In a loss that will leave arm-chair managers perplexed, the Cincinnati Reds lost their third straight game to the Boston Red Sox in 2014, this time by a final of 3-2.
Turning in a brilliant performance was Mat Latos, who it appeared would coast to his fifth victory of the season. Through the first six innings, Latos had allowed only three hits and retired the last 11 batters he had faced.
As most seasons that bottom out usually have, the Reds may have had their game where they can pinpoint on the schedule when the wheels fell off. Seemingly in control from the two-run first inning on, the idea of losing was not realized until Yoenis Cespedes smashed a ball off the batter’s eye in centerfield.
Making his second start as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Kelly got himself into significant trouble in the first inning. Walking both Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce to begin the game, base hits by Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco (as well as a stolen base by Hamilton) blew the gates open to get the game underway. Unable to capitalize for any more runs in the first, the offense would have no idea it would be their last best shot.
Dancing around trouble in the top of the third, Mat Latos got Yoenis Cespedes to line out to Chris Heisey to end the threat with a man in scoring position and two outs. From there, his evening would be smooth sailing.
Going seven innings of work in which he threw 100 pitches on the nose, Latos only had a small bump in the road in the seventh after a double from Daniel Nava and a run-scoring single from Xander Bogaerts. Outside of those two hitters, Latos would do a marvelous job of baiting hitters into missing the sweet spot and keeping them off balance. He would strike out only five, but as is usually the case with Latos, it was about his body of work as a whole.
While Latos’ night would end with him pumping his fist coming off the mound after a strikeout of Mike Napoli to conclude the seventh, he was hit hard throughout the half-inning. Rather than let him climb towards his season-high in pitch total for the second consecutive start, manager Bryan Price decided he would unleash his two-headed monster at the backend of the bullpen in Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman. But, the second part of that beast would never rear his head.
Looking at statistics such as ERA and innings pitched, Jonathan Broxton has had an even better year than Aroldis Chapman. It is not as if Broxton is a scrub of a set-up man; he is a well-compensated (extremely), mountain of a man who doubles as the Reds lights out eighth inning pitcher. Yet, he is not the Reds best pitcher. That title belongs to Chapman, who was still only stretching his arm out as the heart of the Red Sox order was at the plate.
A leadoff base hit from Brock Holt would ultimately prove the deciding factor between Broxton facing Yoenis Cespedes and avoiding his thunderous bat. After a Dustin Pedroia line out and a David Ortiz high-chopper that turned into an out, it was Broxton v. Cespedes with a Tuesday win on the line.
All evening long, Latos had jammed Cespedes in on the hands to record outs. More than likely attempting to follow the same pattern, Broxton came in on Cespedes with the first pitch—which nearly took his head off. Drawing a collective moan from the crowd, Cespedes stepped back into the box, looking for a pitch to crush. And crush he did. Straight out through centerfield, the newly acquired Cuban slugger obliterated a pitch right down Broadway from the man who almost guillotined him a pitch earlier.
As a spoiler alert, Aroldis Chapman would never enter the game.
Coming back against Koji Uehara in the bottom of the ninth inning did not exactly yield highly probable numbers, but the Redlegs gave it a shot anyway. Chris Heisey would beat out an infield single to leave the game up to Ramon Santiago and Zack Cozart. The only problem with that scenario: the game was left up to Ramon Santiago and Zack Cozart.
With Ryan Ludwick even swinging a bat in the on-deck circle, Cozart would pop out harmlessly to catcher Christian Vazquez to end the game in the ninth. With three catchers, Ryan Ludwick, and super-utility man Kristopher Negron all on the roster, Cozart, the team’s weakest hitter was still allowed to bat with the game in the balance.
(It would be unfair to neglect to mention how brilliant the double play he made in the top of the ninth inning was. Bare-handing a bobbled flip from Ramon Santiago, Cozart turned what could have easily been no outs into two outs, with the help of replay.)
Dropping the front end of what is basically a night-early afternoon doubleheader; the Redlegs have sealed themselves a losing season against the defending champions. Normally, that would be understandable, but these Red Sox are 12 games below .500 and more than 15 games out of first place.
With Homer Bailey being pushed back to Saturday due to shoulder soreness, Mike Leake has moved up due to the recent off-day. He will get the ball at 12:35 p.m. as Brandon Workman takes to the mound for the Red Sox.