Titanic Struggle Recap

Kwaaay-toh …

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds  (9-11)
4 10 1
Pittsburgh Pirates  (9-12)
1 3 0
W: Cueto (2-2, 1.38 ERA, 3.22 FIP)     L: Volquez (1-1, 1.93 ERA, 3.01 FIP)
 Box Score  |   Play-by-Play    |    Photos    |    Depth Chart    |    FanGraphs Win Probability

Positives

With the win, the Reds evened up the series. Come Thursday night, the Pirates may look back and consider their good fortune yesterday that Ike Davis somehow managed to hit a home run on a Mike Leake pitch that broke his bat. Otherwise, they’d have been swept in this series. 

Johnny Cueto has now faced the Pirates twice in 2014, throwing two complete games and allowing just one run and six hits in 18 innings. In the two games, Cueto has walked three and struck out 16. Kwaaay-toh … Kwaaay-toh …. indeed. In his five starts this year, the 28-year-old from the Dominican Republic has made it through at least seven innings, never giving up more than two runs or five hits. 

The Reds had managed just one hit and one walk off of Edinson Volquez heading into the seventh inning. Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier lined singles into center field. Ryan Ludwick had a good at bat that ended with a long fly ball to right field, moving Bruce to third. Brayan Peña laced a single to right field, scoring Bruce. Peña was thrown out at 2B on an ill-advised attempt to stretch his hit into a double. With Johnny Cueto on deck and two outs, Clint Hurdle curiously decided to pitch to Zack Cozart. The Reds shortstop crushed a line drive down the left field line to score Frazier. Bruce added an RBI-single to right field to score Billy Hamilton from third base in the eighth inning. Bruce is 9 for his last 22 at bats. Cueto knocked in Peña with a single to right in the ninth inning to finish the scoring. 

The Reds had nine hits in the last three innings. They kept alive their streak of scoring at least four runs, now in nine consecutive games. 

Negatives

Nothing. 

Not so random thoughts

The early returns on “aggressive base running” have been decidedly negative thus far in 2014. Risky chances with bad outcomes seem a near nightly occurrence. The Reds lead the major leagues in outs made at the plate. Somehow the word “smart” needs to find its way into this philosophy. It doesn’t matter if Peña was safe tonight or if Bruce was safe last night. The situation dictated caution in both cases. 

Outstanding bullpen management by the Reds tonight. I recommend more of this in the future. 

Top game thread comments

CharlotteNCRedsFan: Pena was a nice signing by Walt. 

DoubleNoHitter: Cueto has never thrown back-to-back complete games. But he did have two in the same month in July 2011.

PreacherJ: The combination of Pena’s ‘speed’ and Cueto’s ‘power’ extend the lead! 

Sergeant2: The Cincinnati Cueto’s took care of business tonight. Good win for the Reds, might as well get another tomorrow.

CP: I watched the PIrates’ feed and their TV crew was excellent. They were amazingly positive the entire game. They spoke glowingly of Cueto. Nice change of pace!

71 thoughts on “Kwaaay-toh …

  1. Good solid game all around and a pleasure to watch Cueto work. I love that he really seems to be having fun again and though I don’t like the idea of personal catchers (unless your name is Phil Niekro or Tim Wakefield) Brayan Pena seems to have fun playing baseball too so I am liking that pairing.

  2. Although the Reds have made a lot of outs at the plate, I still enjoy their aggressive baserunning. I like forcing the other team to make a play and I bet that aggressive baserunning will win us a few games this year (even though it could lose us a few). It puts added pressure on the other team to make plays because they know our runners will be going hard

  3. As for the base running, the fact that the Reds haven’t had two players standing on the same base at the same time so far this season is an improvement over last year. But your right, all to often the theme music from the Benny Hill Show should accompany the Reds base running.

    • “As for the base running, the fact that the Reds haven’t had two players standing on the same base at the same time so far this season is an improvement over last year.”

      That’s called an “offensive shift”. It’s goal is to confuse the defense and not to needlessly prolong an inning.
      de

  4. Pena solid behind the plate – fell real good so far about Reds catching situation > now get rid of the daily TOOTBLANS !!!!

  5. I agree with Sergeant2. Base running has been agressive but not that bad. Under Dusty, we’d see two guys on the same base by now. Pena calls a good game. Here’s to our Catching tandem. On fire.

    • Are they liteally on fire, or figuratively so? We had this discussion last night as I recall. One I must applaud, the other I must douse.

    • I’ll admit to having missed a few games during the Dusty era, but I never once saw him on base, let alone at the same time as another Red.

  6. I like the aggressive base running so far this year, third base coach aside. I think if you take away the third base coach’s choices, the aggressive base running looks much more productive.

    At least it seems that way to me.

  7. Cueto is pitching better than he did in 2012. He just goes out and does his job. Masterfully like a craftsman. I think he is telling the Castellini’s, as long as you are giving out multi-million dollar extensions, I’m next.

  8. Great to see Cueto pitching so well. Great win tonight. I like what Pena brings to the team. Hoping the bullpen gets better, and this 3rd base coach does a much better job! Go Reds!!! : )

  9. Don’t look now Reds fans but Bruce is up to his old tricks. It feels like this club is ready to make a nice run. The only weak spot, as we all know, is the bullpen. If Price can get just enough out of the “fireman”, we are a formidable foe.

    • The Red’s goal for May 1st should be to be at or above .500 and within 5 games of the Brewers when the Brew Crew visits Cincinnati for a 4 game series starting on May 1st. Projections have the Brewers going 3-2 or 2-3 the remainder of this week even with a soft schedule (with SD and Cubs visiting Milwaukee this week – Cubs tend to play the Brewers tough in Milwaukee)). It would be great to see the Reds go at least 3-2 the balance of the week (especially with Atlanta playing so tough at home). This scenario might put some concerns Reds fans had in April at rest heading into May.

  10. Man, when I get home late and can only scan thru the game on mlb.tv, I usually just watch the Reds hit. It says a lot about Cueto that I wanted to watch this guy work his magic. So impressive.

  11. This is why you don’t give up on a guy after one bad season. Everyone wanted him traded, begged not to extend him, ect. He should have gotten Homer’s extension, he has already proven, when healthy, he is an ace.

    • Dale, I don’t remember any of this. Who wanted him traded? In fact, it’s much easier to find where people say, when healthy, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball than anything negative. As for the extension, I remember more people saying that either he or Latos will likely get an extension, not both.

      • Yeah, I don’t remember people wanting him traded. I thought he should have been extended in the offseason because he would be cheaper after an injury plagued season than he will now that he’s absolutely destroying all of baseball.

        • In hindsight, it does seem like a missed opportunity. It’s really hard to fault the organization, though. People are already questioning the Bailey extension. Imagine if we had signed TWO of those contracts and Cueto had gotten off to a slow start too or god forbid gotten injured again. We needed to see if the plan for the future should be Cueto, Latos, or both. It certainly looks like Cueto right now, but he does have durability concerns so you never know how this season is going to net out for him. And Latos, who has NEVER had durability concerns, suddenly has a big question mark there. What a difference a couple months can make.

  12. Cueto is a joy to watch work…aside from injury issues he is an elite pitcher. Not sure the Reds can afford him after next season.

    So the hottest hitter in baseball who is currently riding a 10 game hitting streak gets the night off and his replacement doesn’t miss a beat. Really excited about our catching duo this year.

    Bruce is being Bruce. just wish he wasnt so streaky..A career .256 hitter….seems like he bats .000 for a couple weeks then .500 For a couple weeks to arrive at that avg.

    • Sure does! If you notice this year, his OBP is much higher through these slumps. So even without hits, he’s contributing via walks. I don’t know what the placement is right now, but a few days ago Bruce was in the top 5 in walks, right behind Votto and some other normal guys. Very Votto-esque! Now, Votto’s in his own mini-slump, but I expect him to bust out of if soon. Just missed a homer tonight and was on base twice in 5 PAs.

  13. It was good to see Cueto looking healthy and being dominant. The answer to the pen problem is obviously to avoid them :)

  14. Don’t look now, but Cueto leads all of MLB in innings pitched and the only six qualified pitchers with a better ERA than him in MLB have pitched 21-29 innings to his 39. Icing on the cake, he’s 5th in MLB in Ks.

    Johnny Cueto, Cy Young?

    • A little early but it sure does have a ring to it. Not to mention it would put Johnny’s price tag in the stratosphere (actually hate to keep bringing up the contract angle – but as we all should know by now – baseball is a business).

  15. Walt should have been proactive last winter and extended Johnny Cueto. Simply fantastic and dominant.

    • Given his health issues I don’t think it would have been wise at that point. Lets see how this season goes along, if he continues to stay healthy and perform Walt can always begin talks with his agent.

  16. It doesn’t make the playoff debacle go away, but I’m sure Johnny Cueto has to feel pretty good shutting down the Buccos with back to back 3 hitters.

    I’d say these have to be his best back to back starts of his career.

  17. Overall so far I like Price as a manager. But one thing he kept harping on in the preseason, “aggressive base running”, had me worried. Except for Hamilton, I don’t like it. Making an unnecessary out hurts much more than that extra base helps. It’s the worst of old school thinking that it puts “pressure on the defense”. Yes Hamilton puts pressure on the defense. But major league players are able to throw the ball and catch it.
    Making those outs on the bases takes pressure off the defense, and in particular takes pressure off the pitcher.

    • I hate giving up outs when there is a low percentage the runner is going to be safe trying to take the extra base. Adding some smart to the aggressive base running would be a good thing.

    • The Reds are 20-7 in SB this season. That’s including Mesoraco being safe at 2nd, getting called out, and Price not challenging.

      Brewers are 17-9
      Cardinals are 8-4
      Pirates are 14-3
      Cubs are 14-6

      So the Reds are the 2nd best team in the division when it comes to success %. Doesn’t help BP is 0-2, but considering the Reds were 67-35 last year, definite improvement. 74.7% success this year vs 65.7% success last year.

      I think now that Billy is looking more comfortable and getting on base more regularly, it’ll only increase the success rate.

      • Thing is, agressive baserunning doesn’t just encompass stolen base attempts. It’s taking that extra base and having the infielder drop the ball just as he’s about to make the tag. Those little things add up over the course of the season. Of course, there’s no denying some of the stupid sends from third base on hits to the outfield or running on contact sends with less than 2 outs. The latter drives me absolutely bonkers.

        • Yeah, some of the sending people home has been bad, but I do like the abundance of tagging up on second and moving to third the Reds have done. Also a lot more going 1st to 3rd than last year it seems.

  18. I wish I knew what Cueto said when Price came out in the 9th after McCutcheon’s homerun. I’d hope it was something like “Sit down. I’ve got this.”

    But I do wonder if there might be something to think about there – It’s already been noted that Cueto already leads the league in innings. That’s great. You want your ace to eat up innings. And we all know Cueto is the kind of guy who is going to fight for every last inning – he doesn’t like coming out of games, no matter what. But he does have durability concerns – The guy isn’t Adam Wainright or Roy Halladay. He’s only topped 200 innings once in 2012, and he looked decidedly gassed in the playoffs that year. Closest he’s come before that was 185. If you’re playing for the postseason, I wonder when you start shaving a couple innings off of Cueto’s starts just to make sure he still has something in the tank come October. Clearly you don’t do it NOW when our bullpen is a hot mess, but when it’s back to full strength in a month or two I wonder if it’s something they think about. The good thing is there’s an elite pitching coach at the helm now and no one knows how to handle that situation better than Price.

    • Yeah, I think worry #1 is making it TO the playoffs, worry #2 would be seeing if you can keep fuel in Cueto’s tank for the playoffs.

  19. A couple thoughts –

    I got in after the start of the game because of my son’s little league game. I was worried when I saw Mes out of the line up that he was hurt. Glad he wasn’t and even more happy that Pena came through for the club!

    I was happy to see Cozart have a big hit last night. It must have been terribly embarassing Tuesday night to have the opposing team start to intentionally walk you, decided mid-walk that you suck so bad that they might as well pitch to you and then immediately validate that decision by popping out on the infield. Nice to see Cozart make them pay for pitching to him last night!

    I am a big fan of replay, but I didn’t see how they made the decision to reverse that call at second base. Yes, Pena came off the bag but was there an angle that I missed that showed the glove on him while he was off the bag? If so, I didn’t see it.

    Last year the club couldn’t seem to build momentum. They would win a couple and lose a couple then win two and lose one. With the slow start this year, they are going to need to put together some streaks. Might as well start one now!

    • On the replay call: To me, it should be indisputable to overturn a call. Last night I feel you had to go with what was called on the field regardless. The ump was in good position and was two feet from the tag. At some point these officials are going to become petrified to make calls and the result will be more blown calls and bitter umpires. While I like the replay concept, I’m a little leary of its current implementation.

      • I don’t understand this argument. Why would replay make a professional ump “petrified” to make a call? He has to make SOME call. What is he just going to stand there and not do anything? Yeah, some of them might be a little nervous that their calls might get overturned, but I don’t see how that would result in them making MORE bad calls. Just look at Jim Joyce and his blown call on Gallaraga’s perfect game a few years ago. He’s come out and said he wished there was a replay system so that his call could have been overturned – that’s how upset he was that he made a bad call and there was no remedy. And I would imagine that’s the way any professional sports referee feels. The truth of any given call is going to come out eventually – The camera angles exist, people can spend days pouring over every frame of every angle. No one wants to be the guy who made a call that the whole world later realized was wrong and had it change the outcome of a game or a season. Assuming these guys are too emotionally fragile to deal with scrutiny of their job performance when their job performance has ALWAYS been scrutinized is kind of insulting to them as professionals.

      • I also think that a challenge should have to be made immediately after the call. I hate that there is someone down the tunnel looking at the replay as the manager buys time. I’d change the rule so that if a manager is going to challenge, he has to do it immediately after the call. The way it’s currently implemented slows down the game more than it needs to and removes a lot of the excitement generated by a close play as a fan sits there and waits to see if a manager is even going to challenge.

        • Eh. You’ve always had managers coming out to argue calls. The difference was in the past it was a COMPLETELY pointless waste of time because the call couldn’t be reversed so you were literally just watching two dudes talk to each other and the only suspense was whether the manager was going to get tossed. It would be one thing if managers were doing what you’re talking about on every close play, but I’ve seen Price do it maybe 3 times all season. I’d bet without the replay system he’d have been out of the dugout MORE often just to do the “Hey look at me, I’m the manager and I’m in charge” routine that it’s always been.

          People just have to get used to this. The first time it saves a bad call in a very important game everyone will breath a huge sigh of relief and in a few years we’ll wonder how we ever did without it. The only reason it’s even an issue is because baseball is the only major sport to have come about before television. Every other sport uses technology to its advantage and every other sport makes it work just fine, constantly trying to improve its accuracy and keep the time cost down. Baseball shouldn’t be any different just because of some argument about tradition.

    • Not sure, but I think that pitch to Cozart the night before was not the start of an intentional walk, but a pitchout. That was a perfect time for a suicide squeeze and Cozart has proved pretty good at it in the past.

      • That could very well be the case. I didn’t even think of it. The announcers seemed to think it was an intentional walk, but they may have been distracted talking about Sean Casey’s eating habits!

        • Sean Casey sure does love food! I wonder what he’s going to eat today! And how much of it! Hope he tells us!

    • Looked like the glove brushed his stomach once he came off, before he got back on. Might have even just been the uniform, but definitely looked like he got brushed.

  20. Cueto and Latos when healthy will be a scary 1-2 punch in the playoffs. Let’s get there first though.

  21. I would rather have a team willing to take chances then sit back and be boring. This is a game, have fun, look at attempting to get that extra base, challenge the other team to make the good throw.

    • You know what else is fun and exciting? Scoring runs and winning. :-)

      I’m all for taking the extra base when they can. But I don’t want the base-coaches/players going beyond that just to prove they are “relentless” or different from last year. Outside of Hamilton, none of the Reds’ regulars have plus speed. The situation should play a role. Ex. Bruce trying to score from third with no outs. Ex. Pena making the second out at 2B with a runner on third.

  22. Great late inning action. Who fixed Volquez by the way? That’ll be annoying if he keeps that up. Lots of important contributions across the lineup last night. Would love to see the different signs of progress fall into line to see a solid winning streak take off.

    • It was always entirely about control with Volquez. He had two great pitches all along. I expected this signing to backfire on the Pirates. So far, it looks like another successful reclamation project where they ignored ERA history. One caution is his BABIP, which is unsustainably low.

  23. Clint Hurdle is supposed to be a good manager, but he’s made some curious decisions lately. Walking Ludwick to get to Mesoraco, and now pitching to Cozart. If they walked him, worst-case the Reds pinch hit and they’ve gotten rid of Cueto and put pressure–for the game and the rest of the series–on our shaky ‘pen. Or we don’t pinch hit, and the Pirates probably get out of the inning only down 2.

    If you want to see a TOOTBLAN to rival our worst, check out Milwaukee’s 8th inning on Monday. 1st and 3rd, one out…I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s the kind of play that will make you feel better about our beloved Reds.

    • No way the Reds pinch hit for Cueto. Warming up the pen was part of upholding the (weak) bluff and apparently it worked. Strange managing by Hurdle.

      Here’s the video link for the Brewers. It’s TOOTBLAN-squared.

      • Oh my goodness. How in the world would you show this on a score card! I’ll have to show this to my daughter. We keep score together at every game!

      • I agree we wouldn’t hav pinch hit…so we probably wouldn’t have picked up that valuable run.

        Amazingly, that’s not the TOOTBLAN I’m talking about. The one I saw was Monday’s Brewer-Padres game. Watching them both, I think the clear moral of the story is Segura needs to be more careful on the bases in the 8th inning of one-run games :-)

        • A little trivia: 6 times in MLB history a player has been credited with stealing a base and getting thrown out stealing the same base in a single inning. The Reds had 3 of those. ……we have 50% of these. We’re number one!

  24. There was a camera angle on the Peña play at 2B from the Pirates broadcast that I don’t remember seeing on the Cincinnati broadcast (but maybe I just missed it). Mercer definitely had his glove on Peña’s thigh with Peña’s foot off the bag. He was out. Interestingly, you can also see from this angle that the umpire was completely blocked from seeing the tag. Peña tagged on leg with foot off base.

    • Thanks. I don’t remember seeing this angle at all. I thought that part of the system was that one umpire would relay to the broadcast teams how the came to their decision. Would have been nice to know.

    • I retract my last statement. That pic does look pretty darn conclusive. Didn’t know it was available.

      • The Pittsburgh announcers seemed stunned that the call was overturned, so that angle must have been unavailable to them, or else it just needed to be frozen in time to be seen.

        • I know. As I was watching this video this morning, their announcers were blabbing on about how Peña must have been safe because of Mercer’s non-reaction. I don’t think they were watching their own broadcast.

  25. I enjoy the aggressive base running, in that the Reds are forcing the other team to make good throws. Pena’s run to second was ill-advised, but I don’t want them to stop running, just be more aware of the situation.

    Example, in the eighth, with Billy on third and Votto on first with nobody out, send Votto. Why not? It’s 2-0 at that time. What are the Pirates going to do… throw to second? That’s conceding the run. Whether Votto gets thrown out or not is irrelevant at that point. Even if the catcher throws to third, Billy breaks for home on any throw and the Pirates would have to make two perfect throws to get him.

    • There are plays to put on there that would usually get Hamilton thrown out. It isn’t a given that Hamilton scores on any play that doesn’t involve the catcher simply eating the ball and conceding Votto’s SB. There’s the throw to 3B, which can be very deceptive if done by a good catcher. There’s also having the pitcher cut the throw to 2B. Another thing is for the SS (who usually has the better infield arm) to come in hard in front of 2B with the intent being to immediately throw home. Now, Hamilton is so fast that the play would require 2 perfect throws and still not get him at the plate. I like the idea of Votto running there but there is something to lose and the Pirate’s wouldn’t necessarily have to concede the SB or the run.

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