Cold bats, first-inning woes

When the Reds are hitting like gangbusters, the first-inning bugaboo that plagues the rotation isn’t as big of a deal. When Travis Wood goes down 4-0 in the first and his slumping lineup is facing a very effective Ivan Nova, it proved big trouble.

Hence, a 5-3 Reds loss to the Yankees.

Wood gave up five first-inning hits…all of them line drives. No cheapies.

“I think he was a little bit pumped up because he was trying to go low and away a number of times and the ball was about thigh to waist high,” manager Dusty Baker said.

Wood threw 34 pitches in the inning but largely settled down. Besides the four runs, he gave up eight hits over seven innings with one walk and six strikeouts. He wound up retiring the last 11 batters he faced.

Notes:

*Since returning from that great 5-2 West Coast trip and three-game sweep of the Dodgers, the Reds have dropped three of four. The lineup has been dragging with seven runs in four games and a .220 average.

*The Reds had two singles against Nova to start the bottom of the first, but got only one run on Joey Votto’s 463 GIDP.

*The Reds are 21-24 when the opponent scores first. This season, the pitching staff has allowed 59 first-inning runs — by far the most over any other inning they’ve had this season.

*The crowd of 41,173 was a sellout. Lots of Yankees fans were included, which made for a high-energy atmosphere as fans of both teams tried to drown each other out.

Quotes:

“We’re having a hard time getting a leadoff batter on base to get the pitcher in the stretch right away. Every inning, we’re operating with one or two outs. We have to find a way to get that leadoff hitter on, then we can do something.” — Dusty Baker

“We’re just not getting the hits when we need them; we’re not getting timely hits. That’s about it. We’re going to be fine. It’s early still, and there’s a lot of season left. But we’re just not getting timely hits right now.” — Jay Bruce

“I had my normal rest and I’m always ready to take the ball. I wouldn’t say it affected me.” — Travis Wood, on stepping in for Monday’s original starter, Johnny Cueto.

“I feel like we’re the comeback kids, man. When I got that base hit, I was like, ‘Oh man, here we go. We’re going to start scoring some runs,’ and we started doing that. We just came up short today. But there’s something about us in the ninth inning. It’s like our second wind of the game. We get that second wind and we end up just coming and coming, and we come back. I wish it would have happened earlier in the game, but it just didn’t go our way. They’re a great team. I respect their organization dearly. They have a great lineup. They have a lot of names over there. Honestly, I’m glad we’re playing them, just seeing where we stand against all the other Major League teams out there, and that’s one of the best teams in the League.” — Brandon Phillips

“It’s impressive. We’ve seen this kid take some steps forward and do some really good things for us. We’ll continue to work with him and try to teach him. I think he’s learning on the way. That’s what you do when you’re a young starter. You take whjat you did the last start and you try to learn from it. I think he’s doing that. He’s making adjustments as he needs to. He didn’t get caught up in the ballpark.” — Yankees manager Joe Girardi on Ivan Nova

 

“A lot of crafty lefties have had a lot of success against us. Part of the reason is we expand a little bit and try to do a little bit too much. I thought for us, that’s a prototypical first inning, an ideal first inning that we’ll take every time.” — Alex Rodriguez

5 Comments

Mark, is there any chance of finding out Baker’s thinking on using Renteria for Hanigan in the ninth inning last night. And then following up with a question about the relevance of previous batter-pitcher matchups that took place in the first Bush Administration and the first Clinton Administration? I know you risk one of Baker’s tantrums, but he’s now put Renteria in for important pinch hitting duties twice lately when it appears Renteria is the worst choice for that.

If he would have left Hanigan in I would have quit as a Reds fan I think. But cmon, you’re down two, need a homer really, at least thats how you think. You have Ramon, Gomes, and Renteria on the bench. You choose Renteria? Why? Is there any explanation at all? Heck, I’d rather see Cairo even.
Curt

This team is not in a slump. This is how they have hit for over a year now when facing decent pitching. When the balls a carrying great and below average pitchers are on the hill – this team hits like gangbusters. Play in a decent size park or place where balls dont carry – warning track power.
Also, too many strikeouts to be a serious contender. Cant steal first base!

For TroyC: And so it is with every team, whether facing talented hurlers or playing in fair parks, not the kitschy bandbox otherwise known as GABP. You have a better point on the issue of strikeouts. They are killers, particularly in certain positions like that manned by Mr. Stubbs. The real problem with this team remains pitching, so inconsistent and mediocre overall.

A slump is something that cannot be explained. Teams stop hitting for no reason. That is not the case with this team. It was easily predictable that they would struggle during this stage of the schedule as it was during the playoffs last year.
I love Stubbs. Just not as a leadoff hitter. This team will destroy below average pitching. But all the strikeouts show that they are really not that good of an offensive team. Regardless of the phoney statistics. A leadoff hitter and a bopper could dramatically alter this line-up.

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