Friday, May 11, 2012

Reds fall behind early and can't recover

It was an early exit for Leake on Friday

Things went awry from the very start for Dusty Baker and the Reds (16-15) on Friday en route to a 7-2 defeat. The visiting Nationals (20-12) pounced on struggling starter Mike Leake early and often to race out to a 6-0 lead after three frames. His counterpart, Gio Gonzalez, improved to 4-1 on the year after limiting the Reds to five hits and two runs through five. All in all, the Redlegs had their chances, but couldn't come through when the moments presented themselves. And the consequence was losing a home game to the red-hot Nats.

Here's a recap of the good, the bad, and the notables from the series opener:

The Good:
- The game was played under the best of weather conditions -- mid-70s with clear skies and virtually no sign of rain.
- Brandon Phillips notched two hits for the fourth game in a row. He's lifted his batting average from .215 to .266 in less than a week.
- Jay Bruce tallied a pair of hits as well, including his eighth double of the season.
- Joey Votto reached base safely three times in five trips to the plate (2 BB, 1 1B).
- J.J. Hoover,  Sam LeCure and Jose Arredondo combined to throw four innings of scoreless relief while striking out six. Hoover's season ERA still stands at a perfect 0.00.

The Bad:
- Leake came into the game badly needing another quality outing and he failed to deliver. The right-hander fell to 0-5 on the year after surrendering seven hits and six runs in just three innings. His ERA currently sits at an unsightly 7.11 and leaves the team with a decision to make: should he stay in the rotation or not?
- Reds hitters went down on strikes on 13 occasions. That's roughly half of their recorded outs. Not good.
- Zack Cozart contributed three of those to record the dreaded "hat trick".
- The Reds streak of winning or splitting a series in their past six is in jeopardy. They'll have to win the next two in order to do so.
- Scott Rolen's struggles at the plate continue as the veteran was 0-4 with two strikeouts.
- Devin Mesoraco was hitless in three at-bats. He also permitted two stolen bases to the Nats. He's thrown out just one base runner in 12 attempts this season.

The Notables:
- 19-year old phenom Bryce Harper was 0-5 with three Ks in his first career game in Cincinnati.
- Friday was a big promotional night at GABP as "Ladies Night", "#RedsTweetUp", and "Fireworks Friday" all took precedent.
- Relievers Bill Bray (groin) and Nick Masset (shoulder) continue to be sidelined with injuries. Bray, who's been on the DL since April 24th, pitched an inning of relief in extended spring training on Thursday. Meanwhile, Masset has still not been cleared to throw yet. The right-hander's been on the DL since the start of the year with soreness in his throwing shoulder.
- Up next: The Reds send Mat Latos (2-2, 4.93) to the hill opposite of Washington's Jordan Zimmermann (1-3, 2.29) on Saturday. Latos is coming off an outing in which he pitched six shutout innings and fanned a career-high 11 batters. The first 25,000 fans through the gates receive a free Joey Votto bobblehead. First pitch is slated for 7:10pm ET.

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