April 23, 2013 – Cubs @ Reds – 7:10pm – Fox Sports Cincinnati
Reds Record (12 – 8)
Home Record (11 – 3)
Cubs Record (5 – 13)
Away Record (2 – 8)
Starters: Villanueva (1 – 0) vs. Cingrani (1 – 0)
The Setting: Watching at Casa de Livingood after eating some smoked chicken at a friend’s house. Mmmm, smoked chicken!
The Game and Analysis:
•I’m going to start off by saying that I was questioning Manny Parra’s being left out there for a second inning as soon as we came back from commercial and he was on the mound. We have a deep bullpen, and even though you have no idea how long that game is going to continue, I would not have kept Parra in for another inning. I’m not the manager or even a baseball manager, so this is your classic second-guessing the decisions the next day. However, I was afraid that he would be ineffective before the batters even got in the box that 10th inning. Now, let me give you some stats that contradict my thoughts: Light-hitting Darwin Barney was 0 – 7 against lefties on the year. He was 3 – 26 with no homers and no RBI prior to his go ahead home run. He didn’t have an extra base hit prior to that. Would I have wasted Aroldis Chapman or someone else on him? Maybe not. Parra threw 19 pitches and was coming back out after sitting on the bench watching the Reds send seven batters to the plate and have a couple of coaching visits to the mound and a pitching change. A lot of relievers in today’s game are used to pitching that one inning, or not throwing a lot of pitches. I do know that Chapman had loosened up a bit for the ninth inning, and I don’t think we would have seen the same result from him as we saw from Parra.
•The ability of the Reds to battle back was still on display, though they could not do it one final time. They were aided by Carlos Marmol’s erratic pitching (which I have long said was due to his horrible mechanics), but they ultimately got it started against the guy that had nearly baffled them the entire game. Carlos Villanueva had pitched masterfully against the Reds the entire game. Shin-Soo Choo (Mr. OBP) reached base on a walk and was advanced to second on a sac bunt by Zack Cozart. That’s when Villabueva was pulled in favor of Marmol after 99 pitches. I bet there are a lot of Cubs fans doing their own second-guessing on Marmol coming into the game. Manager Dale Sveum decided to come right at Joey Votto instead of intentionally walking him. He did the same thing to Jay Bruce in the previous game. And just like the previous game, the Reds got the game-tying hit from that batter.
•A defensive play by Brandon Phillips earlier in the game showed just how valuable he is. Former Red Dave Sappelt had doubled and advance to third on a deep sac fly. The next batter hit a sharp grounder to a drawn-in Phillips, who dropped to his knees and fired a bullet from that position to the third base side of the plate to a blocking Corky Miller. The speedy Sappelt was gunned down at the plate and that saved a crucial run for the Reds. Without being able to make that play, you would have a run in and a runner on first base with one out. Phillips practices plays and throws like that and the amazing plays are almost routine for him.
•The Cubs decided they were going to run on the Tony Cingrani – Corky Miller combo. They were successful four times, and I am not sure if that was due to Cingrani, Miller, or a combination of both. That will need to be addressed, though.
•What more can be said of Choo? He was on base four out of five times, and got another three hits. His average is now .386, and his OBP is an amazing .535. Do you think they have gotten a good return on this trade so far?
•Tony Cingrani looked excellent again. He doesn’t overpower anyone, but he racks up the strikeouts. If he can continue to pitch like this, the Reds will have a very good rotation for the next few years. The starting rotation’s future looks very promising.
•The announcers dropped a huge bit of knowledge when they said the Reds have the most 10+ scored games in the majors this year. They are also second in most times scoring a single run. This matches my thoughts on several of my game blogs about how they show up and disappear.
What Worked: The Reds’ pitching put them in position to win the game, but Parra gave out in the 10th inning. The Cubs’ plan to run on the Reds was a successful one, and Villanueva threw a great game. You also have to give it to the Reds for tying the game in the bottom of the ninth, as they continue to show they can come from behind when the pressure is on.
What Didn’t Work: The Reds could not capitalize on the handful of opportunities they did have. With the exception of Votto’s game-tying single, no other Red had a hit with a runner in scoring position. The handling of the bullpen left a bad taste in my mouth, but maybe they were thinking anyone could get Darwin Barney out.
Where They Stand: The Reds are 12 – 9 and tied for second place in the NL Central, trailing in the Cardinals by ½ game.
Overall Thoughts: Another extra inning game, but this one was a letdown. I also had a huge issue pop up from work during the 9th inning, and I ended up trying to fix the problem until well into the morning. It was a rough night.
Up Next: The Reds finish the series with the Cubs and this 10 game home stand at 12:35pm. I’ll be taking my lunch to watch some of it at home, and then listening to the rest on the radio while I work.