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Reds drop rubber match in St. Louis, lose to Cardinals 4-3

A predictable path to another frustrating loss.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Zack Cozart has done everything in his power to push the debilitating knee injury that cut short his 2015 season as far from memory as possible.  Yes, he's dealt with some quad soreness in the early season cold, but the Cincinnati Reds SS has been nothing short of spectacular since putting that in the rear view mirror prior to the weekend set in St. Louis.

On Sunday, Cozart was red hot at the plate yet again.  He went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored, and despite everything the back of his baseball card would suggest has looked exactly the leadoff part the Reds cast him in at season's beginning.  He chipped in with his usual steadiness in the field, even adding an over the shoulder 8th inning catch on what otherwise would've been a bloop single in a crucial spot.

So, have another trophy, Zack, and here's to keeping it up for as unsustainably long as possible.

Honorable Mentions are due to:  Jon Moscot, who looked plenty serviceable in his season debut with the Reds; Jordan Pacheco, who had a pinch-hit double; Tony Cingrani, who tossed a scoreless inning in relief; and Jay Bruce, who singled, scored, and made a nifty sliding catch in RF.

Key Plays

  • The Reds jumped in front early in this one, putting the game's first run on the board in the Top of the 1st.  Cozart led off with a double to RF, and he then moved to 3B on a subsequent single from Eugenio Suarez.  Michael Wacha picked off Suarez at 2B, but a Joey Votto sac-fly to LF brought Cozart home.  Reds led, 1-0.
  • St. Louis flipped that script in the Bottom of the 2nd, however.  Jedd Gyorko smacked a 1-out dinger that just cleared the wall in CF to level the score, and that was followed by a Greg Garcia single to RF.  Garcia then scored a batter later when Eric Fryer dumped a double into the RF corner that rattled around long enough to get the run home.  Reds trailed, 2-1.
  • Oofish defense helped the Reds get back in front in the Top of the 3rd.  Brandon Phillips reached on an error by Garcia at SS to lead off the inning, and he scored a batter later when Bruce singled to Wacha - who promptly threw the ball away.  That left Bruce on 2B, where he then scored on a single to CF by Devin Mesoraco.  Reds led, 3-2.
  • That lead lasted until the Bottom of the 5th, at which time Matt Carpenter let loose on a Moscot meatball and pounded it off the RF facade, clearing the bullpen altogether.  Game tied, 3-3.
  • Moscot left with runners on and 2-out in the 6th inning, which meant that the Reds' beleaguered bullpen was again tasked with getting a beaucoup big outs against their division rivals.  Blake Wood un-jammed Moscot in the 6th, Tony Cingrani kept the Cards off the board in the 7th, which left the Bottom of the 8th to Ross Ohlendorf in a tie game.  Welp.  Ohlendorf walked the Aldemys Diaz to leadoff the inning, and believe it or not, that haunted.  Eric "freaking" Fryer later doubled to the wall in CF with 2-out, which brought Diaz all the way around to score from 1B.  Trevor Rosenthal then sat down the Reds in order in the Top of the 9th for the save, and that was that.  Reds lost, 4-3.

FanGraph of another lost rubber-match in St. Louis

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • Prior to the start of today's game, the Reds optioned Keyvius Sampson to AAA Louisville to make room on the roster for Moscot.  Sampson, who had a rock solid Cactus League campaign, allowed 4 ER in his 2 appearances in 2016 (in 3 IP), sporting an unsightly 2.67 WHIP.  With his stuff, though, I fully expect we'll see him back in the Cincinnati bullpen at some point again this season - especially given the nature of his competition.
  • Moscot's final line:  5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 K, 1 BB, 3 ER on 102 pitches.
  • Homer Bailey threw 51 pitches over 3 innings in a rehab start at the team's facility in Goodyear, AZ yesterday, and reportedly looked great.  GM Dick Williams told C. Trent Rosecrans of The Enquirer that Homer touched 96 with his fastball, which is worthy of a GIGGITY.  We'll find out more about his rehab path this week, but it appears he's on-track to be back with the Reds at some point mid-May.
  • It's not the easiest thing in the world to get wins when relievers continually walk the first batter they face every inning.  The Reds' bullpen will notice at some point, hopefully.
  • The Reds will return home after this one, where they'll welcome the Colorado Rockies for a 3-game set beginning Monday night.  It appears that Dan Straily will get a chance as the team's starter, where he'll face off with Jordan Lyles.  First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.
  • Tunes.