A Wild Washington Series in Review

We couldn’t wait until next fall to have British Bengal Ben writing for our website. So we’ve recruited him for the Reds blog, too. Like with football, he’s learning baseball on the fly and making plenty of pop culture jokes along  the way. In this post, we learn that he thinks three is a “staggering” number of intentional walks. We tend to agree.

Over the course of four days the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals went into extra innings an impressive three times. It was, frankly, a somewhat topsy-turvy series. The Nationals won the first game when Ryan Zimmerman took advantage of a wild pitch by Alfredo Simon in the tenth inning to race home. This was the same Ryan Zimmerman whose fielding errors in the eighth and ninth innings allowed a previously limp Reds team to work their way back into the game in the first place.

Then, on Friday, the two teams managed to push on through for a solid thirteen innings. Americans who struggle with soccer often complain about the lack of scoring. This would have been a struggle on Friday the 13th (I know, I know, Friday the 13th, 13 innings, it’s Tebow versus the Steelers-esque in occult symmetry) because 90 minutes into this contest (the length of a soccer game), it was firmly in soccer score territory: 1-0. Following another soccer-length time-lapse, Washington had ensured another soccer score-line: 1-1. Finally, as the game pushed on well past the four-hour mark, the Nationals ended things with the most common soccer score of all, 2-1. Say what you want about British sports, but we damn well make sure they’re done before closing time.

Frankly the closeness of the game gives a kindly impression of the Reds. If Joey Votto’s stat line is removed, the Reds top five went 0-for-22 with one walk. Ouch. Bronson Arroyo’s excellence was undermined by non-existent hitting and the still worrying “non success” of the experiment to turn Sean Marshall into a closer. Oh, and did I mention that Arroyo also drove in the only run for the Reds? Speaking of pitching…as kids my sister loved chocolate and candy. She’d get loads of really good stuff for Christmas but was terrified of it all being gone, so instead of just enjoying the chocolate the way most people would, she’s just take occasional nibbles, teensy tiny bites every day until, frankly, most of the chocolate was stale and had to be thrown out. Oh, and on a completely unrelated note—Dusty Baker, meet Aroldis Chapman. Aroldis Chapman, Dusty Baker.

The Saturday game was something of a write-off for the Reds, a feeble 4-1 defeat. So with Brandon Phillips back on Sunday, the Reds needed a win, not only for the usual reasons, but also to avoid the humiliation of a four-game sweep. When Ryan Ludwick smashed a grand slam, things were looking promising. But the 2012 Reds just really have not got going yet, and somewhat inevitably, extra innings would be required.

Joey Votto and the Reds, clearly Mayans neither, agreed to a $225 million ten-year contract extension this spring. As Votto already has two years left, this means he’ll be a Red until 2024. Truly, this means that by the time his contract is up, Britney Spears will be 45 years old. American Idol will be in its third decade, and Simon Cowell may well rule the world. When you throw in Phillips’s $75 million deal, that’s an awful lot of money for the Reds lowest run total through the opening nine games since, well, ever. Which for baseball’s oldest franchise is quite a long time. So other than filling Scrooge McDuck-style swimming pools with gold bullion, Reds fans and management were looking for a little production from their stars. Fortunately, Votto came through, cracking a double to run in two batters in the twelfth, before wrapping up Sean Marshall’s shaky first save with a beautiful play at first base.

4-6 is a rocky start. However, Marshall snagged his first save, Phillips is back from injury, and if Rolen and Bruce can start to minimize the staggering number of intentional walks Votto is taking then this week’s series against the hot-starting Cardinals could get interesting…interesting in a good way.

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