Aug 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Alfredo Simon (31) delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Reds Rocky Road Continues, Rockies Knock Them Back Under .500

There weren’t a lot of positives to glean from tonight’s Titanic struggle.  Another road loss, a continuation of the losing streak (now reaching three games and five of the past six), and another woeful start from Alfredo Simon, whose second half regression progresses rapidly – those were very easy negatives. The Reds did score first, Ryan Ludwick launched a home run, and the bullpen (JJ Hoover and Carlos Contreras) pitched three scoreless innings of relief to at least give the team a fighting chance after Simon exited after only five frames.

Here on August 14th, the Cincinnati Reds stand at 60-61, one game under .500 with only 41 games remaining. The standings get a little bit bleaker: with another Brewers win, the Reds fall to 6.5 back in the NL Central; 4 back from the second Wild Card spot, with two other teams in between.  No, it’s not an insurmountable deficit, but the hole seems to get deeper given the circumstances. With Homer Bailey being place on the DL for at least the next 15 days (possibly longer depending on the nature of the injury) and Alfredo Simon showing many cracks in the foundation, the once stable starting rotation is lessened.  Saturday’s starter in place of Bailey also remains up in the air at this juncture.

Recapping tonight’s action, things started off well offensively with the Reds striking first.  In the second inning, Devin Mesoraco led off with a walk followed by a strong double to left by Ryan Ludwick, who proved to feast off Colorado starter Jorge De La Rosa on the night, allowing Mesoraco to score. After a Skip Schumaker grounder moved Ludwick to third and a Kris Negron grounder kept him there, Zack Cozart followed with a sharp single to left that scored Ludwick and quickly put the Reds into a 2-0 heading the bottom of the 2nd.

The Rockies offense showed signs of life quickly into bottom 2, as Corey Dickerson hit a hard line drive double to center with one out.  Simon followed with a wild pitch in the at-bat to Wilin Rosario, moving Dickerson to third.  The wild pitch became moot as Rosario struck the next fastball for another liner double to center, scoring Dickerson easily and cutting the lead in half, 2-1.  The remainder of the inning went quietly as action headed to the 3rd.

While the Reds couldn’t answer in top 3, the Rockies struck again in the bottom of the frame.  Charlie Blackmon singled to right, followed by a Drew Stubbs single to right, followed by ANOTHER single to right by Justin Morneau.  At this point, the Rockies had the bases loaded with nobody out and looking at a prospective big inning. Simon got Nolan Arenado to fly out to shallow center, keeping the runners in place for the first out.  The Rockies scored in the subsequent at-bat by Dickerson, as he lifted a sac fly to deep enough right field (coming very close to possibly getting a grand slam), scoring Blackmon and moving Stubbs to third.  Simon escaped the inning with no additional damage inducing a grounder to Negron at third who forced out Morneau at second.  The only damage done was a tie game 2-2 … but it was short-lived.

After another quiet top of the inning, the Rockies bottom 4 plated two additional runs, both unearned after a Simon throwing error allowed DJ LeMahieu to reach with Simon’s throw to second flying to center field trying to force Culberson.  Runners then at second and third, De La Rosa struck out for the first out, but then Blackmon grounded to first, plating Culberson first. Stubbs, in the next at-bat, singled to center, scoring LeMahieu.  Quickly, the Rockies had jumped to a two-run lead of their own at 4-2.

In a continuing theme, another mostly quiet top 5 (minus a lone Cozart single) was followed by a bigger Rockies bottom 5.  In what proved to be possibly the final nail in the coffin, Arenado led off with an infield single.  Dickerson followed with a line out to left, but Rosario singled to left, putting two runners on with only one out.  The game was blown open with a subsequent Culberson three-run homer deep to left, making the margin a lopsided 7-2 in clearing the bases.

Aug 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Cincinnati Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick (48) celebrates his solo home run in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The only other highlight for either team offensively happened in the next half inning as the Reds finally got on the board again.  Ryan Ludwick crushed a de la Rosa offering into the left field stands, cutting the deficit to 7-3.  Unfortunately, that was the end of the scoring.

All told, the Reds offense was still mostly stagnant on the night, despite the somewhat acceptable three runs coming on only six hits. The record since the All-Star Break falls to an abysmal 9-16, with five of the last six being losses after showing signs of recovery immediately prior.  That deficit reflects almost all of the loss in the standings this team has suffered as well.  In the “for what it’s worth” category, they’re still mathematically in this thing. Four games back of a wild card spot, despite dropping below the .500 mark for the first time in over a month, keeps them relevant for at least a while longer.  That same margin, if things hold, will be far more difficult when the calendar turns to September.  For the Reds to get back into true contention in any form, the offense has to make a much bigger resurgence, something it hasn’t done very much for the year as a whole.

On the plus side, the boys from Cincinnati will try to get back in the win column behind staff ace Johnny Cueto as he takes the mound in the second game of this four-game set on Friday.

Tags: Cincinnati Reds

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