Cincinnati Reds Bats Neutralized by a Hale Storm


Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Wrapping up in tidy fashion, the Cincinnati Reds fell to the Atlanta Braves by a final score of 4-1 on Saturday evening.

Coming into the three-game bout in Atlanta, the least likely pitcher to throw a gem on either side may have been David Hale.  The Marietta, Georgia native, who is more than likely making his last Major League start for the time being due to Mike Minor’s return off the disabled list, spun a magnificent start against the Redlegs.

There are nights when there are things to be blamed for a loss, but on Saturday, a simple ol’ tip of the cap in David Hale’s direction should suffice. 

It appeared that Hale would not be in the game for the long run after Ryan Ludwick’s mammoth shot in the first inning.  A ball that leaves a majority of the National League parks, banged off the yellow line surrounding the wall at Turner Field, good for only an RBI double as Brandon Phillips scooted around to score.  It was 1-0, but very easily could have been 3-0.

Before the club could get comfortable with the lead, Mike Leake left a fastball up to Freddie Freeman, which was promptly deposited amongst the people.  Were Joey Votto not the Reds first baseman and you had the choice of taking any other first baseman in the game, Freeman would be difficult to pass up.  His following at-bat produced a ball that went over the fence as well, but in the startling moment of the night, Ryan Ludwick found a sudden surge of hops and scaled over the wall to snare Freeman’s drive. 

Overall, it was a baffling outing for Mike Leake.  Freeman, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis all connected with no doubters of home runs for the Braves sole four runs of offense, but were also befuddled by Leake’s extremely effective curveball.  Leake did not walk a man in his seven innings of work, in which he yielded four runs, in accordance with striking out four. 

If there were ever a night to break an old memory out of the bank, tonight would be that time.  Irony strikes a perfect 10, as the man that took the mound on the afternoon of May 20, 2010, was none other than Mike Leake. 

Aided by an eight-run second inning, Leake was seemingly on his way to cruising to a victory, when the 9-3 ninth inning lead became a bit shaky.  Mike Lincoln surrendered four consecutive singles, before turning the ball over to Nick Masset—who, in true to Nick Masset form, did not record an out before exiting the game with the lead dwindled down to 9-6. 

Coming in to nail down the save was Reds closer at the time, Francisco Cordero.  Pinch-hitting for the Braves was the light-hitting Brooks Conrad, who had all of four career home runs in the Majors before the at-bat.  Devout Reds fans know how this nightmare transpires with Laynce Nix scaling the left-field wall, just to watch the ball glance off his glove and go over the fence for the game-ending Grand Slam. 

(This horrific memory came about due to where and how Ryan Ludwick robbed Freddie Freeman tonight.  The spots were a near mirror image of one another, just four years apart.)

As painful as a loss stemming from domination by David Hale may feel, it pales in comparison to that afternoon in Atlanta. 

On the plus side, Johnny Cueto takes to the hill tomorrow.  Not accustomed to much run support anyways, Cueto has accepted, and embraced the fact that he may only get one or two runs in his defense, so he has ceased allowing runs of his own. 

Getting underway at 1:35 p.m. on the MLB Network (where else?) the Reds look to salvage a game in Atlanta when they face Julio Teheran.  A mini-version of Cueto, Teheran is a fierce competitor that the Braves have high hopes for. 

A win on Sunday would mean an above .500 road trip, something all Reds fans would have signed up for at the beginning.