Another Late Inning Collapse Sinks Cincinnati Reds


Friday night encapsulated every emotion a Cincinnati Reds fan can feel over the course of a game. Falling 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds fell back to five games under .500 with 27 games to play.

Through the front six innings, the Redlegs did not have so much as a hit. They scraped out a hit by pitch, two walks, a stolen base and a throwing error, but alas, a big ole goose egg in the hit column.

Pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates was none other than a former Red himself, Edinson Volquez. After one solid and one horrid start against the Reds in 2014, Volquez was outstanding on Friday.

Heading into the seventh inning, Devin Mesoraco was tasked with being the man to break up Volquez’s shot at immortality. With nine outs remaining, Mesoraco laced a single past the adjusted shift to send the former Red crashing back to reality. Jay Bruce would follow with another single, setting the stage for the Reds to finally put some runs on the board.

Getting his third straight start at third base, Kristopher Negron was presented with the golden opportunity to lay down a bunt and set the stage for the batters behind him to steal the show. Bunting the first pitch foul and then staring at strike two; Negron was forced to swing the bat. He would hit a rocket shot to third, but the Josh Harrison show was just beginning to get underway. Snaring the hot smash, Harrison would slap the third base bag with his bare hand and then fire over to first to turn a stellar, rally-killing double play.

A Cincinnati native, Harrison single-handedly drove the dagger into the Reds on Friday. Making the start at third base, he snagged multiple line drives down at the hot corner, in addition to his three-hit night at the plate.

Mike Leake would tie for his second-lowest pitch count total on the season, but curiously enough, it came from a magnificent outing. Purists would love how Leake forced Pirates batters to put the ball in play, striking out just one batter and walking none in his seven innings of work. Hurling the white sphere towards home only 83 times, there was no doubt that Leake’s arm was fresh at the conclusion of his seventh inning.

Pinch-hitting for Leake to start the eighth inning would undoubtedly make Bryan Price a glutton for punishment, especially after the inning Jonathan Broxton would have, but the move was justifiable. With a scuffling offense, Price used his best weapon off the bench in Chris Heisey. Even though Heisey would bounce out, the Reds would get on the board.

Running wild once again, Billy Hamilton would steal his 52nd and 53rd bases of the season off Russell Martin and the Bucs. By swiping second in the eighth, he put himself in position to come flying around to score when Devin Mesoraco brought him home on a bloop single to left field off Pittsburgh All-Star reliever Tony Watson. Brandon Phillips would also try to score on the play after the ball ricocheted away from cut-off man Neil Walker, but Josh Harrison would rear his vicious beard once again, chasing the ball down and firing a strike to home to nail Phillips and end the inning.

The eighth inning has been dominated so thoroughly by Jonathan Broxton in 2014 that turning the game over to him and Aroldis Chapman has been almost a foregone conclusion of victory. After Todd Frazier could not stop a scolding smash off the bat of Andrew Lambo, Josh Harrison popped up once again, tying the game with a RBI triple off the Clemente wall in right field. Jay Bruce would be fooled by the bounce, allowing Harrison to get all the way to third.

At the beginning of the series, virtually every Reds fan would have signed up on a swap of Gregory Polanco in the Pirates lineup for Jose Tabata, the light-hitting right fielder whom the Pirates have soured on. While their “next big thing” toils away in the minors, Tabata was driving in the game-winning run on a base hit to bring home Harrison in the eighth. It would be Jonathan Broxton’s second loss of the season.

The Reds now face the ugly reality that 2014 may just not be meant to be. Clawing tooth and nail for a victory Friday, the Reds watched it go up in smoke right before their eyes. A team that is exhausted, and quite possibly out-talented, must play out their 27 remaining games.

Back at it on Saturday at 4:10 p.m., Alfredo Simon faces Vance Worley during the middle game of the series. With Johnny Cueto slated to pitch on Sunday, should the Reds win on Saturday, they have to like their chances of escaping Pittsburgh with a series victory.