Titanic Struggle Recap

Game 103: Our Long Nationals Nightmare Is Over

Final R H E
Washington Nationals (56-45)
0 4 0
Cincinnati Reds (52-51)
1 4 0
W: J. Cueto (11-6)   L: G. Gonzalez (6-6)   S: Chapman (22)
Box Score | Stats | Depth Chart | FanGraphs Win Probability

[Good] Some beautiful defense, the kind we saw the entire first half of the baseball season—before the recent slump—occurred in the first two innings with a leaping catch in center field by Billy Hamilton, a diving stop at first base by Todd Frazier and an over-the-shoulder rundown of a blast by Jay Bruce followed by a nice throw that nailed Bryce Harper, who assumed Jay wouldn’t get to the ball, producing the always welcome 9-3 double play.

[Bad] The Reds pushed the running game in the second inning to no avail when Chris Heisey was caught leaving too early.

[Good] Johnny Cueto began to seriously find his groove in the third when he struck out the side.

[Good] Heisey’s ground rule double and subsequent steal of third resulted in a run after a base hit by Brayan Pena. At the end of the 5th, the Reds had one of the few leads they’ve had since the All Star break.

[Good] A 96 mph fastball on the outside corner by Cueto to send Jayson Werth back to the dugout looking was perhaps the highlight of the top of the 6th inning. He would go on to strike out the side for the second time in the game moments later. [7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K]

Neat stat courtesy of Joel Luckhaupt: Since 2011, Johnny Cueto has a 2.04 home ERA. Only Clayton Kershaw (1.76) has a lower home ERA in that span.

Jonathon Broxton looked good to begin the 8th, then suddenly had control problems after getting two outs. Aroldis Chapman came in, immediately threw his first pitch up and in to LaRoche, sending a message, before recording the third out in the inning.

After walking the first batter of the 9th, Brayan Pena threw out the runner attempting to steal second. A moment later, Bryce Harper would strike out looking—and the Nationals were all but finished.

Not So Random Thoughts …

The Reds really had to have this game, which is why we saw Chapman in for a rare 4-out save. Cueto did what this club needed him to do, be the stopper. He gave that and more today. It’s not often that you win a game where you only manage 4 hits, one of them coming from your pitcher. But, that’s just what the Reds did today.

Now, the Reds can win the series. That would go a long, long, way to helping this team get back on track after a horrid start to the second half.

My Knob Creek Player of the Game: Cueto saves the day.

63 thoughts on “Game 103: Our Long Nationals Nightmare Is Over

  1. Bryce Harper had a very bad day. He got thrown out by Bruce not only because he didn’t think Bruce would catch the ball, but also because he didn’t run full speed back to first base. Then he made a second TOOTLBAN when he got caught in a rundown after trying to go from 1st to 3rd on an IF hit.

    Also the Reds tv broadcasters thought that Harper also was part of Desmond’s getting caught stealing in the 9th. Harper was showing bunt and took strike 2. They thought it was a “bunt and run” because Desmond is slow, you wouldn’t expect him to try to steal in that situation.

    • The national broadcasters were saying how hard it was to bunt a 102-mph fastball, especially if you’re a LH hitter. They thought it was a mistake to ask Harper to bunt.

      • I agree it was a mistake to ask Harper to bunt. He hasn’t been hitting well, and he’s a lefty facing Chapman, but he has that quick bat, I was happy to see him bunting.

        • I am starting to wonder if Mr. Harper will ever live up to his expectations. He is probably already labeled as injury prone and his numbers though not terrible are not eye popping either.

  2. Before the Nats even came to bat in the 8th, I felt that if they got 2 on for LaRoche, please have Chapman ready. Price did, good move.

  3. When the Reds started the game with 3 excellent defensive plays, I felt “the good news Reds” are here today but was afraid that their lineup might not score at all off Gonzalez. Heisey and Pena getting their hits in the same inning felt almost miraculous, it was pretty much all the offense did.

  4. Cueto got into a groove starting in the 3rd inning, a beautiful thing to see. 7 shutout innings from the starter, 2 outs from Broxton, 4 from Chapman, works for me.

  5. Broxton made a potentially disastrous mistake when he walked Rendon to bring up Werth with 2 out. Werth is leading the major leagues in OBP and slugging PCT in July. When Broxon hit him, I didn’t like having the tying run on 2nd but I much preferred the Chapman/LaRoche match up to the Broxton/Werth match up. Maybe Broxton preferred that too.

    • Yeah, I thought the that pitch that hit Werth looked like it might have “gotten away” pretty much where Broxton intended for it to. At the least, Broxton seemed pretty stoic about it all.

  6. Two things different from Baker that Price does….Reds running more. Love Heisey stealing Third Base, and Price bringing in Chapman for the 4 out save. Baker would not have done the latter. He would bring in Chapman ONLY for 3 outs, no matter the scenario. That is WHY Managers can affect games more than you think. Especially with the Reds, because they will pretty much always be in close games…if there starters do what they usually do, which is keep them in close games. As much as I love his defense, Cozart is back to becoming pretty much a sure out at the plate. Bruce made a great play in the outfield today, but still struggling at the plate. Most of the time, if not pretty much all the time, Bruce gets behind in the count, whether it be taking the first pitch for a strike and then fouling off the next pitch or two, if the next pitch is off speed, Bruce WILL strikeout. August is coming up, so maybe it will be the month Bruce comes alive? Adams had 4 RBI’s today for the Cardinals in their win….which goes back to the point, when Molina is out, other players step up for the Cardinals. Who will step up for the Reds? Bruce, Mesoraco, Frazier? Will the Reds continue to strike out way too much?

    • Other players have not been stepping up for the Cardinals. They lost 4 in a row before beating the Cubs today, including losing both games to the Rays while scoring a total of 2 runs. Check out their stats, Holliday, Carpenter, and especially Craig are having bad seasons.

    • Actually, Chapman had a 4 out save vs the Brewers in September last year. And he did it a few times before that. I suspect that as the season moves on and Chapman is further removed from his DL stint, we’ll see more of it from Price than we did from Baker.

  7. The defense really came through for Cueto until he could find his groove. Without the defense showing up big time, the game was over early and Cueto would have been lucky to get through 5 innings. Frazier, Hamilton and Bruce really set the tone for the game.

    The Reds are going to miss Cueto after 2015 if they can’t extend him and I don’t know that they should extend him. Starting pitchers on the wrong side of 30 are just not good bets, but Cueto is so good

  8. In the 6th inning, after Cueto led off with a single, I didn’t want to see him running around the bases, I was rooting to Hamilton to ground into a force out. When he did I was about to write “Best force out of the season” on the game thread. Then Hamilton gets picked off by Gonzalez doing the “run on first move” thing, after only two (?) throws to first. How on earth do you run on “first move” when there’s about an 80% chance he’s going to throw to first again ? That’s a very low success rate. Somebody should be helping Hamilton more with the mental aspect of running the bases.

    • Actually Hamilton is average as far as attempts versus completed. As he learns more he will not be caught off base as often. His speed is great, but in the majors he needs to be student of their moves. I believe that Hatcher is helping him with learning the art and I am sure that Eric Davis has, and will, continue to have some input too.

    • My thought too. Peña is going to play everyday right now because ugly though it might be he is the most reliable hitter they have right now. It looks like Price values Peña’s receiver skills to the point that he is going to catch Cueto and a goodly part of the time Bailey; so there goes 40% of the time Meso could be playing.

      You’d think if they would try Bruce at 1B, they’d have Meso taking some balls there with the idea of getting him some ABs that way. But I guess not, Meso seems to block rather than scoop virtually every pitch in the dirt. Maybe that is why we haven’t seen him at 1B.

        • Try him in LF? Why not second base or third base? Players are conditioned for a set routine and you just dont stick a player in another position and not impact his abilities. …

        • A couple of names: Dale Murphy, Yogi Berra, Joe Mauer, Joe Torre, Victor Martinez, Greg Biggio, Bob Watson, Mike Napoli. These are just some catchers who switched. A list of infielders and outfielder who switched would be enormous.

    • Great point. With the Reds struggling so much offensively, how can their statistically best hitter be sitting 2 games out of 5 ? Either Homer of Cueto have to pitch to him.

      Or better yet, Johnny Bench would play LF and 1st base so he could stay in the lineup. Why not Mes ?

      • I checked this out before the AS break and Bench actually played a lot more LF than 1B which mildly surprised me based on my foggy memory of that far back.

      • I do not know. I have been wondering if Mesoraco wont do it, or if he really does’nt have the ability to move well enough to be in the field. Or perhaps the Reds do not feel like he catches well enough and don’t want.to stunt his progress behind the plate.
        Also, I am pretty sure I remember him playing some 3b too. I seem to remember it may have hastened his retirement.

        • I’ve said in several comments here that from watching Meso catch, I don’t think he has particularly good hands but that he works hard and finds a way to get the job done OK with the tools he has. Thus if they are working with him on catching skills, I can understand not wanting to complicate things by adding working on 1B or LF skills.

          The ability (or lack thereof) to scoop low throws cleanly as opposed to blocking them obviously would be an issue for a 1B; but, I don’t see it as one for a LF. One of the beat writers (Fay I think) tweeted several days ago that he thought the club was planning to work with Meso on an alternate position (or positions) during the off season. So I guess we will see.

        • On Bench and 3B: My recollection is that Bench could no longer catch regularly due to old injury issues (knees and legs) but he had somewhat reinvented himself at the plate as a hitter for average with occasional power. Dick Wagner (the Reds baseball pres and GM at the time) supposedly told Bench he would not move Danny Driessen off of 1B to clear a spot for Bench to play every day. However 3B was an open position; and, Wagner promised Bench the inside track at that spot. It turned out that the same leg issues which kept Bench from being able to catch had also left him too immobile to play 3B satisfactorily, thus leading to his retirement.

  9. The good: we finally win a game. The bad: one run on only four hits. Won’t win too many games if the offense doesn’t wake up.

    Giants go get Peavy. Don’t be surprised if they also get Price and Zobrist. You heard it here. In the meantime, Walt does nothing.

  10. Way to win Reds! This was a pitching and defense game for them, Cueto was great. What is going on with Bruce? Every hitter in the lineup has a better batting average

  11. From @CTrent
    “Bryan Price said the team will likely activate Jack Hannahan in the next day or two”
    ********************************************************************************************************

    • So stick of hearing about hannahan…. he should’nt even be on this team! Never should of been signed to a two year deal.

    • Yeah, Jack Hannahan is the answer.
      Career stats – .232/.316/.349/.665
      Another low average, low OBP, no power hitter to add to the lineup. I guess he will fit right in.

      This is Walt Jocketty’s big move. Book it!

        • One thing that struck me was how often they said the treatment showed, “little to no benefit”.

          In regards to tendon/ligament related injuries:

          “Much of the publicity PRP therapy has received has been about the treatment of acute sports injuries, such as ligament and muscle injuries. PRP has been used to treat professional athletes with common sports injuries like pulled hamstring muscles in the thigh and knee sprains. There is no definitive scientific evidence, however, that PRP therapy actually improves the healing process in these types of injuries.”

  12. Glad to see the Reds finally win one. Is is bad they needed spectacular defense and a shutout in order to win? 4 hits/1 run still isn’t going to get you the 38-21 record you need to get to 90, but hey.. one step at a time, I guess. Maybe with a win some bats will wake up.

    Other news.. Hamilton is really struggling at stealing bases. I’m not very impressed. The last 30 days, Hamilton is 9 for 16 stealing. He’s at 72% on the year. What’s going on there? He’s going to have over 20 caught stealing this season and that’s just too darn many.

  13. I found a possibility for trade. A guy who plays 1st and LF.
    Mike Carp. He has asked Boston to trade him.
    He is having a down year, mostly because he hasn’t gotten any playing time.
    His numbers last year were outstanding – .296/.362/.523/.885 in 216 AB.
    This year, he hasn’t done a lot, so he might not take much to get – .215 /.337/.304/.641. He has only had 79 ABs.
    He would certainly be an upgrade over Lutz and Soto.

  14. I hope our team finds a way to extend Cueto. I hear a lot of people talking about Cueto’s age but I’d be willing to bet money that he has better seasons at 30, 31, 32 than Bailey and Latos during same timeframe. Nothing against them because I like them both a lot as well. It’s just that Cueto’s an ace- our ace. Coaching staff has spoken often about his conditioning as a very positive factor.

    • The issue with signing Cueto is not the $20+ million per year, it is the 7 to 8 year deal he is probably going to want. I’m sure if he were willing to sign for 4 years and $80 to $100 million the Reds would jump at it, but 7 to 8 years at $150 to $200 million for a 31 year old starter, when the contract kicks in, does not make sense.

        • I read several days ago that there is some thought the Reds may be able to retain Cueto because of the age issue. The thinking was that is the Reds offer him this off season to go 5 years starting after next year Cueto might jump on that if the money is reasonable to avert the risk of injury during the 2015 season from possibly impacting negotiations after the 2015 season.

          I believe the feeling in that article was that even with no health issues between now and the end of the 2015 season, no one was likely to go beyond 6 years @$20M per and thus he might bite for 5 years at an average of $21-22M per year ahead of free agency.

        • Don’t know if I buy that Jim. Greinke got 6yr/$159m for his age 29 season. Age 30 season isn’t so different. Sure Greinke had a Cy Young from 2009 anchoring his trophy case, but in fairness, so might Cueto after this year.

          If Cueto pitches a full season and either wins or comes second in the Cy Young, I think someone will pay him Greinke money. Heck, the Yankees just paid a guy $155m when he hadn’t had a single major league pitch to his name. The Reds just gave Homer freaking Bailey a $19m/yr extension on his $9m arbitration he was going to get. Homer Bailey.

          I think Cueto will get paid in the 6yr/$150m range.

  15. I am really liking Chapman’s new game. Mixed pitches,now adding the no fear to pitch inside mentality. Yeah it is nasty but part of the game. Just like Crash tells Nuke in Bull Durham…. hit the the mascot with a pitch…. let them think you are wild.

    The very best hitters will be afraid to step into in the batters box if they think you have control issues.. Where there is fear there is failure.

    • Agreed. Chapman’s first pitch to LaRoche was awesome! Completely changed the narrative on an inning that was in danger of getting away….

  16. Today was sort of like a Mario Soto day was back in the early 1980′s…. Cueto pitched his butt off yet barely escaped with a positive decision and that’s only because he shut them out. The better news is that the rest of the starting rotation are good enough now that they have legitimate chances to be in almost every game to the end if the offense can score even 3 runs on occasion.

  17. Johnny Tourniquet.

    This team can still pitch and play D. Can they hit enough to stay in the hunt?

  18. Regarding the points about Mesoraco above: I’m pretty sure if he were still hitting .320 with awesome power he’d be catching nearly every day. But he’s not. I’m afraid to look up his numbers from the past month or so, because they’ll be pretty ugly.

    The league has adjusted to him; now he needs to adjust back. Given his current violent pull-happy swing, that may take some time. I love the guy. Earlier in the season I’d have been the first one complaining about sitting him vs a LHP, especially with our offensive struggles. But right now he’s not providing enough offense.

    • .239/.329/.418 the last 30 days, not counting today’s 2-4, 2B.

      Pena is hitting .254/.279/.424 the last 30 days. I’d trade the .015 AVG for .050 OBP and .009 ISO every single day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s