The first inning hadn’t even come to a close, and it already felt like a lost cause.

Tyler Mahle was getting squeezed. Joey Votto couldn’t field. The pitch count ticked toward 30. The Dodgers drew first blood. The game seemed over before the Reds had gotten three outs.

If you think I’m being overdramatic, consider this: Yes, it’s been a difficult six weeks of cheering on the Reds and their woeful .289 winning percentage. Still, I’m guessing that most of you reading this live within what’s considered a reasonable radius of Great American Ball Park, where – despite their recent ineptitude – the Reds still managed to win 154 out of 323 games in the four years leading up to the 2018 season. That’s a home winning percentage of .477, meaning that if you attended a Reds game in Cincinnati during that time, you had nearly a 50-50 chance of seeing them win.

Things aren’t quite so rosy here in Los Angeles. Over the past dozen years, the Reds’ record at Dodger Stadium is 9-29 – and a trio of those wins came in a fluky 2011 sweep. In other words, the recent odds that you’ll see Cincinnati leave the field here as winners are less than one-in-four. If you think the past six weeks have been unbearable, think about how it feels to witness 12 years of failure – and that doesn’t even consider numerous other losses I’ve seen in Anaheim (where they were swept in 2016) and San Diego. Granted, the two glorious postseason victories I witnessed in San Francisco in 2012 outshine any regular-season loss I’ve suffered through – even last year’s uncharacteristic Raisel Iglesias meltdown in which he gave up an 8th inning grand slam, or the prior night’s walkoff loss that caused me to question the sanity of Bryan Price, as well as my own. The point is this: if you think being a Reds fan isn’t easy nowadays, take it from me – it’s long been even worse out here on the West Coast.

Against all odds, however, the Reds pulled one out last night. In the end, it didn’t matter that Mahle threw a gazillion pitches; that Votto, trying too hard to atone for his sin in the previous inning, sent an ill-advised throw sailing past second base; that Adam Duvall, batting second for reasons unknown, looked more lost than ever at the plate; that Jim Riggleman turned to the struggling Wandy Peralta in a tight game; that Riggleman inexplicably called for Alex Blandino to bunt Tucker Barnhart over to third following a leadoff double, thereby lowering the inning’s run expectancy considerably; or that Scott Schebler subsequently struck out instead of bringing Barnhart home.

What mattered was that Votto and Jesse Winker – whose hilarious trolling of a young Dodger fan happened just inches in front of me – got on base ahead of Scooter Gennett, who proceeded to drive them home; that Gennett added an insurance run with an 8th inning longball; and that with Barnhart looking as if he’d be stranded at third after the Blandino and Schebler outs, Billy Hamilton smacked a ball to right field. Meanwhile, despite the bullpen making me sweat for the final four innings (although I admit I finally relaxed a bit in the 9th), the Dodgers didn’t make it past first base after the third inning. Simply put, the collapse that a dozen years of failure conditioned me to think was inevitable never materialized, and I left Dodger Stadium with a smile on my face. Here’s hoping it won’t be the only time I do so this weekend.

10 Responses

  1. Steve Mancuso

    Terrific. Thanks, Clay. Glad you got to see a win.

  2. Shchi Cossack

    Bases loaded with 2 outs in the 2nd inning and Mahle already throwing a half-gazillion pitches was all the Old Cossack needed to chalk yesterday’s game up to another loss in a disappointing season.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Amazing what a little effective pitching can do for this lineup and this lineup is not complete or clicking on all cylinders yet.

      • Old-school

        C Trent had some good numbers on Castillo/ Mahle/ Romano.
        Something like combined 3-2 with ERA under 3 last 6 starts combined.

        Good to see Scooter hit a hit stop. I gave up on him last week but looks like the few days off to rest and build up shoulder did the trick.

        Harvey certainly adds some interest. I’ll watch. C Trent great article today talking to Boras/ Harvey about ignoring innings limits post Tommy John and how much he pitched in 2015 deep into the World series….unlike Strasburg.

  3. Shchi Cossack

    Seeing Mahle getting squeezed by the home plate umpire, especially at the top of the strike zone, yet still persevering showed the Old Cossack a LOT about Mahle’s character and composure on the mound. This is the same attitude we saw from Castillo last season and are beginning to see from Castillo again.

  4. Scott Carter

    Yep! I gave up and went to bed after Votto threw the ball into left center. I had to get up early and figured I didn’t need the angst. Maybe I’ll do the same tonight and the Reds will win again.

  5. Jack

    Fell asleep in the 2nd inning. Dog woke me up to go out and Billy was a blur going around the bases. I thought “Am I dreaming”? Man I wish the light would go on and Billy would figure out this hitting thing.

    • CI3J

      Well, BHam seems to have amazingly, finally, figured out the walking thing, as his 17 walks ties him for 3rd on the team with Tucker Barnhart. If Billy could learn to hit like Peraza, or Peraza could learn to walk like Billy, you’d have a pretty good leadoff hitter on your hands.

  6. cfd3000

    I’ve said this several times recently, but this Reds team isn’t nearly as bad as its record suggests. They’ve lost a lot of one and two run games, they suffered through several key injuries and the self imposed damage from some of Bryan Price’s odd decisions, and the young starters were (and still are) finding their sea legs. It’s getting better and I think it will continue to do so. Last night, and the last three games – very encouraging. Matt Harvey will be interesting tonight. I don’t expect much so if he shows us anything I’ll take that as a good sign. But as always, the first pitch can’t come soon enough.

  7. Redlegs64

    Wins on the Left Coast have never been easy to come by. Many very good Reds teams through the decades have gone to the Coast in good shape and come back home for the worse. Is it the time change, the nice weather, the huge outfields… I’m not sure.

    When the Reds & Dodgers were in the NL West together, there were some epic battles!