It’s too bad it had to end like that. With a chance to move into first place in the Central division, the Reds were putting together what they hoped would be another game-winning rally in their last at-bat, only to see it fizzle into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play. St. Louis had put together a 4-0 lead against starter Aaron Harang, but Cincinnati kept coming after them. Two runs in the 7th on a Drew Stubbs homer and another run in the 9th on a Stubbs single got the Reds to within one. Manager Dusty Baker sent Ramon Hernandez to pinch hit for Arthur Rhodes with 2-on and 1-out, and he grounded into the double play to end it.
No one in the press box understood that decision. Not many at home did, either. Baker had lefty slugger Laynce Nix available and Nix has hit Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin very well in his career. Hernandez has struggled. What gives? While available on the roster, Nix was medically unavailable. Nix has an undisclosed ailment, according to Baker.
“He couldn’t swing tonight,” Baker said. “He’s getting better. It’s been like this for a couple of days. Hopefully it will be better (Saturday).”
The end certainly didn’t take away from the effort. The ballpark didn’t help starter Aaron Harang. It plays small and St. Louis took advantage with two home runs that barely made it over the fence. Both went to right and Jay Bruce leaped as high as he could to try and bring them back. But, they were of the popped-up, arching variety and stayed just out of his reach. The first was a two-run shot by the great Albert Pujols in the 3rd. The second was a two-run big fly by Ryan Ludwick in the 5th. Bruce was so frustrated when he couldn’t hang on to the ball that he took off his glove and spiked it into the crushed brick of the warning track.
“I was mad,” Bruce said. “I feel if the ball hits my glove, I should catch it. If I make that catch, it’s a whole different ballgame.”
“I understand it was a tough play. I probably shouldn’t have thrown my glove on the ground like that. In the moment, it wasn’t to anyone or showing anyone up. It was frustration. I wanted to catch it.”
No problem, Jay. After so many years of Griffey and Dunn, a little passion on the field at coming up short is welcome from where I sit. No need to apologize. And that kind of effort always plays well in Cincinnati.
The guy who deserves to be the most frustrated is Harang. Another decent outing (6ip, 8h, 4er, 5k, 2bb), but another loss. Harang knows he needs to be ready for GABP to bite him at anytime.
“I was scratching my head on both of (the homers),” said Harang. “I’ve given up enough of those and I’ve seen enough of those go out of here. It’s just part of playing here. You’re going to give up your home runs. They had runners on when I did. If you’re going to give those up, you’re better to give up the solo variety.”
So, now Cincinnati must win two straight over St. Louis to wrestle first place away from the Cardinals. Rookie Mike Leake will get his first start against them Saturday night. He was typically low-key before Friday’s game.
“It’s just another game,” said Leake.
Saturday’s start time has been pushed back 30 minutes to 7:40 to make room for all of the pregame ceremonies for the Gillette Civil Rights Game. It will be televised nationally on MLB Network.
On Sunday, Bronson Arroyo will start for Cincinnati. St. Louis answers with Adam Wainwright on Saturday and Brad Penny on Sunday.
NOTES: Aroldis Chapman suffered his worst outing of his pro career on Friday for AAA Louisville against Rochester. He threw 3 1/3 innings with nine hits, eight runs, three walks and five strikeouts. Chapman threw 75 pitches, 42 strikes… The Reds played another error-free game on Friday. That’s nine consecutive in that category. The last time the Reds had nine straight errorless games was 1997… In conjunction with the Civil Rights Game, the Reds and Cardinals will be wearing 1947-styled jerseys Saturday night in celebration of Jackie Robinson’s rookie season… Hall of Famer Ernie Banks will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, and Roberta Flack and Jeffery Osborne will sing prior to the game… As part of this weekend’s Gillette Civil Rights Game festivities, the Green Diamond Gallery in Montgomery has loaned to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum rare Jackie Robinson items, including his 1948 Brooklyn Dodgers road jersey, the oldest known Robinson jersey in existence; a ticket stub and photograph from April 15, 1947 capturing Jackie with Spider Jorgenson, Pee Wee Reese and Eddie Stankey on Robinson’s first day in the Major Leagues; and the lucky bat Robinson presented to teammate Tommy Brown when Brown was traded to the Phillies in 1951.
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!