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Reds blow lead in 9th inning, lose to Cubs on season's final day

A fitting way to finish the belchy 2016 season.

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Seems like yesterday.
Seems like yesterday.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Somewhat fittingly, nary a single player truly stood out in this, the final game of the Cincinnati Reds season. Tucker Barnhart singled in a pair of runs, scored one himself, and walked as part of a solid final day.  Eugenio Suarez doubled, walked, and drove in a run, too.  Adam Duvall singled and walked, Tony Renda smacked a run-scoring double, and both deserve praise for their outings.

But seeing that the Reds' bullpen blew a late lead in meltdown fashion one final time, let's let them have the final JNMHSotG.  They'll be much of the lasting memory of this offseason anyway, so we might as well celebrate the fact that of the six arms that threw pitches for the Reds today, every single one of them either walked a guy or served up a dinger - Raisel Iglesias being the lucky one to do both.

Oh, heck with it.  You get a trophy, fine reader, for sticking out this entire season like a trooper.

Key Plays

  • The Reds struck first in this, the final chance to smack the Cubs around of the 2016 season.  Kyle Hendricks entered play sporting a shiny 1.99 ERA, but the Reds opened the contest by posting a 3-spot in the Bottom of the 1st - and they did so all with 2-outs.  Ivan De Jesus, Jr. singled with 1-out, and he moved to 2B when Adam Duvall singled a pair of batters later.  Hendricks then loaded the bases by hitting Scott Schebler, re-loaded them when Eugenio Suarez walked behind him (which plated the first run), and Barnhart then followed with a 2-run single to RF to score Duvall and Schebler.  Reds led, 3-0.
  • Unfortunately, Robert Stephenson still has quite the propensity to walk guys, and it bit him in back to back innings.  A leadoff walk to Dexter Fowler in the Top of the 3rd haunted, as Fowler later scored on a productive groundout after moving to 3B on a Kris Bryant single.  Chicago then hit the repeat button in the Top of the 4th as Jason Heyward led off with a walk, and he scored two batters later on a Wilson Contreras single into LF. Reds led, 3-2.
  • Cincinnati scored again in the Bottom of the 4th, though it happened despite some oof-inducing baserunning.  Both Suarez and Tony Renda were thrown out at 3B in the inning after earlier doubles, but Renda's scored Barnhart (who had reached 1B via fielder's choice on the same play where Suarez was thrown out trying to advance to 3B).  A run is a run is a run, but farting away outs at is a great way to turn would-be big innings into ones with a lone run.  Reds led, 4-2.
  • Wilson Contreras slugged a Blake Wood meatball over the CF wall for a solo dinger in the Top of the 8th, but the Reds entered the Top of the 9th with a lead and "closer" Raisel Iglesias on the mound poised to wrap up a win.  About that...a 1-out walk to Albert Almora started the unraveling, and subsequent hits by Munenori Kawasaki and Matt Szczur forced these tired fingers to type difficult names and put the Cubs ahead, 5-4.  Miguel Montero then honked a 2-run homer to put the Cubs ahead for good, 7-4, as the bottom of the Cincinnati lineup couldn't muster a rally after that.  Fin.

Tony Graphanino

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • What's the only thing better than Joey Votto swinging the bat?  Joey Votto doing everything well, which we've seen before - though not this year.  He's keenly aware of that, however, and as he told The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan, he'll be working to make sure his entire game is back to being unstoppable during this offseason.
  • Speaking of Votto, his 1 for 4 day kept his 2nd half batting average well over the .400 mark, making him the first big leaguer to do so since Ichiro in 2004.  It also wrapped his year with a .985 OPS, which sits tied with Daniel Murphy for the best mark in the National League.
  • Stephenson's final line was the quintessentially frustrating kind:  4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K on 88 pitches.
  • Today's Reds loss was the 94th of the season.  If the Tampa Bay Rays hold on to beat the Texas Rangers (they're up 4-3 right now), Cincinnati will again have the #2 pick in the draft next year. While picking that high is a perk, to be sure, the projected bonus pool difference between picking 2nd and, say, 5th is far more significant.
  • The 2016 season was not packed with fun.  It included the single worst bullpen I may have ever seen, and did so by design, not by accident.  It was another lost year for Devin Mesoraco, another mostly lost year for Homer Bailey, and we never got to see Jesse Winker or Amir Garrett in their matching "we're the future" t-shirts. Still, there's just something about the game of baseball that makes looking back over the last six months bring a smile to my face on this, the baseball equinox.  I thank Red Reporter for much of that, as this place continues to provide an outlet to laugh at, yell about, and grumble productively over bad baseball in a way not found anywhere else.  It's hard to envision being nearly the baseball fan I've become had I not had this place as the backdrop for the better part of a decade, and for that I'm sincerely grateful.  Thanks for being the best section that GABP never had for yet another season.
  • We'll be doing our damnedest between now and #RRSB2K17 to keep you posted on what the team's up to, what the team should be up to, why the hell the team won't just listen to us and let us make all the damn decisions, which minor leaguers have the most nicknamable names, and other bits of Reds-related rambling, so stop by early and often.
  • The San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers today in Vin Scully's final game, meaning the St. Louis Cardinals officially miss the playoffs...
  • Tunes.