UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, knowing I’m going to catch what-for from my wife Nadine for forgetting to water the flowers and the tomato plants at dusk before settling in for the Reds-Indians argument Tuesday night. Can you water at 10 p.m.?
THE SHINE AND luster is fading from the once-glossy demeanor of Aroldis Chapman.
The Cincinnati Reds suffered a staggering defeat Tuesday night to the Cleveland Indians, 3-2, in 10 innings — an unfathomable loss.
Why? Well, the Reds scored a run in the top of the 10th to take a 2-1 lead and it was A-train time — time for Chapman to come in and blow 100 miles an hour fastballs by the Tribe, a team that doesn’t have a single .300 hitter.
But Chapman’s fastball topped out at 96 and he was all over Hell’s half-acre with his deliveries.
He did retire the first batter on one pitch, a feeble fly to right. But Shin-Soo Choo pulled a single to right, his third hit. He threw over to first base four times as Asdrubal Cabrera was at the plate and Chapman fell behind 3-and-1. His next pitch was drilled into the right field seats — a stunning walk-off win for the Tribe.
And it cost the Reds a game in the standings as the Pittsburgh Pirates hammered the Minnesota Twins and crept back to within 2 ½ games of the Reds.
AFTER THE REDS and Indians combined for 19 runs and 28 hits Monday night, a 10-9 Tribe victory, it figured that Tuesday night’s game would be a battle royale, with hits ricocheting all over Progressive Field.
After all, the starting pitchers were Mike Leake for the Reds and Josh Tomlin for the Indians, both with ERAs over five. And they hooked up last week with the Reds winning, 12-5, with neither pitcher making it past the fifth inning.
So, wouldn’t you know it? Leake and Tomlin pitched as if it was Bob Gibson vs. Sandy Koufax.
Leake went seven innings, giving up one run and six hits and he retired the last 11 batters he faced. Tomlin went 6 2/3 innings, also giving up one run and six hits.
IT BECAME A battle of the bullpens, with a seemingly huge advantage to the Reds, who have the best bullpen in the National League to Cleveland’s bottom-feeder of a bullpen in the American League.
And it looked as if that’s what would happen, a blow-up by the Cleveland bullpen in the top of the 10th.
Pinch-hitter Willie Harris led the 10th with a one-hop double off the center field wall against Wright State’s Joe Smith. But Zack Cozart put down an awful bunt, right back to Smith, and he threw Harris out at third.
Chris Heisey shattered his bat and both bat and ball whistled toward third baseman Jack Hannahan. Amazingly, while the head of the broken bat spiraled through his legs, Hannahan fielded the ball and forced Cozart at second.
Tribe manager Manny Acta brought in lefthander Nick Hagadone to face Joey Votto.
That’s when the luck began. Hagadone nearly skulled Votto with a high, hard wild pitch that steamed to the backstop and Heisey took second.
Votto then chopped one over Hagedone’s head and beat shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera’s throw for an infield hit as Heisey took third.
Then, another wild pitch. Heisey scored the go-ahead run, setting it up for Chapman, but it didn’t work and do the Reds suddenly have a Cuban Crisis?
SEAN MARSHALL PITCHED the eighth and ninth and gave up leadoff hits in both innings, but worked out of both, striking out Aaron Cunningham in the ninth with the winning run on second base.
WHY NOT BUNT, JAY? It was a tie game, 1-1, in the seventh and Brandon Phillips led with a single.
The Indians put on their Jay Bruce shift — three guys to the right of second base and third baseman Jack Hannahan moved over in the shortstop spot. All Bruce had to do was push a bunt up the third base line for an easy hit.
He didn’t do it, didn’t try. He hit a lazy fly ball to center.
Ryan Ludwick walked, Scott Rolen grounded to first and Todd Frazier walked. Tribe manager Manny Acta replaced Josh Tomlin with Esmil Rogers to face Devin Mesoraco. A nine-pitch battle ensued and Rogers threw the ol’ dog pitch — K-9. On the ninth pitch, a breaking ball, Mesoraco struck out and it stayed 1-1.
Somebody once asked Ken Griffey Jr. why he didn’t bunt once in a while when teams overshifted on him and he said, “Because they can’t put a defensive guy in the right field seats.”
ZACK COZART LED the eighth with a single, his third hit. Chris Heisey was not asked to bunt because Manager Dusty Baker knew if the Reds bunted Cozart to second the Indians would intentionally walk Joey Votto.
So Heisey swung away and popped one behind first base. Fortunately for the Indians, to fans wearing Tribe caps couldn’t judge the ball. They stuck their hands in the air, but Cleveland first baseman Casey Kotchman reached into the second row and snagged it.
Votto grounded out to short right field, with second baseman Josh Kipnis making an outstanding play. Cozart took second and moved to third when third baseman Jack Hannahan booted a grounder hit by Brandon Phillips. But with runners on first and third, Bruce lined out to right field, leaving it 1-1.
QUICK QUIZ: What do all these players have in common, other than they all have played shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds: Todd Frazier, Zack Cozart, Edgar Renterial, Orlando Cabrera, Miguel Cairo, Paul Janish, Drew Sutton, Chris Valaika, Alex Gonzalez, Jolbert Cabrera, Juan Castro, Jeff Keppinger, Danny Richar, Enrique Cruz, Pedro Lopez, Rich Aurilia, Royce Clayton, Ray Olmedo, Felipe Lopez, Jerry Hairston Jr., Adam Rosales.
ANSWER: All 21 of those guys at one time played shortstop with Brandon Phillips at second base and, no, DatDudeBP cannot name them all, even if you give him 15 minutes — or 15 hours or 15 days.
ONE OF THE FEW times I had problems with a player was with one of the nicest, most cooperative guy ever to wear a Reds uniform. It was David Weathers.
The Reds were in Cleveland and the bullpen was struggling and I wrote, “The Reds bullpen is not a bullpen, it’s a pigpen.”
The next day Weathers stormed into the clubhouse and yelled, “So we’re a pigpen, huh?”
Before I could say anything, fellow bullpenner Kent Mercker, a best friend to Weathers, said out loud, “Right now we are a pigpen. All I ask is that Hal let’s me be the head hog.”
FUNNY HOW BEST friends have a way of calming things down. Pitchers Joey Hamilton and Gabe White were best friends, too. One day in Wrigley Field I was standing close to Hamilton’s locker in the tiny, cramped visitor’s clubhouse, where there was no room to move.
Hamilton came in and said, “Can’t the media stay away from my locker?”
Hearing that, White said, “Hal can stand anywhere he wants. He can not only stand by my locker, he can sit on my stool and put on my uniform.”
Thanks Kent and thanks Gabe.
TIME TO SEND in those questions for this week’s Ask Hal to get them in Sunday’s DDN. Send them to email@example.comTweet