Titanic Struggle Recap

A kick in the balks

Final R H E
  Cincinnati Reds  (35-36) 3 8 0
  Pittsburgh Pirates  (35-37) 4 12 1
 W: Wilson (2-0)      L: Cingrani (2-8)
 Fangraphs Win Probability |   The Worldwide Leader’s Box Score    |   Game Photos

Positives

Devin Mesoraco celebrated his 26th birthday by hitting a home-state, ninth-inning solo shot that tied the game. Before that, the Reds previously hot bats had been fairly quiet, with only five hits and one walk. Both early runs had scored on sacrifice flies. [If someone mentions that Joey Votto hasn't hit a home run since he's been back, you can point out he did hit two balls today that would have been out in GABP.]

Billy Hamilton continued to play impressive defense in centerfield, using his speed to cover lots o’ground. In the ninth inning, he stole a game-winning hit from Travis Snider, jumping up against the fence to make the catch.

The seventh inning bullpen collective pitched 2.1 shutout innings. Sam LeCure came up extra-large in the sixth, retiring rookie Gregory Polanco after a 35-minute rain delay with bases loaded. Logan Ondrusek pitched a clean seventh and got an out in the eighth, including giving up no walks! Manny Parra was on the mound for the final two outs.

Bryan Price brought in Aroldis Chapman to relieve Jonathan Broxton and face the dreaded (heh, first one to ever do that) Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and in a non-save situation. It was a pro-active move by Price to use Chapman in a situation outside his usual role. Overall, this was a pretty fantastic managing day for Price with respect to pulling pitchers.

The 2013 MVP watched Aroldis Chapman’s 88-mph change-up sail right over the middle of the plate for the last out of the ninth inning with a runner on second. I’m not sure “lay off Chapman’s off-speed stuff” is viable going forward. AndrewMVP must not be reading Redleg Nation faithfully. Chapman threw a 2-0 change-up for a strike against Josh Harrison, who he struck out on a 3-2 slider. Chapman whiffed all four batters he faced.

Tony Cingrani worked around a lead-off double in the twelfth inning.

Negatives

Another mixed day for Homer Bailey. He retired the first nine batters in order on 31 pitches. Even after allowing two runners on base in the fourth he struck out Josh Harrison on a 95-mph fastball. But in the fifth, he gave up a run on a balk when he slipped on the mound and then two more on singles by Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen. In the sixth inning, he once again seemed poised to escape trouble, but with two outs he inexplicably surrendered his only walk to Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke after getting ahead 0-2. He was lifted at that point after pitching 5.2 innings.

Jonathan Broxton walked two batters in his .2 innings of work. He’s pitched well this year. Prior to today Broxton had given up only one run and eight hits in 22 innings. It should be noted that he’s been lucky as well as good, giving up many hard hit balls that found friendly gloves. His BABIP is .143 (career .303). He’s only striking out 19% of the batters he faces, so hitters are putting balls in play.

While getting base 3 out of 5 times, base running was Super Todd’s kryptonite, twice giving up his out.

Cingrani hit, balk, walk, HBP, walk in the thirteenth.

Not so random thoughts

Even though a sweep would have been nice, the Reds did win the series and went 4-2 on the road-trip against NL Central foes.

FanGraphs had the game score wrong after the fifth inning, crediting the Pirates with only two runs. They missed Bailey’s balk. Can Bryan Price appeal that if FanGraphs didn’t get it, that it didn’t happen?

The singles by both Barmes and Chris Stewart in the pivotal fifth inning were called “lob shots” by Chris Welch and Jeff Brantley said “if you added them together you wouldn’t get a decent fly ball.”

Major League Baseball notified the Reds and Pirates this afternoon that last night’s call overruling the home plate umpire on Devin Mesoraco’s slide at the plate was a mistake. Mesoraco was initially called out. Then upon review, it was determined that Russell Martin, the Pirates’ catcher, violated the new rule that home plate cannot be blocked without the ball. MLB said today that the application of the rule was inappropriate.

70 thoughts on “A kick in the balks

    • I watched on the GameDay app too, which had the final two balls to Martin as strikes. But I just watched on video and ball 4 was not a bad call, it was a little too low. Martin has a very good batting eye and was going for a walk, I knew he would. I was upset when Cingrani hit Barmes, that set up a bad situation: Martin with the bases loaded.

  1. Goodness, that was fast. You’re either more of a pessimist than I am, or you had two versions of this post ready to go.

    I followed the last few innings on Gamecast, and there were multiple ball calls that seemed framed well inside the strike zone (including Cingrani’s final two pitches). Not sure how accurate Gamecast was, though.

    I understand the logic in the final IBB but didn’t agree with it. Price didn’t do it earlier in the game (same situation — runner on 2nd, score tied). If not for that, who knows?

    Although the results were good, I’m still curious at Price’s logic re: his bullpen moves today. Each move surprised me — even Cingrani coming in after Chapman had only thrown 20 pitches.

    Homer is an enigma this year. Lights out, then the wheels fall off in the blink of an eye.

    • When you say each of Price’s bullpen moves surprised you, you must mean surprisingly good. And I won’t argue with his taking Chapman out after “only 20 pitches”. It would have meant starting an inning having thrown 20. Chapman most likely will be needed this weekend against the powerful Blue Jay offense.

      • Actually, I meant surprised as in “what’s he doing?” Again, not complaining about the results, just curious about the thought process behind each move.

        LeCure hasn’t exactly been his ol’ reliable self as of late. In retrospect, though, I guess it wasn’t a surprise that Price didn’t reach for Broxton or Chapman here despite the high-leverage situation.

        Yanking LeCure after just one batter in favor of Ondrusek was a surprise, though — as was the 1-2-3 inning that followed.

        I was again surprised when Price let Ondrusek start the 8th — and then once more when he yanked him in favor of Parra instead of Broxton. I guess the lefty match-ups role trumps the “8th inning guy” role.

        I was surprised yet again (but relieved) when Broxton was yanked in the 9th. He didn’t have his best stuff today, but assuming Hoover was unavailable, that left only one pitcher in the ‘pen. That’s why I figured Price might try to get more out of Chapman — even one more batter.

        As for Cingrani, did Price say anywhere why he went with Hoover last night instead? I figured that would have been the perfect opportunity to get Tony some low-pressure work and give the day-to-day workhorses a breather.

        • I was OK with all the moves, but the main impressive thing for me was bringing in Chapman with the score tied in the 9th and on the road. There’s some good discussion about that below. Pitching Hoover yesterday was a good idea, he needed a low-pressure confidence builder.

    • Homer is an enigma this year. Lights out, then the wheels fall off in the blink of an eye. That is true. He’s sailing along then meltdown city.

      As for Price’s logic on bullpen moves: I’ve never lost a game managing from my widest side on the couch. Price has been a pitching coach for a long time and with the Reds too so I defer to him on most moves. He’s knows just a wee bit more than me. All good. We’re playing well now.

  2. I believe its time for Cingrani to make a trip back to the ville to work on more sustaining pitches. He’s been walking and hitting batters left and right while today he snuffed the reds out of a chance for a big sweep.

  3. Broxton’s wildness today was probably due to it’s being the first time he’s pitched in 6 days.

      • Yeh I hope his elbow is OK. When Price didn’t use him for so long, I was getting nervous. And within the last week Price snapped at a reporter who asked about his not bringing in Broxton in the 7th inning, reminding the reporter that he was coming back from elbow surgery.

  4. I like Tony a lot. But I think he needs a trip to AAA. Not what I forcasted for him this year but with Simon doing so well, it is a luxury we can do at this time

  5. Well, I’m way less upset than if this game occurred a week or more ago. They’re coming together, lifting my mojo. Not that I can think specifically of any examples but Bruce has to be costing runs batting fifth. Wonder about moving him to seventh. Problem is no protection with Cozart behind him but sure can’t do any worse. On the other hand, maybe don’t mess with success.

  6. I agree completely that this “was a pretty fantastic managing day for Price with respect to pulling pitchers.” I especially liked his use of Chapman on the road with the game tied in the 9th. He put Chapman in before the Reds took the lead ! This means that in extra inning road games he will rebel against the book about not using the closer until there’s a save situation. More and more managers are rebelling against that stupidity, I’m glad Price is one of them.

    • Yes, very impressed with Price today for same reasons. And dare I say it, Ondrusek came through – maybe just maybe he’s becoming reliable. And I guess I’ll admit that Price may know more about managing than me. I would have butchered the bullpen with very different moves.

    • Heard Price being interviewed on the radio before the game today. He sure sounds smart. In talking about pitch counts, he said he’s talked to the team about the correlation of making the pitcher throw more than 14 pitches per inning and getting into the soft part of teams’ bullpens. For some reason, I liked hearing him use an exact number and the word “correlation” like I said, I was impressed. Really hope things work out for him.

      • He’s definitely a smart guy, and I think he’s been unfairly blamed for bullpen meltdowns. It’s not a deep pen, and he can’t use Chapman every day.

      • He was hired as Reds manager for two reasons 1 his significant positive impact on the Reds pitchers and 2 to prevent another team from benefiting from his baseball IQ

      • I agree that he’s a smart guy; and I really want him to succeed. While we can question his use of the bullpen in high leverage situations, he has been hamstrung in that he has only two pitchers that can get outs — you just can’t use them every single game over 162 games.

  7. I’ve seen enough to agree that Cingrani should go down to AAA for a while, as a starter of course. He is not going to get his command back while being the long relief guy. The occasional pitching involved in that role makes loss of command worse.

    Remember Micah Owings ? Dusty would not use him for 2 weeks, then bring him into an extra inning game, and he’d walk the first two batters he faced before losing the game.

    • I agree that he should go down and work on secondary pitches and command, but fear that the league has figured out his fastball which is, after all, of pedestrian velocity. His deceptive delivery sold it, but if hitters aren’t fooled anymore, he’s got trouble, and so do the Reds.

  8. With his timely recaps, Steve must be doing what the pro reporters do: write most of the story during the game. The ending seems like the whole story to us, but it just means adding a couple of sentences and a headline.

    • So grateful for these excellent recaps. For example, I didn’t realize Votto hit two very long flies, which gives insight beyond the box score that he is still swinging well.

    • Yeah, you’re giving away my secrets. It only gets me in trouble when the game outcome turns around at the end. I’m usually eager to get it posted and done, especially for long games like today (and yesterday it was written about three hours before the game ended).

      • Right one time I sat just below the press box and they were typing away the whole game. Then as soon as the game was over, they were furiously typing to end their story within a few minutes.

  9. The ROOT Sports pitch box had ball 3 as nipping the top of the strike zone. That one could have gone either way.
    But it showed that ball 4 was definitely a strike. The ump jobbed Cingrani. Price had a right to be angry after the game.

    • Dinner at the Cossack abode superceded the end of the game, so I didn’t see the pitches being specifically questioned, but I did see the home plate umpire abruptly change the bottom of his strike zone. The entire game he called low strikes. Pitches either marginal at best or below the legitimate strike zone. Suddenly, as the game entered extra innings, the low strike disappeared. I have less of a problem with a bad, consistent strike zone than I do with an inconsistent strike zone, or even worse, an abruptly changed strike zone.

      • I didn’t see the game (other than GameDay) but I believe you. Umpires will make an adjustment in extra innings, they don’t want a marathon.

        Without knowing what the strike zone had been all day, on video it looks to me like Cingrani’s final pitch could have been called either way. He couldn’t nibble after ball 3 – he had to challenge Martin. His fastball has enough movement that a pitch in the middle of the strike zone might have been popped up or even missed.

        • He wasn’t locating either inning. He was just flinging it up there and hoping for the best. This is what happens when you groom a guy as a starter for 2 years and then toss him into the bullpen for no good reason. It takes a certain mentality and physical ability to come into a game cold and pitch multiple innings and that has to be developed.

        • I wish he’d scrap the waste pitch when he gets to 0-2. It seems (no data, just impression) that 1-2 becomes 2-2, and so on, fairly often. Does he quickly get in the habit of throwing out of the zone?

  10. What’s a person to say? We wuz robbed? it sort of feels good but then we’d all sound like fans of the tiger stripes did all those years when they could find every reason in the world for why games were lost except for what their team did or didn’t do. Four of six against this competition isn’t bad. Now its time to just hitch up the britches and go after those JBirds starting tomorrow,

    • The JBirds have a scary lineup. They also have suspect pitching. The Reds need to score runs this weekend.

      • I was at GABP for the Friday night game when the JBirds came calling in 2011. Leake was pitching a shutout gem; and, the Reds got him a run in the bottom of 6th on a Drew Stubbs inside the park homer.

        Then the balloon popped just as quickly in the 7th as in a span of 7 pitches (per the BR play by play), Leake hit the lead off man (Corey Patterson nonetheless), then gave up a double to Bautista and a homer to Lind. Rolen later hit a solo shot to get one back but the the Reds lost 3-2.

        Of all the games I’ve attended in person, I think that was about the most frustrated and empty I’ve felt after one.

  11. This move of Cingrani to the bullpen is such a terrible idea. He looked lost today and that’s what happened when you keep yanking a young pitcher around. I would have been much more comfortable with Simon in this situation than Cingrani. And that isn’t even getting I to the impact this might have on Cingrani’s development. I just don’t know what we’re doing with this pitching staff right now.

    • He has not been effective that is why he is no longer in the rotation. Not any more complicated than that. AAA is where he ought to be, IMO.

      • Agreed. If you’re young, have options, cannot get it done, and only have 1 pitch, then management needs to hold you accountable and sent you to AAA.

      • Agreed. Plus, in AAA he stays stretched out as the team’s 6th starter should someone else get hurt. Or like they will need a 6th starter in a couple of weeks when they play the Cubs 5 games over 4 days.

  12. OK so you send Cingrani to the minors, who do you bring up? More to the point, since most think Jumbo Diaz, who do you take off the 40 man to get Diaz here? Without making a move that would expose someone to the waiver wire, who are you going to trade and for what? I am not saying that this would be a bad move, it is just not an easy decision.

      • Marshall could be added back to the 60-day DL and should never have been activated from the 60-day DL. If someone must be DFA’d off the 40 man, Bernadina is a prime option since he has already cleared waivers once and his bat will not be missed. This leaves Bryan with and extra reliever and short one bat. The lost bat is not costing the team games but the relief pitching is costing the team almost every loss.

    • Santiago? Bernadina? Marshall? Soto? Ondrusek? I mean come on. Let’s not act like the Reds 40 man roster is packed to the gills with irreplaceable talent.

      • Soto is OPSing at .878 since he went down with a .386 OBP. Don’t throw him away because if he can stay hot for several more weeks, he will have value as a pot sweetener on the trade market

        • It is not like Soto has ever done this well at AAA before and he still just over 25 years old so somebody can may well believe he has had some actual growth and ins’t just a AAAA guy (think EE)

  13. I’m reading a lot of over-reaction to Cingrani right now … so he’s pitched 3.2 innings in relief for this team, gave up one run, and let’s send him back to AAA!

    Keep in mind a few things about the run he gave up today. First of all, Sanchez was picked off first base but a “balk” was called. Cingrani has a terrific move to first base, and has a high pick-off rate for innings pitched … I think West got it wrong.

    Second of all, Cingrani threw strikes to Martin, which were called balls. He’s a pitcher who has success with fastballs out of the zone, so he’s gonna walk people. You take the good w/ the bad … and today it didn’t work out.

    But to hang him for giving up one, single run is a little over the top, even for Reds fans!

    Tony Cingrani 2-8 / 4.55 ERA
    Homer Bailey 7-3 / 4.68 ERA

    Cut Tony a little slack. He’s being bounced around all over the place, and still coming out with intensity each and every time.

    • People don’t want to send him to AAA as a punishment. They want him to go where he can continue to pitch 6+ innings on a regular starting schedule as to not arrest his development as a legitimate major league starting pitcher. This organization seems hell bent on taking promising starting pitchers and twisting them into marginally useful relievers.

      • I don’t disagree with you at all; but that’s probably not happening. Cingrani is a starting pitcher; with a high ceiling … and Cincinnati is wasting him right now.

        But this is what we’ve got so GO TONY!

    • I agree with you totally.
      He picked him off clean,got a lean in on the hbp by barmes and clearly got hosed on both ball 4 and probably ball3 as well.Martin didnt swing once and usually an ump will make the batter swing in that spot before walking him.BTW it wasnt West umping today at first.I think it was Lange.
      Without Cingrani in the pen we have only Parra pitching from the left side.We have nothing at AAA either.So without Tony a trade or a AA [?} kid would have to be brought in.
      On another note Ondrusak is getting all kinds of Kudos on the board today for getting thru an inning without screwing up.Just 2 days ago he gave up the hit that tied the game @ 5 and looked his usual terrible self.If anyone needs to go to bring up jumbo its big,BAD,Logan.He’s shown me repeatedly for years now to be unsevicable and totally unreliable.His release would be a blessing.

      • Even Martin admitted that the “Pirates got a break on the 3-1 pitch”. Wow. And I just saw the balk call on video. Bogus. As for the lean-in on the HBP, why do umpires always grant the batter first base, even when the lean-in is obvious. The rule is in the books, but never enforced.

        In any case, it was “Let’s get this game over now” time for the umps.

        As far as Cingrani goes, he needs to be pitching regularly, wherever he is. An occasional appearence as a “long man” is the worst thing for him.

    • I was hoping he’d get regular work in the bullpen, either as a 7th inning guy or in situations like last night’s blowout. Instead, he pitched once in 10 days before being called on today. That’s no way to develop. Even if they envisioned him as a reliever, why not send him down for 15 days and let him get used to pitching on consecutive days, etc.?

      Bottom line, if he’s not going to have opportunities in Cincy, send him down to aid his development.

      I wish Price would re-listen to his press conference statement about putting players in positions where they can succeed. Tony had to be perfect today. He wasn’t, and that was the difference.

  14. I was agreeing with prospectcincy
    Cingrani cant go anywhere,though he’d benefit from going down to AAA

  15. I just watched Bryan Price’s postgame interview. He was really pissed off about the balk call and the game ending ball 4. His point about ball 4 was made by the Cossack above – that same pitch had been called a strike the whole game.

    As for the balk, he had two points – the balk call wasn’t made until after Sanchez was picked off, and it was the same move Cingrani always makes (lack of consistency again).

    When the interviewer said: 4-2 is a good road trip, he just said that 5-1 would have been a lot better. (He had acknowledged the Reds may have lost the game anyway).
    Good for him.

    • That’s very true too. At the least, Cingrani would have had to continue pitching after the 12th; and after the Reds tied it up in the 9th; they went 9 up and 9 down in innings 10-12. Even if Tony gets out of the inning; odds are still in Pittsburgh’s favor.

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