On getaway day, the Cincinnati Reds played and lost in their first extra-inning game all season, as they fell 1-0 at the hands of the Atlanta Braves.
For the second day in a row, the bats refused to wake out of a slumber. Amidst all the controversy and meticulous errors that were made, the Reds have no one to blame but themselves. Johnny Cueto performed masterfully as usual, but had zero backing in his favor.
Just having a runner reach base against Julio Teheran was precious on this afternoon. Joey Votto drew a walk in the first, but was stranded after both Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce made outs. Things did not get better from there.
Sans a sun-aided Brayan Pena double (that should have easily been ruled an error) and a Billy Hamilton infield bunt single that he beat by half a step, the Reds only mustered a single hit off Teheran. His stuff was not particularly overpowering, but the mixing in of his slider at any point in the count made it nearly impossible for the Reds to combat.
The combination of it being the conclusion of a 10-day, three city road trip probably had more of an impact than is let on. For prolific hitters such as Votto and Phillips, returning home to the launching pad of Great American Ball Park sounds like paradise after having a single RBI each over the past week and a half.
A common criticism during the Dusty Baker Era was his lack of willingness to light a fire under his club. Too often did the team look lethargic at the plate and fans and media alike clamored for a spit-flying, chair-tossing, toothpick-throwing chewing out of his ballclub. It never happened. The last time Dusty was ejected was 2011.
No matter whom the baserunner may be, getting an extended lead against Johnny Cueto is a risky proposition. B.J. Upton strayed just a bit too far and was nabbed off first for the second out of the first inning. Unless—he wasn’t. First base umpire Greg Gibson was standing on top of the play, yet he ruled Upton safe back at the bag. A year ago, Votto may have had a few choice words and the inning would have continued. Fans would have “oohed” and “aahed,” but the game would have been played without any controversy.
Instead, Bryan Price strolled out of the dugout to have the play taken under advisement. Upon the first replay, it became clear as day that Upton was in fact out, and that Votto had applied the tag in a timely manner. Even the Atlanta Brave fans knew it when the replay appeared in the ballpark, as a collective groan was let out. Stunningly, Upton was deemed safe.
From there, Bryan Price lost it. Rightfully baffled by the call that nearly everyone in attendance saw as going one way, went the other. Even the most hardcore Braves fan would be hard-pressed to say with a straight face that Upton was back in before the tag.
The call had no impact on the final outcome directly, but it may have had some undocumented consequences. Since the Reds were out of challenges, when Billy Hamilton attempted to steal second base in the top of the third and was ruled out, their hands were tied as far as challenging a call went. Upon the first look at replay, shortstop Andrelton Simmons appeared to apply the ol’ “ghost tag,” as Hamilton came sliding in. Even if Simmons did make contact, it was on the absolute other side of the bag from where the second base umpire was located. Logically, the play should have been reviewed.
Herein lies the rub with the replay system. What is it there for? On the surface, it has been treated as a sideshow—much like how football has made the “going under the hood” method comical. Just because the Reds no longer had a challenge, (which the umpires botched anyways!) does not mean they should be penalized later on in the contest by more inaccurate umpiring. Either the league needs to be 100 percent in favor of replay, or do away with it altogether. Any rational person can live with human error; but when logic is defied, it can cause an uproar. Replay should be there to get calls right. Because, isn’t that the point after all?
Lost amongst the disappointment and anger, was the fantastic start Johnny Cueto had for the sixth consecutive outing. Lowering his ERA to a preposterous 1.15, Cueto went eight innings while allowing just three hits and three walks, while striking out 11. Yet, his record sits at an underwhelming 2-2.
In the case of J.J. Hoover, things are becoming quite unfortunate. He seemed to have gotten out of dodge when B.J. Upton hit a tapper back to the mound, but the ball glanced off his glove, allowing the inning to continue.
On came Manny Parra (and not Sean Marshall?) to retire Freddie Freeman, who feasts on fastballs up in the zone. With a 1-0 count, that is precisely what Parra threw him, and Freeman did not miss it. The ball hit the warning track so quickly that not even Billy Hamilton could flank it down, despite his best attempt.
Hoover is tagged with the loss, even though he was not allowed to finish his inning. Cueto sits off on the side with a no decision despite another masterful start.
The road trip as a whole has concluded with the Reds going 5-5. They sit at 11-14–not an impressive record by any means, but also not a disparaging one. Their worst is in the rear view mirror; or at least we all hope.
Returning home for a week, the club will welcome in the Chicago Cubs. Getting the start on Monday night will be Alfredo Simon, who looks to continue his impressive start to 2014. The Cubs send their ace, Jeff Samardzija to the hill.
Rain is in the area, but the two are expected to get underway at 7:10 p.m. on Monday night.