April 8, 2006: Cincinnati, Ohio – With the lack of fan support in Cincinnati, it is a waste to spend hard-earned money on expensive tickets. I always buy the cheapest ticket ($5) and move to a closer, pricier seat. The lack of fans was so overwhelming yesterday that my wife and I were able to find my dad, step mom, and step-sister, without having to call them.
We knew the general area they would be in, 500-level 3rd base side, but that was it. We had no clue which section they would be in. We just popped our heads into a random section, took a quick look around, and found them sitting close to “the nook” within seconds. That’s pretty sad. Some days I have a hard time finding T-Bird or the hounds in my house.
The Reds were not short on heroes on this day. Ryan “I’ll have another one” Freel, Felipe “Flip” Lopez, Rich “I’m a starter Dammit” Aurilia, Austin Kearns, and Aaron Harang.
1st inning: The Reds struck early on this sunny but chilly afternoon. Freel and Flip led off with singles, followed by a 3-run shot from Aurilia.
2nd inning: Harang gave it right back though with a 2-run homer to second baseman Jose Castillo. Castillo went 3-4 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs.
3rd inning: The Reds looked like they were poised to have a huge inning. Oliver Perez walked both Freel and Flip to lead off the inning. Perez was able to induce Ken Griffey into a ground out, but then immediately walked Aurilia to load the bases. Adam Dunn came up next and swung at the inaccurate Perez’s first pitch. Dunn was credited with a sacrifice fly and a RBI, but it was still a boneheaded decision to swing at that pitch. The only reason Dunn drove in a run was due to Freel’s nifty head-first slide into home plate. After barely avoiding the tag, Freel bounced up and did a little “Willie Mays Hayes” dance. Edwin Encarnacion grounded out to end the inning. After loading the bases with 1 out, the Reds only came away with one run (4-2).
4th Inning: In the top of the inning with 2 outs, Harang gave back a run. Harang gave up a double to third baseman Freddy Sanchez and an RBI single to Castillo.
The Reds responded again in the bottom of the fourth, putting four runs on the board. Kearns led off with a 378-foot shot. After a Valentin strike out, Harang reached base on a 3-foot chop swing. Perez was cited with an error. Perez gave up singles to Freel and Flip before walking Griffey with the bases loaded. That was it for Perez. Ryan Vogelsong came in to relieve Perez. Immediately, Freel scored on a passed ball. Aurilia lined out, Vogelsong intentionally walked Dunn, and then threw a wild pitch allowing Flip to score. At the end of 4, the Reds were up 8-3. Looked like an easy win at the ballpark.
7th inning: Harang allowed a lead off single to Castillo before striking out pinch hitter Nathan McLouth and catcher Ryan Doumit. Harang gave up a double to Chris Duffy and his day was over. Dad Sandwasher and I both thought Reds’ manager Jerry Narron yanked Harang way too early. Even though Harang was up to 118 pitches with 2 outs, let him try to get out of the jam.
Mike Burns came in for Harang and instantly gave up two runs (Harang’s) on a double to shortstop Jack Wilson.
8th inning: The Reds’ offense responded again with a 2-run double by Javier Valentin and an RBI single by Freel, scoring Valentin. All three runs were off Pirate reliever Solomon Torres.
Matt Belisle pitched the top of the eighth. Belisle threw 27 pitches in the inning, giving up a run, a hit, and 2 walks. It was an all around craptastic outing for the young reliever.
By the time the middle of the 8th rolled around, or as the Reds’ marketing department like to call it, the “Pepsi Refreshment Inning,” I was running on fumes.
9th inning: Seemingly 50-year-old Chris Hammond stunk things up for the second game in a row. Hammond was able to record his first out of the season, but that was it. After coaxing Chris Duffy into a fly out, Hammond walked second baseman Jack Wilson, and gave up singles to former Red Sean Casey and my fantasy stud Jason Bay. Hammond’s day was over and fellow senior citizen Rick White came in to close out the game. White was able to end the game but not before giving up two runs (charged to Hammond) on a Freddy Sanchez single.
Final Score: Reds 11, Pirates 9
I love baseball. I’ve been fired up for months for baseball to return, and I’ve been geeked up all week to go see the Reds. My boy Marcus and I have teamed up to get the MLB package on the computer. With MLB on the computer and with the free MLB on-demand preview, I’ve probably watched 30 games this week, including 5 more when I got home last night. I don’t know what it was about yesterday’s game. It may have been the lack of fan support or the poor pitching or the length of the game (3 hours and 15 minutes), but by game’s end, I was bored out of my mind. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Aaron Harang aside, pitching was atrocious for both teams. There were 8 pitchers total, giving up a total of 15 runs and 17 hits.
Reds sent backup outfielder Chris Denorfia down to the minors to make room for the newly acquired ex-Indian Brandon Phillips. Phillips, the team’s 4th second baseman, is out of options, so he must stay up on the Reds’ 25-man roster. I would have rather seen utility outfielder Andy Abad given walking papers, but it won’t hurt Denorfia to get everyday playing time.
Valentin’s song before coming up to bat is Gerardo Mejia’s “Rico Suave.” I hope Valentin gets fined for this in kangaroo court. This hurts the psyche of the team and the hundreds of fans that bother showing up.
This year, the Reds brass, for reasons only known to them, have cheerleaders dancing on the top of the dugouts in between innings. My dad remarked that one cheerleader looked like she was “rode hard and put away wet.”
Doumit had three of the weakest plate appearances I’ve seen in a long time, striking out meekly each time.