April 8, 2006

Game 5: Pirates 9, Reds 11

The Reds provided the Pirates with their sixth straight loss today with a 9-11 win in Cincinnati.

Opening Day starter Aaron Harang gave a much better show today, getting the win and striking out 10. He worked two batters into the seventh, giving up five runs (all earned) on eight hits. Mike Burns got the final out of he seventh, after allowing two inherited runners to score on a hit. Matt Belise gave up an earned run on a hit in the eighth.

Chris Hammond finally got an out today, in his third appearance. Unfortunately, it came with three earned runs on two hits. His ERA for 2006 is 189. Moving in the right direction!

Rick White took over after that one out to hold the Pirates scoreless on a hit and get the save.

The Reds got it going right away in the bottom of the first. Ryan Freel and Felipe Lopez both singled. Ken Griffey Jr. popped out. While Rich Aurilia was batting, Freel and Lopez pulled off the double-steal just in time for Aurilia to knock a homer to left field. Adam Dunn struck out and Edwin Encarnación popped out. Score: 0-3.

The Pirates came back in the top of the third when Jason Bay doubled and Jose Castillo homered three batters later. Humberto Cota struck out to end the threat. Score 2-3.

The Reds got one of the runs back in the bottom of the third. Freel walked, then stole second while Lopez was batting. Lopez then walked, and both runners advanced when Griffey grounded out to second. Aurilia walked to set up Adam Dunn for his second sacrifice fly of the year. It was a gentle hit to right field, but Freel's a madman and got in just before the throw. Lopez and Aurilia advanced on the throw home, but EncarnaciĆ³n popped out to end the inning. Score: 2-4.

The top of the fourth saw the Pirates score when Jose Castillo singled to knock in Freddy Sanchez with two outs. Cota again stuck out to end the threat. Score: 3-4.

The bottom of the fourth was a big one for the Reds. Kearns led off with a home run to center field. Javier Valentín struck out, but Aaron Harang reached on a fielding error. Freel singled to left and Lopez singled to center to load up the bases. Griffey walked, bringing in a run, getting Harang out from in front of Freel on the basepath, and prompting a pitching change.

Pirates pitcher Ryan Vogelsong didn't have much luck himself. A passed ball while Aurilia was batting allowed Freel to come in (and I bet he was disappointed that it was so easy). Aurilia lined out to the pitcher. Vogelsong then intentionally walked Dunn to load up the bases and face Encarnación. EE stood there dutifully while Vogelsong served up a wild pitch that allowed Lopez to score before grounding out to end the inning. Score: 3-8.

In the top of the seventh, Harang gave up a single to Castillo before striking out both McClouth and Ryan Doumit. But then Chris Duffy doubled and Narron pulled the plug. Mike Burns came in and immediately allowed the two inherited runners to score on a Jack Wilson double to right field. Thankfully, he struck out the next batter, Sean Casey, to end the threat. Score: 5-8.

In the bottom of seven, Encarnación singled and Kearns doubled to set up Valentín to hit a double down the right field line and score the runners. Soon-to-be-sent-down Andy Abad flied out to left on the first pitch he saw, but Freel singled to bring in Valentín. Lopez and Griffey made the final two outs of the inning. Score: 5-11.

The Pirates came up and got one of those runs back in the eighth when Sanchez doubled in Jason Bay. But it was the top of the ninth that about gave me a heart attack. For some reason, Narron put in Chris Hammond who struck out Chris Duffy. Then he walked Jack Wilson and allowed singles to Sean Casey and Jason Bay to load up the bases.

In came Rick White. He struck out Jose Hernandez, but gave up a 2-RBI single to Sanchez. White started to throw over to first, but Aurilia wasn't on the bag and it was a balk. Bay scored. Finally, Castillo grounded out to short and the victory was the Reds'. Score 9-11.

The win brings the Reds' record to 4-1. Tomorrow Dave Williams takes on his former team when the Reds finish the series with the Pirates at 1:15 p.m. Victor Santos goes for the Pirates.

18 comments to “Game 5: Pirates 9, Reds 11”

  1. DPardue says:

    Although the Reds are 4-1, I am not impressed. If Hammond and his fellow relievers cannot hold on to a comfortable lead, this season will be no different than the last few. The Reds will not contine to win by giving up an average of eight runs a game.

    Hammond is 40 years old. If he cannot contribute, he should be let go immediately. Although the Reds are not exactly blessed with a lot of minor league pitching talent, pretty much anyone in AAA could come in and perform better than this.

  2. Red Hot Mama says:

    Hi DPardue,
    I agree on the bullpen; this group of guys looked like it was going to be a strength and is quickly showing otherwise just five games into the season.

    Of course we don’t have a lot to replace them with in the minors, but perhaps if we could stop buying freaking second basemen for a minute, we could see about bolstering our relievers.

  3. Geki says:

    I’d just like to tell you all that I totally called the fact that White and Hammond were going to be bums, and that Wags and Love Shack should’ve been up all along.


  4. DPardue says:

    Narron’s approach is to push for his starters to get through the first six innings. Previously I think we were all a little more patient with the bullpen because on a typical day the Reds starter had already been tagged for six runs through three innings so the performance of the bullpen was secondary to the starting pitching issues.

    Now, thanks in part to that philosophy, a somewhat improved starting rotation, and the recent respectable performances by Arroyo and Milton, this week the bullpen seems to have been exposed. I like Belisle, and I have faith in Weathers and Mercker, but that is about it. Hammond and White have taken comfortable Reds leads and turned them into unecessary nail biters.

    This exposure of the bullpen as being fradulent just goes to show that in order to truly compete, the Reds must not only field a respectable starting rotation, but also a respectable bullpen. It seems Krvisky upgraded the rotation (to what degree remains to be seen), but not the bullpen. If his stocking up of second baseman was an attempt to trade for a starter, he may wish to change his thinking by looking at the bullpen and fixing that issue ASAP.

  5. Joliet Jake says:

    Reds should try to get Roberto Hernandez from the wailing Pirates. Pirates need a leadoff guy and the Reds need a closer/top setup man. I’ve seen Hernandez throw and he has some extremely impressive stuff. There should be a package that works for both teams. I don’t know that David ‘I have no clue’ Littlefield would trade Hernandez but, as hard as closers are to get anyway, his $2.75MM is equivalent to Freel’s 2-year money. Just a thought.

    Tip of the hat to you for today’s win. Good luck to DW tomorrow. God help who ever is on the mound when the Pirates do finally break out.

    Jake at buccoblog.com

  6. Red Hot Mama says:

    Hi, Jake,
    The idea of trading Freel is like a punch in the stomach. It’s way worse than the idea of trading Casey was, and I actually cried a little about that.

    Our bullpen is in pretty sorry shape, but is there a single pitcher out there that could prevent as many runs as Freel can inspire?

    Now if you’re interested in a certain Tony Womack on the other hand…

  7. Red Hot Mama says:

    Hola, DPardue,
    We’ll see how Dave Williams does tomorrow; he might change your mind about the starter being the greatest need. I know it’s not really fair to judge any of the rest of the rotation just because they’ve each gotten a win, either, so I suppose they could still implode as well. A certain school of thought might say to trade Milton now, before he has a chance to sully yesterday’s performance.

    But the bullpen sure does appear to be the weakest link at this point. Games that seemed to be well-in-hand were quickly out-of-hand as soon as the starter was lifted. We’ve lived in fear of the bullpen before. I don’t want to live that way again.

  8. Red Hot Mama says:

    Hi, Geki,
    I’m not sure that Wags or Love Shack would be doing any better right now.

    Damn, I almost got through that with a straight face.

  9. Joliet Jake says:

    Tony Womack huh? Gee, maybe we can cought up a Duckworth for him. :) I can see your point about Freel but you do have some OF depth in your farm so that was why I mentioned the Hernandez trade idea. G/L

  10. Daedalus says:

    We need to campaign for Narron to keep the starters in longer. Harang would have gotten out of that inning today if he’d been allowed to.

  11. Geki says:

    Wags oughtta be our closer. As I’ve said countless times in defense of him, he was damn good during the first two months last year, but the fact that he was on pace for over 80 appearances ended up biting him once the middle of June hit and Miley continued to send him out there every day. Make him our closer and we know he’s not gonna be out there 15 times a month like he was in middle relief last year, and I think he could be very good. We drafted Wagner to be our closer, and he’s never actually been given the opportunity to be our closer.

    Wagner in April of last year: 3.65 ERA, 11 appearances, 12.1 IP, 11 K, 3 BB, 9 H, .205 BAA
    May: 3.45 ERA, 15 appearances, 16.2 IP, 14 K, 5 BB, 16 H, .262 BAA
    June: 10.13 ERA, 12 appearances, 13.1 IP, 12 K, 8 BB, 23 H, .390 BAA

    Wags isn’t built to throw that often, quite frankly. Guys don’t generally just randomly hit a wall partially through the season for no reason. He had shoulder problems because he was being overworked, and that hurt his control, leading to him being more hittable and wild overall. He’s very stingy when it comes to homeruns, can strikeout around a batter an inning, and is the only guy in the organization that has legitimate closer potential other than (possibly) Belisle. He was drafted to be the closer of the future, and it’s the future. Let him be the closer.

  12. Geki says:

    Oh, and if we traded Freel for a 41-year-old reliever who hasn’t strung two good years together since 1999 and 2000, I’ll hunt O’Krivsky down and make him bleed.

  13. Red Hot Mama says:

    JJ – It’s funny how often people become uninterested in trades as soon as I mention TW. I hope that doesn’t happen to Kriv-dog as often as it happens to me.

    Daedalus – You could be on to something there about letting Harang wiggle out of the inning himself. He couldn’t have done too much worse than Hammond in any event, so why not take the chance? But if the relievers keeps this up, we won’t have to campaign for any changes; the bullpen will have done that themselves.

    Geki – As you say:

    [i]Guys don’t generally just randomly hit a wall partially through the season for no reason.[/i]

    And I think it’s worth noting that Danny Graves was DFA’d on May 23 last season. The kid might have hit the wall, or he might not have been able to handle the pressure. Let him grow up a little before asking him to protect leads on a nightly basis.

  14. Geki says:

    We’re seeing young pitchers be thrust into the closer’s role more and more, and they’re thriving. Francisco Rodriguez was plugged into the closer’s role quickly and has been one of the best closers in the league since then, Huston Street was extremely successful last year, Derrick Turnbow came in and has closed successfully with no closing experience, Jon Papelbon has looked very good so far this year, Chris Ray is being given the job in Baltimore, and I think it’s a trend that will continue to expand. If there’s one thing that’s going to motivate a guy and give him confidence, it’s showing confidence in him by relying on him to take over the role. Wagner was one of the most dominant pitchers in college baseball history as Houston’s closer, he’s got a 2.45 career ERA in limited minor league time, and he hasn’t been nearly as bad in the majors as people like to make him out to be. Making him the closer isn’t going to hold anyone else back and it should drastically improve the bullpen right off the bat. He hit the wall last year because he was hurt, and he was hurt because he was sent out 30 times in two months. He’s got everything you look for in a closer — stingy with homers, strikeout-inducing stuff, and the ability to completely shut down the other team just about every night.

  15. Red Hot Mama says:

    Yeah, but that’s got to be a case-by-case decision. You can’t justify dumping the responsibility on Wagner just because a few other young guys have been able to handle it.

    That being said, it’s hard to imagine that Wags wouldn’t be an upgrade at this point. Even so, I don’t know that I’d hand him the closer job right off the bat. I think Coffey would rightfully have a problem with that.

  16. Geki says:

    I think people need to get off of Coffey’s jock. The dude may have good control, but only because he grooves straight-as-hell fastball after straight-as-hell fastball right down the heart of the plate. He gave up 84 hits in 58 innings last year and only struck out 26. That’s a Dan O’Brien pitch-to-contact special if I’ve ever seen one, and exactly what you don’t look for in a closer. His only closer-like quality is his ability to keep the ball down, which he does no better than Wags.

    And I’m not justifying dumping the responsibility on Wags because other guys have been successful, I’m justifying it because he’s by far the best choice we have and it’s what he was drafted to do.

  17. Red Hot Mama says:

    Even if Wags is the best choice we have doesn’t necessarily make him a good choice, and if he doesn’t come up until July to close, it’ll still be what he was drafted to do.

    I’m not entirely sure why I’m arguing about it, since I don’t really have a strong opinion. I guess I’d just be wary of screwing up the closer of the future just to avoid a few outings by Hammond and White. There are other ways to avoid those.

  18. Geki says:

    My point is that Wags is no longer the closer of the future. He should be the closer of right now.