El Niño Destructed. Braves 7, Reds 2.

END made a rather triumphant return to GABP today. - USA TODAY Sports

Interesting pitching decisions didn't help the cause, but it's hard to really be frustrated when the offense only scores 2.

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Zack Cozart went 2 for 4 with his 5th HR of the season today, a 2nd deck shot off of Mike Minor that served as the Reds only run until the Bottom of the 9th. Cozart also hit a sharp liner back up the middle that hit Braves reliever Anthony Varvaro (who's OK, thankfully) that went for a single. For the series against the Braves, Cozart went 5 for 13 with 4 runs scored and is hopefully emerging from his early season struggles. Since it's pretty obvious that Dusty's going to stick with him batting 2nd for the near future, getting this kind of production out of Cozy is paramount.

Honorable mentions are due to: Jay Bruce, who went 1 for 3 with a walk and his 2nd HR of the season (both in GABP); Mike Leake, who was excellent through 7 IP, allowing just 2 ER and striking out 6 (but was rather oddly brought back out for the 8th inning, which didn't work out); and Aroldis Chapman, who didn't throw a single pitch this series.

Key Plays

  • Both Leake and Minor were quite effective today, and only a solo HR by Cozart in the 3rd and a similar solo shot by Dan Uggla in the 4th had put runs on the board by the 6th inning. Unfortunately, Leake caught too much of the plate on an inside cutter, and Uggla took him deep for the 2nd time on the day. Reds trailed, 2-1.
  • The Bottom of the 7th demonstrated a bit of the pickle the Reds have faced with injuries so far this season. After Bruce and Todd Frazier were retired, Donald Lutz singled to RF and Devin Mesoraco followed with a walk. Minor had already thrown 110 pitches, and with the Reds' pitcher's spot up in the lineup, many scenarios were at play. The Braves realized that if they brought in one of their RH relievers, the Reds had a few LH hitting options on the bench, but if they opted to keep their LH starter in, the Reds only options were Cesar Izturis and Corky Miller...so they kept in their lefty, Mike Leake stayed in to bat for himself, and popped out to end the threat.
  • The Top of the 8th was equally as strange, as Leake was brought back out after having already thrown 96 pitches. He promptly allowed 2 singles and was pulled for Sean Marshall, who allowed a bloop single to Freddie Freeman, a LH bat, and was pulled for J.J. Hoover. Hmm. Hoover walked Justin Upton, and two batters later allowed a grand slam to former Red Juan Francisco, a LH bat for whom he was traded just over a year ago. Bruce's 9th inning solo shot was the only thing left for the Reds offense, and that was that. Reds lose, 7-2.

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • Braves left-handed hitters hit .303 with a .342 OBP in this series, and had 2 HR and 8 RBI. So far in 2013, left-handed hitters have hit .059/.059/.059 off of Aroldis Chapman. I don't make the rules.
  • The Braves played this series without RF Jason Heyward, who is still on the DL after having an appendectomy in April. Today, B.J. Upton, Brian McCann, and Justin Upton all were held out of the starting lineup, with only Justin Upton getting a PA as a PH. So of course they scored 7 runs.
  • The Reds had won their first 5 home series before losing this one. The Milwaukee Brewers come to town for a 3 game set starting Friday, and here's to starting a new win streak.
  • No Reds between now and Friday at 7pm makes me feel so lonely.
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