Reds Show Signs Of Life, Bullpen Struggles

Being part of a rebuilding season can be tougher than fans understand. The Cincinnati Reds are part of a wholesale reboot. With that stigma comes the assumption that the team will be just as horrible as predicted. After opening the season with a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies and taking two-of-three from the Pirates, the Reds have been rather pedestrian. A four-game losing streak tarnished the luster of the hot start. But, they’re still showing signs of life.

Playing the St. Louis Cardinals has become the series. A 14-3 blowout – at the hands of the Cards – may have awakened the Reds. Matt Holliday, and the Redbirds bashed six homers against Reds pitchers, in Friday night’s opener.

“It was a blood-letting,” said Reds manager Bryan Price, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It wasn’t a competitive effort.”

Reds Show [Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]Saturday was a different story. Cincinnati dug deep, to overcome falling behind early, and posted a 9-8 victory. That win showed the effort that Price was talking about. It’s the kind of competitiveness that helped the Reds surprise fans and analysts. Erasing a four-run deficit against the Cards ace Adam Wainwright showcased the heart that had catapulted the Reds into first Place.

In that come-from-behind win, the Reds managed to rout Cardinals pitchers for 15 hits. In doing so, they snapped a four-game losing streak.

“It gives us something else to talk about other than what you don’t want to talk about,” Price calmly explained, as reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer. “No one wants to talk about losing streaks or inefficiency with any part of your game. Nobody wants to talk about that stuff. It’s nice to talk about a win. It’s nice to talk about being resilient enough to come back from that.”

Just as quickly as the Reds found that spark, it was squandered by the bullpen. After fighting into the eighth inning of a well-pitched game, the Reds lost another series to the Cardinals. The Cards took the final game of a three-game series, with a 4-3 victory.

After losing Sunday, Reds fans will welcome home a team that went 1-5 on their first road trip. The season is still young. The way the bullpen is performing, Price will need to make sure the starters can go deeper into games. Through the first 12 games, Reds relievers are 3-3 with a 5.36 ERA. It’s easy to figure out the early weakness of the team.

Jon Mascot started the game for the Reds and worked 5.2 solid innings. His pitches weren’t nasty, but he was able to get the job done. He was greeted with an early lead. Zack Cozart doubled to start the game. He was moved to third on a single from Eugenio Suarez. He scored when Joey Votto lifted a sacrifice fly to left field.

Mascot gave up three runs, during his time on the mound. He gave the Reds a chance to take the rubber game, but he was lifted before the sixth inning.

Reds Show
[Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]

“I wanted to get that quality start and go deep into the game. I made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of it.”

The Reds return to the friendly confines of Great American Ballpark, to start a seven-game home stand. It doesn’t get any easier for the Redlegs. The stand opens with the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies just took two-of-three from the high-flying Chicago Cubs (the second opponent of the home stand). If the Reds are going to get back to their winning ways, this will be the time to do it.

Making a snap judgment about the season isn’t necessary. The Reds are only 12 games in. If Reds fans want to see the team be a contender, the bullpen has a few questions that need to be answered.

[Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP]