by Danny Mehigan
Get it? It’s like a boxing match. A knockdown, drag-out fight to the death! A battle that will be replayed countless times and documented in the historical books for generations to come! A race amongst … it was two early season games between teams likely to be near the bottom of the division. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t exciting!
To the names and numbers:
Friday – Rain 1, Baseball 0: Mother Nature took the victory in this one, as rain forced the postponement of the series opener. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no makeup date set. It did force a change in the Reds’ pitching rotation, however. Johnny Cueto got bumped to Saturday and Micah Owings got his turn skipped, so he’ll make his debut against Milwaukee on Tuesday instead.
Saturday – Pirates 10, Reds 2: When your only extra base hit comes from a pitcher, that’s your first sign of failure. Micah Owings’ pinch-hit double in the eighth was a rare bright spot for Cincinnati on Saturday as the Pirates demolished the Reds. Johnny Cueto struggled early, giving up a two-run bomb in the first and two more runs in the fourth. By the time he settled down, it was far too late, but it wouldn’t have mattered on this day. Cueto finished with nine strikeouts in six innings pitched and gave up four runs. He was bested by a fine performance from Paul Maholm, who limited Cincy to one run in seven innings.
Sunday – Reds 2, Pirates 0: Aaron Harang was simply marvelous on this day. He threw a complete game shutout, striking out nine, walking none and only giving up three hits. He never really was tested, and the change of pace from his outing on Monday was pleasant for the Reds lovers out there. Brandon Phillips hit a 2-run jimmy jack in the first inning and that’s literally all that happened offensively in this game. The Pirates did turn a triple play in the eighth inning, baseball’s first since 1993 (nice little tidbit for your next dinner party; you’re welcome). Edwin Encarnacion hit a soft liner to short on a hit-and-run and Pittsburgh turned the trick quite easily.
Hot Fire Player of the Series: Aaron Harang. In one of the most effective and dominant performances of the young season, Harang threw 108 pitches – 80 of them for strikes. There was only one 3-ball count and seven 2-ball counts. That is some ridiculous control. Hell, only one guy reached second base the whole game (sounds like sixth grade, am I right?). Nyjer Morgan was a stick in his craw with two of the three Pirate hits, including a double, but Harang was the boss all day. It was his 12th complete game of his career, and his ERA is now at a miniscule 0.64 on the young season.
Weak Sauce Player of the Series: Mike Lincoln. The reliever ruined all hope of a comeback in Saturday’s loss by giving up a grand slam and a solo shot in the 9th inning. In total, he gave up three hits, three walks and five runs in one inning. His ERA is a paltry 34.71, so to put it simply, um, he might want to find a new job. Get your game up, Mike.
Records: 2-3 (2-3 at home).
Next up: The Reds head to Mil-town for a 3-game set against the Brewers. Edinson Volquez, Micah Owings and Bronson Arroyo will be your pitchers.