Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds’ Bats Go Missing in Action


 

Stunned in the series opener, the Cincinnati Reds fell by a final of 2-1 at the hands of the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.

 
By all accounts, the Reds had every opportunity possible to win the game. By keeping the Padres around long enough, eventually, the flame was going to ignite.

 
Chase Headley’s go-ahead, game-winning home run in the top of the ninth off Aroldis Chapman won the game for San Diego, despite their three hits. The only one not coming off the bat of outfielder Seth Smith was the one Headley deposited into the Great American seats down the left field line.

 
From the onset, the game had “pitcher’s duel” written all over it. Both Mike Leake and Andrew Cashner were stymying the opposing lineup, with Leake clearly outdueling the hard-throwing right-hander.

 
Sans the two hits coming from Smith in the first and fourth inning, Leake was untouchable. Although Jedd Gyorko drove in a run in the fourth on a sacrifice, Leake allowed just one run over his eight innings of work, finishing with five strikeouts, just two hits, and a walk. Yet, it was not good enough to win.

 
It has been an issue largely bypassed due to the fact that they are the Reds and since the inception of time, Reds teams have been able to hit. On Tuesday night, they once again proved that this team is not adept at scoring runs. Going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, it was also the team’s ineffectiveness to move runners over and in once they reach base that failed them.
In both the fourth and the sixth inning, the leadoff batter reached with a double in a tied ballgame. Both times, he did not cross the plate. If hits, and especially home runs, are going to be hard to come by, execution has to be the mantra.
The only run the Reds scored all evening came right at the start, when Billy Hamilton led off the game with a triple down the left field line. Brandon Phillips, who was the lone member of the offense to have a multi-hit night, soon drove him in. Going 3-for-4 on the night, Phillips now owns the highest batting average of any of the everyday players, up at .285; a staggering number for those that have watched him play day in, and day out this year.
With yet another 0-fer, Chris Heisey has watched his batting average plummet down to .221. Still without so much as an RBI in his starts in 2014, the Heisey experiment has been shorter in duration than his once unwavering fan base adulation. With Skip Schumaker around, it does not make much sense to keep aimlessly running Heisey out every single evening.
Just when we all believe Aroldis Chapman to be untouchable, he solemnly reminds us that he is human after all. A battered and bruised Chase Headley took him deep for a game-winner, staking the Cuban Missile to the loss.
It is a shame that the excellent start from Leake was wasted behind another anemic offensive performance. Without Jay Bruce in the lineup to serve as a left-handed savant, the onus will be on Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Sooner rather than later, runs have to start crossing the plate.
Needing a series win, the Reds will have to take the next two at home against the San Diego Padres. On Wednesday night, the hottest pitcher in all of baseball, Johnny Cueto, faces one of the heaviest slumping offenses in the game. Whether that will matter is still to be determined.
The Padres will send another hard-thrower to the hill in Ian Kennedy, as the two lock up at 7:10 p.m.

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