Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

Cincinnati 6
Pittsburgh 0

W: J. Cueto (3-0)
L: W. Rodriguez (6-3)

–Simply outstanding performance by Johnny Cueto, and it’s good to see Johnny back to form after his stint on the DL. Cueto pitched eight shutout innings, permitting only one hit and one base on balls, while striking out six. That’s the Johnny Cueto I remembered.

–Jay Bruce got the Reds on the board in the fourth inning with a solo homer; on the night, he reached base three times (2-4, walk, two runs scored, RBI. Brandon Phillips also went 2-4 with a homer, a stolen base, three runs scored, and an RBI.

–Derrick Robinson only went 1-4, but he had an outstanding AB in the ninth inning with bases loaded and two outs, in which he fouled off five straight pitches with a 3-2 count before drawing a walk and getting an RBI.

–Ryan Hanigan singled and walked twice.

–Sam LeCure pitched a perfect ninth to preserve the one-hitter.


–Good night for the mighty Redlegs all the way around. After a rough couple of days in Cleveland, the Reds began a series with a division rival by putting together a very strong all-around performance. Me likey.

–If you aren’t a big fan of Sudden Sam LeCure, I don’t understand you. Seems like a great guy, and he’s a very effective pitcher.

–Cueto was thisclose to a no-hitter. In the bottom of the fifth, Cueto delivered a two-strike pitch to Brandon Inge that he thought should have been called strike three. The home plate umpire called it a ball (probably the correct call; it appeared to be low), and on the next pitch, Inge hit a little blooper to left field for the only Pittsburgh hit.

Cueto had 103 pitches after eight innings, and he likely would have returned to the mound if he had had a no-hitter going. As it was, the Reds batted for a long time in the top of the ninth, so Dusty Baker made the very reasonable decision to hand the ball to Sam LeCure to finish the game.

Source: FanGraphs

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

Join the conversation! 62 Comments

  1. Saying Lecure is a “very effective pitcher” is putting it lightly. The guy has been a stone wall in 2013.

  2. Biggest part of the game that didn’t get recapped: They actually talked about high leverage situations. He called it “high stress” situations, but either way, it was clear he was praising LeCure because his numbers were so great compared to other guys normally. Add onto that where LeCure pitches among the most high leverage situations around, and it’s extra impressive.

    Roundabout way of saying a 3 run lead save isn’t as impressive as a 1 run lead with 2 guys on 8th. Finally acknowledged.

  3. In the 8th inning, Cueto had one of the most impressive series I’ve ever seen him pitch. Forget who the batter was, but he started him out with a 70 mph curveball that Arroyo would have been jealous of for a called strike, then blew a 94 mph fastball by for a swinging strike, and finished up the K with an 84 mph slider. Thom was too busy blabbering about his kids’ dance recital or something, but the cameras cut to Joey after the 70 mph curveball and he had a look of disbelief on his face. I’ve never seen Johnny throw a series of pitches like that and if that’s something he knows how to do all of a sudden, watch out…

  4. If you were the manager of the Reds, and you had to bring in a relief pitcher to save the most important game of the year with a one run lead, would you bring in Aroldis Chapman or Sam LeCure?

    • @Steve Mancuso: Wait…am I ME as the manager of the Reds or am I Dusty Baker the manager of the Reds?

    • @Steve Mancuso: There are situations where I would use Lecure. For example, if the bottom of the order is coming up, and I have a three run lead. I feel it’s lower variance to bring in Lecure. You don’t need Chapman’s brilliance; you just need to throw strikes.

      But in most situations, I still bring in Chapman. And I’m as big of a Lecure fan as there is.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I agree with this. We have the debate here from time to time and I am on the side that in the end having a guy who can throw the ball by folks as a closer, as long as he has command in the strike zone, is in the end over time better than having a guy who is dependent on how is breaking ball is working on a given night or the specific ump’s strike zone.

    • @Steve Mancuso: Close call, but probably Chapman. A MUCH easier call: LeCure over Broxton in the 8th in that situation.

  5. Wait, the Reds couldn’t hit Kazmir yesterday. How can they possibly score any runs off of the Pirates’ pitchers?

  6. Why did Sam Lecure pitch today? Can someone explain that to me? The Reds have now used their #2, #3, and #4th best relievers in some capacity, back to back days, with a 6 or 7 run deficit and a 6 run lead. Why couldn’t Manny Parra have pitched more yesterday? Why doesn’t Ondrusek handle the 9th of a 6-0 game?

  7. OK folks- the team is killing it and way ahead of schedule thank god due to the work the Cardinals and Pirates. What a month for the Central. NOw it is time to kill our neighbors-ie Pirates and Cardinals. I remember a post about excellent teams playing in tough divisions and the impact on the post season. Reds are poised for a good run in the playoffs. I know its June, but look at the numbers. Nobody will pitch to Votto so who else will make a difference in post season?

  8. The Pirates televised replay showed that, according to the K zone, Cueto’s 1-2 pitch to Inge was just above the bottom of the box for a strike. The Pirate tv broadcasters said it was a strike. The ESPN guys also showed the pitch with the K zone box and said: “Looks like a strike.”

    PitchFX would have a snapshot of the pitch. I’m too lazy to go look.

  9. I was fine with LeCure coming in for a tuneup. Hopefully he’ll be used in a high leverage situation later in the series.

    Simon or Hoover would have been OK in the 9th. But I don’t want to see Ondrusek come in with “only” a 6 run lead. He could quickly give up 3 runs and then Chapman gets brought in. Bring him in when the Reds are down by 5-6 or more runs.

  10. I really like Derek Robinson’s approach. He knows he’s not a power hitter, so he doesn’t swing from his heels. A short quick swing, doesn’t often chase, a good contact hitter.

    Singles hitters who strike out a lot – What’s up with that ?

  11. Going into last nite, Bruce was 2-for-33 with 16 strikeouts lifetime against Wandy Rodriguez. For a while Dusty was benching him against Wandy. But here at Redleg Nation, we said: “The only way Jay is going to learn how to hit him is by facing him.”

  12. Sam Lecure’s ERA+ is 324. Whoa.

    • @athensRed: This site is my advanced metrics seminar. Could somebody please explain era+? Thank you.

      • @greenmtred: ERA adjusted for park, league, and when you played. Normalized to 100.

        So, Greg Maddux’s brilliant season in 1994, 1.56 ERA, gets an ERA+ of 271 meaning 171% better than league average (again, normalized for park and league). Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in 1968 gets only a 258 ERA+. So the interpretation there is that Maddux was further removed from average than Gibson. 1994 was a hitters’ year, so a 1.56 ERA with home park Atlanta in the NL was better than a 1.12 ERA in 1968 with home park STL in the NL.

  13. I spend a good deal of time on here complaining about the inexplicable decisions of our field manager……and goodness knows that he gives us plenty to complain about on a near nightly basis. However, let me take this opportunity to level some praise in Dusty’s direction. I would have given Bruce the night off out of fear that facing Wandy would lead to a month-long slump. Dusty had him in the line up and he was outstanding.

    • @Kyle Farmer: Dusty is doing a lot of things I wouldn’t have expected this year. I have to say he is better than previous years, but he is still a bad game manager.

      • @TC: I wonder if some of the changes in Dusty have anything to do with the influence of Miguel Cairo being an official coach now.

        I think Cairo just has the look of a manager in waiting, wherever and whenever that call might come.

    • @Kyle Farmer: What were Baker’s options?

      Paul has a career .383 OPS (that’s OPS) vs lefties, admittedly small sample of 73 PAs, but still. Lutz can’t hit at all.

      Those were his options.

      If Heisey were available, I bet he would have started for Bruce.

  14. The Reds have been very fortunately to acquire XP and Robinson. I really like both of them. When Heisey returns, the Reds bench will improve greatly with two out of three of them on the bench at any time.

    I like the idea of Platooning the three. Heisey and XP provide power from both sides of the plate (yes, XP does provide some power). Robinson is a switch hitter so he can back up either. Love the trio.

  15. I think LeCure has become my favorite Red. It took a few years to figure it out once Arthur Rhodes left. But I really, really like LeCure.

    I think I might cry when Arroyo signs somewhere else. Last time that happened was when Griffey was traded. I’ve grown to really love watching him pitch for the better part of a decade. Deep down I think Arroyo is my favorite, but I choose to call LeCure my favorite.

  16. Nice to see the Reds beat a lefty. They have struggled against lefties this year.

    I will be interesting to see how they approach liriano tonight. He has been pretty good so far but he can be wild. Reds will have to show patience and make him throw strikes. He is a fastball pitcher and Reds tend to hit fastball pitchers better than soft-tossing lefties.

    • @RedForever: I sure hope they leave Robinson in the lineup. He’s had some good at bats and adds speed and defense. I hope the fact that he’s gotten two starts in a row doesn’t bring one of the LH bats back in because it’s their “turn”.

      • @Eric the Red: I like Robinson, too, but given that the left fielders might all look worse (at bat, anyway) with constant exposure, the platoon might make sense. Robinson’s speed and defense seem top shelf.

    • @RedForever: Where do you get this stuff from? Honestly, your comments vary from anti-Reds or maybe worst case thinking (which is fine by me, but you ought to admit it) to seemingly making up statistics. Is there some soft-tossing lefty stat somewhere?

  17. ‘Cutch kicked up his leg going into Cozart; looked pretty dirty to me, especially as shown in slo-mo on the Pittsburg feed. Regarding the Cueto strike 3 to Inge, why did the Pirates broadcast manage to show the pitch track, but FSO couldn’t be bothered? The Pirates broadcast also showed multiple angles of Bruce’s foul ball in the 9th, including one that showed it clearly kicked up chalk. FSO didn’t bother with any replay at all. The pitch track thing in particular has long bugged me about FSO–they rarely use it at the right time.

    • @Eric the Red: I would have liked to see those replays too. Add in the Bruce HR. It was touched by someone in the first row reaching in front of them and then dropped back into the field of play yet they never gave us a real in depth look at it.

      I was especially surprised FSO didn’t give us anything on the Bruce grounder in the 9th or whenever it was. However as I recall it was on the ground before it got to the bag so the fair/ foul call is based on what it was as it went past the bag, not where it landed initially after passing the bag. It is certainly counter intuitive based on normal trajectories that a ball could hit fair after passing the bag foul but not impossible. The ground gets really chewed up there in the approach to 1B and it could have hit a divot etc and taken a weird hop past the bag.

      • @OhioJim: I just watched it again. You’re right that the ball hit the ground, pretty much right in front of home. It then bounced over the bag, and kicked up chalk when it hit maybe a foot or two beyond the bag. Definitely fair, and even th Pirates announcers agreed they got a break. Tough call to make at real speed, so I’m not bashing the ump. But I am bashing FSO for a poor–and clearly inferior, in comparison to the Pittsburg feed–production. And as we both noted, it wasn’t just on this one play.

    • @Eric the Red: Yes the Pirate tv broadcast showed the Cueto pitch with K zone – it was a strike, and their broadcasters said so. And they showed the Bruce line drive kick up chalk dust, and said the Pirates got a break.

      I mentioned the Bruce call on the game thread and was surprised no one else did, I guess others were watching FSO.

  18. One of the best pitchers in baseball just one hit the team with the 2nd best record in MLB. The one hit came after a controversial call. On the front page of Sports Illustrated, there are currently baseball stories about Sabathia, Strasburg, the Orioles beating Valverde, and Bartolo Colon throwing a three hitter. Maybe Cueto should have thrown a pitch ten feet above someone’s head to get noticed.

  19. It just hit me this morning how much i love Todd Frazier and how badly i want him to do well and be a Red for 10 years. What a great guy and what a great 3b! Watching him bat sometimes is painful, although i do believe he as a good approach at the plate, his swing is downright ugly at times. I am more than happy to get 250/20/80 from todd but am scared 250 might be upper echelon for him. Just love the way the guy approaches life and baseball and his defense is stellar!

  20. I really wonder how the Reds got themselves in a situation in which they have exactly one outfielder they can call up on the 40 man. That’s Yorman Rodriguez, hitting .220 in A ball.

    I really am starting to wonder what’s happening with Lutz’s confidence. He needs to go down and play at AA. I’m looking at the 40 man to see who can be designated for assignment if they can go and pick up a scrub OF to play while Heisey recuperates, but their non-DL’d guys in the minors on the 40 man are mostly pitchers. They have the one OF, Yorman, HRod, and Soto. Seriously, they have 3 non pitchers.

    • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I fully realize this is not new information for you , but it does relate to the status of the 40 man roster. I wasn’t exactly sure of the requirements for the 40 man roster, so I looked them up for my own edification.

      The Major League (40 man) roster becomes important in the off-season, as players who are not retained on the roster can become free agents and be lost to the team. In addition, a team must return all players on the 60-day disabled list to the Major League roster, or risk losing them (This is what happened to Masset last seaon). But most importantly, a team must decide which of its minor league prospects deserve to be placed on the Major League roster; those who are left off and have been under contract for a certain number of seasons (three years for players signed after age 19, and four for those signed at age 19 or younger) are exposed to the Rule V Draft and can be claimed by any other team which has room left on its Major League roster.

      Yorman Rodriguez is the 5-tool player scouts love, but he has simply never produced at any level and has never played above A+ ball. I’m not sure, but I believe he was signed to a major league contract, requiring his inclusion on the 40 man roster. After this season, some new players must be added to the 40 man roster, requiring some significant decisions and adjustments to the 40 man roster:

      Billy Hamilton
      Bryson Smith
      Tucker Barnhart
      Devin Lohman
      Ryan LaMarre

      That should balance out some of the inconsistencies on the 40 man roster between position players and pitchers, but right now, it has presetnted a problem, although there is one open spot on the 40 man roster, but that will be available to Ludwick when he comes off the 60 day DL.

  21. Time to stir things up.

    Suppose that you have player personnel control. Castellini comes to you and says that Choo will cost 5 years, 85M, evenly spaced, so 17M per year. However, he also tells you that you can’t have Bruce and Choo. He has a bit of extra cash, but he doesn’t have Choo cash. He has enough to sign Choo and trade Bruce for as many prospects as you can get; or to keep Bruce, take the first round pick for Choo, and have 7M extra for 2014 and 5M extra for 2015 and 2016. (Bruce makes 10M next year and 12M the following two years.)

    What’s your choice?

  22. As a former Pitcher, Chris Welch waxes poetic about LeCure and rightfully, so. He’s been a rock. Welch also speaks glowing about Manny Parra. Said his arm and stuff aren’t the problem. It’s what’s between the ears. I think he’s right.

  23. “I’m not afraid to hit with two strikes,” Phillips said on Friday. “It’s one thing I decided to try and do. I wanted to see more pitches. If it’s a pitch I can’t drive, I won’t swing until I get two strikes. I’m trying to be more aggressive in the zone, also. My mission is to drive in runs. I’m just hungry.”

    I’ve said it before, this is Joey Votto’s team and the team is and will be better off for it. That contract the WJ & BC ponied up to Votto could be the best investment any team ever made.

    • @Shchi Cossack: First, Phillips is swinging only slightly less than previous years. Second, if Votto really had an impact on Phillips, why wouldn’t this have happened years ago? Sorry, I’m not buying.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate:

        If Votto really had an impact on Phillips, why wouldn’t this have happened years ago?

        I can only speak for myself (and usually not very well even then) and my observation was simply that of a fan external to the clubhouse. Votto signed his contract in 2012 (last season) and this past off season was the first since he signed his contract. Before then, Votto was simply one of 25 on the roster and I did not see him as a leader on the team, just a great player. I’ve seen a change in Votto and his activity within the team this season. He’s still a great player, but now he is more interactive within the team. I hear other players commenting about Votto significantly more than in previous years and certainly Votto’s philosophy of hitting is extending extensively through the team. I see that as a direct result of Votto’s ability, production and contract extention. That’s just my opinion based on my observations. I’m not trying to sell that opinion, just share.

  24. “The next step will be baserunning and full shagging in the next day or two,” Heisey said on Friday. “If I can do that a couple of days in a row and not have soreness, then maybe they’ll think about sending me on a rehab assignment.”

    Heisey’s return could become worrysome. Once Heisey does return, the Big Lutz will certainly be optioned out (hopefully to the Bats) to work on his plate discpline and pitch recognition. With Ludwick’s return looking delayed at best and possibly iffy, hopefully Heisey’s return doesn’t mean that Dusty will reinsert Heisey back into the regular LF position. Robinson is a better defensive OF than Heisey. That’s not a knock on Heisey. Robinson is just superb defensively, especially in LF. The platoon of XP and Robinson has not just been effective, it has excelled beyond even rosy expectations. Let’s hope Dusty can leave well enough alone in LF and utilize Heisey as a high leverage RH pinch hitter.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Heisey’s highest OPS+ year is not as good as what Paul’s done this year. I like what Robinson’s done so far very much, but it’s limited ABs, and even then, he’s got no pop whatsoever. He’s going to have to have a .400 OBP to be useful. So far he’s done that. I’d keep the current platoon going also, but I bet Dusty at least plays Heisey vs lefties. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Heisey play full time, either, which would without much doubt in my mind make the team worse.

  25. If an arroyo signs elsewhere and there’s a Leake to take his mantle, does it still make a sound?

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.


2013 Reds, Titanic Struggle Recap


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