously they will pull him. I’m really concerned about his velocity. It’s way down from this time last season. Something isn’t right.

  4. CI3J

    Tough loss for sure.

    If the Reds are going to contend, they can’t give games like this away.

  5. Myles

    Diaz is not as good in day games. Didn’t someone already figure that out?

  6. Jim Delaney

    Agree Diaz was bad but the Manager putting Fraley in game as defensive replacement for Martini and placing him in 6th spot in batting order. Is the manager’s fault. Either put Martini in game or give up DH and place Thompson in OF. You have to have Fraley on bench if you have bottom of ninth inning.. now that is on the Manager….

    • CI3J

      Yeah, that was a Bell Overmanaging Special right there.

      I don’t blame Bell too much for this loss, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t make a lot of his typical head-scratching moves.

    • Kdavis

      Sometimes I think Bell manages like he is coaching a little league team. Have to keep everyone happy. There are players on this team that are decent players but not outstanding players. Need to start playing the players you think are going to be the outstanding players more.

      • Dewey Roberts

        I think you are right. I have tried to figure out Bell and that is the best summary of him I have seen. It is like he wants to be everyone’s buddy and keep them all happy. I don’t care if he is Gus Bell’s grandson. He is no Sparky Anderson.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      If Bell did what you are suggesting, he would be saying to everyone, I believe there is a good chance Diaz is going to blow this lead. If you’re ahead by 2 in the ninth and managing as though you’re going to have to bat in the bottom of the ninth, your team has some real problems.

  7. CARedfan

    3 balls that were in the air need to be caught by MLB caliber players along with 6 walks by the pitching staff, this was a team loss. Diaz struggled, but so did a lot of the players.

    • JayTheRed

      The defense was not good today. Someone on the field needs to take charge in those situations.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Was waiting for this comment. Got home late from the game yesterday and did not check in on RLG. The game had quite a few mental errors. The ball that Elly dropped should have been Stuey’s all the way. Coming into shallow center with a full head of steam he could have made the throw that might have gotten the runner at home. Another time, in the fourth inning I believe, when Hunter was having trouble findin the strike zone. A ball hit to Fairchild in shallow center with a man on he did not even attempt to throw home. Mental error, to me it looked like he thought it was the third out. Another play in foul territory by first base had 3 fielders converging and nobody taking charge and calling the ball. Little league stuff. This kind of thing is where I agree with the Bell haters. He should have been screaming at all of them in the dugout to wake up. But, he doe’snt do that. Anyway, it was kind of a sloppy game by the Reds and Diaz can’t get the ball over the plate. Sad ending.
      As my wife said, this was more of the Reds losing this game than the Nationals winning it.

  8. AMDG

    I know people said I was crazy in the offseason for saying closer was a need for the Reds.

    But it has been a while since Diaz looked like somebody the team could rely on to get 3 outs.

    • bug

      I heard that!!! He’s awful,..and has been since the All-Star break last year. I knew 100% chance he would blow the lead, and told my wife that was the case when he first entered the game. When you can predict what is going to happen, then it is not a surprise. Anyone in the bullpen would have won that game,..anyone but Diaz. What if we miss the post-season this year by one game? Every game is important,…all 162. You can’t just give games away making dumb moves,..but that is what Bell does pretty regularly. Sad, and pitiful.

      • JayTheRed

        Maybe Suter needs to be the closer. Nobody has been able to figure out his pitching in two outings.

      • Doug Gray

        Awful since the All Star break last year feels like a stretch. For the 2 months following the All-Star break (July 16 through September 19th) he threw 24.1 innings in 25 games and had a 2.22 ERA. He picked up 11 saves, 6 wins (he blew a save and picked up a win here – but he didn’t give up an earned run in the game), and had 3 losses.

        The two games that followed that stretch were very bad. He gave up 3 earned in 0.1 innings on September 20th and then 4 earned in 0.2 innings on September 23rd. Those two games caused his second half ERA to go from 2.22 to 4.62.

        By and large he was pretty good in the second half (though not as good as he had been in the first half), but had two very, very bad games back to back in late September.

    • JayTheRed

      I don’t think he is hurt. Watching the game it just seems like he is pitching differently than I remember from the 1st half of last season. He seems more erky jerky than I remember. Maybe he needs to watch some video of last season.

      He did get a few bad calls from the ump too at home plate. Something just seems off with him.

      • Jim Walker

        And when something seems “off” and a guy’s pitching motion looks different, especially not as smooth, typically that means he is adjusting for some physical discomfort or loss in range of movement. Add in his velocity is consistently down and a loss of crispness or snap to his breaking stuff and that spells trouble.

    • Longtimefan

      He was throwing 97-98 last year when he was so dominate but since around the all star break last year and now he is consistently at 93. That’s a big difference. In today’s game that’s batting practice speed especially when you get behind every batter and your slider has flattened out. The second half of last year when he was successful it seemed like he was shaky every time he pitched but managed to get out of trouble some of the time. He always seemed like he had the tying or winning runner on every game he pitched. I haven’t heard anything about his health since the break last year but there is definitely some drastic changes in his performance.

  9. RedsFanInFL

    Tom, excellent assessment of Diaz and the closer role. For all the modern day analytics, there is still something to be said about the “eye test” and right now it’s not hard to see (other than Bell) that Diaz needs to be removed from closer/high leverage situations.

    • RedlegScott

      Agree with both of you. Where’s Captain Hook when you need him?

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Bell needed to give Diaz the chance to show that when things count, he’s able to overcome these issues he’s had. Things are very different now than they were in the 1970s, but I remember the Reds sent Fred Norman to the minors to work out some problems one year. It’s not time for that yet. But if Diaz can’t work things out in non-closing situations, then that may be the time.

  10. docproc

    So annoyed with Fairchild. Get your friggin head in the game.

    • jon

      It was more important to keep the runners from advancing. Noodle arm Fairchild had no chance to throw out the fastest runner on Wash.

      • docproc

        Baloney. He was charging toward the diamond on the catch. He has a better arm than Fraley or Friedl. Or Winker, for that matter.

      • greenmtred

        I’m not certain that he has a better arm than Fraley.

  11. LarkinPhillips

    I am as much of a Bell hater as anyone but putting your closer in with a 2 run lead in game two of the year isn’t his fault. Maybe we can argue he should have pulled him a batter earlier for Suter to face a lefty, but this game is poor defense and Diaz not doing his job way more than it is Bells.

    • RedlegScott

      The question is whether Bell will repeat the decision.

    • Beaufort Red

      A thought out message for a change. No more Little League comparisons. The concern should be placed squarely on the shoulders if Diaz

    • Justin T

      I agree, he would be obliterated if he pulled him too early. He pulled him when he shouldve.

    • Melvin

      Obviously using Diaz to start the 9th was the right thing to do. An argument could be made considering the way things were going and kind of spring Diaz has had, pulling him earlier would have been the thing to do. He (Diaz) obviously didn’t have it today for whatever reason.

  12. sultanofswaff

    As much as you don’t want the first month of the season to be about sorting and figuring out bullpen rolls, at the same time you have to establish a large enough sample size before making any lasting decisions….so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. That said I think we need to temper expectations about Hunter Greene taking the next step.
    In the meantime I appreciate the lineup depth and pinch hitting options. This is a solid lineup even before accounting for the injured/suspended players.

    • Tom Reeves

      Hunter was some decent defense way from 6 innings. Not perfect but not bad for early season. He did not get decent defense.

      • greenmtred

        The ump also–no surprise–missed some calls that might have made a difference. I also thought that Elly was safe, though that one was really close.

    • Harry Stoner

      ‘….I think we need to temper expectations about Hunter Greene taking the next step…’

      But of course. Greene isn’t going to meet expectations any more than EDLC will. The hype and the hope far outstrip what individual humans are typically capable of.

      Long time Reds’ fans looking for another savior.
      han I
      I think Greene took a baby step today.

      Sure he threw too many pitches.

      But he threw his “new” offspeed stuff more than I can recall.

      He kept his cool after the D let him down and got out of a tough inning by pitching well.

      He’s not a victim of his hype or the healthy contract the Reds gave him.

      He doesn’t have to “live up to that” simply because it was offered to him.

      Greene isn’t going to be the Second Coming right off, if ever.

      But as noted, expectations are tempered, and I think we can count on him growing into a solid, dependable, if not Cy Young, pitcher.

      • Dewey Roberts

        Hunter needs to become at least an average pitcher before he becomes a great pitcher. I think his record is 9-20 in the majors now and his ERA is about 4.50. He is seldom able to pitch more than 5 innings if he even lasts that long. I don’t think it is expecting too much for Greene to become a ,500 pitcher and pitch 6 innings or more routinely.

      • Tom Diesman

        Hunter Greene has already proven he’s an average MLB pitcher over his first two seasons as his 97 ERA+ would suggest.

    • Grover

      With a little defense he goes 6 innings and gives up 1 run. I will take that from anyone. Yes I wish he was more efficient.

  13. Klugo

    Shoulda traded Diaz for something while we had the chance. Alexis needs to get right in low leverage situations right now. No more closing.
    Oh well, no wire to wire. Long season. Next.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      His arm looks healthy, but right now he has no idea where the ball is going when he releases it. In the past couple of years, he’s been able to throw the big pitch in big spots, which is what earns you the closer role. He’s clearly lost that skill, hopefully temporarily.

      • Klugo

        This goes back to end of last season. I don’t know if guys have a bead on him or what but he’s been lost for a while now.

      • Dewey Roberts

        The first sign of an arm injury is often a lack of control.

  14. MBS

    Besides the Diaz implosion, there were some good things that happened today. Maile carried over hitting the ball hard from spring. Benson gets a double off a LHP, and Candelario shows that his swing will work in GABP.

    Oh and Suter is awesome!

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I was quite excited when they signed Suter. He’s an underrated addition.

    • Melvin

      “Benson gets a double off a LHP”

      …and a walk. 😉

  15. Brian

    My guess is that Diaz wasn’t hitting his spots while warming up, he looked pretty wild. Those things should matter when coming in to close a game out.

    • Harry Stoner

      When Bell first arrived he was vocally opposed to having a dedicated closure.

      He certainly pixxed Iglesias off with the way he was used which no doubt contributed to his exciting Cincinnati on a bum trade.

      Bell has since did a 180 on how he sees a closer’s role.

      Something is truly off with Diaz and the Reds need to hire a Harry Stoner to figure out what it is.

  16. LDS

    As I questioned a couple of days ago, what has changed since last year? Still sloppy defense, base running, and pitching. Still obsessed with L/R matchups and platooning. Still leaves the relief pitcher in too long when it’s obvious that he doesn’t have it. Greene still hasn’t progressed much. Sims and Diaz obviously stunk. And who didn’t know EDLC would run? You don’t win many games when you give up 11 hits and walk 6. And the Nats are a far cry from being competitive with the Dodgers or the Braves. So again, what has changed since last season?

    • Harry Stoner

      You still show up and complain AFTER the game is over rather than participating in the real time conversation.

      Priding oneself solely on his after-the-fact critical analysis isn’t the sign of good management in business or sports.

      We let go managers like that regularly in my line of work.

      Join the game, join the conversation and your Eeyore pov will have much more relevance.

      • Jedi Joey

        Or how about he just have his opinion over something that none of have zero control over???

      • LDS

        The companies that I worked for didn’t allow mediocrity to thrive as the Reds have. Nor did they reward bad managers with promotions, as the Reds have. And we routinely conducted postmortems on projects, quarters, etc, comparing to our plans and forecasts. If your company gets rid of those who do critical after analyses, that’s maybe not great either.

  17. VaRedsFan

    Potential outs given to the Nats today:

    CES drops Greene’s pickoff throw to 1st. Out by a mile.

    Candelario has a batted ball deflected off his glove. Ruled a hit. Make a play.

    Fairchild fails to come come in on shallow fly ball to center. Replay from the camera pointed towards center, shows Fairchild stood frozen for 2 seconds before reacting to charge in. He still had time to call Elly off and make the catch. That ball needs to be caught. Shortstops make this catch on a regular basis.

    Foul pop down the right field line. CES looks like he has it, but then bails as if Benson called him off. Benson slides and can’t come up with it.

    Double play ball hit back to Greene, he doesn’t field it cleanly, ends up getting no outs. (Winker hit the ball). Cleanly fielded, this is an easy DP.

    Infield popup. CES initially goes towards it. The ball then blows towards Espinal, who is too late to react. Somehow ruled a hit.

    Bases loaded pop up to VERY SHALLOW CF. Fairchild charges and has all his momentum going towards home, doesn’t even attempt the 175 foot (my estimate…might have been shorter) to the plate. Put it this way, Winker’s throw home get Espinal was longer than Stuey’s would have been, by 20-30 feet.

    I’m not foolish enough to believe that all 8 of those outs should have been recorded. Well, maybe high schoolers won’t make all 8. But MLB players COULD have made all 8, and should have at least gotten 6 of those 8 outs.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      It’s my observation that some Reds players either are reticent to take charge in a fielding situation involving De La Cruz, or else perhaps he calls for everything in the same zip code. Keep your eyes on this.

      • Harry Stoner

        Keen observations, Tom.

        I think both are plausible.

      • TR

        When the time comes, Elly de la Cruz with his blazing speed will have much more room to roam in centerfield than at shortstop.

      • Melvin

        Not that he’s bad fielding grounders TR, but he’ll be much better catching balls in the air. 😉 This year, however, they need him at SS.

    • Harry Stoner

      Noone has had their stats culled and parsed by RLN faithful more than Fairchild.

      He’s not the solution in CF, but then again, noone currently else is.

      Thompson? Does anyone trust his bat?

      This one was a totally winnable game that the Reds brought on themselves.

      I’d like to somehow get the feeling that they are self-aware of that.

      But I’m not at all sure.

      • Melvin

        “This one was a totally winnable game that the Reds brought on themselves.”

        Yeah. In more ways than one.

    • BK

      @VA, that’s a great summary. Your analysis of this game is spot on. I’ll add that the ball that fell between Fairchild and EDLC could have still resulted in an out if Maile had put the tag on Winker—he whiffed on the tag.

      Benson played Abram’s double into a triple in the 7th, which allowed him to score on a wild pitch.

      The Nats also got five SBs off the Reds. The defense was abysmal today, and frankly, I’m surprised the game was close.

      Greene pitched well enough, but more importantly, he was better at keeping hitters off balance. The sloppy defense elevated his pitch count.

  18. Indy Red Man

    I didn’t like this pen coming in. It was obvious they needed an elite co-closer type like Devin Williams was when they had Hader. Sims is obviously not that. He’s probably worse then Gibaut.

    Most importantly I think Diaz is done. He went from 96-98 mph to 93-95. He was 93 today with the game on the line. I can’t think of any elite closer that lost major velocity and reinvented himself? Maybe he works up to 95-96 again, but his control is iffy too. Idk? 37 out of 40 saves last year, but atleast 8 or 10 were extremely lucky. I’d consider moving Lodolo or one of the AAA starters if the pen continues to struggle. Disappointed in Stuey today too….what in the world? I know teens struggle with ADD today….maybe the prom was on his mind? Whatever it was…it wasn’t baseball

    • Tom Mitsoff

      The pen is potentially greatly improved. They have added some experienced veterans who have produced at the major league level. If Antone is back and can stay healthy (and pitches like he did at his peak), that would be off the charts.

      • Ted Alfred

        Antone should be given a shot at the closer role if he’s healthy and anywhere near where he was stuff wise

      • Doc

        In order to pitch like he did pre surgery he has to be given the chance to pitch.

    • Melvin

      ” He went from 96-98 mph to 93-95. He was 93 today with the game on the line.”

      Hope we don’t get an injury announcement soon. That’s not good. Wishing we could have signed Chapman to help.

    • DW

      The drop in velocity has appeared to be the issue with Diaz. I haven’t looked at the numbers to see if there is a correlation, but it sure seems to be the case. The first half of the year he was dominant, and sitting in the upper 90’s consistently. After the struggles, haven’t really seen much in the upper 90’s.

      • greenmtred

        His drop in velocity is notable, but his slider isn’t fooling anybody. Larkin said it was flat, and that looked to be the case. He also got it up in the zone.

    • bug

      >>>atleast 8 or 10 were extremely lucky

      Bingo! Right on the money!! I remember so many games last year where he left the tying run on base (after blowing a 2 or 3 run lead) when the batter hit a screaming line drive right at an infielder or outfielder to end the game. Pure luck. It was uncanny how many times that happened, and Diaz still got his save. They were teeing off on him,..when he could actually throw a strike. He has not even been a good batting practice pitcher since the All-Star break. That’s why I KNEW he would blow the game today. My only question is how many blown saves is Bell going to let him have before he realizes what so many of the fans can see with our own eyes.

  19. Mark Moore

    Saw just a little bit during dinner. Turned to the box score to confirm what I already suspected and my heart sank. Something is up and I don’t know what it is. Probably heavily in his head.

    Brush it off and go for win #2 tomorrow.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      The TV announcers mentioned that his slider doesn’t have the bite it used to. Not sure if that’s a velocity issue or a grip issue.

  20. Oldtimer

    1961 Brosnan and Henry.
    1970 Eastwick and Carroll.
    1972 Carroll and Borbon.
    1975 Eastwick and McEnaney
    1976 Eastwick McEnaney and Borbon
    1990 Myers and Dibble

    The best Reds teams of my lifetime (born 1951) had more than one closer. Best = NL pennant winners.

    • David

      Rawly Eastwick was in high school in 1970. 😉

      1970 was Clay Carroll closing, with Wayne Granger (who pitched in 90 games in 1969), and then in the second half of the season, Don Gullet (19 years old) was setting up for Carroll, many days.

      Pedro Borbon was in a lot of ways a pretty amazing relief pitcher, though he was a real odd ball (I think he was from the Dominican). He threw from a couple different angles, had a rubber arm (as Joe Nuxhall used to call him “old rubber arm”) and could pitch effectively on a run of days.

      Somebody mentioned that loss of velocity is a sign of arm damage. I saw Dibble pitch in Spring Training in 1993, I think, and he didn’t look sharp and was not throwing as hard. I mean, I was standing next to the rail, and Rob Dibble was only about 15 feet away. Dibble’s stats for that year were actually falling of a cliff from the previous year.
      I hope Diaz is alright, but maybe he should just go home and rest his arm for a month. That isn’t going to happen, of course, but I don’t think he is magically going to get better.

      • Doc

        He just had the off season off. If four months of rest didn’t help his arm, why would one think another month would do it?

      • greenmtred

        Did Diaz play winter ball this year? If not, he had five months to rest his arm.

      • MK

        Old timer in your original post you did right Eastwick and Carroll in 1970 and it should have said Granger and Carroll, so David was just pointing out the err.

    • Oldtimer

      Typo. And RLN has no edit function. It needs one. Granger, not Eastwick.

  21. Mark A Verticchio

    Looking back on Fairchild’s bonehead play, a good manager would have pulled him for not being in the game, can’t happen.

    • Ted Alfred

      100% and I said as much when it happened in the game thread. First he gets the terrible break on the ball that De La Cruz or he should have easily had that gave up their first run. Then you could tell he thought there were 2 outs on the shallow ball to center….and that CAN NOT happen. He needs to sit for a few games to send a message. That was such a poorly played game defensively.. they literally gave them an extra five or six outs and I don’t think any of them were called errors other than the pop-up to 2nd… ridiculous

    • BK

      @Mark, every position on the field misplayed (except Steer in LF) a ball yesterday. Hard to see that on Gameday and watching highlights. And no, public shaming is not a good leadership strategy.

    • greenmtred

      Who takes his place? Maybe they could have just given him a public spanking instead of put him in the stocks for a few hours. Fairchild almost certainly knew that he screwed up and, remember, is fighting for an increased role. He’s very possibly his own toughest critic in a situation like this. For that matter, I don’t recall seeing him make many mistakes in the past.

      • greenmtred

        Instead “or,” not “of.”

  22. Frankie Tomatoes

    I had family stuff today and it turns out it was a good thing. Catching up with some people and stuffing my belly with ham and macaroni and rolls had to be better than watching the team come back then blow the lead. Excited to watch Nick Martinez tomorrow. Get the win and take the series.

  23. Rednat

    Not trying to pile on Fairchild,but
    I thought a big play of the game was when EDLC got caught stealing after the bunt single.
    It use to be as a batter if a runner is stealing a base, you swing over the ball to try to distract the catcher. Fairchild just stands there like a bump on a log. That could have been a bigger inning if edlc is safe there.
    I bring this up a lot on this site but rarely get a response. I guess hitters these days don’t want to give up a strike anymore. The “catcher distraction ” swing must be a thing of the past I guess

    • BK

      In fairness, the ump blew the call and EDLC was safe. I’m not sure why the replay officials couldn’t see enough to overturn the blown call. The BSO guys had it pieced together for those who watched the game today.

      • VaRedsFan

        We’ve seen this a lot since replay, and I hate it.
        Elly possibly (not enough to overturn) lost contact with the base for a micro-second as he was sliding over it.
        Can’t stand this part of replay.

        Elly had it stolen easily. He didn’t need a guy to swing for distraction.
        Often times this results in a foul ball and having to go back to first.

      • Tom Diesman

        I’d suggest Elly De La Cruz begin his head first slide sooner so he doesn’t over slide the bag and have to risk coming off the bag during his transfer from hand to leg being on the bag. If he continues to use this slide technique he’s leaving himself open to this every time.

  24. JayTheRed

    Yes, it was an ugly game that the team should have won. But guess what folks it’s game two of the season. Some of the posters here act like we just lost our chance to get into the playoffs.

    I’m not ready to not give Diaz more opportunities to close but he needs to figure out why his slider is flat and with the eye test today he just didn’t seem like he was pitching the same way he used to. His footing seemed different. and his pitches were sailing a lot. I’m no pitching coach but if I’m the Reds Coaches I start looking at video compared to late last season, this spring and today and compare it to what Diaz was doing in early parts of 2023.

    Also, I mentioned this above if we need a different option to close, it seems like hitters can’t touch Suter’s pitches right now.

    • TR

      Based on early performance, Sutter should get the closer call when needed.

  25. Reddawg2012

    I’m concerned about HG. He looks like the same pitcher with the same issues that we’ve been watching for two years.

    Now for a few positives, since the negatives are obvious and well docuented.

    India looks great so far, which is huge. We really need him.
    Nick Martini. Enough said.
    Elly successfully bunting for a hit? Love it. It’s like he unlocked a new super power.
    Brent Suter looks to be very reliable, which matches his track record.

    • Grover

      HG was fine, not great but fine. Could be more pitch efficient but ML caliber defense gets him 6 innings of 1 run ball.

    • VaRedsFan

      Greene had 2 batted balls against him that were hard hit. One was an out. The other left the yard.

      People talk about pitch efficiency. I wish he were too. But teams are swinging and missing so much that it drives the counts up. Do you want them to put more balls in play? His stuff is good enough that he doesn’t need to waste pitches and nibble so much. (DJ’s mantra it seems) I’d like to see him put guys away in 5 pitches, instead of 6-7 or more.

  26. GreatRedLegsFan

    Whatever it was, he doesn’t have it anymore.

    • greenmtred

      Many of the posts about Diaz were written before Doug posted above with actual data about Diaz and his second half last season. I should say immediately that I tend to agree with the questions about Diaz, but Doug’s data does give me pause: I think it’s well established that people tend to remember the outliers–blowing a two run lead in the ninth is memorable–but the whole body of work wasn’t really so bad. I have the same reaction to Sims, and his numbers don’t really support my doubts about him. That said, Diaz didn’t look good yesterday. Neither, for that matter, did Sims.

  27. GMan88

    If they are ever going to relevant and not cheesy family entertainment, they can’t drop games like that.

  28. Tampa Red

    Man “small sample size” alert means nothing to Redleg Nation.

    The Reds are less of a team than they would have been in a world where McClain, Friedl don’t get hurt and Marte isn’t an idiot. With good pitching they can hang around until Friedl and Marte make it back and I think they will.

    Now let’s go win the series!

  29. Grover

    This game had every hallmark of bad Reds teams for much of the past 20 years. Forget it and hope it was just a blip.

  30. Jim Walker

    I was on family duty and got the game on stream just in time to see Winker drive in the 5th Nats run in T9.

    It certainly sounds like the Reds had played a loose defensive game up to the 9th.

    However, when the home team takes a 2 run lead into the 9th, everything that has gone before is secondary to closing out the game. Until the Reds manager behaves as if he understands this, the Reds are never going to get over the hump to the post season qualification and success.

    The man in charge must learn to stiffen his back, put on his big man britches, walk out to the `mound, and tell his closer, “You are my closer; but, today is not your day. Give me the ball” before 4 of 5 batters have reached the with the aid of two four pitch walks to load the bases with a run in and the tying run on 3rd with still only 1 out.

    • Rednat

      I went to the game and I agree on all counts.
      We played like the Bad News Bears and still had a lead going into the ninth. I give Greene a lot of credit for that.
      I also agree that Bells ” don’t rock the boat ” attitude lost the game yesterday.

      • Jim Walker

        MLB is MLB and AAA is AAA; but, this said Tony Santillan came on to close for the Bats Friday night with a 2 run lead in the 9th. He struck out the 1st two hitters then got burned for a solo HR on a 1-2 pitch followed by a single on a 1-1 count but came back to K the next hitter to close out the game.

        The big difference between Santillan and Diaz yesterday is that Santillan threw 1st pitch strikes to 4 of the 5 hitters and was never behind in a count after 2 pitches to any batter.

        For anyone wondering TS was throwing his fastball in 97+ MPH to 98+ MPH speed with his slider about 10 MPH slower.

    • Jimbo44CN

      I was there Jim, believe me, it was ugly.

  31. Eddiek957

    I really enjoy your recaps Tom. The only have one thing to say about this game. If my Uncle Gene was alive he’d be crabby. Happy Easter everyone

  32. docproc

    If you have any questions about Fairchild’s lack of a throw to the plate, listen to the Nats announcers at the 4:00 mark.

  33. Redsvol

    I think at this point in the season, all I can say is that we are clearly not ready for prime time. But this team is good and going to get better. The problem, of course, is that other teams will get better also.

    Not sure we have luxury of getting Diaz right by keeping him in closer role. As many pointed out, he’s had problems since July. I wouldn’t be surprised he is dealing with something and afraid to admit it.

    Concerned with Hunter. Either can’t command the off speed stuff or isn’t fully committed to it. Either way, he isn’t fooling anyone. The scouting report is what it is and until he changes he won’t get thru 5 innings.

    I was concerned about the defense in losing McLain, Friedl, and marte. This game shows the drop off in defense clearly.

  34. Matt WI

    Small point… Elly should watch the tape on how Bubba slid into 2nd on his steal. He kept his hands wrapped on the 1b side. Oversliding is a risk Elly can’t take in the replay era, amd he is frequently at risk at it. He was safe (touched 2nd before ball) but then the overslide caused the out. Possible he was still safe, but it shouldn’t have to go there.

  35. redfanorbust

    I find it amazing that with all our coaches, trainers and managers watching your every move/pitch, with radar guns and slo motion replay, never ending statistical analysis, having had all off season and spring training to see what was working and what was not, you still run a guy out there who seems to be having some sort of profound issues be they mental, physical or both. Most people attributed his last years late season poor performance as just being overworked which was reasonable explanation, at the time. We now find ourselves in a situation where we can ill afford to get too far behind and have a poor April trying to play catchup, especially with two of our key starters out extended periods if not the whole year before we even played game one. Whoever we run out there needs to be pretty much on top of their game at least to start the game.