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The whirlwind ride that was the 2012 Cincinnati Reds landed softly today, dashing hopes and forcing us to ponder new ways for our heroes to help us cheer. Somewhere, a five year old Reds fan is in tears, distraught that the first team he'd come to love just wasn't quite good enough. Somewhere else, everywhere else, Reds fans of all ages know exactly how he feels.
Hopalong Cassidy swung into the saddle, and with Mesquite at his side the two started up the trail. In the distance a muffled avalanche of thunder rolled and rumbled. Through the storm clouds the afternoon sun sent streaks of cathedral light across the sky and the first spattering of drops fell, dappling the ground and making dust jump.
"Red Connors is meeting me out there," Mesquite said as they rode out of town. "And if we can find Jonny, we'll send for him. It'll be like old times again."
"Well, lead on then," Hopalong Cassidy said, tugging his hat down on his head. "I always did like ridin' in the rain."
- Louis L'Amour, Trouble Shooter
The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Ryan Ludwick went 2 for 5 today, and both of his hits were the closest things the Reds had to momentum shifters. Ludwick hit an upper deck moon shot - his 3rd HR of the series - to cut the lead to 3, and he singled in the Reds 4th and final run in the ill-fated 9th inning rally. He did, really, what he'd done for the Reds all season long, but what had been the single largest staple of the Reds success this season, starting pitching, simple didn't get the job done. These are the punches we roll with.
Honorable mention is due to Joey Votto, who went 2 for 4 with a walk, meaning he finished this series with a .389 average and .500 OBP despite being visibly in discomfort throughout. Also worthy of dap is Brandon Phillips, whose 2 for 5 day left him with a .985 OPS and 7 RBI in the 5 game set. The bullpen combination of Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall, Jonathon Broxton, and Aroldis Chapman also were rock solid, tossing 4.2 innings of 2 hit, no walk ball.
- Despite the 10 combined runs, this game was a highly contested pitchers' duel through the first 4 innings, as neither team crossed the plate until the 5th. The Giants, however, left quite a few cleat marks on home, scoring 6 off Mat Latos. Gregor Blanco got things started with a single, and scored on Brandon Crawford's triple. Angel Pagan then reached when his slow grounder to SS was bobbled by Zack Cozart, scoring Crawford, Marco Scutaro walked, Pablo Sandoval singled to load the bases, and Buster Posey hit what may have been the hardest hit ball I've ever seen off of the second deck in LF. Grand Slam. Dagger. MVP. Reds trailed, 6-0.
- To their testament, the Reds played the next 5 innings quite well, ensuring that for at least the next few days we'll remember their effort and unwillingness to concede. Ultimately, of course, the record books won't give a damn. Ryan Hanigan led off the 5th with a HBP, Drew Stubbs (Drew Stubbs? Drew Stubbs!!) singled, and both scored when Brandon Phillips doubled to RF to shave the lead to 4. Ludwick hit a solo honker in the 6th to cut it to 3, and Luddy's single in the 9th made it 6-4, but Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen left runners on 1st and 2nd in the 9th, ending the rally, the game, and the season.
- Since SB Nation United went live, the Reds went 7-7, Dusty had a stroke, Cueto injured his oblique, and Joey Votto only had 4 extra-base hits. The Cardinals are 8-4 since then and stand a win away from the NLCS. Make of it what you will.
- The Reds were 2-13 with runners in scoring position today. That's a sure-fire way to lose a game.
- It was a fun ride, Ladies and Gents. This just wasn't the Reds' year. Remember way back in February when we were worried that this was the year we'd be "all-in," since Phillips would be gone, Rolen would be gone, and Votto would surely be traded? Yeah. I don't remember that, either.
- Some postgame tunes are much, much needed. One about the way you feel right now? Done. Bittersweet but not sad? Done. One with a funky beat that makes you forget the loss and feel like dancing? Done.
- It's been real, folks. See ya on the flip side.