|Cincinnati Reds (51-48)||2||5||2|
|Milwaukee Brewers (55-45)||5||8||0|
|W: Peralta (11-6) L: Latos (2-2)|
|FanGraphs Win Probability | The Worldwide Leader’s Box Score | Game Photos|
As the Reds were coming apart early in the game tonight, Jeff Brantley and Jim Kelch were talking in the radio booth about how the team sorely missed Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Brantley pointed out that meant the Reds were running two subs out there every night. “Adrenaline only gets you so far,” said the Cowboy.
“Talent shows up.”
Good grief, yes. The team that Walt Jocketty and Byran Price put on the field tonight included a minor league player, a rookie, a journeymen infielder and a career fourth outfielder. And that doesn’t include Skip Schumaker.
It needs to be said that the Reds substitute players have had more than their share of strong moments this year, leading to several improbable comebacks and other wins before the All-Star break. But the past four games have demonstrated just how much fool’s gold that was.
In the end, it really matters who is making the plays. For example, the Reds have completed many outstanding relay throws from the outfield this year, usually involving a combination of Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco. Tonight’s tragedy of errors started with a relay series that was every bit as horrible at each stage as the successful ones have been brilliant. Start with a weak throw from Billy Hamilton that bounced well short of the front relay man. Then add a weak throw from Ramon Santiago that bounced two thirds of the way between second and third. Combine the bad luck that the ball hit Segura on the foot with the even worse luck that the ball caromed away from Mat Latos and rolled in the dugout. The Brewers had their first run.
Unfortunately, the Reds shabby play was just getting started.
Chris Heisey misplayed Ryan Braun’s line drive into a double. Then Heisey misplayed Carlos Gomez’ fly ball into a double. The Brewers’ 245-lb pitcher tagged up at second base on a routine fly ball to left center field. (It’s obvious the Reds’ opponents don’t have much respect for Billy Hamilton’s arm.) Donald Lutz misplayed Scooter Gennett’s ground ball into another run. And the Brewers seemingly stole every base they wanted.
The Reds didn’t do much positive at the plate. They swung at pitches in the dirt, at fastballs that bounced in front of home plate, at breaking balls in the opposite batter’s box. Some of these were on full counts and would have produced walks if the Reds hitters had even a modicum of plate discipline. For the most part, they don’t work enough to just get on base. The home runs in the last four games have all been solo shots.
To be sure, Wily Peralta is a handful even with a healthy lineup. Tonight’s game looked like Germany vs. Brazil when he was on the mound.
The Reds had a few bright moments. Billy Hamilton (400 feet!) and Kris Negron hit impressive, bolt out of the blue, home runs. Hamilton and Zack Cozart made back-to-back sparkling defensive plays in the eighth inning.
Given the circumstances, Mat Latos actually pitched well tonight, despite giving up four earned runs. He didn’t walk anyone. Several of the hits he gave up should have been outs. Latos’ biggest challenge was keeping cool while the Bad News Bears were performing.
Votto and Phillips won’t be back until the end of August at best. The good news is the Reds aren’t going to play like this every night between now and then. Mesoraco will hit, Frazier will hit, Bruce will hit. The back-up singers will have their moments. But be assured, there will be more games like this one, too. There’s just too much of an aptitude gap for there not to be.
Until the talent shows up, one way or another.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.