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Listless Reds have no answer for Francisco Liriano

Oct 1, 2013, 11:56 PM EDT

Brandon Phillips Getty Images

Swept by the Pirates over the weekend, the Reds went down without a fight. The hope that they could simply flip the switch — and maybe find their swag — Tuesday died a quick death in front of a raucous PNC Park crowd.

The incredible thing is that the Reds had actually beaten Francisco Liriano three times this year. They roughed him up only one of the four times he faced them, but he was 0-3 with a 3.70 ERA against Cincinnati.

Perhaps that success was part of their undoing tonight. The Reds seemed to treat this one like just another regular-season game. Lefties hit a ridiculous .131/.175/.146 against Liriano this season, and the Reds’ three best hitters are all lefties. All 10 runs the Reds had scored against Liriano was driven in by right-handed hitters.

Of course, all three of those left-handed hitters had to start tonight. There was no sitting Shin-Soo Choo, Joey Votto or Jay Bruce. But batting them first, third and fifth hurt the chances of a rally. Todd Frazier hit two homers off Liriano this year, but there he was hitting sixth anyway. If there was ever a time to try to stack some right-handers, this was it.

Alas, it’s probably moot. Dusty Baker could have employed a quicker hook with Johnny Cueto after the right-hander gave up two homers in the second. He could have tried to use Aroldis Chapman to stop the bleeding at some point instead of holding him in reserve for a situation that was never likely to arise. Doing so might have led to a tighter game. It’s highly unlikely it would have led to a win.

Bud Selig’s wish was for it all to come down to one game after 162. In five or seven, the Reds match up pretty well against the Pirates. But not in one, not with the way Liriano was dealing tonight.

  1. alexandercartwright - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    $225 million Joey Votto 0-4 & an error. Before going crazy on the Cueto talk remember the game was still 3-0 in top 4th with Choo on 2nd, Ludwick on 1st & $225 million found his way back to the dugout without producing. All night long story

    • apkyletexas - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:52 AM

      Joey Votto broke Pete Rose’s record for times on base in a season this year. The Reds wouldn’t have been close to a playoff berth without him.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 2, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      It’s easy to throw stones when you aren’t in the box. How about throwing “The Mouth” under the bus? What did he do? Except throw his teammates under the bus himself.
      “I don’t care what my teammates feel about it.” “We choked.”
      If I am Todd Frazier I am punching him in “the mouth.”

  2. missingdiz - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    I wonder what happened to the Reds. They fought all the way in that 3-way dogfight and then dropped the last six, including tonight. Seriously, I’m not gloating–although I’m glad Cueto got bombed, as are all Cards fans. But what happened to the Reds? I don’t think sabermetrics can explain this–this is a human story, not stats. But I’d like to know the story.

    • apkyletexas - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:54 AM

      The Cards are probably about to find out what just happened to the Reds, at least for the last four games. Starting Thursday night. Did you see any of that pitching tonight?

    • metalhead65 - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:08 AM

      the answer to what happened to the reds is simple and will keep happening if they bring the toothpick back. there is no excuse for a team as talented as they are to keep making the same mistakes and not being able to hit. the man is stubborn and set in his ways to make any changes that could help his team. he refused to bat votto and bruce back to back until late in the season because of his rule against having left handers hit like that. look what happened when he did,it allowed cozart to bat where he belonged in the 7th spot and he responded and so did bruce. he gets ludwick back then only plays him 2 days in a row so he would not get tired because guys who miss half a season need all the rest they can get then waits until the last week of the season to move ludwick up to the 2 spot. he is great there if it is 10 years ago and he is playing for the cardinals,for the reds not so much. dusty is the problem and should have been fired the min. the game was over!

    • theroc5156 - Oct 2, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      It pains me to say this as a Reds fan, especially to a Cards fan, but the Reds just don’t have heart. No sense of urgency and no passion. It’s a shame. The Pirates did them a favor because the Reds just lost one game. Badly. Had the Reds won, I think the Cards would have swept them. Badly. I think I am in the minority by rooting for the Cardinals against the Pirates. Why? I think they are the better team but Pirate fans are also Steeler fans. Good luck. It will be a great series.

  3. riverace19 - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    The story is sometimes the manager can provide a spark and inspire his players… Dusty is the opposite of that. Yes they make hundreds of millions so you wouldn’t think they need a cheerleader but this Reds team might. Not Dusty’s fault but just saying under the current regime I think the Reds have limited out.

  4. riverace19 - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    Missing Diz: yes the human story that’s part of what makes baseball great

  5. disgracedfury - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:23 AM

    Where’s Brian Kenny to defend the overrated Votto .

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 2, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      “Overrated?” That comment is a disgrace.

  6. sisqsage - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    As Giants and Cubs fans know all too well, Dusty is limited as a manager. Reds have talent, but will never get the brass ring with Dusty B calling the shots from the dugout. Cueto tonight was a classic Dusty move. Players love playing for the guy, but you have to have a GM or owner who knows how to hire a guy who can get you over the top like a Leyland, Bochy or TLR.

    • skerney - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:16 AM

      103 wins + Win or go home + Dusty Baker = Salomon Torres and no playoffs.
      I’m still bitter 20 years later.

  7. thebadguyswon - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    The Reds’ window is closing.

  8. watchfullhose - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:42 AM

    I think it’s time for the dusty baker experiment to end

  9. earpaniac - Oct 2, 2013 at 3:14 AM

    I find it hard to believe that Dusty made managerial mistakes! I watched him lead the Cubs splendidly for several years!

    (If there was such a thing as a sarcasm font, it might’ve broken from overuse in this post)

  10. earpaniac - Oct 2, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    The only thing that could’ve made this game more “Dustyish” is if tomorrow we find out Cueto needs Tommy John surgery.

    • aceshigh11 - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      Now that’s funny.

    • Old Gator - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      Can they really transplant a ligament to his ankle?

  11. 950003cups - Oct 2, 2013 at 5:13 AM

    Dusty should’ve sent out an enforcer to start a melee to give his team a spark. That’s what they do in the NHL.

  12. Stiller43 - Oct 2, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    “In five or seven, the Reds match up pretty well against the Pirates. But not in one, not with the way Liriano was dealing tonight.”

    Did liriano pitch all those games they won vs the reds this year? 12-8 season series…

    • jm91rs - Oct 2, 2013 at 9:09 AM

      8-8 until last Friday when the Reds went into shut down mode.

  13. jarathen - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:38 AM

    The Reds’ lefties had no answer to Liriano, and that gave them almost no marginf or error.

    The fans were also insane. I watched most of the game just to see the fans, and they were just awesome. That first strikeout made you think they’d already won the World Series. Talk about excitement.

    • ctony1216 - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      Bucs fans were amazing. They made Cueto’s night miserable. Talk about home field advantage.

      It reminded me of games at the old Yankee Stadium when visiting players would get mercilessly serenaded, like Pedro “Who’s Your Daddy?” Martinez, Dar-ryllll Strawberry, David “Halle Berry” Justice. After the move to the new Stadium, corporate guys bought all the good seats, and those new fans don’t have a clue. They boo their own players — except for Mariano, Jeter and Pettitte — or just sit there quietly. It’s a home field dis-advantage. It’s very strange — a fascinating cultural phenomenon.

      But it was fun to root for the Bucs last night. Good to see Russell Martin have a big day.

  14. babyfarkmcgeezax - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    I don’t know, but maybe they can transplant a plantain.

  15. metalhead65 - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    congrats pirates now you get to actually play in a playoff game. you do realize that you guys have not won a playoff game yet right? that starts later this week,try not to choke away that feel good story about making them after all these years.

    • magicrat13 - Oct 2, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      geez…sore loser much???

      • metalhead65 - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        no they lost fair and square but they and you fans celebrated like you had won the world series when it was the right to play in the playoffs. what happens when you lose to the cards? I hate them more than I do the Yankees but they always win so good luck with that.

  16. thedudeabides422 - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    If Dusty wasn’t such a racist he would of started Latos over a guy with thee starts since the all star break.

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