Game 15, 2011: Pirates 7, Reds 6

[Box Score]


In the worst way I wanted the Reds to come away with this game and I wanted to be able to say that these are the same old Pirates that we’re talking about. But once again as they so often seem to do, the Reds will send me to work on a Monday following a Sunday loss thinking about what might have been.

These are not the same old Pirates. It’s a long series and we’ve all had a good look at the likes of Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, Ronny Cedeno, Garrett Jones, Joel Hanrahan, Pedro Alvarez and the new and improved tandem of Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton.

Today, the guy that went off was Mccutchen. It’s pretty much his team now even though he’s only 23. It’s funny because today was a microcosm of Mccutchen vs. Bruce. Both guys firing back and forth with blows in a heavyweight title fight. Both guys who figure to face off for the next decade or so and be tops at their craft in the NL Central.

It doesn’t help that Edinson Volquez put the Reds in yet another hole this afternoon. They trailed 4-0 after the first inning, and Volquez’s first inning ERA is now 29.25.

For all the qualities of imperfection the Reds will have to deal with to be one of the best teams in the National League this year, one that they have that so many don’t is that they grind, and they fight and they claw back into ballgames time and again.

When they were in the 4-0 hole, I was sure that the Pirates would need more than that to hang a loss on them today and I was right. Miguel Cairo–a super sub for Brandon Phillips that got on base four times today–homered to get them on the board. It wasn’t a cheapie either.

With two outs a few innings later Jay Bruce singled and Paul Janish followed his single with his own that would make it 4-2. A few innings later Scott Rolen’s RBI double would tie it. Then the Reds took the lead on a Bruce single to make it 5-4.

Garrett Jones homered off Volquez who had settled down and we were tied again. A few hitters later the Pirates would have their lead back at 6-5. Again, there were too many frames left and I knew the Reds would be back.

Jay Bruce’s confidence looks like it’s surging right now. After he lined the single to right field to give the Reds a lead, we just had the feeling that he would have a day. When he came back to the plate with the Reds trailing by one and Jose Veras gave him a high fastball, he launched it into the seats in right centerfield and the Reds had tied it once again.

Logan Ondrusek got out of trouble with a nice play on a squeeze by the Pirates to keep it tied. But as I said to myself, I’ve seen this game so many times. Too often I’ve seen my team battle and get a heroic play like that only to lose it on a single with two outs. That’s exactly what happened. Mccutchen strikes again. The Reds got bested by a good player today.

It is a testament to their character that they weren’t done yet. The Redlegs loaded the bases up in the bottom of the 9th off Joel Hanrahan, and he went 2-0 to Drew Stubbs before Stubbs flied out to the man of the hour in center to end it.

We’re 15 games in and it seems like there’s been a million big moments already. The Reds play all week long instead of having tomorrow off, so that made this one just a little easier to take. Beyond that, when this lineup really goes off it’s all over. No one will be able to play with the Reds on some nights because they’re all going to hit and it’s going to be scary the type of runs they score on a good day. The starters need to start going more than six innings and they need the same good clean bill of health that they were blessed with mostly last year.

Top Plays:

Miguel Cairo’s bomb gets the Reds on the board

Bruce singles the Reds to an early 5-4 lead. All the way back.

Jay Bruce ties it at six with a bomb to center (2)

The heartbreaking but predictable beginning of the end

The Cardiac Reds fall just short

Classic Oldie Song That Should be Played on Loud Speakers at a Ballpark near you:

“Woman, hold me in your arms. Rock it baby.”

Hang with these Reds. They’ll get ’em tomorrow. They’re that kind of team.