The Reds started Johnny Cueto against Vance Worley tonight in a pre-Halladay attempt by the Reds to snatch a win from the Phillies. A promising start to the game turned into a game of bullpen attrition, a.k.a. "bullpen chicken", where the object for each team is to put in the least-bad pitcher remaining until someone loses.
Memories of years past probably helped coin the term, since the Phillies pen has been pretty solid this year, top to bottom. Still, the calls to Baez and Kendrick seemed to be inevitable tonight. Refreshingly, the young arms called on did a great job. But don't let that mess with the narrative here.
On the way to Verdun, the Phillies lost in the ninth inning when Ryan Madson had an uncharacteristically poor outing, assisted by uncharacteristically poor defense. A three run double from Jay Bruce hammered the nails in the coffin tonight.
The fireworks in the Reds last at bat overshadowed a workmanlike start from Vance Worley, good bullpen work until the ninth inning, and the continued resurrections of Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez. The latter two had productive nights at the plate, hopefully suggesting that there is some tread on the tires of the offense still. As well as Madson has pitched this year, the result, while disappointing, is not unexpected. These games happen from time to time, and Madson has been fabulous all year. Oh heck...TRADE HIM NOW!!!! More after the cut.
Worley pitched five innings, giving up 6 hits and striking out 3. The outcome was not bad, but he did issue four walks, which was troublesome. Particularly galling was the lead-off walk in the fifth inning to Reds pitcher and martial artist Johnny Cueto. The inning that ensued resulted in the two runs needed to tie the game, with Cueto scoring the first. In the grand scheme of things, Worley's outing was solid, especially considering that the Reds have an excellent offense. Leaving with a tie game in the fifth is not the end of the world for a young starter.
On the offensive side of things, Chase Utley's corpse had its first hit in the second inning. He nearly had an RBI, but Rollins was thrown out at home trying to score on the play. This would not appear in the wrap normally, but for Utley's recent return from the dead.
Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz powered the Phillies offense tonight. Mr. December's torrid May continued with a 3-4 night with a double and an RBI. Chooch was 2-3 with a walk, a double, and an RBI. Domonic Brown provided the other RBI via sac fly, and the Phillies had a promising 3 - 1 lead until the fifth inning.
After Worley wriggled off the hook in the fifth, the bullpens went to work. The Reds got effective work from Bill Bray, Logan Ondrusek, and C-Rod or The Other Rod, or Not A or K Rod or whomever. Effective Rod, perhaps.
For the Phillies, the Call of the Bullpen brought out Herndon (the 6h - 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 R), then Stutes (the 7th - 1 H, 0 BB, 0 R), and Bastardo (the 8th - 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 0 R). It appeared as though the Phillies were headed into the nether regions of the bullpen for a few more innings until Baez or Kendrick would turn up to cough up the game. Instead, Manuel went with what I considered to be an enlightened move -- use the best arm in the highest leverage moment. So he went to Madson.
And things went south. Edgar Renteria flied out to center for the first toe. Drew Stubbs bunted to Madson, who threw the ball into Chester, allowing Stubbs to go to second. Brandon Phillips lined out to Rollins for the second toe. Two outs? No sweat. Then it got ugly.
Votto was intentionally walked. Scott Rolen, making up to Reds fans for his NLDS performance, hit a grounder to Polanco who perhaps could have tagged the runner, but instead went to first, pulling Howard off the bag. The next hitter (Jay Bruce), who has been hotter than a Fukushima reactor, ripped a double to center, scoring three runs. Ramon Hernandez mercifully ended the inning, but the damage was done. The Phillies went quietly in the ninth, mounting no credible threat.
Just to clarify, the defense was suspect in a number of aspects in the ninth inning, and dumping the responsibility for the loss on Madson probably is not entirely fair. This was a team effort.
Le sigh. There will be better days.
Here is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Fangraph for the visually inclined: