The Reds always do this. On a Sunday, on getaway day; they always seem to make me pop my cork. The Reds Sunday record over the last three to four years has to be about 15 or 20 games below .500, and yesterday was a day in which multiple things happened that made me lose my cool really for the first time this year.
I fell asleep for a little bit and by the time I woke up the Reds were up 5-0. I hate falling asleep during a game, but I was out shopping with my fiance for wedding rings all day Saturday–and to be honest that wears out a guy. Cut me some slack.
It wasn’t long from there when Mike Leake started to give up a few cheap hits and the pouting on the mound began. And once you start seeing that, you know what’s coming.
I know this Reds team like the back of my hand. I know them too well. And even though they surrendered the lead and Ryan Roberts hit a three run bomb to left center to make it 6-5 and it ended Leake’s day; I knew that it wouldn’t be enough to beat the Reds. The DiamondBacks had came back valiantly. But this Reds group is a resilient group even in the worst of times. I knew it wasn’t the dagger. I knew they would be back.
I went to workout, because I felt myself starting to get frustrated. I would watch the end of this game while working out so that I couldn’t get too crazy. And I would take the woman with me so that even if the Reds decided to let this winnable game get away, I wouldn’t be able to really go nuts like I do when I’m watching the game alone.
The Reds did just what I thought they would do. Johnny Gomes hit a no-doubter to put them up 7-6 and just like that it looked like the Reds would slip out of the desert with a series win. Onto San Diego with a record of 7 up and 2 down, and all is right with my world and for that matter, my weekend. Sunday games always suck no matter the result because you have to go back to work the next day. I think we can all agree on that, no?
So after about 40 minutes of cardio, Nick Masset entered the ballgame and decided he was going to make my blood pressure rise a little bit higher. This is the Masset we saw last season. The nasty breaking stuff, the great velocity, and the getting his tits lit.
When Masset gave up the three run homer to Chris Young to make the score 10-7–I did something I promised myself I was done doing as a fan of sports–I punched the cardio machine in our workout room, hard. My fiance yelled at me and muttered the phrase under her breath that I loathe hearing: “it’s just a game”.
We got out of the workout room, and I figured that was it. But I am a glutton for punishment. I continued to follow the game on my phone while walking to my car. Hitting refresh for every excruciating pitch in the top of the 9th.
Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto did what they always do, come through in the clutch and give the Reds a chance to win. You can knock these Reds all you want, and they’ll blow a lead, but these guys simply never say die. They’re like the bad guy in every horror movie you’ve ever seen. When he falls out the window you better take one last look out that window onto the sidewalk and make sure he’s really dead as a doornail. Until you check the pulse and there isn’t one, he’s not dead.
And the Reds wouldn’t fail to break my heart yet one more time on this day.
Phillips and Votto singled to start the inning, and I missed the play but I’m told Chris Young made a great play to rob Scott Rolen of extra bases and record the first out. Then we’re at 10-8, and Johnny Gomes comes up and singles. Juan Francisco pinch hits and does nothing as per usual, leaving my guy; Jay Bruce, to be the hero or the goat. And with the way things were going right now for Bruce I knew how this story ended.
I rushed back into my house just in time to see Bruce swing through a high fastball to make the count 1-2. When Bruce is struggling, he’s doing a couple of things wrong. He’s not taking the ball the other way or especially up the middle. He’s trying to jerk everything. He’s swinging at breaking balls, and he’s not being careful with his pitch selection. He’s swinging early in the count. He’s not working walks, he’s striking out a ton and he’s rolling over on a lot of breaking balls. Right now is one of those times.
The next pitch, Bruce was awarded a fastball right down the middle of the plate from J.J. Putz with him representing the go-ahead run. Putz is damn lucky that Bruce is in one of those funks, because it was the type of 94 MPH pitch that big league hitters dream about, and if you’re in a groove you drive it out of the park and you’re the hero. Bruce swung through it, and my crappy day as a fan was complete. I threw one last mini-tantrum and my fiance didn’t say anything (she knows what a tough time I go through when Bruce is struggling as well as the Reds) and I turned the channel immediately.
Sunday was over, the Reds had lost the series to a lesser-team and they were heading to San Diego. That’s how game nine of the 2011 season went for me.