Welcome to Great American Ballpark in beautiful Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cincinnati Reds, down 2-0 in the NLDS to the Philadelphia Phillies and on the verge of elimination, are about to begin their first home playoff game since 1995. What had set up to be one of the most exciting days in the history of Cincinnati sports, with the Bengals playing at home earlier in the day, is beginning to look bleak. The Bengals completely choked away a late game lead to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a few hours prior to the first pitch, which certainly hasn’t helped the mood for the evening’s big match-up. Nevertheless, the park is packed and ready to go. The city seems to realize how rare days like these are.
Brian Anderson and Joe Simpson have the call for us on TBS…
8:01 – Hall of Fame and Big Red Machine second baseman Joe Morgan throws out the first pitch, and the Cincy crowd is pumped. A lot of respect shown for Joe. Although in all fairness, I could have thrown out the first pitch and they would probably still go nuts. That’s what a 15 year playoff-drought will do to you.
8:07 – Reds’ starter Johnny Cueto’s first pitch is a ball, as the flashbulbs go wild. Impressive how juiced up this crowd is, like a new freshman girl during her first weekend at Ohio University.
8:09 – Polanco singles up the middle to start the game. Not a good start.
8:13 – Phillies’ first baseman Ryan Howard hits a bloop single to left. Runners on first and third with two outs.
8:17 – And the sports day from hell picks up right where the Bengals left off. Cabrera fields what seemed to be an inning-ending grounder, but the throw pulled Joey Votto off the bag at first. The error scored a run, giving Philly a 1-0 lead.
8:22 – Drew Stubbs comes to the plate first in the bottom of the inning and beats out an infield single.
8:23 – Victorino robs a Phillips liner in the gap, a sure extra base hit that would have tied the game. Great American would have exploded if that had found some grass.
8:35 – Did you guys know Conan O’Brien was getting a new show on TBS? They’ve been pretty quiet about it.
8:44 – Jay Bruce smacks a two-out single, but Cabrera follows up with a strikeout to end the second. Pitchers are looking good so far in this one.
8:54 – Cueto fans Chase Utley in the third, and the crowd loves it. Mainly because Utley is a greasy haired cheater with stupid facial hair.
9:06 – You know what makes me think of October playoff baseball? Yup, you guessed it TBS: Kid Rock. (“I was booooorrnnnnn freeeeeeeee!!!!”)
9:14 – Cueto finishes off the Phils in the top of the fourth. If it wasn’t for the blunder by Cabrera, this game would be knotted at zeros right now.
9:17 – I switched over to the Sunday Night Football game during the commercial (PHI @ SF) just in time to hear Cris Collinsworth say, “Patterson got Frank Gore through the back door there.” Yeah, I giggled.
9:22 – Scott Rolen just smacked a single up the middle for his first hit of the postseason. As one of the most experienced players on this young Reds team, we really needed him to have a good series. Hasn’t happened so far.
9:29 – Joe Simpson, talking about Cueto’s slider, said: “He might try to get it in the back door here.” Yeah, I giggled again. I’m such a child.
9:32 – Uh oh. Utley hits a solo homer to center field, 2-0 Phils. Some Cincy fan did his best Bartman impression, although I don’t think Stubbs could have gotten to it. Still, what kind of people come from this town?
9:41 – Reds send Miguel Cairo in to pinch hit for Cueto in the bottom of the fifth. Cueto’s stat line: 5 innings pitched, 5 hits allowed, 2 runs allowed, only 1 of them earned. Great game by Cueto tonight; he really showed up. Too bad the bats didn’t.
9:45 – Hey, I think Conan O’Brien has a new show starting on TBS.
9:53 – Rolen mishandles a grounder to third. I didn’t expect him to light the world on fire, but I would have never guessed he would struggle like this. The man had eight errors all season, and already has two in the series. And on that note, Brandon Phillips, who had three errors all year, had two in Game 2. And finally, a team with only 72 errors through 162 regular season games, has seven errors through their first three playoff outings.
10:04 – Likely NL MVP Joey Votto goes down swinging; Hamels goes 1-2-3 to end the sixth. He’s looking good tonight. The Reds are not. (Literally though, Hamels is a good looking guy. Don’t hate, just appreciate.)
10:25 – Jay Bruce hits a hard liner to right, but directly at Phillies’ outfielder Jason Werth. The Reds hit three balls right on the button this inning, and only had a Ramon Hernandez double to show for it. They can’t catch a break tonight. Still 2-0 Philadelphia.
10:48 – Flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman comes in to pitch the 9th for the Reds. Get your radar guns ready.
10:53 – 105? How can you hit something that small when it’s going 105 mph?
10:59 – And we head to the bottom of the 9th, the Phillies still holding a 2-0 lead. If the Reds have any tricks left in the bag, they better show them now. By the way, Conan is on TBS…
11:02 – Phillips rips a single to left field to start the inning. Crowd is going ballistic. Have to give them an A+ for effort tonight. Votto is coming to the plate. If it was ever going to happen, I think it has to happen now.
11:05 – Votto grounds into a crowd-silencing double play. It doesn’t look like it’s in the cards for us this year.
11:08 – Rolen, our last hope, goes down swinging on a high fastball. The symbolism is astounding: we gave it our best shot, but couldn’t quite keep up with the big boys. Philly sweeps. It was fun while it lasted.
Rough series for the Redlegs. It was nice to be back among the league’s elite teams, and yet disappointing all the same. But before we break out the booze, let’s tip our caps to the Cincinnati Reds; Division Championships don’t come around like rainy days in April.
Somehow, I feel like the Bengals loss earlier in the day had an impact on this one. This city (as most seem to) lives and dies with its sports teams. Today, we died. There could be a lot of DUIs and suicides in the Queen City tonight.
But hey, at least we aren’t Cleveland.
Thanks for reading