I had to add this great piece from a Baseball Hall Of Fame Writer – the legendary Hal McCoy. I got his permission to use him in a blog or two. Great column, so here it goes…
By Hal McCoy | Friday, October 8, 2010, 11:11 PM
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave thinking that I dare not permit the Cincinnati Reds hold the Yuengling or the Montecristo White Label because on this night they would sure drop it.
The best defensive baseball team in the National League kicked the baseball around Friday night like a World Cup soccer team and probably kicked away their chances to advance beyond the National League Division Series.
Four errors. Three hit batsmen. A mental mistake on a throw by third baseman Scott Rolen. Drew Stubbs getting picked off first base. No runs scored after the fifth inning. This was a meltdown to rival Three Mile Island, which isn’t that far from Philadlephia’s Citizens Bank Park.
It all added up to a 7-4 defeat to the Philadlephia Phillies on Game Two of the NLDS, put the Reds down 0-2 and on the Eve of Destruction, just one defeat away from quick extermination. It’s three straight wins or the uniforms, bats and shoes get put away until spring training.
And it all started so well on this night.
ON THE SECOND pitch of the night from Roy Oswalt, Brandon Phillips crash landed one into the upper deck in left field, ending the Reds’ string of 30 straight scoreless innings in Citizens Bank.
Then they made it 2-0 in the second inning without a hit because Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley made two throwing errors.
It became 3-0 in the fourth when Jay Bruce it one into the upper deck in right and it blossomed to 4-0 in the fifth on Joey Votto’s sacrifice fly and they had rid themselves of the spectral ghost of Roy Oswalt.
IT LOOKED GOOD, Oh so good for the Reds. Bronson Arroyo was in control – four shutout innings and a 4-0 lead. It was money in Citizens Bank, right.
Then it eroded like the mud slides on the Pacific Coast Highway.
This is how it all slipped away, mostly because the ball kept slipping away from Reds’ defenders:
THE THIRD: Phillips, who had three hits, singled. Orlando Cabrera singled and the Reds had first and second with no outs. Votto flied to left, Scott Rolen struck out, Laynce Nix struck out. Rolen is 0 for 7 with five strikeouts in the two games.
THE FIFTH: The Phillies had two outs and a runner on first. Shane Victorino grounded to Phillips at second. The ball bounced off his chest for an error. Placido Polanco grounded to third and the ball bounced off Rolen’s chest for an error. So the Reds two best defenders, two guys who could win Gold Gloves, made back-to-back error to fill the bases. Chase Utlley drilled a two-run single, cutting the Reds lead to 4-2.
THE SIXTH: Arroyo walked Jason Werth. After Jimmy Rollins popped out, manager Dusty Baker pulled Arroyo for Arthur Rhodes. Arroyo, angry at himself for the walk or for being pulled from the game, tossed a cup of water across the dugout. Rhodes got the second out, striking out Raul Ibanez. After Werth stole second, Rhodes hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch.
Logan Ondrusek replaced Rhodes and he hit pinch-hitter Ben Francisco, knocking off his batting helmet, to fill the bases. Baker stuck with right-hander Ondrusek against left-handed Shane Victorino and Ondrusek walked him, forcing in a run to cut the lead to 4-3.
THE SEVENTH: Aroldis Chapman arrived and after he slipped two high-velocity fastballs past Utley he hit him with a pitch – nicked him or grazed him. It looked as if he might not have been hit, but neither catcher Ryan Hanigan nor Baker argued, so it must have hit him – the third hit batsman of the night.
Chapman absolutely embarrassed Ryan Howard, freight training three fastballs past him for a strikeout. Werth grounded to third, an easy out at first. But Rolen decided to try for a force at second and Werth was called safe. Phillips argued. Baker argued. The umpire won and the Phillies had runners on first and second with one out.
Rollins lined one to right, directly at Jay Bruce. Easy out, right? Well, Bruce never saw it, lost it in the lights. The ball whizzed past him and he was charged with an error as Utley scored. But did he he? It appeared he missed third base but nobody in the Reds dugout caught it.
Meanwhile, center fielder Drew Stubbs retrieved the ball Bruce lost in the lights and fired to Phillips, the cut-off man. But he dropped the ball for another error as Werth scored to put the Phillies in front, 5-4. Two errors on one play. Two errors for the night by Phillips, who had four errors ALL SEASON.
Four errors. Three hit batsmen. Six walks. Stubbs picked of first base. Two hits to start an inning but no runs. A bad choice on a throw by Rolen. A ball lost in the lights. It all adds up to a major problem for the Reds.
And Johnny Cueto becomes the savior – the guy who pitches Game 3 Sunday against Cole Hamels. Win or go home. As simple as that. Then they can try to figure out how to beat Roy Halladay Monday in Game 4.
Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy has retired from the Dayton Daily News after covering the Cincinnati Reds for 37 years. Hal’s blog, though, will continue to be a must-read for Reds fans. He’ll share his thoughts on the team this season and will file updates from Great American Ball Park. You also can catch Hal in print every Sunday in his popular Ask Hal column.
*** LETS GO, REDS! I want to see a Winning Column about you on Sunday Evening!