The Short Version: I wrote the headline to this recap before the game even started. That makes me sad.

Final R H E
Atlanta Braves (13-10) 5 13 0
Cincinnati Reds (5-19) 4 12 1
W: Winkler (1-0) L: Shackelford (0-1) S: Minter (1)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–Nice outing by Brandon Finnegan, allowing just two earned runs on seven hits in five innings. He struck out four, walked one, and threw 77 pitches. I never felt like he was truly in command, but it was certainly a step forward for Finnegan, who came into the game with an ERA over 11. (It’s 8.03 now!)

–Interesting moment in the bottom of the fifth. Down 3-0, Jesse Winker led off with a walk (because that’s what Jesse Winker does). One out later, Joey Votto hit his second home run in as many days. Later, with two outs, Adam Duvall walked and Scott Schebler hammered a ball off the left-center field wall. Third base coach Billy Hatcher inexplicably sent Duvall home, and the throw beat Duvall to home plate by at least ten feet. Inning over.

Except it wasn’t! The Reds asked for a review, and somehow the catcher missed the tag as Duvall slid in. Tie game…and then Tucker Barnhart proceeded to double to give the Reds a 4-3 lead.

–Winker had two hits and a walk; he’s now hitting .311/.442/.361. Votto was 2-4 with a homer, a walk, a run scored, and two RBI.

–Schebler was 2-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Alex Blandino went 2-3 at the plate and made two nice plays at third base.

–Austin Brice pitched two shutout innings of relief, allowing just one hit.

The Bad
–Have you noticed that Scooter Gennett is not a good defensive player? He struck again tonight, very early in the game.

Ender Inciarte led off the game with a single for Atlanta, and he promptly stole second. Ozzie Albies bounced one to Scooter at second, and he threw it away. Amazingly, that was only Gennett’s third error of the season.

–In the bottom half of the first, the Reds collected consecutive singles from Winker, Jose Peraza, and Votto. Bases loaded, no outs!

Then Scooter popped one up to shallow center field, and Duvall hit into a double play. Rinse, repeat.

–In the top of the third, Votto had his own episode of horrible defense. He ranged way too far to his right to field a grounder that was moving directly toward Scooter (maybe he was nervous about letting Gennett field it), then he threw it a mile over Finnegan’s head.

Somehow that was scored a base hit. That may be the dumbest scoring decision ever.

–Kevin Shackelford made his season debut tonight, and it didn’t go well. He gave up three hits and a run in his first inning of work, surrendering Cincinnati’s 4-3 lead in the process.

In the next inning, the ninth, Shackelford hit a batter and surrendered a single before being replaced by Dylan Floro. One out later, a ball was hit at Cliff Pennington who was (a) in the game for some reason, and (b) unable to field the ball. Braves scored and took a 5-4 lead.

–There was almost no one at Great American Ball Park tonight, and from the sound of the crowd, they were almost all Atlanta fans. I fear this won’t get better at any point in 2018. Three straight 90+ loss seasons, a historically terrible start to the season, and plenty of reasons to believe the rebuild has stalled.

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–I really thought the Reds were never going to lose another game. Not sure what to do with my life right now.

–Schebler murdered the baseball nearly every single time he hit. He’s really dialed in right now. I would love to see him remain healthy for the rest of the season. He’ll make everyone forget about Duvall.

–In the ninth inning, with the game tied, 1/3 of the Cincinnati lineup consisted of Cliff Pennington, Phil Gosselin, and Dylan Floro. You know, the Reds were never serious about being more competitive this season. They always planned for this to be another 90-loss season; they just couldn’t say it publicly. Otherwise, they would have acquired actual players for the bullpen and bench in the off-season (or given those spots to kids who have a chance to be on the next good Reds team) instead of sitting on their hands.

–We got a stark reminder that the Braves have been rebuilding for about the same length of time as the Reds. They had two young studs starting for them tonight. Both are younger than Nick Senzel.

They had three guys, when you include Dansby Swanson in that trio, starting tonight who are 24 or younger, and who were all ranked between #1 and #11 in Baseball America’s prospect rankings.

–If you see this in time, I’m going to be on the Reds post-game show on WLW at 10:30 tonight. Listen in!

Today’s Tweets

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.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 43 Comments

  1. Not that having Pennington in the game was great or anything, but that go ahead run was scoring regardless of him making the play or not. He’s an easy target to gang up on, but he didn’t cost us that win tonight.

  2. Whoa, whoa.

    What is this “planned 90-loss season” stuff?

    I came here to get a re-affirmation of Chad’s 81-81 record guarantee after the winning streak was broken in such dramatic fashion. (/sarc)

    Add in Gennett, Duvall and Hamilton being on the field and the vast majority of the position players in the 9th should not be around when (if?) there is the Next Good Reds Team.

    To paraphrase an often-used line in songs, “Big rebuild wheels, keep on turning.”

    • I’ve lost faith. This should really frighten the Reds.

      • That is a little scary, but here’s a way to make it positive:

        Create your own version of the classic @nihilist_arbys account.

        “The Reds are never going to win again. Buy a copy of The Big 50 and let the pages dry up your tears of remorse.”

      • Our collective faith will be restored if they win today. I see hints of good things these last three games. A little more hitting, a little more enthusiasm. They’ve become worth watching, at least temporarily.

  3. Riggleman completely over-managed the game. There is no good reason why to swap both Blandino and Peraza out for Pennington and Goose. Just none.

    Let Shack go a second inning when it was obvious he wasn’t fooling anyone.

    PH Billy Hamilton against a lefty instead of Phillip Ervin, who has some level of success against lefties.

    Oh, well, can’t get too upset about it. He’s not going to be here long.

    …….Right? RIGHT????

    • “…PH Billy Hamilton against a lefty instead of Phillip Ervin, who has some level of success against lefties….”

      Yeah, I really, really didn’t get that one. And Ervin can actually run into one and hit it out of the ballpark.

  4. The sad thing is that both Duvall and Billy have more PA’s than Winker

  5. What I find so weird about this is the fact that some of these managerial decisions make sense to literally NOBODY. For all our differences, literally NONE of us would make some of the bad decisions Riggleman made tonight. Pinch hitting BH against a left-handed pitcher in a crucial situation can’t possibly serve any legitimate purpose, can it? So, what exactly is going on here? I’m not a conspiracy theorist and I’m not ready to start accusing the Reds of deliberately throwing games, but when the manager seems to be going out of his way to minimize the chances of scoring insurance runs late in a game, I have to question what’s really going on.

    • Honestly I’ve never considered the tanking theory but maybe they have been trying to string a stretch of killer draft picks together this whole time. It would certainly explain a lot. Like a lot lot

      • MLB will never have a true relegation system like international football (soccer); but, there seems to be an imperative building to do something to stop or at least control tanking. Hopefully we will see some sort of carrot and stick system which rewards avoid the bottom five and punishes teams that finish in the bottom five.

        Just off the top of my head, how about moving the bottom five teams to the end of the 1st round of the draft and moving everybody else forward 5 spots in the 1st round with the matching financial adjustments in the signing $$$ allotments for the first round?

  6. Who’s the young ‘un? The Cincinnati Kid? Son of Milton?
    Boy that 1st inning with bases loaded and no outs, and they can’t push a run across. That was a killer.

  7. Is anyone feeling that new sense of urgency just yet? If so, please fill me in on what they are being urgent about. Thanks.

  8. The Reds apparently played the last two nights with only one healthy catcher and now have a short turnaround Thursday. If Meso can’t go, maybe it is time to use that open 40 man spot to get another guy up before Barnhart gets worn down to a frazzle. #urgency

    • But, Jim, that can’t be true, can it? Haven’t I read here, over and over, that it’s stupid to carry 3 catchers on the 40 Man?

      • Not at all stupid to carry 3 on the 40-man. In fact, due to high injury rate in catchers, most teams carry 3 on the 40-man. What a lot of folks think isn’t too smart is carrying 3 catchers on the 25-man. That 3rd catcher is almost never needed in a game, although it does allow a catcher to be used as a PH, if a manager is worried about not having a catcher in case of injury.

        It’s the same reasoning that teams, especially with the 10-day DL, are usually quick to put a catcher on the DL. Going “day-to-day” with a catcher is generally not a good approach.

  9. Many conclusions can be made from this game, mainly the bullpen should be very solid when Lorenzen and Hernandez return from DL, the regular IF should be Suarez, Sensel and Blandino (no reason to delay it) and the regular OF should be Winker, Schebler and Ervin (Hamilton and Duvall are rally killers). A top of all, it’s evident that Riggleman is not the guy either.

    • Hopefully people already knew Riggleman wasn’t the guy but if not, it seems to be confirmed now.

    • I really haven’t been a Peraza fan, but he’s looking better. Fielding pretty well (I worry every time he throws, though), starting to hit a little. He doesn’t walk, but if gets on base at a reasonable clip, why would it matter? If he continues to improve, it’s not a bad problem.

  10. I really wish Duvall would stop getting regular playing time. I also think he’d be a great bat to have on the bench.

    • The old “Johnny Gomes” role, where he can come in and give you some pop off the bench. It is a good player to have around and you spot-start him a day every couple of weeks to keep him fresh.

  11. I had the game on in the background while I worked on some projects around the house yesterday evening. I would stop what I was doing any time I heard the fans getting exited about something. Unfortunately, every time it turned out that the Atlanta fans were excited. Not only were the Atlanta fans at a home game in GABP more vocal and raucous, but they were probably more numerous too on a nice spring evening.

    That’s the WJ and BC legacy and the legacy is growing. How embarassing!

  12. Inciarte is the real deal in center. Freeman is clutch: 17 RBI already. Two twenty year olds in the line-up. The are developing a contender.

    Glad Votto is finally hitting with some pop again. Duvall and Hamilton need replaced if this team is going to make a decent showing this year. Bring up Senzel and Williams.

    • The Braves are looking impressive, but pitching will be their downfall if they don’t address it.

  13. “Third base coach Billy Hatcher inexplicably sent_________ home” If I had a dollar for all the times I’ve read or heard that.

    “You know, the Reds were never serious about being more competitive this season. They always planned for this to be another 90-loss season; they just couldn’t say it publicly. Otherwise, they would have acquired actual players for the bullpen and bench in the off-season (or given those spots to kids who have a chance to be on the next good Reds team) instead of sitting on their hands.” = TANK

    “We got a stark reminder that the Braves have been rebuilding for about the same length of time as the Reds.” Rebuild 101. Take notes, Reds.

    • There have been multiple rebuilds over the last few years the Reds should be taking notes of. Unfortunately, all it has done is demonstrate the ineptness of BC, WJ, the scouts, and the front office in general. It’s too early to tell if DW is WJ 2.0.

      Having a young daughter, I love what BC et all have done as far as upgrading GABP and keeping it family friendly and affordable. Having said that, none of that means anything when the Reds stink so bad you don’t want to spend money to go sit through them getting shellacked.

    • It was apparent to all aware Reds fans during the offseason that the owner/front office was not ready to make significant trades or spend money to prepare and strengthen the Reds for the 2018 season. So here we are.

    • In all fairness, they have been rebuilding longer. They were trying to get good right in time for their new ballpark opening. They weren’t going to hit the date so they kind of rebooted their rebuild. They traded away a couple guys with cheap team control and I thought they were a little crazy. They got back the right players though and drafted well. Now they are well ahead of the Reds.

  14. This was a rough one. Finnegan did not pitch well, but was just enough short of awful that he’ll get more starts. Boo. Bases loaded no outs in the first, then no runs. Boo. Some awful defense on the right side of the infield. Boo. And then the Riggleman decision making began. Hamilton instead of Ervin? Boo. Hamilton is for pinch RUNNING not pinch hitting. Shackelford to start the 9th? Boo. Full Gosslington? Boo. And maybe it wasn’t obvious before yesterday’s game but it should be now – Gennett ahead of Schebler = Boo. Duvall instead of Schebler, or even Ervin or Hamilton = Boo. No backup catcher = double Boo. When Winker and Votto are on base six times with no outs or one out, and only score on Votto’s home run that’s just bad. Please let Bailey and the Reds win today so this series is a winning one and not a .500 washout!

    • Scooter’s fielding…..boo

      • Votto’s, too. Grounders to his right are Sirens to Votto; he can’t resist them no matter how hard he tries, and never has been able to. I bet if you asked Brandon Phillips about it, he would burst out laughing.

  15. You’re right except for one thing: For a team that was 5 and 18 entering the game, splitting a series with a contender is not a washout.

  16. Isn’t this the 4th season of the “rebuild”? Shouldn’t this team be progressing instead of regressing? Would the record be a lot better without the injuries? So many questions but apparently lots and lots of time.

  17. You forgot Blandino as part of the “Good”. He’s been hitting lately. Yeah, Pennington should be DA. We won’t miss him. Atlanta has the making of becoming a good team.

  18. I’ve questioned both Peraza and Votto lately, and even Blandino, but my particular reverse magic has worked, as they are all now hitting.

    I wish the reverse magic would work with Gennett’s fielding/throwing. He is bad’s bad. Finnegan wasn’t helped by the defense. Gennett’s error caused an unearned run and some unnecessary pitches, and the misplay by Votto on the ball to his right should have been an out, and it led to Finnegan’s having to throw extra pitches.

    They probably could have gotten an extra inning out of Finnegan, but for the awful defense and extra pitches. If Finnegan had gone 6 innings, some of the questionable Riggleman decisions would not have come up, as he was clearly trying to get through the game with the 3 relievers he had available.

  19. 38% ground balls for Finnegan in his last full season as a starter, just 34% this year. Sorry, it just won’t work 3 times thru a lineup at GABP. That said, he has 3 pitches. Makes too much sense to use him in the bullpen as the long man.

    Scooter is bad at infield defense. Offensively, he was worth ~2.5 last year. He should be starting somewhere that his defense doesn’t hurt you. Duvall should be a platoon player. Makes too much sense that they share LF and hand over 2B to Senzel, with Blandino as your utility IF.

    • Ahhh, what am I saying. Peraza’s no walk/no pop approach will never allow him to OPS over .700. His defense according to the metrics is average. Senzel would be my SS (anyone who watched spring training saw him make every type of play….at WORST he’s average like Peraza), Blandino my 2B.

      • See, I’m not so sure. That interview with Pat Kelly was telling. I also think that if Senzel was really a legit SS, then he would have played there a lot more in NCAA. He played SS when his team needed him to. When their starting SS came back, he moved back to 3B. Guys who can legitimately play SS regularly in MLB don’t go back to 3B in NCAA, in general.

        I only saw him a bit there and he made a couple very, very nice plays when I did. Still, I’d have to see a lot more of him to think he’d be a legit, starting SS in MLB. Pat Kelly saw him much more and this is one of the areas where I still think the Reds have a better handle on it than any fan can.

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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. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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2018 Reds, Titanic Struggle Recap

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