Looking to take the rubber game of the series, the Cincinnati Reds started the home ninth inning in style. Brandon Phillips lined a hit up the middle. Jay Bruce followed with a hit to right, advancing Phillips to third base. Scott Schebler struck out. Catcher Tucker Barnhart stepped in and lined a rope to right. Phillips jogged in from third base, and the Reds slipped past the Rockies 6-5 to cap the heroics.
Once again, the Reds bullpen imploded. Assigned to protecting a 5-2 lead, the arms in the pen weren’t up to the task. Raisel Iglesias provided the Reds with a sparkling performance. The young right-hander worked 6.2 innings, allowed two runs, and struck out eight. He was robbed of another win when the bullpen couldn’t support his efforts.
Powered by back-to-back home runs from Jay Bruce and Adam Duvall, the Reds posted a 3-0 lead. But the Rockies came back with a two-run fourth inning to get closer. A Carlos Gonzalez RBI double followed by an RBI single from Gerardo Parra made the score 3-2. That was the only trouble Iglesias encountered during his time on the mound.
The game had a moment of intrigue and drama that eventually worked in the Reds’ favor. According to the Dayton Daily News, things got interesting in the seventh inning. Colorado’s Dustin Garneau didn’t tag third base, while rounding it on a pinch-hit single by Ryan Raburn that looked like the tying run.
Bryan Price made his way to the mound to pull Iglesias and insert reliever Blake Wood, after Garneau scored. Before working to the plate, Wood made an appeal throw to third. Umpire Adrian Johnson called Garneau out to preserve the Reds’ 3-2 lead.
The Reds then added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh. Colorado left fielder Ben Paulsen lost Adam Duvall’s fly ball in the sun with two outs. Tucker Barnhart and Ivan De Jesus followed with RBI doubles, putting the Reds up 5-2.
The eighth inning was the bullpen’s undoing. Wood gave up a single and a walk to start the Rockies part of the frame. Price wasted no time and called in Tony Cingrani. Parra grounded into a fielder’s choice as DJ LeMahieu scored. Ben Paulsen doubled to left, scoring Story and Parra. Reynolds tried to score but was out at the plate. The Rockies tied the game at 5-5.
Ross Ohlendorf relieved Cingrani in the top of the ninth. He gave Cincinnati the perfect inning they needed, to stage the walk-off win. After losing his previous two relief appearances, Ohlendorf responded with a 1-2-3 frame and picked up the victory.
Reds fans could easily be looking at a team with at least 10 Ws if not for the lack of support from the bullpen. In an effort to get things settled, manager Bryan Price has opted to use a system that utilizes all the relief pitchers when the time is right. According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds will be operating on a “closer by committee” basis.
“There’s just a lot of use early in the season with these guys,” Price explained.
“What you’re going to see coming out of the bullpen is what you’re going to see. I can’t define roles at this point in time, but that will shake out. As we get toward the end of the month and into May, we’ll have a little more clarity as far as roles and things of that nature.”
Price and the Reds will have to figure it out soon. The hot Chicago Cubs will be at Great American Ballpark for the next four games. Chicago swept the Reds in the Windy City during a six-game road trip. Sound pitching will have to be the prime objective for the Reds to stay on course in the Central Division.
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