This game had a playoff style atmosphere from the beginning. In a night of huge pitching match-ups around Major League Baseball (Cliff Lee/Josh Beckett, Tommy Hanson/Michael Pineda, among others) this one probably did the finest job of living up to the billing.
Johnny Damon’s solo home run off Johnny Cueto was the only mark that the Rays could muster against the Reds ace for the first seven innings. The Reds battled against David Price who was more than on his ‘A’ game, and got a triple off the center field wall by Drew Stubbs and then tied the game a batter later on an Edgar Renteria RBI single.
Later in the inning, Renteria stole second base on an 0-2 pitch to Joey Votto. Votto then doubled a few deliveries later to put the Reds up 2-1 and knock Price from the game.
Johnny Damon hit a pitcher’s pitch from Bill Bray into the shallow left center area that fell just out of the reach of Chris Heisey’s glove to give the Rays a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning.
The Rays then brought on their closer, Kyle Farnsworth in the top of the 9th inning. Farnsworth entered the game with a 1.99 ERA and 17 saves in 18 opportunities. That’s uncharacteristically good for Farnsworth, and as I told my friend that I was watching the game with ‘at some point the guy is going to play to the back of his baseball card, he’s due to blow a save’.
Jay Bruce led off the inning and worked the count full, and then connected on a mammoth blast to dead center field that tied the game at 3.
The excitement wouldn’t last long. Evan Longoria hit an inside fastball from Logan Ondrusek into the seats in left field in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the Rays the victory.
At some point, the Reds are going to have to stop doing this. They’re now 11-17 in one run ballgames. The summer is flying by, and these were victories that the Reds were collecting at this time last year. They now sit narrowly at one game over the .500 mark at the exact halfway point; and they trail the Milwaukee Brewers by 3.5 games in the NL Central. They’re now officially in 4th place with the Pirates taking over third.
Some might say that it’s only 3.5 games, and yes a big week from the Reds could have them knocking on the door of first place. But a poor week or even a poor two-week stretch could definitely put them out of things for good at this point. Every night is pivotal and the floundering Reds have everyone waiting on them to get hot and it just isn’t happening.