July 21, 2013 – Pirates @ Reds – 1:10pm – Fox Sports Cincinnati
Reds Record (55 – 42)
Home Record (32 – 16)
Pirates Record (56 – 39)
Away Record (24 – 21)
Starters: Locke (8 – 2) vs. Bailey (5 – 8)
The Setting: After a whirlwind of a day yesterday, I’ll be watching this game at home on the couch. My parents are still here for the start of the game, but not sure how long they will be here.
The Game and Analysis:
•Runs were at a premium as Jeff Locke and Homer Bailey squared off in this afternoon game. Locke wasn’t giving up many hits, but the Pirates had not backed him up with their bats. Bailey had given up only one run, but was tagged with a couple of crucial runs in the seventh inning as his pitch count had risen. That proved to be the deciding factor as the Reds lost to the Pirates 3 – 2 in the final game of the series.
•After the Pirates were retired in order to start the game, the Reds got off to a good start as Shin-Soo Choo singled off of Locke—literally—to begin the bottom of the first. He was then promptly picked off while trying to steal second. Choo continued running to second as Locke threw to first, but the Pirates were able to get him in time. It was close, but Choo was out. One thing I appreciated was that Choo ran to the inside part of the bag, which forces the first baseman to change his natural throwing lane. Choo did everything right after being picked off, but he just could not beat the tag. The Reds would get a walk by Joey Votto in the inning, but that was it. It was scoreless after one inning.
•The Pirates got one the board in the top of the second on a solo home run by Garrett Jones. Jones had homered yesterday as well. The pitch was a curveball that was up in the zone and right over the plate belt-high. Catcher Devin Mesoraco had set up low and away, but the pitch could not have been more centered in the zone. The Pirates would collect another hit in the inning, but only scored the one run for an early 1 – 0 lead.
•Locke and Bailey were racking up strikeouts in the first four innings. Locke had five and Bailey had seven. The Reds only had a walk to show for their at bats in innings two through four, and I got the feeling this game was going to be a low-scoring affair. Both pitchers were dealing. Bailey was at 59 pitches through four innings, while Locke sat at 60.
•Bailey racked up two more strikeouts in the fifth, while also increasing his pitch count to 78. In the bottom of the inning, the Reds picked up back to back one out walks, and then Bailey sacrificed them over with a bunt. Locke then threw a wild pitch while Choo was batting, allowing Zack Cozart to score and tie the game at 1 – 1. Locke’s pitch count was now up to 80.
•Bailey picked up strikeouts 10 and 11 in the sixth, but threw another 19 pitches to put him at 97 on the day. He had made the mistake pitch to Jones in the second, but was otherwise looking good. The high pitch counts are going to come when you are striking out a lot of people, but I had faith in the Reds bullpen to finish up the game if the bats could score some runs for Bailey.
•On the other side of the coin, Locke had a seven pitch inning in the sixth, retiring the Reds in order and putting him at 87 pitches on the day. This would be the last inning for him, and his final line was 6.0 innings, 1 hit (the leadoff hit by Choo), 4 walks, one run, and 6 strikeouts. His ERA is 2.11 on the year.
•The seventh inning would be troublesome for Bailey. He struck out Jones on six pitches, pushing him to 103 total on the day. The next batter, Michael McKenry had a ten-pitch at bat before doubling to left. McKenry fouled off five pitches during the at bat, and Bailey was staying strong throughtout the at bat, hitting 98 on the radar gun several times. Jody mercer then singled home McKenry in the next at bat, giving the Pirates a 2 – 1 lead. Clint Barmes followed with a single of his own, and Bailey was now at 120 pitches. Jose Tabata came in to pinch-hit for Locke, and hit the first pitch he saw for an RBI single to make the score 3 – 1 Pirates. J.J. Hoover would replace Bailey and retire the next two batters to end the inning. Bailey would finish with 6.1 innings, 7 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs, and a career-high 12 strikeouts on 121 pitches.
•The Reds would threaten in a major way in their half of the eighth inning. Derrick Robinson walked to lead off the inning; Choo singled to put runners on the corners, and Chris Heisey drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. That brought Votto to the plate, and I had already began to tally the runs the Reds would get in my head. Instead, Votto grounded into a double play (3-6-1) as Robinson scored on the play. With two outs and the tying run on third, Brandon Phillips grounded out to end the threat. The Reds picked up only one run and trailed 3 – 2 after eight innings.
•After the Pirates failed to capitalize on a leadoff hit by pitch in their half of the ninth, they sent closer Jason Grilli to the mound for the save. Todd Frazier would get a one out single, but the Reds could not come through. It was only the third hit of the game for the Reds, as they lost 3 – 2 on Grilli’s 30th save.
What Worked: The pitching was great on both sides, and the runners that got on base had trouble scoring.
What Didn’t Work: The Reds failed to score multiple runs with the bases loaded, no outs, and the heart of the order coming to the plate. Bailey was left in too long (in my opinion), as he gave up four hits in a row that ultimately led to his defeat.
Where They Stand: The Reds are 55 – 43 and trail the Cardinals by 5.0 games and the Pirates by 3.0 games in the NL Central.
Overall Thoughts: The Reds missed an ideal opportunity to get within one game of the Pirates and stay four games behind the Cardinals. It was a good series to start the second half, but a sweep would have been tremendous. The bats were not there today, but they were still in prime position to come away with the win.
Up Next: The Reds travel to San Francisco to start a long West Coast road trip tomorrow night.