Okay yeah, I’m about two days late, but life’s been crazy. So before tonight’s game, which starts a new series, let’s go over our past game with the Reds shall we? Simply put, it was an absolute pitchers duel. There really can’t be worse feeling for either pitcher, Zack Greinke especially, in knowing you pitced one of the best games you’ve pitched in awhile and still getting a no decision. Well hey, on the positive side of it, at least it wasn’t a loss! Johnny Cueto pitched extremely well for the Reds as well. As always, our problems came within our bullpen. John Axford not only got his second loss of the season (with a 5.59 ERA now) but also gave up the two runs that would lead Cincinatti to victory. Ryan Braun did hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth off of Sean Marshall, but that wasn’t enough as the Brew Crew lost 2-1. Now, let’s examine this game.
Obviously on the Brewers pitching side, we had eight solid innings from Zack. He allowed only two hits and struck out 11. Greinke did not walk a batter nor did he hit one. This game shows tremendous improvement for this season, especially inside our rotation and maybe Greinke can be the turn around guy for our rotation. His previous start against the Giants was pretty decent, but this outing says a lot about Greinke. I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again, expect him to return to Cy Young form. Last year’s adjustment is over, he’s used to NL ball now, or at least we would all hope so. With the good though comes the bad. The bullpen’s struggles have been very apparent this season and heading into mid-May, the concerns will start to rise. Axford’s problems raise a few flags. I’m not saying his closing job is in danger (nor would I ever want it to be), but with five blown saves and a very high ERA for not just a pitcher, but a bullpen guy, is disturbing, especially only being in May. Maybe putting K-Rod in as the closer for a few games may help Axford find his confidence again. Miami is currently testing this with Heath Bell. Bell is a great closer, though he’s been struggling so far this season. Maybe Axford needs a few days to calm his mind.
Offensively, as funny as this sounds, we saw the ball pretty well. Eight hits is typically nothing to scoff at, but with the lack of run support it’s eyebrow raising none the less. The bottom of the second was a big chance for us as Ramirez doubled followed by Lucroy’s single. However there was one out at this point. Taylor Green (who I’m glad to see up here now) hits into a double play and there goes our rally. Then the bottom of the third shows even more promise. Morgan singles, Weeks walks, and Braun reaches on an infield single to Cueto. Now it’s Aramis’ time to shine…or ground out, which is what happened. Chances like these are huge and wasting them really frustrates not only the manager but the players as well. After this, nothing really happens until Braun’s solo shot in the 9th. Though I must add Norichika Aoki did get a hit when he pinch hit for Green. Hint hint Roenicke, start him!
For the Reds, Cueto gave them seven solid innings, striking out five while walking one and giving up five hits. After that, the bullpen was lights out, except for Braun’s home run off of Marshall. Aroldis Champan pitched a perfect eighth while striking out two. After Chapman came out, Sean Marshall followed. Marshall got into trouble. He allowed a home run and allowed two more hits to Lucroy and Aoki. Dusty Baker decided that was enough and put Logan Ondrusek out there as the closer. Ondrusek would walk George Kottaras, loading the bases (OH BOY HERE WE GO, that’s sarcasm people) only to get Travis Ishikawa to fly out. Ondrusek would earn his first save. The Reds offensively were helped in the ninth by Joey Votto who doubled to score Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillips would single to score Votto.
So after this game, the Reds sit at 16-14, second in the NL Central whereas the Brewers are 13-18 and are tied for fourth in the Central with the Cubs. The Reds will face the Washington Nationals (19-12) this weekend at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinatti and the Brew Crew will also head home to face the Chicago Cubs (13-18).
Final stats for May 9th’s game:
W: A. Chapman (3-0)
L: J. Axford (0-2)
S: L. Ondrusek (1)
Home Runs: Braun (10)
RBIs: Braun (21), Votto (18), Phillips (10)