2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: More Drama

Let’s recap today’s titanic struggle….

Cincinnati 5
Los Angeles (AL) 4

W: A. Chapman (1-0)
L: S. Downs (0-1)

–Mat Latos had a very nice first start of the year. 6.2 innings. 3 runs. And, honestly, he pitched better than his line. Really looking forward to seeing him all year.

–Phillips certainly showed something from the cleanup spot tonight.

–Votto, Joey. Good time for his first hit tonight.

–Chris Heisey responded very well in his first start. On base twice. I’ll take that every day.

— Sure felt good to get a win tonight. These have been a great couple of games. It’s good to see the Reds hanging with another excellent team early.

–I get that it’s standard procedure. But keeping Chapman for the 7-8-9 hitters makes no sense. I’m just going to have to accept that I will never agree with Baker about bullpen management. He’s not going to think outside the box. Ever.

–I will say I was happy with how Dusty constructed the lineup today. It’s not what I’d do, but it was pretty rational.

–Reds go for the series win tomorrow. Two of three from the Angels would be a great way to start the year.

–Joey Votto is my favorite baseball player.

77 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: More Drama

  1. Does anyone on the planet understand why you would pitch to Votto there? His run didn’t matter, you set up a DP to a traditional DP guy, and of course you take the bat out of the hands of the best hitter in baseball. Now we are condemed to see this play every. single. night. forever. Of course, I’m happy with the W, especially after the defensive hiccups late in the game. I’m also thrilled to see Choo get on base twice even without a base hit.

    • @preach: I do I do! At least I think I can explain the reasoning, even if it doesn’t make sense.

      Mike Scioscia brought a lefty specialist named Scott Downs into the game – Downs is paid to retire lefthanded batters and apparently he trusts Downs to get lefties out, even after he started off by hitting Choo (seems like that might be a cause for alarm, but who knows?). Scioscia saw Brandon Phillips hit a big homerun earlier in the game and probably didn’t want to face Phillips with two runners on base – I guess he has more respect for Phillips as a hitter than some people expected. He probably would’ve had to bring in a righty to face Phillips, which would give Jay Bruce an advantage.

      Oh well, I hope I helped. Basically Scioscia trusted his guy to do his job.

    • @preach:

      Does anyone on the planet understand why you would pitch to Votto there? His run didn’t matter, you set up a DP to a traditional DP guy, and of course you take the bat out of the hands of the best hitter in baseball. Now we are condemed to see this play every. single. night. forever. Of course, I’m happy with the W, especially after the defensive hiccups late in the game. I’m also thrilled to see Choo get on base twice even without a base hit.

      The Enquirer game report said “the bunt did work this time”…but doesn’t say that the only reason it did was b/c Mike Sciosia completely screwed it up.

  2. Okay, even in victory, you have to question Reds’ strategy:

    -Was there any rational explanation why Ryan Hanigan wasn’t pinch ran for in the 8th? If Xavier Paul hits a double, and Hanigan doesn’t score, it’s pretty much an absolute disaster. Seems like the perfect way to use Derrick Robinson…

    -Using Chapman in the 9th and not the 8th was pretty painful.

    -Lot of subpar defense the first couple games.

    -Pujols looks old already. He’s not a free agent until 2022… 😯

  3. Excellent game. Exciting game. Unpredictable game. Probably not quite what any of us were expecting.

    I was opposed to Brandon Phillips being asked to hit cleanup, but this game reminded me of a game a few years ago… I showed up at GABP and saw Jay Bruce was leading off. What was going through Dusty’s mind? By the time Bruce hit his second and third homerun of that game I was more trusting of Dusty’s judgment. Brandon Phillips didn’t have quite as good a night tonight (as Bruce did a few years ago) but still I was impressed. Now I’m supportive of seeing him in the cleanup role for a few more games.

    Choo continues to impress me. If getting hit by pitches is a talent then he seems to be good at it. He’s been hit twice in two games. Is that really an accident?

    After the merits of bunting and ‘taking the bat out of Votto’s hands’ was so thoroughly discussed it was a shock to see how the game ended. I guess Dusty Baker isn’t the only manager who has respect for Brandon Phillips as a cleanup hitter.

    I’m wondering what’s up with Sean Marshall – is he sick or what? I thought I heard he was warming up at one point… but that’s it.

    Great job by Chapman tonight, in my opinion. He was warming up for a save but came in anyway with the tie game. He was back to throwing almost all fastballs, but it worked. Throwing a pitch into the audience before striking the guy out on a pitch right down the middle… it’s always entertaining.

    I’m really excited for Arroyo vs Blanton tomorrow. I think Blanton is a guy the Reds can beat up, more so than harder throwing guys in games 1 and 2. Arroyo is my favorite baseball player, and I hope he does well.

  4. Latos should have never pitched the seventh. dusty almost always leaves his starters in one too many innings.

    I can’t even begin to explain how dusty took the bat out of Joey’s hands only to have Scoscia give it right back to him. Wow.

    I’ll take the win though.

    Did Marshall sleep with Dusty’s wife or something?

    • Latos should have never pitched the seventh. dusty almost always leaves his starters in one too many innings.

      Why do you say that? The first part at least. Latos had ~90 pitches and was cruising after 6 innings. Did anybody think Callaspo was a homerun threat? I sure didn’t. In hindsight Latos was in one batter too long, but at the time keeping him in to get Callaspo with a 4-1 lead look liked a smart move.

      • Why do you say that?The first part at least.Latos had ~90 pitches and was cruising after 6 innings.Did anybody think Callaspo was a homerun threat?I sure didn’t.In hindsight Latos was in one batter too long, but at the time keeping him in to get Callaspo with a 4-1 lead look liked a smart move.

        It was very cold, it was just the second game of the season oh and we have a very good bullpen

      • @CP: @redsfanman: B/C Latos already had over 90 pitches in his first start of the year, in cold weather) and the seventh was being led off by Hamilton. Plus Latos’ spot came up in the bottom of the 6th. With a 4-1 lead that’s the perfect spot for Marshall. PH for Latos with someone on base in the 6th and go Marshall, Broxton, Chapman in the 7,8,and 9th. That’s why we paid for this bullpen, right?

        At the very least, he should have been giving a shorter leashe. As soon as he started laboring in the 7th, they shouldn’t have hesitated to go to the pen.

  5. The Angels not the Angles. Unless that’s an inside joke I’m not privy too.

  6. Can anyone explain what is wrong with Pujols? He went from being, in my eyes, the best baseball player in the league to now what we see today? I know he is getting old but I am not sure that can explain it all. Something about his move from STL to LA?

    • @Boneill1621: new league, basic aging curve stuff, he played hurt a lot last season, and had knee surgery to fix a torn meniscus last offseason and it is still recovering from it.

      2012 was a down year for sure, but was still above average. He’ll produce as long as he stays relatively healthy. The great thing about Albert is he’s super durable.

    • @Boneill1621: In this series he’s been facing Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and guys like Hoover, Broxton, and Chapman. We’re used to seeing him face guys like Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez. I think that’s part of it – he’s facing tougher pitching than the Reds have provided in the past. Although that’s only an explanation for him not seeming… fearsome… in these two games.

  7. Tuned in to my car radio just in time to hear the bottom of the 9th. Marty and Brantley were (naturally) expecting Scioscia to walk Votto. When I heard they were pitching to Votto, I smiled. In that kind of situation, I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of that. Nice to get that first win.

  8. The big three of Trout/Pujols/Hamilton has a combined 2 hits (both Trout’s) and 4 walks in 30 plate appearances so far, and they have a combined 9 Ks. Minuscule sample size sure, but it feels good that Trout isn’t single-handedly winning games like his counterpart Mr. Harper already this season, and the Pujols contract looks worse and worse by the day.

    Cueto and Latos will really carry us far this season, let’s hope the other three live up to last year’s performance. It’s asking a lot.

    • @Abel: A good thing about facing the Angels this early is that their big bats haven’t warmed up yet.

      I agree with you about the Pujols contract. He was showing signs of aging the season before he signed it.

  9. Given Dusty’s propensity to have the number 2 hitter bunt, it’s good that Heisey is such a good bunter. He sometimes beats them out.

    The down side of his bunting a lot will be a lot of intentional walks for Joey.

  10. I can’t remember seeing two such baffling managerial decisions back to back like that. Baker takes the bat out of Votto’s hands (again – that gets old fast) and Scioscia gives it right back to him. Amazing. Glad the Reds won, but it seems like this lineup is made to replicate exactly these circumstances. Choo gets on, Dusty bunts in the 2 hole, Votto walks, and the critical moment is left to the hitter with a .750 OPS instead of 1.000 or even higher. Votto could walk 162 times this year with an OBP over .500. I’m alternately convinced that would be wonderful and awful.

    • One difference between the two games which might explain why the Angels pitched to Votto tonight was the set up of the Angels bullpen. On Monday, they had a RHP in the game and walked Votto. They used the RHP to strike out Heisey. Then brought in their tough lefty to face Bruce.

      Tonight, they had already used one of their two LHP (Burnett) and had their second one (Downs) on the mound when Votto came to the plate. If they walk Votto, they’d have to bring in a RHP to face Phillips and then would be stuck with a righty against Bruce. If they pitch to Votto and get him out, they can walk Phillips and then still have Downs in the game to face Bruce.

      Not saying I agree with their decision, but there is some rational basis for one decision on Monday and a different one on Wednesday.

      • @Steve Mancuso: Excellent points. Thanks for the insight.

        It’s hard to believe that facing Votto with a lefty is a much better bet than facing Phillips with the same lefty (and a DP in order), but I haven’t looked–maybe he has impossibly bad splits vs RH batters or something.

        • @Eric the Red: Yeah, it’s a close call. Votto’s career OPS vs. lefties is better than Phillips vs. lefties. I think two little factors contributed to Sioscia’s decision – that Phillips had been hitting well earlier in the game, and wanting to stretch his last LH relief pitcher through to face Bruce.

  11. I hope this is the last time this year that I have to dress like I’m going to a football game to go to a Reds game.

    It’s pointing out the obvious to say that this was a nice win for the Reds against a tough team. The hitting still has a long way to go, but both teams seem pretty spotty at the plate right now. The cold weather may have something to do with that.

    Two Reds who have sort of disappeared so far are Sean Marshall and Devin Mesoraco.

    It’s obvious that Baker is quickly putting the relievers in their roles. I’d have used Broxton in the seventh to get Hoover out of the jam. Hoover threw 50 pitches two days ago. I’d have used Marshall in the 8th at least against the left-handed Hamilton, maybe more. Sean Marshall had the twelfth highest WAR among all relievers (including all closers) in baseball last year. He’s a superstar. And Baker is using him as an afterthought so far.

    Devin Mesoraco was one of the hottest hitters for the Reds this spring. He’d shown great skills behind the plate as well. He’d worked hard in the offseason and it showed. He hasn’t played at all in either of the first two games and probably won’t tomorrow with Arroyo pitching. I was really hoping that Baker would move to a more flexible system of alternating the catchers this year to give Mesoraco more steady playing time, at least at first. Now, he likely won’t have had an at bat for about a week.

    Sure would be great to win the series tomorrow (and for it to be at least 50 degrees by game time).

    • @Steve Mancuso: Get used to it. I expect Marshall to have a much-reduced role this year. The Reds have good starters, and Marshall simply won’t pitch in the 8th or 9th innings.

  12. Feel free to express your disagreement. I’m not sure to what degree I go along with this but here is Dusty’s take on the bottom of the 9th as spoken in his FoxSports post game interview….

    He decided to bunt Heisey because with the Angels having a lefty on the mound, he figured their strategy would be to go after Votto, walk Phillips then go after Bruce to get out of the inning.

    • @OhioJim: Dubious. It’s nitpicky, but I guess it should be mentioned that the Angels’ strategy actually worked. Pujols is going to successfully field Votto’s grounder >95% of the time. I guess Dusty can take some credit for something he didn’t deserve. It’s only fair since he’s frequently held responsible by fans for stuff outside his control, often unfairly.

      Going after Votto instead of Phillips is just bonkers. Maybe Dusty just read Scoscia’s soul…

      • @CP: Going after lefties like Choo, Votto, and Bruce is the job of a pitcher like Scott Downs.

      • @CP: Don’t know about that fielding % number at all… Votto smoked that ball. That’s why it was a hit, not an error.

        • @ToddAlmighty: I agree. Other than Pujols pooching the ball in foul territory Monday, he’s played his position well. (I don’t know if the bat on the ground had anything to do with that play. No idea.) ToddAlmighty is right. That ball was smoked. Just getting a glove on it was pretty good.

        • @ToddAlmighty: Meh, have a feeling the biggest factor in that being a hit and not an error is that the game was at GABP, but I could be wrong. A healthy Pujols makes the play.

          95% is probably high though, still greater than 50%. I’m sure Albert feels he should have made the play. The point being that Angels should have made the play.

  13. Interesting… there have been 16 IBB thus far in MLB with no player having more than 1. The Reds have 4 of the 16.

  14. I mentioned this on the game thread, but did anybody hear about what a friend told me, that Dusty was reading Heisey the riot act for stealing second base and opening up first base for Phillips to be walked? He had the Angels TV feed on, and they were talking about it. …

    • @Brian Van Hook: Would love a link if you can find an article or something referencing that. Because I agree, getting into scoring position is one of the worst things a baserunner can do. Hah

    • @Brian Van Hook: Here you go, via Rosecrans:

      To add insult to injury, Heisey heard an earful from Reds manager Dusty Baker upon his return to the dugout following the inning. Heisey thought he’d been given the steal sign with two outs, but wasn’t. Although Heisey’s steal attempt was successful, it allowed the Angels to intentionally walk Brandon Phillips. Jay Bruce then popped out to end the inning and the Reds’ threat.

      Maybe Baker was only mad that Heisey missed the sign, though the above seems to imply (but we can’t be sure) that Baker is explaining that the play allowed the IBB. I wonder if Rosecrans is just writing that, or if he’s paraphrasing Baker.

  15. Dusty had a stroke of genius tonight bunting Heisey knowing the Lefty was on the mound. Perfect example why you split up the lefties. Latos looked really good tonight and his final line doesn’t do his performance tonight justice. Also getting Hoover back out there after he got roughed up last time was another move he deserves credit for(especially from this lot since most on here seem to like Hoover quite a bit). Chappy getting the W is icing on the cake.

  16. For anyone who isn’t as crazy as I am and isn’t watching this Arizona- St Louis game right now, they are Woooing in Arizona right now. 16th inning, tied at 9.

    And just as I type this Arizona wins! Great night of baseball

  17. It’s only two games everybody. Dusty is Dusty. Nothing is ever going to change. Hoover after Latos? Really! It worked but barely. Chapman facing 7-8-9 was a head-scratcher. I wish to Gawd Dusty wouldn’t bunt every time a leadoff hitter gets on late in the game. Get the bunt down, up comes Votto and 9 times out of 10, he’s I.W. I could not believe Angels pitched to him. Sometimes I think we win in spite of Dusty. Many of last nights moves were exactly why I didn’t want him back. He makes weird decisions. Oh well. Onward.

  18. Great win for the Reds!

    Is it just me or do we have some really bad injury JUJU going on!
    Late in spring training Latos takes a line drive off the ankle, Arroyo takes a line drive off his pitching hand, first game of the season Cueto looked like he tweaked his right ankle taking a throw at first, not to mention the injury to Ludwick! and last night Latos almost hurt his plant foot as he threw a pitch and he just about went down.
    Am I just being paranoid because we went so long without a serious injury problem or is there something to this?

    Do we need to exercise the demons????

    • @Mike Martz:
      Hey, Mike – not one to be “nitpicky” about spelling, but demons need to be exorcised, not exercised. Exercise only makes ’em stonger.
      Thought I’d speak up in case Preach isn’t around today. 🙂

      • @Mike Martz:Hey, Mike – not one to be “nitpicky” about spelling, but demons need to be exorcised, not exercised. Exercise only makes ‘em stonger.Thought I’d speak up in case Preach isn’t around today.

        Thanks for that. I’ve wrestled with a few, and I don’t need them any stronger…..

  19. Is it me or is there a possibility that Dusty is trying to wear out Hoover because he secretly misses Arredondo? If any other reliever would have thrown 45 pitches, he would have been “unavailable”. Just something for the Dusty conspiracy theorists to ponder…

    • @RedTitan19: I’ll bet Hoover would have been unavailable to pitch in back-to-back games, but he had a day off inbetween. Dusty only asked him to get 1 out on Wednesday.

      The guy who took Arredondo’s role – Manny Parra – hasn’t even been asked to pitch yet. Dusty has shown a lot of confidence in Hoover in close games and none in Parra and I think Hoover supporters should be happy.

  20. It is strange that we haven’t seen Marshall at all.

    In other news: Joey MVP. Thank you.

    • @Matt WI: I love how Joey is hitting .147 so far, yet still has a .455 OBP. Just think what that will look like when he starts hitting .333.

    • @Matt WI: Nothing strange about it. There have been a lot of critical, high-leverage situations in two games. Wouldn’t want one of the better relief pitchers in baseball in the game in such a situation.

  21. “We were trying to get that one last out out of Latos, and he hit it out of the ballpark,” Baker said. “He made a mistake and got the ball up. He was trying to sink it down.”

    This is what irks me the most. Dusty is constantly and consistantly trying to steal or squeeze that one last out or one last inning from his pitchers instaed of doing what gives him the best chance to through that inning now.

  22. Well,whaddaya know, Dusty’s lineup and strategies actually worked.

    Could it be, maybe, just maybe, he’s smarter than most give him credit for?

    • @CI3J: At least he proved that he understands Mike Sciosia better than the rest of us. I don’t understand Sciosia well enough to spell his name without looking it up.

    • @CI3J: Credit: Heisey in the 2-hole instead of Cozart. Blame: Trying to kill Hoover. Not pinch running for Hanigan. Leaving Mes to rot on the bench for three days (assuming Hanigan catches Bronson today). Consistently trying to set up situations to take the bat out of Votto’s hands. (Credit, perhaps, for knowing Scioscia well enough that he’d actually pitch to Votto.)

      IMHO, of course.

  23. John Fay is reporting that Sean Marshall has been out with shoulder fatigue but that he should be ready by Friday.

    It seemed suspicious that Dusty hadn’t used him in the first two games but now it seems like we have a good reason why – he’s unavailable and the Reds didn’t tell anyone. Maybe Dusty has a better idea of what he’s doing than some people give him credit for. 🙂

  24. Sean Marshall has been unavailable the past two games because of minor left shoulder fatigue.
    Marshall is optimistic that he’ll be ready to rock by Friday. The lefty boasts a 2.47 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 10.3 K/9 in 231 appearances since the start of the 2010 season. He is serving as Aroldis Chapman’s setup man this year. Apr 4 – 9:58 AM

    • @RedForever:

      Sean Marshall has been unavailable the past two games because of minor left shoulder fatigue.
      Marshall is optimistic that he’ll be ready to rock by Friday. The lefty boasts a 2.47 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 10.3 K/9 in 231 appearances since the start of the 2010 season. He is serving as Aroldis Chapman’s setup man this year. Apr 4 – 9:58 AM

      From Fay.

  25. Star of the Game goes to Scioscia! After he walked Votto on monday in the eighth, I though he would here too.

    You could say that it was him wanting to do L/L matchup but with Votto, it doesn’t matter a whole lot. Even if he didn’t want Downs to face Phillips, bring in a righty, and if he didn’t have one warmed up, well thats his problem too.

  26. First time commenter–I’ve enjoyed the site for years–largely civil and smart. Here’s a question from an old and metrics unsavvy fan: I, too, reflexively winced when Heisey bunted, but why? Aren’t Heisey’s chances of being unproductively out or hitting into a double play pretty good? He’s an excellent bunter, so it seems reasonable to assume that there’s a good chance he’ll advance Choo to 2nd. It’s the bottom of the 9th, so only one run matters. If they’re afraid of Joey they’re going to walk him almost regardless of the situation at that point, and Dusty’s strategy gives the Reds the best chance of having a runner in scoring position for Phillips, Bruce or whomever the Angels decide to pitch to (Votto, as it turned out). Wouldn’t always work (nothing does), but neither would having Heisey swing away. I’m much more concerned about diminished defense (not based only on 2 games) than I am about Dusty”s perceived strategic flaws. Wish they’d hit, too. I know it’s early days.

    • @greenmtred: There are select situations when the bunt makes sense. Last night is, conceivably one of them. However, if Heisey makes an unproductive out, Votto will normally be pitched to avoid having a man on 2nd for the next batter. Further, if Heisey gets a hit, then it gets really interesting.

  27. Here’s an interesting question – does Sean Marshall being unavailable explain why Manny Parra made the team? Or are the two issues unrelated. It sounds like when they made the final roster cuts they knew Marshall wouldn’t be available against the Angels, and they might have wanted a healthy lefty other than Chapman.


  29. And I’m not the best lip reader around but what I could tell Matt Latos has a potty mouth.

  30. First time commenter, but have been following this site for a couple years now. I just don’t understand why Dusty found it necessary to bring in Hoover in the 7th there after he threw almost 50 pitches on opening day. He has 3 guys in that pen you hasn’t thrown a pitch yet and one of which is a guy who they signed to pitch the 7th and is one of the better relievers in baseball IMO (Marshall). To me that move blew my mind, there is no quicker way to wear out someones arm and the bullpen that to over use a few guys this early in the year. And a side note…I was at the game yesterday and there were at least 2 balls hit that would have been out of that ballpark on any other warmer night (phillips 1st or 2nd at bat and Hanigan). Maybe that is why they didn’t want to pitch to Phillips, because he was just shy of knocking two out of the park.

    • @tsj_31: TSJ, welcome. It was noted above that Marshall was unavailable because of a “tired shoulder,” which we hope is the variation of “tired arm” that is not uncommon this time of year. Managers for strategic reasons do not need to announce to the other team that their best lefty is not available. Second, I think Dusty just wanted to reinforce to Hoover that he still has confidence in him, by getting him back out there as soon as he could after the Opener–kind of like throwing right back to a wide receiver who had dropped a pass. But other than that, you are right, there is a risk of overuse.

      • @Big Ed: Thanks! And yes I read that Marshall had the tired shoulder after I made the post, so that was based on the knowledge that he was healthy I didn’t realize there was a reason they weren’t using him. I do understand the confidence factor, I just thought that may be better used in today’s game to give him that extra day. To Dusty’s defense Hoover did pitch well and I believe he can be a very productive bullpen arm for us and one of the better trades the Reds have made in recent history giving up very little for him.

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