The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
In what may well be his last appearance for the Cincinnati Reds in Great American Ball Park, free agent to be Shin-Soo Choo put in yet another prototypical leadoff-man performance, and since nobody else truly ran away with the JNMHSotG today, he gets the nod. Choo went 1 for 3 with a walk, HBP, and run scored, and in the process raised his season OBP to a rather absurd .424. With news trickling out mid-game that Hunter Pence, similarly a free agent to-be and similarly a 30+ year old corner OF, has inked a 5 year, $90 million extension with the San Francisco Giants, it's nearly assured that Choo will demand every bit as much (and likely more) from his next contract, which effectively prices the Reds out of his market. Choo has been a revelation at the top of the order this season, the perfect antidote to the ailment that had been the Reds' leadoff hitters, and it will be nearly impossible to replace his production going forward. Let's hope he can power the Reds to a deep playoff run before he leaves.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Brandon Phillips, who RBI'd in his 2nd game back in the cleanup spot before leaving with a welt on his leg from a stray foul ball; Jay Bruce, who picked up RsBI 108 and 109 on his 43rd double of the season, the Reds only extra base hit of the day; and Joey Votto, who was on base 4 more times (and also virtually assured himself of finishing with a SLG below .500 for the first time in his career).
- Bronson Arroyo served up solo dingers to both Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen in the Top of the 3rd, but the Reds struck back immediately in the bottom half of the inning. Choo led off by being hit by a pitch, moved to 2B on grounder from Ryan Ludwick that would've been a hit if there were more people in the stands, motored to 3B on a wild pitch, and scored on a Phillips single following a Votto walk. Bruce then launched an opposite field double that was a foot shy of being his 31st HR of the season, and both Votto and Phillips came in to score. Reds led, 3-2.
- Unfortunately, the dingers. Solo shots from Pedro Alvarez in the 4th and Walker, again, in the 5th put the Pirates back in front, and a 2 run shot from Marlon Byrd later in the 5th wrapped up Arroyo's day, regular season, and possibly his Reds' career. Andrew Lambo...Andrew Lambo?...Andrew Lambo hit another solo shot off Logan Ondrusek in the 6th, and a Clint Barmes sac fly in the 8th topped off the scoring for the Pirates. The Reds bats, however, stayed silent despite taking 8 walks on the day, and that was that. Reds lose, 8-3.
FanGraph Section that Pretty Accurately Sums Up the Collective Disappointment Felt By Reds' Fans
- Today's loss ensures the Reds will be on the road for the one-game Wild Card playoff on Tuesday, with the Pirates hosting. Francisco Liriano is expected to get the start for the Pirates, and the Reds haven't really given any indication as to their plans. It's likely that Johnny Cueto, who had been set to start on Sunday had the game mattered, will be available, so it will either be the Reds' 2012 ace or 2013 ace Mat Latos.
- I suppose it's somewhat fitting that the Pirates held a huge champagne celebration when they clinched a playoff berth while the Reds did not. Despite the fact that the NL Central competition was much, much tougher this season than it was in 2012, the Reds opted not to revel in their reasonably successful season, and in many ways that reflects the perceived lack of fun being had in the Reds' dugout this season. It's truly odd.
- The combined drop in SLG from 2012 to 2013 from Jay Bruce (.036), Joey Votto (.075), Brandon Phillips (.033), Todd Frazier (.090), and Ryan Ludwick (.200) is .434. That's a metric boatload, and it gives me a sad.
- That's now 4 losses in a row at the most crucial point of the season. Couple that with the recent series losses to the Mets, Brewers, and Cubs and, well, it's just damn disappointing.
- Put Aroldis Chapman's picture on a milk carton. Hell, start him on Tuesday...he's fresh enough.