“A manager uses a relief pitcher like a six shooter. He fires until it’s empty, then takes the gun and throws it at the villain.” —Dan Quisenberry
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
It became clear in a hurry that it wouldn’t come down to which team could hit early, but which team could KEEP hitting. A first inning Votto bomb following a Castellanos single gave the Reds a quick 2-0 advantage. Moments later, a Mike Moustakas scud missile into McCovey Cove with Eugenio Suaréz aboard with a walk made it a steep 4-0 mountain to climb for the light-hitting Bay Area Boys.
Joey Votto off RHP Kevin Gausman – 108.1 mph, 42 degrees (376 ft Flyout, .490 xBA)93.5 mph 4-Seam Fastball#Reds @ #SFGiants (T5)
— MLBBarrelAlert (@MLBBarrelAlert) April 14, 2021
What should have been smooth sailing for Luis Castillo turned into anything but as Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Crawford homered, each with a man on, to erase the Reds’ lead in one fell swoop. Neither Gausman or Castillo could find their command early and the question quickly became: Which pitcher would settle in?
We are watching history, folks. https://t.co/OXmD7b50Yp
— Redleg Nation (@redlegnation) April 14, 2021
Castellanos doubled in Jesse Winker all the way from first to reclaim the lead 5-4 in the second inning. And the game would stay that way until the home half of the 6th.
Posey struck out swinging.Wade Jr. struck out swinging.Gausman struck out swinging.Dickerson struck out swinging.Belt struck out swinging.Crawford struck out swinging.Posey struck out swinging.
By the end of 4 innings, Castillo—like Stella—had found his groove. But after a Giants single and a bunt single against the shift in the 5th, Castillo had thrown 92 pitches, and the bullpen was waiting in the wings. A timely double play on a ball slapped back up the box to La Piedra got the Reds out of the inning having thrown 98 pitches. His night was done. The line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 7 K.
The Antone-less bullpen would quickly give up the lead. Sean Doolittle waved the white flag, surrendering a home run to Evan Longoria, a single to Buster Posey, while Austin Slater would triple off Carson Fulmer. The Giants would lead 6-5 after 6 innings.
Cincinnati would strike back for a run in the top of the 7th, courtesy of old friend Wandy Peralta. After a single by Jonathan India, a balk and a wild pitch would be followed by a bloop single by Alex Blandino to tie the game at 6.
But the Giants continued to take advantage of the Reds’ suspect bullpen. A couple of walks by Cionel Peréz and a sac fly off Lucas Sims by Wilmer Flores gave the lead right back to Frisco 7-6.
Suaréz would double with 2 outs in the 8th and David Bell would pinch run Kyle Farmer in an attempt to get the run home from second base, but Tyler Rogers, a submariner, would strike out the side.
And that would be the Reds last serious threat.
What Did We Learn Today?
You just can’t slug your way to victory night-after-night. In 5 of the Reds 7 wins this season, pitching has held the opposition to a grand total of 9 runs. Pitching has been a big part of the Reds fast start. Tonight, the lack of it was why they lost.
Tejay Antone clearly didn’t have enough time in the spring to build up his innings to the point of being a viable starter. Still, I’m not so sure that when he’s ready, the Reds wouldn’t be best served by keeping him right where he is until the bullpen finds its feet. This pen without Antone could fumble away a lot of games before April gives way to May. Sonny Gray will be back shortly to fortify to the rotation. And Castillo is not going to continue to have these erratic outings. Tyler Mahle is better than many Reds fans think he is. Miley is proven, despite an injury-plagued 2020.
On Deck for the Redlegs
Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco GiantsApril 14 at 3:45pm ETTyler Mahle (1-0, 2.00 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (1-0, 2.51 ERA)