Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pirates sink Reds' hopes for series victory

Things were pretty ugly with this guy on the bench.
Things didn’t go so well for the Reds (28-22) as they looked to take the series from Pittsburgh (25-25) at PNC Park on Wednesday evening as A.J. Burnett stifled the Redlegs and held on to a 2-1 victory. The break down after the break.

Cincy led things early as Zack Cozart picked up a ground-rule double to lead off the ball game and later scored on Brandon Phillips’ sac fly. That turned out to be the last Reds hit until the 7th as Burnett (4-2) was outstanding. Johnny Cueto (5-3) was nearly as good, but after retiring the first two batters of the sixth, a walk, single and two-run double from Matt Hague gave the Buccos all the offense they would need.

The Good
- Cueto has always been outstanding against Pittsburgh and tonight was no different. He picked up the tough luck loss, but managed seven strong innings of five-hit ball, walked four and struck out five. His ERA stands at 2.54.
- Chris Heisey started in left field and went 2-for-4, the only Red with multiple hits on the night. His batting average is up to .283 as he’s quietly starting to take command of the every day job.
- Drew Stubbs had a pair of stolen bases, both in the first inning, to raise his season total to 11.

The Bad
- The offense was simply non-existent after Cozart’s double to lead off the game. Joey Votto had the night off (although he had a pinch-hit single in the ninth) and almost on cue, the rest of the bats went to sleep.
- All of Cueto’s trouble came with two outs in the sixth. It looked like it would be an easy inning after retiring the first two batters but then a walk to Neil Walker started the beginning of the end for the Reds hopes at a series win.
- The weakness of this team’s bench was on full display tonight. With Votto getting the night off, Mike Costanzo started at first and went 0-for-2 with a walk and is now batting .067. Later, Miguel Cairo replaced Costanzo and struck out with the tying run at second in the ninth. There simply aren’t any good options for offense on the bench when the regulars are playing. That lack of depth is even worse when someone like Votto sits and suddenly his replacement becomes a black hole in the lineup.
- Another issue with the bench is speed. When guys like Stubbs and Cozart are in the lineup, there aren’t many good options to pinch run, either. Cairo pinch ran for Costanzo in the seventh … there’s a real stolen base threat.

The Notables
- The bullpen should be very fresh after tomorrow’s day off. Following Homer Bailey’s complete game a night ago, the ‘pen threw just one inning tonight (Sean Marshall 0.1 innings and Logan Ondrusek 0.2).
- An announced crowd of 16,782 took in the game.
- After a brutal stretch of 20 games in 20 days, the Reds are off tomorrow. They begin a three-game series at Houston on Friday before another (!) day off Monday. During the 20-game stretch, the Reds went 12-8.

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