The Reds have been rocking out as one of the feel-good stories of Major League Baseball through the first month and a half. They were supposed to be better, but still, not too many pundits expected them to jump out to a 20-14 start. There was the very good starting pitching, the young power bats, the newly acquired speed, and the lockdown Coco Cordero at the back of the ‘pen. And while a dramatic statement along the lines of “it’s all over. uh-oh, here we go again” would be cash right now, that would be clear overreaction. It’s only three games. They were all close, and a timely hit or pitch in each game means the Reds sweep the Padres and everyone is singing their praises.
However, that timely hit or pitch never came. So I’m here with the news and notes on Cincy’s sweep at the hands of the second worst team in the National League.
Friday – Padres 5, Reds 3: The Reds only managed single hits from six different players in this one, but still had a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning before the Fathers finally broke through against Aaron Harang. ALl the runs were charged to Harang, but Arthur Rhodes and David Weathers were brought it to stop the bleeding. But no. The carnage continued. Joey Votto went Yahtzee! but that was about the only highlight. Willy Taveras lost a 14-game hitting streak with an ohfer. In San Diego news, Adrian Gonzalez hit his 15th home run in this one. Since we’re 36 games into the season, we can safely extrapolate that to assume he will finish with 68 dingers. You heard it here first.
Saturday – Padres 6, Reds 5 (16 innings): By most accounts, this game will go down as an epic battle that eventually ended simply because it had to. Sure, the Reds lost, but in 16 innings and after 5 hours, 14 minutes, you shrug it off and play another day. However, the loss wasn’t only taken in the ol’ W-L column. In the fourth inning, Joey Votto left due to dizziness – the second time that’s happened since he sat out four games thanks to the flu a few weeks ago (He’s undergoing tests today – Monday – in Cincinnati to determine the cause.). In the sixth, starting pitcher Edinson Volquez left the game due to back spasms. They seem to be mild, but still, not good. Micah Owings put in a yeoman’s effort (Ed. note: Always wanted to use that phrase. I pat myself on the back for a job well done.) with 5.2 innings in relief but got the loss when Nick Hundley went yard with two outs in the bottom of the 16th inning. Owings was slated to start Wednesday, but now the rotation will be all jacked up. Nobody knows the plan quite yet. Let’s see what else … Nick Masset is going to the DL. Bill Bray needs Tommy John surgery. Willy Taveras went 0-for-7 and Alex Gonzalez 0-for-6. Maybe it wasn’t such a good day after all.
Sunday – Padres 3, Reds 1: After the absurdly long game that was the night before, these two teams finished up the series in tidy fashion with 2 hour, 14 minute affair dominated by the starting pitchers. After literally every pitcher was used but Cordero the night before, both teams needed it. Jake Peavy threw a complete game for San Diego, only giving up a solo homer to Chris Dickerson. Actually, Dickerson had the only hits before the 8th inning – a leadoff double and his dinger in the sixth. Bronson Arroyo threw a very strong seven innings, giving up just six hits and three runs but it wasn’t enough. Peavy is now 6-0 in his career with 2.14 ERA against Cincy, so the Reds are probably glad they only see him once or twice a season.
Hot Fire Player of the Series: Owings. It could be difficult to find such a player when you get swept, but Owings deserves it after his performance in Saturday night’s loss. Knowing he was available for long relief, he nonetheless didn’t expect to throw 81 pitches and go almost six innings. On top of that, he had to be perfect since one run (the one they eventually scored) would end the game. Now he will miss a start and his role will be in flux for a few more days, but by putting the team ahead of himself like that, I give him the most minimal of solace with this award.
Weak Sauce Player of the Series: Willy Taveras. Considering he came into the series on the aforementioned 14-game hitting streak, Willy gets a good ol’ fashioned FAIL for his performance against San Diego. It adds up to 0-for-12 at the plate with three strikeouts and a batting average that plummeted from .322 to .293 in only three days time. Ouch. Get your game up, Willy.
Records: 20-17 overall, 4th in the NL Central, 3 games out of first. 13-8 on the road.
Next up: The Reds start a 9-game homestand on Tuesday against the Phillies. As for the pitching, we know Johnny Cueto will go Tuesday and Aaron Harang on Thursday, but Wednesday is up in the air. Unless Harang is bumped up to Wednesday and Thursday is up in the air.