The Cincinnati Reds are in a tailspin. Five straight losses constitute a tailspin, am I right? One week ago they led the National League Central Division by 1 ½ games, courtesy of a 3-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, after losing a 2-game series to the Pirates, and being swept by the Cleveland Indians, they find themselves 2 ½ games behind the front running Cardinals. They are also only 1 game ahead of the 3rd place Milwaukee Brewers.
Fingers could be pointed in several directions, if one wanted to play that game. They only scored three games in the two losses to the Bucs as Charlie Morton, 5-1, pitched a 5-hit shutout in the series opener. In the weekend series with the Tribe, the Reds only scored nine runs.
The quaint old saying, “Live by the sword; die by the sword,” could definitely be applied to the Reds in the Indians’ series. In the opener southpaw Travis Wood was tossing a no-hitter at the Tribe through five and cruising in a 4-0 game. He came undone in the sixth and was lit up for a four spot before giving way to Logan Ondrusek. The Indians went on to win 5-4 as they scored the winning run in their last at bat.
Homer Bailey, 3-1, brought a 1-hit shutout into the seventh with a 1-0 lead in game two. The wheels fell off in the sixth as he gave up a single to Asdrubal Cabrera and was taken deep by Travis Buck to end the scoring.
The finale was all Cleveland, all the time. Cabrera had a 5-5 day with 2 HR with 5 RBI and Edinson Volquez continued his blatant disregard for the sanctity of the first inning.
The Reds were actually off to a 1-0 start as NL MVP Joey Votto drilled his sixth homer of the season. Enter Volquez. In his 11 starts this season, he has failed to end the first inning without surrendering a run, in three of them. Look at that, will you? Eight games of 11 he has been roughed up in the first stanza. His ERA for the first inning this year is an incredible 18.00. He gets treated badly in the sixth inning as well as he carries a 12.46 ERA in that inning. In innings 2-5 he has an excellent ERA of 2.45.
Against Volquez, batters are hitting .421 in the first, .368 in the sixth and .145 in innings 2-5. To me he looks like a four-inning man, which brings me to my first change. I believe he should be given a shot in the bullpen.
Perhaps Sam LeCure could take his spot in the rotation. Let him pitch the first inning, then bring Volquez in. Of course this is using the precept that he has some fear of the first inning of the game. If he fears the first inning he pitches, obviously this would be a bust. If that doesn’t work he should be relegated to long relief until he works it out. It is nonsensical to continue to put the team in a first-inning hole that is difficult to climb out.
LeCure is an able starter and should be given an opportunity. Something needs to be done to shake the Reds up, and that is one of my suggestions.
My second suggestion is painful for me to write. Let me say this up front: I love Jonny Gomes, and I am probably his last supporter. I have held on as long as I could, but it is now painful to watch him struggle offensively. He has been a big time run producer but his average has sunk consistently. It peaked on April 13 at .273 and has nose-dived to .171, dead last in the major leagues. He has only five hits since April 17.
People have been clamoring for Gomes to be replaced by Chris Heisey, yet I have resisted, defending Gomes in hopes he would soon turn it around. Apparently that is not to be. It is time to give him a break and allow Heisey and Fred Lewis to platoon in left field.
Heisey has knocked in 17 runs in only 66 AB, while Gomes has 19 in 129. Heisey is currently batting .268 while Lewis is hitting .257. Both are more agile in the field than Gomes.
In Gomes’ defense which seems lame at this juncture, he is sixth in the NL in SecA (secondary average) at .403. Perhaps a short stint in Louisville would serve him well. Something must be done to rattle the cages. To paraphrase a nugget of wisdom, if you continue to do the same thing and expect a different result, you are crazy. Dusty Baker is anything but crazy. He has made good decisions most of his managerial career.
The current five-game skid has dropped the Reds to just three games above .500. They have to go to Philadelphia and play the Phillies four games. They will go up against Cole Hamel in the opener on Monday. Vance Worley, just called up from Lehigh Valley to replace Joe Blanton in the rotation, will pitch on Tuesday. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee will start the other two games. The Reds will counter with Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Wood and Bailey.
- Jay Bruce was 5-10 with 1 HR.
- Sam LeCure had another good outing in relief. He pitched 3+ and gave up 1 R, and 1 H, with 4 K’s and 1 W.
- Homer Bailey and Travis Wood both carried shutouts into the sixth inning.
About the Author
Written by Cliff Eastham
I am an avid sports fan, especially MLB and boxing. I also like NCAA Basketball and MMA. Baseball is my passion. I love the Cincinnati Reds and will argue with anyone about them. :-) I have been following them for over 50 years (yes my Social Security # is 2.) I live in West Virginia with my lovely wife Debbie and my equally lovely youngest daughter Holly. We have two other daughters and two sons, one grandson, and three granddaughters.