Titanic Struggle Recap

Happy birthday, Joey Votto!

Final R H E
Cincinnati Reds (59-82) 8 15 1
Pittsburgh Pirates (69-71) 7 10 0
W: Josh Smith (3-1)  L: Trevor Williams (1-1)  SV: Tony Cingrani (17)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

In a high-scoring affair, the Reds were able to deal another blow to the Pirates’ wild card chances by taking an 8-7 win. The victory marked the second straight for the Redlegs, while the Pirates took their ninth loss in their last 11 games to drop to 5 1/2 games back for the second wild card spot in the National League.

The Hitters

The Reds certainly brought their bats, picking up 12 hits through the first five innings and 15 in total. They got on the board in the top of the fourth, rallying for four runs to tie the game. A potentially bigger inning was cut short, however, when Zack Cozart was thrown out at first after taking too wide of a turn after his RBI single. That came with Joey Votto standing in the on-deck circle.

The good guys took the lead in the fifth with three straight hits and a bases-loaded walk by Scott Schebler. Tucker Barnhart later made it a 7-4 game with a two-run double down the right-field line.

In a one-run game in the ninth inning, Votto came through with a solo home run, his 23rd of the year, to make it an 8-6 ballgame. That long ball would prove to be huge, as the Pirates would score a run in the bottom of the inning.

As the run and hit totals may indicate, there were a number of standout performances on an individual basis.

Joey Votto did Joey Votto things on his 33rd birthday, going 4-for-5 with a homer, a double, and two singles.

Brandon Phillips had three singles (one when he tried to give up an out via a sacrifice bunt — things are really not going well for the Pirates right now), was hit by a pitch, and scored two runs. Schebler reached base three times (one single, one HBP, one walk) and scored twice. Barnhart was 2-for-4 with three RBI.

Pinch hitter extraordinaire Hernan Iribarren had a single in the fourth. He’s now 5-for-6 coming off the bench.

The Hurlers

This was the first really rough start in the major leagues for Robert Stephenson. He lasted just three innings, allowing four runs on five hits, striking out a pair and walking another pair.

The first inning was a long one for the heralded prospect. Poor defense costed him the first run of the game. He made a nice pitch to jam Josh Harrison and force a weak pop-up, but lack of communication between left fielder Adam Duvall and shortstop Cozart allowed the ball to fall. As TV broadcaster Jeff Brantley said, the outfielder needs to take control on that play. Naturally, next batter Josh Bell roped a pitch to the wall in left-center field to put the Pirates on top.

Stephenson’s well-documented control issues then went on full display. He walked Andrew McCutchen, gave up an RBI single to Jung-Ho Kang two batters later, and walked John Jaso on four straight pitches after being ahead 0-2 to load the bases. Fortunately, he was able to escape further damage by getting Francisco Cervelli to ground into a double play.

Stephenson threw a 1-2-3 second inning, but ran into trouble again in the third when he allowed a two-run homer to Kang.

Josh Smith was not good in relief, as he also struggled with control. In 2 1/3 innings, he gave up two runs on two hits, two walks, and a hit batter. He, of course, got the win.

Blake Wood cleaned up Smith’s mess in the sixth by getting the final two outs without allowing a run (though he did walk a batter). He hit a batter in the seventh, but induced a double play to get out of the inning.

The Reds turned to Michael Lorenzen in the eighth. Pitching for the second straight night, he looked solid, allowing only a two-out single.

As he often does, Tony Cingrani made things interesting in the ninth by allowing a leadoff walk and two singles to make it an 8-7 game, but was able to come away with his 17th save of the season.

Not-So-Random Thoughts

It’s hard to believe Votto is already 33, but his play on the field sure hasn’t slowed down. There aren’t many 33-year-olds who can hit .318/.436/.530.

Jose Peraza has cooled off a bit in recent days. Before an eighth-inning double, he had been hitless in his previous 13 plate appearances. It’d be nice to see him be more selective at the plate. His walk rate is an abysmal 2.9 percent and, coming into Saturday’s game, he’s swinging at 53.3 percent of the pitches he’s seen — the league average is 46.5 percent.

Schebler got hit by a Drew Hutchison pitch that bounced in the grass. That was weird. And also one of the worst pitches I’ve ever seen in a baseball game.

Speaking of Schebler: since breaking his 0-for-28 slump with a homer on Aug. 15, he’s hitting .326/.396/.523. That’s decent.

Minor-League Playoff Update

The Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos were eliminated from the playoffs by the Mississippi Braves, dropping the final game 4-2 to lose the series in four games.

In Rookie League playoff action, the Billings Mustangs defeated the Great Falls Voyagers 5-1 to win the Pioneer League North and advance to the championship series.

Up Next

The Reds will try to win the four-game series against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon in PNC Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET, with southpaw Brandon Finnegan (4.17 ERA, 4.85 xFIP) facing off against veteran right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (4.07 ERA, 4.78 xFIP).

11 thoughts on “Happy birthday, Joey Votto!

    • Yep, the decks appear to be more than just slightly awash in Pirates world.

      Head to head, the Reds are playing as well right now as anyone in their division (had to get that in before they see the Cubs again on Sept 9)

  1. Peraza’s walk rate will probably always be lower than we’d like, but I think a full off-season of thinking about things, plus a spring training where he (maybe) doesn’t have to worry about where he ends up will let him focus on his process, perhaps, rather than just performing and making the team.

    That’s what I’m hoping… even a 5% walk rate with good contact and an elevated BABIP (if he’s one of those guys) can provide nearly league-average offense, even without much power.

  2. Votto was impressive in that Joey Votto way. After a couple of slow games where I was starting to wonder if perhaps he was wearing down, suddenly he’s 7 for his last 9 with a double and a home run. Don’t doubt the Votto. I remember again the Cubs announcers discussing where his average might be at the end of the year and deciding that if he got hot that .270 seemed about right. Or maybe not. Nice games for Barnhart, Wood and Lorenzen. Michael Lorenzen is becoming my favorite Reds pitcher. Good win, fun game, Go Reds!

  3. Good to see a punk team like the Pirates go down. I get sick of hearing Tekulve whine about other teams hitting their players, when they’re notorious for throwing at guys. Peraza will certainly increase his bb% as time goes by. It’s hard for him to lay off strikes right now when he feels like he can scald every pitch. That trade is starting to look pretty good now.

  4. ALERT – ALERT – ALERT: VOTTO UPDATE AHEAD…

    Happy Birthday Joey Votto Indeed! It was nice to see Joey Votto celebrating his 33rd birthday in typical Joey Votto fashion, going 4-5 w/ 1-2B & 1-HR.

    Over the past 2 games, Votto went 7-9 w/ 1-2B & 1-HR. During those 2 games, the top-of-the-order hitters in front of Votto went 2-16 w/ 1-BB & 1-SF. Votto continues to maintain his superior 2nd half performance at the plate of .427/.518/.669/1.187 while the league leaders have maintained a less than superior, albeit good level of performance. Votto has settled into a consistent performance of a .900 +- performance for several games then throws in a couple of games like the last 2 games. During September, Kris Bryant has regressed with a .559 OPS, allowing Daniel Murphy to slide back into the NL lead in OPS.

    During the past 80 games, Votto has increased:

    .201 OPS from .765 to .966 & 3rd in the NL
    .109 SLG from .421 to .530 & 10th in the NL
    .091 OBP from .345 to .436 & 1st in the NL
    .097 AVG from .221 to .318 & 4h in the NL

    There are 21 games remaining in the season.

    Votto’s full-season results of .318/.436/.530/.966 leave him:

    .020 OPS behind NL leader Murphy @ .986
    .002 OPS behind NL 2nd place Bryant @ .968

    .065 SLG behind NL leader Murphy @ .595
    .043 SLG behind NL 2nd place Bryant @ .573

    .022 OBP ahead NL 2nd place Goldschmidt @ .414
    .022 OBP ahead NL 3rd place LeMahieu @ .414

    .027 AVG behind NL leader Murphy @ .345
    .024 AVG behind NL 2nd place LeMahieu @ .342
    .001 AVG behind NL 3rd place Seager @ .319

    Votto is on the verge of moving into 2nd place in the NL OPS and 3rd place in the NL AVG. The Bucos pitchers over that past 2 games have decidedly not pitched around Votto (thank-you Clint Hurdle) and Votto has answered. It’s a shame there hasn’t been base runners on base so Votto could satisfy those steak lovers…

    And this from a 33-year-old Joey Votto!

    • Votto getting above .320 avg. for the season would be very impressive and something no one would have predicted when he was hitting .201 in June. As Marty Brennaman stated a few weeks ago there is nobody on this Reds roster who is a Hall of Fame player. Marty must be amazed at how well Votto has been doing over the last 3 months. I don’t think Marty will change his mind as he is known as the “hall of famer” at his request to his followers but is really a Ford Frick media award winner.

  5. During the 1st half og the 2016 season, Eugenio Suarez put up a .697 OPS in 342 PA with a .271 BAbip. During the 2nd half of the 2016 season, Eugenio Suarez has put up a ..826 OPS in 202 PA, fueled by a .377 BAbip. Coincidently, During the 1st half, Suarez had a .935 fld% at 3B and during the 2nd half Suarez has a .955 fld%. Fld% is certainly an imperfect measure of defensive prowess, but the improvement from .935 to .955 is significant and moves Suarez from among the defensive dregs at 3B to among the average defensive 3B.

    The improvement both defensively and offensively could (certainly optimistically) indicate how much Suarez struggled with his adjustment at 3B and how much more comfortable he is now while playing 3B. That bodes well going into the 2017 season for the Reds and the 25-year-old Suarez.

    • Him and Schlebler are putting up solid numbers over the past month. Just a shame Duvall and Cozart has tanked. Most troubling is that Cozart was putting near Allstar numbers the first half and now will little value

      • I don’t know if Duvall has tanked. He’s been about a league average hitter the 2nd half, posting a .224/.308/.420 slash-line. His September has been horrible though.

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