Mandatory Credit: Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

Price Not Right for Cincinnati Reds on Friday Night


The first thing you learn at a young age as the son of a baseball umpire; never argue balls and strikes.  Baseball is a game in which a judge, jury and executioner has to blend into one ruling force to preside over.  Each individual has his or her own concept of what a strike is, or where the strike zone lies; thus, the lack of computerization when it comes to it.  So, tonight, do not blame the umpire.

To be honest, D.J. Reyburn was horrendous.  A Tampa Bay Rays fan will tell you that, and especially a Cincinnati Reds fan will tell you that.  It’s a shame that a tremendous pitcher’s duel was overshadowed by the fact that a Major League umpire could not decide on any sort of definitive strike zone.  Pitches that were thrown in identical spots on back-to-back pitches resulted in two separate calls, balls that were scraping the chalk of the opposite batter’s box were called strikes and anything above the mid-quad or below the lower quad was ruled a ball.

Losing 2-1 in yet another dramatic one-run game, the Reds cannot place all the blame on the man in blue.  They loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth after three consecutive walks from Tampa Bay closer Grant Balfour, but fell short after a highly questionable strike three call “nipped the outside corner.” 

It’s quite simple really, David Price is phenomenal.  Any Reds fan reacting in a negative way to the game this evening needs to understand that outside of Clayton Kershaw, Price is the premier left-handed pitcher in the game.  That much will be evident once he signs his new, shiny contract in the upcoming year and a half. 

Sans the ninth inning, the Reds best opportunity to score came in back-to-back innings in the third and fourth.  Both Devin Mesoraco and Brandon Phillips led off those innings with doubles, respectively, and then were stranded.  The most revealing stat of the night may be the fact that on the night, the club went 0-for-6 on the night with runners in scoring position.  A glacial pace to the offense in early April should be nothing new to fans in the Queen City; it has seemingly worked out well in the past.

Early on, Johnny Cueto threatened the hype surrounding the matchup.  Being squeezed like a Tropicana orange in the first, Cueto’s strike zone amounted to a miniscule dot somewhere down the heart of the plate.  It led to an Evan Longoria RBI single, and the near destruction of Cueto’s mental state. 

Yet again for the pride of San Pedro de Macoris, his downfall was really one single pitch.  A moving fastball that came back towards the plate just a tad too much was promptly deposited 3/4ths of the way up the moon/sun deck by Rays outfielder Matt Joyce.  At the time, the score was only 2-0, but it proved to be the decisive run in the contest.

On the night, Cueto went for a strong seven-inning performance, surrendering just five hits and four walks in accordance with his six strikeouts.  In what has unfortunately become a trend, he got zero run support.  For his seven innings on the mound, Cueto had a whopping three hits behind him.  Typical, the ace of the staff will matchup against the opposing teams ace, but to have such a horrifically low number of runs scored in support of any pitcher is enough to drive them up a wall. 

Driving in the Reds lone run of the night was Joey Votto.  After David Price mixed up his catcher with what was coming, Votto’s swing saved catcher Jose Molina from taking a 90+MPH to the side of the head.  In typical Great American Ball Park fashion, Votto hit it toweringly high in the air to left field and watched as it carried and eventually sailed five rows deep above the scoreboard.  It comes as no surprise to those in Reds Country, but Votto’s power has now almost exclusively been shifted to the opposite field. 

Lost amongst the chaos of the starting pitching and late comeback was the debut of Jonathan Broxton.  Pitching a scoreless top of the ninth, Broxton consistently lived between 93-96 MPH in his inning of work that featured a walk and two strikeouts.  Slowly but surely, the bullpen is beginning to return to form with both Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman not too far off the horizon.

With the disappointing news of Mat Latos’ setback coming before the first pitch tonight, Alfredo Simon’s start tomorrow afternoon becomes all the more significant.  For the foreseeable future, it will be Simon taking the place of Latos, so building off his seven-inning, one run outing from his last time out will be key.

As mentioned on tonight’s telecast, the Rays are prone to slumps offensively.  Should the bats come to the ballyard early tomorrow against Alex Cobb, the Reds may indeed be able to get off the snide when the first pitch takes place at 1:10 P.M. tomorrow down at GABP.

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Tags: Cincinnati Reds