Reds West Coast Blast From Past
Reds West Coast Trip Blast From Past
by Robb Hoff
June 28, 2012
It still doesn't always register with me that the Reds aren't in the N.L. West anymore. Of all the biggest disadvantages Major League Baseball could dump upon a team, placing the Reds in the N.L. West when the leagues first changed to the division format was hands down the biggest borne by any team.
It always made me wonder just how good the Big Red Machine really was when considering how many of their games they had to play on the west coast against the Giants, Dodgers and Padres.
It also made it clear that the Reds have always been and always will be one of the red-headed stepchildren of Major League Baseball.
Last time I checked, St. Louis and Chicago are both west of Cincinnati and yet they were placed in the N.L. East.
It's too bad so many fans of a team had to miss so many games of their team - especially a team as unique and dominant as the Big Red Machine - just because of league alignment. I know I missed my share, even when I tried to stay up to watch.
The return of the Reds to the west to face the Giants tonight for a 10:05 start eastern time revives that feeling of fighting sleepiness to try to stay up and watch the televised game, which now as an adult is compounded by the 5 a.m. start time for my part-time job.
But how different it is now today. If I wanted to watch the game later, I could obviously record or better yet just wait until the abridged replay airs tomorrow.
Not so in the old days when there were no replays, no sports channels dedicated to highlights and just four channels available back then during the era of the Big Red Machine on my black-and-white bedroom TV.
Even worse, the next-day morning newspaper didn't have the game story and box score from the west coast game the night before and there was no Internet to get the coverage whenever wanted.
So as a Reds fan back then, you were basically left in the dark and had to rely on early morning TV or radio just to get a 10 second recap of the game from the previous night.
All of that just makes me more determined to stay up and watch the game, just to spite Major League Baseball and celebrate the bygone era of Pete Rose and the Big Red Machine.
So far, Cueto hasn't looked bad but an uncharacteristic walk followed by back-to-back singles and an errant throw at the plate by Reds rightfielder Jay Bruce has left the Reds in a 2-0 hole to start the top of the fourth inning.
Drew Stubbs walked a second time to lead off the fourth inning but got caught stealing on the pick-off move by Bumgarner, thus erasing a base runner with the best hitter in baseball at the plate in Joey Votto.
For want of a better word -- brilliant.
But it happens.
And Melky Cabrera returned the favor by getting caught stealing off a pick-off move in the bottom of the fourth, leaving the Giants version of Votto in catcher Buster Posey to bat with the bases empty.
And then Posey did his part by getting picked off by Cueto for the final out of the inning.
But the way it looks now, how many Giants baserunners get picked off may not matter because Bumgarner now hasn't allowed a hit in five innings.
Cueto pitched himself in and out of trouble in the bottom of the fifth, leaving the bases loaded and giving the Reds some measure of hope by holding the deficit at two runs.
Reds platoon catcher Ryan Hanigan summarily bounced one back up the box to leadoff the sixth inning for a base hit that spoiled any no-hit aspirations that may have been forming in the mind of the young Giant's pitcher.
After a perfect sacrifice bunt by Cueto to advance Hanigan to second, Reds rookie shortstop Zack Cozart feebly grounded out and Stubbs struck out looking to keep Bumgarer's shutout bid in tact after six innings.
Cueto continued to battle, though. In the bottom of the sixth, he gave up a questionable hit to Cabrera that was mishandled by Reds 2B Miguel Cairo, who filled in for regular second baseman Brandon Phillips.
The next batter Posey grounded into a double play, but Cueto continued to struggle somewhat by issuing a two-out walk to Giants centerfielder Angel Pagan.
That brought up The Kung Fu Panda, Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval.
Cueto ran the count with Sandoval before Reds leftfielder Todd Frazier badly misplayed a liner off the bat of Sandoval that Frazier broke in on a few steps before he realized the ball was behind him. Otherwise, it should've readily been the third out.
Cueto finished the sixth down 3-0 when in reality it should've been a 1-0 game heading into the seventh inning.
But as it stood down 3-0, the Reds hopes for a win to keep the Pirates at bay in the N.L. Central looked a whole lot bleaker after a weak grounder to short by Votto, a jam job on Reds third baseman Scott Rolen that was caught in shallow center field, and a can of corn off the bat of Bruce to the cavernous abyss in center field.
Cueto's night was done to start the seventh, and reliever Sam Lecure failed to hold the Giants in the bottom of the inning, putting the Reds farther in the hole at 5-0 and counting when the time came for me to realize one thing:
The 2012 Reds are a contender for the N.L. Central but this team definitely won't be confused with the Big Red Machine.
So instead of watching the string play out to the bitter end, I think I'll call it a night and perhaps dream dreams of the Big Red Machine instead.