Tough play in no-man’s land

Obviously, Evan Longoria’s walk-off homer in the ninth doomed the Reds to a 4-3 loss in the bottom of the ninth. But the play of the night came in the bottom of the eighth, and was the bad luck that’s often bitten Cincinnati this season.

In a brilliant night of pitching, Johnny Cueto had worked 7 2/3 innings and was in line for a 2-1 win when he left, even after he gave up back-to-back one-out singles in the eighth. After Cueto got the second out, Bill Bray got the ball. Bray got the optimum result with a pop up off the end of his bat.

Left fielder Chris Heisey, shortstop Edgar Renteria and center fielder Drew Stubbs all made efforts to reach the ball in short left-center field…essentially no-man’s land.

Renteria was headed back on the ball and yielded as he saw Heisey coming in full steam. Heisey made a diving attempt and in the worst luck possible — the ball shot off the end of his glove into center field. It allowed two runs to score.

On Twitter, fans were all over Renteria for not making the catch and said Paul Janish would have had it. I know Janish is a superior defensive player over Renteria but it’s hard to assume anybody can make a tough over the shoulder catch on a play like that. And second, it was significant that Renteria gave way to Heisey, who was running in. It was just an unfortunate play.

“It hit the tip of my glove,” Heisey said. “I needed another two inches or so to get my glove underneath it but I did all I could.Sometimes that happens. It was just perfect placement. I was even playing way in on him and he snuck it in there. He hit it off the end and it didn’t stay in the air long enough for the three of us to get underneath it.”

Dusty Baker believed that Renteria had a hard time tracking the ball in the lights.

“I thought Heisey had a chance to catch it, it was real close, very close,” Baker said. “The ball just shot out of there like a cannon on that Astroturf. It’s going to roll and didn’t stop like it usually does on grass.”

Notes:

*Save for Saturday’s two-homer game, Joey Votto hasn’t been hot lately. But his two-run double in the top of the eighth was another huge hit. It’s why he leads the league in hitting RISP.

*As the Reds were down 3-2 following Damon’s good luck, Jay Bruce also came up big. He snapped an 84 at-bat homerless streak with a long ball to center field off Kyle Farnsworth. This season, Farnsworth has had a renaissance with a 1.99 ERA coming in 16 saves in 17 chances.

*The Reds have been dealt two losses on walk-off homers this season — both on this road trip. Remember Derrek Lee doing them in on Friday in Baltimore during the 12th inning?

*The Reds are 11-17 this season in one-run games. They were 27-27 in those in 2010. Games like tonight are the ones they seemed to always win last year.

*Another spectacular night for Cueto — 7 2/3 ip, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. The owner of a 1.84 ERA Cueto has not allowed more than three runs in any of his 10 starts. He’s given up more than two earned runs only three times. And here’s a cool stat: Opposition hitters are 0-for-19 RISP against Cueto in his last four games.

Quotes:

“He’s a good pitcher as I am. I don’t see him, I just go there and pitch. I’m a good pitcher. Cairo was messing around with me before the game and said ‘hey, when you pitch, you’re going to pitch against Price.’ I said ‘he’s going to pitch against Cueto.’ I’m a good pitcher. I’m going to pitch my game and he’s going to have to pitch his game.” — Johnny Cueto on facing David Price

“I felt good. It was a good game. Cueto was on point and tough to hit. … Cueto threw extremely well, so it was a good game.” — David Price

“These are certainly tough to take. We’ve had a few of these, especially on the road. We’ll get over that hump some day. We played a great game. It was great game to watch.” — Dusty Baker

“Kyle, this guy has been money, this guy has been great,” Maddon said. “Full count, I think the cutter did not get where he wanted it to cut. It looked, obviously, like he left it over the plate more. He’s really good at getting it in on the lefties, he left it over the plate [against Bruce].” — Rays manager Joe Maddon

3 Comments

This was the kind of game the Reds won last year. But things aren’t falling their way nearly as often this year.“They’re not,” Baker said. “But they will.” Im tired of hearing this out of Baker!.. time for Walt to make the changes needed to get this team above 4th dang place!!! How many walk up tickets are you losing Walt?? the Cardinals are talking to the San Diego Padres about their Closer and SS.. Sadly we Reds fans heer how you Walt are happy with this 4th place team that isnt going anywhere but down in the standings.. You want to see ticket sales increase, prove to the fans your not satisfied with just a division title in 2010.. Get the help needed before the other teams above us do!! go after Kemp and Billingsly or Kershaw.. Dangle Stubbs and Edinson and Alsonso if you have too.. Still have Sappelt that hits and doesnt strike out 200 times at AAA to help in CF with Heisey. PLUS COZART if you cant deal for Reyes!! at least give the Reds fans hope and a reason to buy tickets. I dont want 2010 being the 1999 and we have to wait another 12 years!!! and please tell me you have the Dayton Dragons coaches not wasting Billy Hamiltons speed and teaching him to bunt-Not Like Stubbs who would rather strike out than lay one down to make the defense more nervous!!!

Last night was a discouraging loss. And a great game.

A superb game. Tough to lose. But these last two losses (Sunday and last night) highlight what I’ve been contending all season long: this bullpen fails, on a regular basis, to shut down the opposition in tight situations. Give them a few runs advantage and they tend to be lights out. Make it close, and they cough it up more often than not. To verify this, ignore the eras! They are misleading as heck. Look at the won-loss ledger of 10 and 16. Only Houston in the NL is worse. And, to me, the key stat: Only sixteen team saves out of 25 team save opportunities. In this, only Houston again, owns a significantly lower percentage of success. And all of this without taking into account the high number of inherited runners allowed by this bullpen. Last night as a prime example though a good deal of bad luck was at play. This is what needs fixing, not Janish (play him!), not Gomes, not even Volquez.

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