It literally took, I don’t know, call it five minutes to turn what would have been a 300-500 word slobber fest over the soaring Reds into a short essay on why the Reds narrowly missed winning their first series at Citizens Bank Park since 2006. There are absolutely no days in baseball worse than yesterday’s loss. These are the kind of days that make this sport sting worse than any other sport imaginable. I’ll take a loss like the Reds had Friday every time compared to yesterday’s 9th inning apocalypse where they’d been winning the entire game. Sunday felt like being on the wrong end of a Roadhouse bar brawl. Freddy Galvis and Erik Kratz were James Dalton and Wade Garrett when they needed be, delivering two swift linedrive-roundhouse-kick home runs that looked almost spring-loaded off the bat, instantaneously transforming a delightful Monday morning recap reviews into elegiac skimming.
Aroldis Chapman gave it up in a hurry yesterday. After a short lesson from Charlie Manuel on why not to insert a pitcher as a pivotal base runner late in the game, Chapman delivered two fastballs that ended up over the LF wall. Chapman may have caught a blown save bug floating around. The Orioles’ Jim Johnson, last year’s leader in total saves, gave up consecutive blown saves this weekend as well – 24 blown saves around baseball all last week, for the misery laden folks in search of good company. But those reading this will care little about Chapman’s participation in a blown save flash mob; rather, discerning what’s wrong with Chapman will undoubtedly be the subject to every “Cuban Missile Crisis” cliche authored somewhere this morning. And the answer may be just as disappointing as yesterday’s game – it’s nothing. It’s a Chapman swoon. We’ve witnessed it every year.
Last June, we witnessed Chapman blow three saves and pick up four losses. You may remember the small demonstration an elated Chapman offered after finally getting a save. It was the only month in the season where Chapman blew more than one. The past few outings, we’ve witnessed Chapman struggle with location more than anything. It’s not that he can’t throw strikes. Galvis and Kratz can attest, he sure can. The problem is that he couldn’t locate his strikes where he wanted them, which is why Brown was walked almost instantly to begin the inning. To compensate, Chapman takes whatever he needs to off and just delivers fast balls for strikes – the result, as it usually is in Major League Baseball, was consecutive home runs. His control is off. Chapman had two walks all of April. He’s got six in May, so far.
On a more positive note, Jay Bruce has been doing alright of late, yeah? After referring the Twitter critics to life coaches and calling them idiots, Bruce has been brilliant. When the Twitter blitzkrieg occurred he was hitting .252. As of yesterday, he’s at .279. One home run before that episode, three since. I’m still not sure what was said to Bruce to illicit such a lengthy response from a normally quiet guy, but perhaps the right fielder is a negative reinforcement aficionado.
I’m not saying to verbally assault players when they struggle. I’m just saying that Jay Bruce is having a Player of the Month type May since. So – @JayABruce, for the next time he’s slumping. @GroteT if these weekly round-ups suck.
The Reds are 4-2 so far on this nine game road trip. They’ll start a series with the Mets this evening. They’re still just 10-12 on the road, but it’s worth noting the Reds currently have the second best run differential in baseball. They’s just two runs behind, obviously, the St. Louis Cardinals, who remain 2.5 up on the Reds. They’ll go three with the Padres and three with the Dodgers this week while the Reds get the Mets and Cubs.