With a fastball that seemed to scream “HIT ME!!” on its way to the plate, the Florida Marlins beat up Reds starter Aaron Harang (L, 0-2) in a 10-2 Marlins win on Thursday night. Harang was hitting 93 mph on the radar gun, but his fastball looked flat and the Fish took advantage with eight runs on 10 hits in a little over four innings. Harang’s breaking stuff seemed to be working well, but he kept pumping the fastball in tough spots and the Marlins kept pounding it. Six of their 10 hits were for extra bases. He threw 101 pitches without being able to retire a batter in the 5th.
With Houston’s 5-1 win at St. Louis Thursday afternoon, the Reds are now the last major league team who’s starters do not have a single win on the season. Josh Johnson (W, 1-1) went six innings and struck out 10 for the Marlins. Jorge Cantu picked up another hit and RBI in the game, giving him one of each in Florida’s first 10 games of the season. It extends his major league record in that category.
Aaron Harang is a great man. Please understand that the 2008 Joe Nuxhall Good Guy Award winner does many great things for his teammates and his community. His Aaron’s Aces program providing tickets to Sunday home games for children and family members of local men and women serving in our armed forces is top notch. But, quite frankly, he is not the ace he used to be, nor is he the ace pitcher the Reds and their P.R. department are telling us he is. He suffered through his worst spring ever in Arizona and didn’t think it was a problem. After some trouble on Opening Day, he looked good against Chicago in his second start on Saturday, and fans could give him the benefit of the doubt. But after his latest start, his ERA has ballooned to 7.88 and 53% of the hits he’s given up have been for extra bases. The Harang apologists look to his lack of run support and blame his 12-33 record since 2008 on that. Granted, he was getting nearly six runs to work with every night in his 2007 16-win season and it was down to barely over three for ’08 and ’09. Tonight’s game with two runs would certainly fit that category. But how much of the lack of run support could be blamed on the team falling so far behind early that they just want to get to the postgame buffet as quickly as possible? Thursday’s game was certainly that. Down 8-1 in the bottom of the 5th against a guy who was rolling anyway, just swing at it boys and let’s go to Pittsburgh. Although I will say that Harang never gave up eight runs in a game all last year.
I wish I knew what the answer to Harang’s struggles this year was. He’s a guy I cheer for, a guy I hope does well. Hopefully pitching coach Bryan Price will pick up on something when he looks at video and they can get his struggles ironed out. Because this Reds team will go nowhere if they can’t. And guys like Edinson Volquez and Aroldis Chapman will be getting their chances soon. When they do, someone will have to go. The Reds do have options on Harang, but his veteran status would allow him to refuse an assignment to AAA Louisville if he doesn’t want to go. I can’t ever see the Reds designating Harang for assignment. But if his next three starts are as inconsistent as his first three, then you’re in May and he might have to be disabled so he can work on whatever’s wrong.
The Reds (5-5) now head to Pittsburgh where Cincinnati was 6-3 last year at PNC Park. The Pirates (4-5) came out of the gate strongly but have just returned from a 6-game road trip to the west that saw them go 2-4. The Reds have won 10 of the last 11 meetings. Rookie Mike Leake (0-0, 1.35) will start Friday’s game and renew the quest to get his first major league win. Zach Duke (2-0, 3.00) will oppose him. Duke was 1-4 vs. the Reds last year. All players will be wearing the #42 to honor Jackie Robinson in the game. Johnny Cueto (0-0, 4.91) will start for the Reds on Saturday night and Bronson Arroyo (0-0, 3.86) will go on Sunday afternoon.
NOTES… The flu is going around the Reds clubhouse and it claimed Laynce Nix on Thursday. Nix was in the starting lineup originally posted by manager Dusty Baker but had to be scratched. Jonny Gomes was 2-for-4 with a triple and scored a run in the 9th inning in his place… Drew Stubbs missed Thursday’s game because of a stiff back. He’s expected to be ready to play on Friday at Pitt… Aroldis Chapman will get his second start for Louisville on Friday night. It will be his first “home” start as the Bats host Columbus… Did you hear about former Red Jerry Hairston, Jr.’s travels this week? Hairston is playing for the Padres this year, but wound up winning the World Series last season after the Reds traded him to the Yankees. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s John Erardi reports that Hairston took a red-eye flight on his own dime from San Diego to New York after the Padres home opener on Monday to be on the field in Yankee Stadium for the Yankees opener on Tuesday afternoon to receive his World Series ring with his former teammates. The Padres had an off day on Tuesday, so Hairston flew back to San Diego on Tuesday night to be ready for Wednesday night’s game. Hairston didn’t tell anyone with the Padres about his plan. Erardi quoted him as saying “I didn’t want to give (anybody) the opportunity to tell me no.”
About the Author
Written by Dave Allen
I'm a lifelong Cincinnati sports fan who has been following the Reds and Bengals ever since I can remember. My first Reds game was Game 6 of the '72 World Series and my first Bengals game was an October 1975 clash with the Steelers. I've been involved in sports media since Junior High, when I assisted with scores for Bob Trumpy SportsTalk in 1979 on WLW Radio. My biggest Reds highlight came in 1998 when I was chosen to be the public address announcer at Riverfront Stadium (then called Cinergy Field) for Opening Day and the entire first homestand. I am thrilled to be involved with PSB and I hope you enjoy my entries!