After one game on the books, the 2013 Cincinnati Reds felt very similar to the 2012 Reds. I’m not the only person to think this, either. In his post-Opening Day blog titled New Season, Same Feeling, ESPN 1530’s Mo Egger writes, “…you know how you felt during those last three games of the NLDS last October? That feeling of just waiting, dying, for something to happen offensively, and consistently being let down? I felt that yesterday.” He went on to point out that the Reds were 0-10 with runners in scoring position. It is tough to win when you have no offense.
However, my take on what feels the same about the 2013 and 2012 Reds is a little different than Egger’s. I’m getting sick and tired of watching Reds pitching give up meaningful and/or difference-making homeruns to weak hitters. It’s one thing to get beat by another team’s stud, but to lose games because you give up three-run bombs to Jaime Garcia (he’s a friggin’ pitcher, btw)…it’s devastating.
Opening Day 2013: Angels over Reds 3 – 1
How did the Angels get three runs? A solo homer by catcher Chris Iannetta and a two-run (game-winning) single by…Iannetta. Batting from the eighth spot, Iannetta managed to basically beat the Reds by himself. In a lineup with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and, oh yeah, Josh Hamilton, the Reds got beat by a guy who batted .240 with nine jacks last year. Truly an 8-hole hitter.
So why does that remind me of last year? In 65 losses, Reds pitching surrendered game-tying or go-ahead homeruns to seventh, eighth and ninth place hitters 11 times last year. Only 2 of the 10 hitters even had double digit HRs (there are only 10 because one guy got ‘em twice). That means in about 20% of the Reds losses last year they got beat by a scrub.
Just for fun, I compiled a list of these Reds-beaters.
|Xavier Nady||9 (ph)||Nationals||.184/4|
This is strictly opinion, but getting beat by bums is a by-product of a mental let-up. Generally speaking, Reds pitchers were able to get 3-4-5-6 hitters out in these 11 losses. But I think the mental effort required to retire the ‘dangerous’ part of the lineup caused Reds pitchers to ease up mentally on the 7-8-9 hitters. Miss a spot here, hang a curve there, and BAM, even Mario Mendoza could go yard.
The Reds pitching staff is relatively young (minus Arroyo), so here’s hoping last year’s foibles built some mental toughness for 2013. After one game, though, I’m not so sure.