October 1, 2013 – Reds @ Pirates – Wild Card Playoff Game
Reds Record (90 – 72)
Away Record (41 – 41)
Pirates Record (94– 68)
Home Record (50 – 31)
Starters (Regular Season): Cueto (5 – 2) vs. Liriano (16 – 8)
News: Mat Latos has bone spurs in his throwing elbow, and he was left off the Wild Card roster. Johnny Cueto gets the start on the mound, and Mike Leake is also on the roster for a long relief role. The Reds also kept dynamic speedster Billy Hamilton on the roster for at least this round, and we have seen he has the ability to be an instant game-changer.
The Setting: Though I am woefully behind on editing, uploading, re-editing, and posting my REDiculous blog, I am going to take all my notes live on my phone and try to have this game posted by the morning. I am watching at home with the wife and daughter. Well, my daughter is watching Caillou and Super Why, but you get the idea. Each bullet point below represents a half-inning.
The Game and Analysis:
•Francisco Liriano baffled Shin-Soo Choo and struck him out. Big curve for the second strike. Ryan Ludwick fooled as well. Sawed him off and got a groundout to short. Joey Votto grounded out down the line and the Reds go down in order.
•Johnny Cueto fielded a bunt by springing off the mound and firing to first to get Starling Marte. Neal Walker gave one a ride to left but Ludwick caught it for an easy out. Andrew McCutcheon checked his swing and the appeal showed he did so. Justin Morneau lined out to Bruce to end the inning.
•Brandon Phillips grounds out routinely to second. Jay Bruce looked bad against Liriano as he fanned at three low and away breaking balls. Todd Frazier has had success against Liriano, but he grounded out to short after fouling off some balls in a tough at bat.
•Marlon Byrd hits Cueto well, and has his jersey unbuttoned. He unbuttoned a hanging pitch from Cueto and the Pirates lead 1 – 0. Pedro Alvarez hammered a ball to straight away center, but Choo catches it on the track for the first out. The crowd started chanting Cueto’s name in a taunting manner, and he dropped the ball while on the mound. His next pitch was crushed by Russell Martin for a 2 – 0 lead. These fans are going to keep this up for sure now. A sliding grab in center by Choo helps out a lot, as it easily could have gotten past him for extra bases. Liriano hit a nice ball back up the middle off the end of the bat, and it appears the Pirates came to play. Marte tried to check his swing and singled to right to put runners on first and second. Frazier made a terrific catch while falling into the dugout/camera well for the third out. Thankfully!
•The Reds were set down in order again, and that is seven ground ball outs through the first nine batters, as Liriano is perfect through three.
•The Cueto chants continue. McCutcheon dribbles a ball past a diving Cueto, and Phillips can’t make the play on the infield single. Cueto throws over a bunch, and Frazier snares a bloop over his head in shallow left field, but McCutcheon scurries back to first in time. That was a great play by Frazier. A hard grounder to short could have been a double play, but the ball hopped up and rocketed off Zack Cozart into center field instead. McCutcheon raced to third, and that brings Dusty Baker out to talk to Cueto. He would stay in the game with runners on the corners and one out. A fly out to center by Alvarez scores McCutcheon easily for a 3 – 0 lead. Cozart makes a diving stop in the hole, but the ball comes out of his glove and he might not have been able to make the throw in time anyway. Baker came to the top of the steps, but left Cueto in. A grounder up the middle was fielded by Phillips, and he stepped on second for the third out.
•Choo got hit for the sixth hundred time this year to lead off the fourth. Ludwick followed with a single over the third baseman for the first hit of the night for the Reds and they may be in business. Here comes Votto, and he is getting the low and away treatment. Three balls out of the strike zone in that area, and Votto strikes out on three pitches. Liriano can be nasty against left-handers. Martin made a great stop on a would-be wild pitch to keep the runners from moving up and then Phillips popped up to the second baseman in shallow, shallow right. Bruce came through with an opposite field single to drive in Choo (3 – 1), as it appeared Liriano left one over the plate and missed low and away. Frazier nearly gave the Reds the lead as he blasted one down the line, but it just curved foul. He would strike out on a ball in the dirt, and Martin fired to first for the third out.
•A grounder down the line retires Liriano for the first out. Marte drove the ball down the line, and it bounced in fair territory. It bounced off the outfield umpire too, and was ruled a dead ball, ground rule double. That is all for Cueto as Sean Marshall comes into the game. He is met with Marshall taunts by the fans. He can’t find the strike zone early, falling behind 3 – 0. I’m sick to my stomach with this game. Announcer Craig Sager came up with a foul ball. He should trade it for a better suit. Yikes! Neal Walker hit the seventh pitch of the at bat off the top of the wall in left for a double and a 4 – 1 lead. McCutcheon is walked intentionally, bringing up Morneau. Marshall falls behind him 3 – 1, but gets the corner on the next pitch for a full count. Morneau walks on nine pitches, and that will be all for Marshall. Bases loaded with only one out. Hoover comes in, and he induces a double play ball. The only problem is Phillips bobbled the ball and only got one out. That is an error (though it technically can’t be recorded as one because he got the out) and a score of 5 – 1. The Reds finally get out of the inning on a grounder to short by Alvarez. Man, the Reds just tank in the playoffs, and it kills me to say that. This game is far from over, but they are playing sloppy and like they don’t belong here.
•Cozart walked to lead off the inning, and then Ryan Hanigan flied out to right. Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey ran up a full count and then hit a hard grounder to third for an inning-ending double play.
•Alfredo Simon is the new pitcher for the Reds. He gets a fly out to center for the first out. Cozart lays out for a liner by Clint Barmes, but it goes into left for a single. Liriano comes up to try and bunt him over, and he does with a soft bunt back at Simon. A fly out to Choo ends the inning, and we go to the sixth with the Pirates holding the 5 – 1 lead.
•Choo grounds out to Liriano to start the sixth. Ludwick hit a long drive to the gap in right-center, and McCutcheon cannot make the diving catch. Ludwick ends up with a double. Votto struck out on another slider down and away. Liriano has owned him today. Phillips hit a routine grounder to second, and the Reds come up empty again.
•Walker flied out for the first out as Simon remained in the game for the Reds. McCutcheon worked a long at bat and lined the eighth pitch into left field for a single. That brings Baker out to pull Simon from the game. He signals for lefthander. . .Manny Parra. Morneau greets him with a single to left that I can’t help but think a faster outfielder could have caught. Alvarez strikes out swinging to send us to the seventh.
•Bruce grounds out to first. Frazier launches one to the base of the wall in center for a standup double. Cozart grounded out to short, and there were two away. Hanigan comes to the plate and Devin Mesoraco is on deck. If Hanigan reaches, Mesoraco will stay in the game at catcher. He grounds out, so we’ll have to wait and see after the seventh inning stretch.
•Russell Martin hit a ball off Logan Ondrusek that might not land before November, and the Reds are down 6 – 1. A groundout to short and a strikeout brings up Marte, who flies out to Bruce to end the inning.
•Mesoraco pinch-hits now, and will catch the rest of the game. He popped up in the infield for the first out. Choo hit a solo homer to right field that everyone acted like it was not a homer. The umpires get together to review it, which I deem highly unnecessary. Unless I misunderstand the ground rules in Pittsburgh, that is a home run. It stands as such and the score is now 6 – 2. RALLY! RALLY! Ludwick drops a ball down the right field line and a fan touches the ball for a ground rule double. Votto continues his poor night with a routine groundout to first. That does move Ludwick to third, though. “Blind” Joe West called a strike on a ball three inches inside to Phillips, but he grounded out to first to end the inning anyway.
•Sam LeCure comes in to pitch the eighth. Votto makes a tremendous diving stop at first, but can’t make an underhand flip to get Walker at first. Such is the way this game has gone for the Reds; they haven’t done much of anything right. McCutcheon gives a ball a ride but it is easily tracked down by Choo. The Reds had a shift on, and it results in an easy 5-6-3 double play to send this one to the ninth. The Reds are going to need some magic.
•Bruce strikes out swinging at a ball above his chin for the first out. Frazier pops out to left for the second. The Reds are down to their final out. Cozart grounds out to second, and that ends their 2013 season as the Pirates celebrate the victory.
What Worked: Ludwick went 3 – 4 and Frazier hit a couple of balls hard, just missing a home run each time. Frazier also made two great catches in the field.
What Didn’t Work: Cueto was hammered; Marshall couldn’t throw strikes; the defense made at least three big mistakes; and the hitting was basically non-existent.
Where They Stand: The Reds are eliminated from the playoffs.
Overall Thoughts: I give the Pirates all the credit in the world for this win. They came to play and the beat the Reds in every facet of the game. They have a very solid team and I hope they go far in the playoffs, as they have a team that was built right and is the epitome of a small market team. The fact that they had 20 straight losing seasons makes it even sweeter for them. As for the Reds, they imploded again in the playoffs. In 2010, they played like they didn’t belong there. On the cusp of moving on to the next round in 2012, they dropped three in a row at home. This year, they looked like they didn’t belong again.
Up Next: The Reds look to the offseason to start shaping their 2014 team.