Harris has found the start of 2012 a little rough. (Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE)

Reds Take Final Game of Series, 4-3

You’ll take ‘em however you get ‘em. It may not have been the prettiest game of the season, but the Reds won the last game of the three-game set against the Cubs, 4-3, and in the process, won the series. They head back to Cincinnati with a record of 7-9. Maybe not quite what we all had in mind at the season’s onset.

All three games at Wrigley featured, shall we say, pretty bad defense. Yes, the wind was blowing. Yes, it was chilly. Yes, it was still a on the sloppy side. Not the field, but the play. For the series, the Good Guys committed seven, yes, that’s right, seven errors.

But even with those three miscues, the game still should not have been as close as it was. The Reds coaxed eight walks from Cubs pitching, five of those from starter Randy Wells. A pair of those came in the top of the first where the Reds had bases loaded with one out…but failed to push a run across the plate. Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen became strikeout victims of Wells, the only two Wells registered.

Wells would issue the other three walks in the top of the 4th. Ryan Hanigan led off the inning…with a walk. After Johnny Cueto sacrificed Hanigan to second, Zack Cozart…walked. Cozart was forced at second on a Stubbs grounder. Votto? You guessed it. He walked to load the bases. So, here are the bases loaded with two outs and they are loaded due to Wells being ineffective. Three guesses what happened next…

Not a walk, but for some reason Ryan Ludwick swung at the first pitch and grounded into a force play. Wells tossed 93 pitches in his five innings of work, 52 were strikes. You try to figure this out because I’m at a total loss for words as to why you’re even thinking of swinging at the first pitch. The Reds would leave the bases loaded three times.

There were more miscues, but it may not have been so much what they were, but more as to who did.

The one player that has constantly received the lion’s share of the fans ire is Willie Harris. One reason could be that Harris “beat out” Todd Frazier for the final bench spot. The other is his performance, or lack thereof. Posting a batting average of .087 will usually not win any new fans over to your side. Toss in an error, what appeared to be a failed (at least, poor) attempt at a squeeze plus there was a caught stealing, and you have a complete recipe for a disastrous day.

Eventually, Harris was replaced by Wilson Valdez. And just in case you’re wondering, Paul Janish is having a pretty good start to the season. I honestly did not think it would go this poorly for Harris.

This lefty bat thing might be a little overrated…especially in this case.

And believe it or not, Aroldis Chapman walked a batter. Actually, two, his first two free passes of the season. But only one strikeout? Baseball can be a puzzling sport. Frustrating as well.

And there’s something else here. I take it most Reds fans want Chapman in the starting rotation for various reasons, but mostly due to his talent and potential as a starter. In a poll we conducted about a month ago, it was not even a contest as 87% said even with the Ryan Madson issue, they preferred Chapman as a starter. I can assure you, practically every member of the sports media outside of Cincinnati feels that way as well.

Then why are we asking them? You know the answer.

But what move/non-move had Reds fans scratching their heads?

It was the decision to let starter Johnny Cueto go out for the 7th inning. (There could be a debate about starting Harris.) Through the first six innings, Cueto had thrown 100 pitches. In Cueto’s last start, he hurled 113 pitches so pitch count may not have been as much a concern.

But it was. With the history that no one seems to want to forget about, Dusty, along with the names of Wood and Prior, appeared in many comments and tweets.

Considering an off day was to follow, I can understand (one) getting Cueto out, (two) having Chapman pitch one inning, (three) Logan Ondrusek pitch an inning (in no set order between those two) and (four) Sean Marshall throw the 9th to nail down the save and put a “W” on the schedule. It’s what happened, but all seemed a little screwy.

And I’m not sure if you’re one of those that keep score, but if you did for this game, I can only imagine what your scorecard looked like (especially the Cubs side) after the finish.

Reminder to check out our contest where BRM is giving away a Cincinnatitude T-shirt. Deadline for entries is Tuesday at 6 PM.

Another reminder. All-Star Game balloting has begun. If you wish to vote, simply go here.

16 down…146 to go. As I’m sure you already know…it’s a marathon, not a sprint.


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Tags: Baseball Chicago Cubs Cincinnati Reds Cincinnatitude Dusty Baker Johnny Cueto MLB Willie Harris

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