For the second consecutive night, the Cincinnati Reds came up just a run short, falling 4-3 on Saturday night in front of 34,000+.
On a night where the club finally got the bats working (yes, three runs is “working” for this unit), the starting pitching was not there to back it up. Alfredo Simon would give the Reds only five innings of work, forcing Sam LeCure into action, and eventually winding up with the loss.
Spurred on by the sacrifice bunt, the Marlins used the tactic to perfection on Saturday. All four runs that would cross the plate would have a direct correlation to a nuance of the game that would have men such as John McGraw and Connie Mack smiling from wherever they may be.
Simon would allow four hits and a walk in his first two innings of work, but escaping with allowing only two runs would prove a minor victory, especially with his later transgressions. After a clean third inning, and striking out the side in the fourth, he would walk the bases loaded in the fifth before being bailed out by the tremendous defense of Zack Cozart.
While it will not qualify as a “quality” start, Simon did keep the Reds in the ballgame for the entirety of his appearance. Unfortunately, he would exit after only five innings of work, having walked five batters and thrown 91 pitches—most of which were under high levels of stress.
Where the starting pitching was not as extraordinary as normal, the workings of third base coach Steve Smith were right in line with where they have been all season: downright baffling.
In the bottom of the third inning, Todd Frazier would smoke a line drive base hit back up through the middle that nearly undressed Brad Penny upon his return to a Major League mound. Billy Hamilton, standing at third base, would jog home, but despite the nature of the hit and the phenomenal throwing arm of phenom Marcell Ozuna in centerfield, Jay Bruce was waved around third. On a plate that was truthfully not even close, the Reds would run themselves out of what could have been a potentially game-changing inning.
To make matters worse, the next two batters in Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Ludwick would both draw walks to continue what could have been a crushing inning for Penny. Rather, he would escape the frame after Skip Schumaker lined out to left field to end the threat.
Back making his first start in the Major Leagues since 2011, Penny would fit to a tee, the type of pitcher the Reds have struggled with all year long. Regarded as not having much in the tank, Penny would have just enough to avoid implosion and hang around long enough to pick up the win—which is what he did.
The seventh- and eighth-place hitters in the Marlins order, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Adeiny Hechavarria, could be described as quite literally anything but intimidating with a bat in their hands. Yet, the duo would score three of the four runs Miami would score, walking thrice between them and dishing out two base hits. Couple that with the RBI double from Donovan Solano that would come in the sixth inning off Sam LeCure (which would prove to be the difference in the game), and the Redlegs were not defeated by the mighty swings of Giancarlo Stanton, but rather poked and prodded to death by the styling’s of players with last names that can barely fit on their jersey backs.
Paying homage to his boyhood idol, Jay Bruce took to the green grass at Great American Ball Park in his normal right field spot, that that very same idol forced him to take, wearing a custom pair of cleats baring Ken Griffey Jr.’s name. It would not take long for the Beaumont Bomber to transform into the sweet swinging kid, crushing a solo shot into the right field moon deck just as his idol/teammate had done so many times before him.
While Bruce would extenuated the positives many remember of Griffey’s tenure, his final two at-bats were strikeouts, which serve as a reminder of the negatives Junior brought along as well.
Opportunities fell by the wayside in the eighth with the bottom of the order out of magic for the time being. The final nail in the coffin was Chris Heisey being caught napping off first base moments after leading off the ninth with a base hit.
In danger of being swept on Sunday, the Reds turn to their ace in Johnny Cueto to halt the skid. He will get the ball at 1:10 p.m. when he is nearly unhittable, especially at home. The Marlins will counter with Brad Hand, but will need to hope for some offensive output against the best the game has to offer when the sun is shining.