Record: 1-2. Pace: 54-108. Change on last season: 0
This game was, frankly, an embarrassment. I know we may not have been able to get much in the way of advance scouting information on a guy making his major-league debut. But, even so: getting one hit off the debutant Johnny Cueto in seven innings, taking no walks and striking out ten times - the most by a Reds pitcher in his big league debut since 1900? He was perfect up until Upton got our only hit, homering to lead off the sixth, making him the first pitcher for any team to start his career with five perfect innings for over a decade [since Seattle’s Ken Cloude, on Aug. 9, 1997]. I suppose you could say he was "Cueto" good.
While his minor-league pedigree is impeccable, and the quality of his stuff obvious, from the five pitches which struck out Young, the first hitter he faced - the slowest of which was 94 mph! - it was still a pathetic exhibition by our hitters. There's no other word for it. Chris Young: 0-for-4 with four K's. Eric Byrnes: 0-for-4 with three K's. There are a number of hitters who will be very happy to get out of Cincinnati, probably led by Mark Reynolds, who was 1-for-10 with five K's, and Byrnes, who went 1-for-12 in the opening series. Maybe Eric should spend less time on his LiveVideo channel? ;-)
Doug Davis took the start and, to be honest, probably shouldn't have - much as I admire his guts, I can't say this comes as any surprise. His control was way off, throwing more balls than strikes in the 87 pitches it took him to get through 3.2 innings. He walked six and allowed four hits - but continued his Houdini-like trickery, by escaping with only two earned runs allowed [another scored as the result of an error by Hudson who, as noted by Azreous in the comments, seems almost to be more adept at making the hard plays than the easy ones].
Still, Davis had to be bailed out in the fourth inning by the Petit Unit, who retired all four batters he faced. I would not be surprised to see Yusmeiro Petit replace Davis from the get-go, for his next scheduled start, on April 8th. The B-bullpen - after Petit, we got Slaten,, then Medders - and Juan Cruz were solid, restricting the Reds to just one hit in 4.1 innings of work. Brandon Medders was a bit wobbly, loading the bases on that hit and two walks, before escaping the sixth. Cruz was good, striking out the first two batters he'd faced this year, and ending with a 1-2-3 eighth.
The only time we remotely threatened was in the eight, and that was courtesy of David Weathers who walked the bases loaded for us with one out. However, we couldn't get the big hit which would allow us to cash in on the best - indeed, only - opportunities of the day with runners in scoring positions. Alex Romero drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, but Chris Young struck out for the fourth time in a row. Francisco Cordero got his first save for the Reds, slamming the door with a perfect ninth.
soco's Gameday Thread comment sums it up well. "The reality is that we would have been lucky to escape with a win today. Sure the score was 3-2 but all of the peripheral numbers suggest a blowout. The pitching cannot allow walks all game long and expect to come away without a scratch, and the offense needs to figure out how to put the ball into play. No more wasted ABs by striking out anymore." The net result is, Arizona are left to wonder how they'd managed to lose a series, which seemed to be ours for the taking in the ninth inning last night.
If there is comfort to be gained from this, it's that we still won one more game than we did last year in Cincinnati, when Arizona finished the first half of the season there. Then, as now we lost the second and third by a single run, with our closer getting tagged with the loss in one of them. However, in 2007, we also got crushed in the opener, 8-1, and only scored eight runs in 29 innings of play. The D-backs tend not to be quick starters either, but have been consistent; six of the past seven years, we've been 2-2 after four games. Guess that bodes well for tomorrow in Colorado.
Respectable attendance in the Gameday Thread: a little down on the first two games, but that's entirely expected. Think we almost had as many people with us as were at the park, where less than twelve thousand showed up. Ouch. Joining my doppelganger in the thread [I was at work, so of course was not able to take part...] were oklahomasooners, Wimb, dstorm, Craig from Az, Azreous, Muu, singaporedbacksfan, hotclaws, AZDarkKnight, leemellon, seton hall snake pit, TwinnerA, bcloirao, snakecharmer, Wactivist, kishi, soco, 4 Corners Fan, and a somewhat confusing post from Fat Vegas Alan. Delighted to report that charmer updated her roll-call script for the new platform, which will save me the effort of listing names manually.
Statistical quirk of the day. Alex Romero, with his sacrifice fly today and his sac. bunt yesterday, joins a very elite club - at least for the moment. Only five players in baseball history have two or more plate-appearances, but no official at-bats. The others are: Ernie Rudolph [2 PAs, 2 walks]; Matt Karchner and Kei Igawa [each 2 PAs, walk and sacrifice]; plus the all-time champion, Jose Parra who had four plate-appearances, resulting in two walks and two sacrifices. Romero is the only non-pitcher in the bunch, though one suspects his membership will turn out to be extremely ephemeral.
On to Colorado, and the start of the regular-season series against the Rockies, which is the focus of this year's bet with RoxGirl [winner gets to take over the loser's site for a day]. It'll be nice to get back to seeing the D-backs play; they're 1-0 when I see a pitch, 0-2 when I don't. I think the lesson of that is obvious. ;-) Now, let's try and get some men on base when we hit the homers. Though we had one streak last year of eight consecutive solo shots, and the franchise record is eleven, from May 25-June 4, 1998. So might be a while yet...