The Reds did it all wrong. . .and lost

By Hal McCoy

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds made two major mistakes Friday night in the refrigerated atmosphere of Great American Ball Park, a 6-5 defeat handed them by the potent and powerful Pittsburgh Pirates.

Their perfect 3-and-0 record came crumpling to the grass when Starling Marte hit a grand slam home run in the eighth inning when J.J. Hoover threw a hanging slider right down Central Parkway. And Marte parked it.

It was no mistake for manager Bryan Price to bring Hoover, his closer, into the game in the eighth inning. The game was on the line and Marte was 1 for 14 with eight strikeouts against Hoover.

THE FIRST BIG MISTAKE was even playing the game in the teeth-chilling cold, sleet and rain. Second baseman Brandon Phillips played defense the entire night with his uniform unbuttoned near his belt buckle and his throwing hand tucked inside the shirt to keep it from frost-bite.

If they were playing it for the fans, well, they announced 17,194 tickets sold, but there were not enough fans in the stands to start a fight in an igloo.

THE SECOND BIG MISTAKE was the way the Reds went about things. In their first three games this season, all victories against the Philadelphia, they spotted the Phillies leads in all three games and surged back to win.

On Friday the took the lead early, scored two in the first on a home run by Brandon Phillips and maintained leads of 2-0, 2-1, 3-2, 4-2 and 5-2 — all this despite making three errors, committing two base-running gaffes and hitting three Pirates hitters with pitches.

Despite his hand-warming antics afield, Phillips seemed one of the few Reds unaffected by the arctic-like cold.

He hit his two-run home run in the first inning off Pittsburgh ace Francisco Liriano. He hit a sacrifice fly in the third to give the Reds a 3-1 lead.

He manufactured a run without a hit in the seventh to give the Reds a 5-2 lead He walked, moved to second on a ground ball, stole third and continued home on a wild pitch.

All this came after Phillips missed the previous two games with a stomach affliction and was quarantined to quarters for Thursday’s game.

YES, THE PIRATES made it easier by leaving 11 runners on base in the first seven innings and left the bases loaded in the seventh. Tony Cingrani struck out Gregory Polanco with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Polanco’s fourth strikeout of the night.

With the Reds in front, 5-2, Ross Ohlander started the eighth. With one out he hit John Jaso with a pitch. After throwing a wild pitch he walked Andrew McCutchen.

David Freese struck an infield single to second base to fill the bases and Price took down Ohlendorf for Hoover. He dangled a 1-and-0 slider in front of Marte and he knocked it to Newport, his first career grand slam.

THE REDS HAD COME from behind in the eighth inning to beat the Phillies on Opening Day and had a walk-off win in the ninth inning in Game 2.

Down by only one run in the eighth and ninth Friday, it was not to be. Neftali Feliz pitched a one-two-three eighth, striking out both Tyler Holt and Billy Hamilton.

Closer Mark Melancon came in for the ninth to face the top of the Reds order. Zack Cozart was retired on a first-pitch fly to center. Eugenio Suarez drove one hard and deep to center and McCutcheon, as he is wont to do, made a diving, rolling catch. Joey Votto grounded hard to first base and the Reds’ perfect season was over and Pittsburgh moved to 4-and-0.

It was evident that the night was not fit for man nor dog nor pitcher when both starters, Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano
and Cincinnati’s Alfredo Simon fought the elements more than thkey fought the hitters.

LIRIANO NEEDED 90 pitches, only 47 strikes, to traverse five innings (three runs, five hits, four walks, three strikeouts and a wild pitch). Simon needed 92 pitches, 59 strikes) to cover his five innings (two runs, one earned, five hits, two walks, seven strikeouts and two hit batsmen.

“Both pitchers had to battle to get some feel to the ball,” said Price. “Neither one was vintage by any means and I don’t think anyone who came into the game was. It was an odd game, it really was. A lot of strange things happened.

“It was just so cold and so hard to get a feel for the ball,” he added. “But they battled, both starters battled and kept it a close game. There was no advantage for either club because we both played in this weather.

“It was funky conditions and it was cold and I don’t think anybody from the hitters, pitchers to defenders were going to be able to play their best ball under these conditions,” Price added.

3 thoughts on “The Reds did it all wrong. . .and lost”

  1. A terrible game to lose. It’s too bad Hoover is their closer because I’ve never thought he had the stuff to do the job. I sure miss Chapman already. If they had a hammer in the late innings, no way do they blow a game like that.

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