For the third consecutive night, the Cincinnati Reds came up on the wrong end of the outcome, falling 4-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night.
Donning their supremely splendid Memorial Day camouflage gear, no matter how incognito they may have looked, the Reds bats and gloves could not hide.
Through seven innings, Hyun-Jin Ryu was perfect. Not a single blemish over the course of 21 batters. Had the South Korean sensation been able to finish off the legendary performance, it would have been a crushing blow to an already deflated offensive bunch. True to their character, the Reds would not go away.
As is the case in every performance that yields no base runners, there are some marvelous defensive gems. In both the first and fourth inning, Justin Turner lobbied to be the hero of the evening with his glove, robbing Zack Cozart of what seemed to be sure hits. Coupled with his infuriatingly long, 16-pitch at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning, what Turner contributed cannot always be quantified through numbers.
The last time the Reds were no-hit, it was Game 1 of the 2010 National League Division Series, and future Hall of Famer (potentially) Roy Halladay was on the hill. With the way Ryu was commanding his change up to both sides of the plate, it seemed a walk or some other form of reaching base was out of the question. Finally, Todd Frazier doubled to lead off the eighth.
More important than the threat of being perfected against, the Reds badly needed this ballgame. Ace Johnny Cueto took to the hill and brought his best stuff with him, once again.
Through six and a half innings of play, Cueto had seen the story before. His only run was an unearned one that scooted across the plate when the ball ricocheted off the glove of out-of-position first baseman Todd Frazier. Not big on run support, nor on yielding earned runs, Cueto finally seemed to hit a wall.
Of course, a 16-pitch at-bat is strenuous on any pitcher. For whatever reason, Justin Turner gave Reds pitching fits the entire evening. A role player getting a start with Juan Uribe on the disabled list, Turner’s glove kept Ryu’s performance going as long as it did, and his bat opened the floodgates for a three-run Dodgers seventh inning.
The bizarrely horrendous defense continued later in the inning when the always sure-handed Zack Cozart booted a ball. Bringing in a run, Cueto was clearly spent after throwing in excess of 35 pitches in just that inning.
Also curiously awful has been the once dominant bullpen. Thought to be an area of strength at seasons beginning, Manny Parra served up a two-run double off left-handed batting outfielder Carl Crawford, giving the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. With a perfect game being thrown on the opposite side, those runs may not have meant much at the time. In just 20 minutes, they meant everything.
No one would have blamed the Reds had they dug themselves a hole and crawled inside of it. They were (and probably still are) completely exhausted from a late-night flight that switched them to Pacific Time and then forced them to an early start time. Trailing by four runs with just six outs to play, and a batter yet to reach base, the Reds refused to stay quiet.
In what could have been a rallying moment for the season, hitters just kept putting together quality at-bats. Eventually, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly turned the game over to his ‘pen, and firstly, Brian Wilson.
After striking out Devin Mesoraco, Wilson walked Skip Schumaker. Facing Billy Hamilton, the veteran bearded-one must have felt supremely confident, even if he was struggling with his control. Lashing a ball into the gap, Hamilton zoomed around the bases and waited to see how many of his teammates would score.
Third base coach Steve Smith has been the topic of conversation more in the first two months of the season than most third base coaches have been mentioned in two years. Unfortunately, for him, he slammed the brakes on Skip Schumaker, who seemed dead-set on scoring as he rounded the bag, just to watch as the ball went through the wickets of catcher Drew Butera, meaning Schumaker could have scored standing. The Yasiel Puig factor reared its head once again.
Down to their last out, the Reds would seemingly wilt away—until, Chris Heisey lashed a single that spiked a heartbeat. Moving to second on a passed ball, he watched as Brayan Pena drew a walk and brought the Reds most consistent hitter all season long in Devin Mesoraco to the plate.
Just a single hit away from completing what would have been a magical comeback, the Reds fell short as Mesoraco popped out to center field.
At 10 p.m. tomorrow, Alfredo Simon will look to outduel the Reds old rival in Mr. Zack Greinke.
ESPN once again will be broadcasting the game, and as always, we will have your wrap-up shortly after the conclusion.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds