NLDS Game 1: Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out
Cincinnati sports fans don’t have to look back very far to find an instance where playoff dreams were dashed in the blink of an eye. Carson Palmer (2006), Kenyon Martin (2000), that time that one guy on the Cincinnati Rockers got hurt doing that one thing before that one big game. The Cincinnati Bengals and UC Bearcats never recovered from those injuries (I made up the Cincinnati Rockers one… not that anyone would know), but football and basketball are far more dependent on one player than baseball is.
Still, when Johnny Cueto went down after 8 pitches, the feeling in my stomach seemed all too familiar. I was at the game when Palmer’s knee got bent into Kentucky, and I was watching the UC game when Martin crumpled onto the court. I knew their respective team’s seasons were done. With Cueto, I didn’t know what to think. I was less concerned about when Cueto was going to come back and more concerned with how Dusty would get through Game 1 without (A) depleting the bullpen, and/or (B) upsetting the balance of the 4-man rotation.
Just hours before the game, Reds fans were up in arms because of Mike Leake being left off the NLDS roster. It’s easy to second-guess that decision now, but I’ve seen Leake on the small stage, and he’s done very little to convince me that he’s ready for the big stage.
You can’t plan for what happened last night. All you can do is react and hope that the moves you make are the right ones. Do you know what Dusty did last night? He figured it out. Not only did he limit the amount of innings the bullpen worked, he also made sure Mat Latos only pitched 4.0 innings, meaning he’s still available later this series. That, Reds fans, is why managers make the big bucks.
I still can’t fully grasp everything that happened in Game 1–all the strategic moves, the fact that the Reds are responsible for 3 of Matt Cain’s 6 losses this season–but the 2010 Reds team would not have won that game. Period.
While Sam LeCure was warming up on the mound yesterday, the camera cut away to show Bruce, Votto and Phillips talking and laughing in the outfield. They say that if the flight attendants on your plane look concerned, you should probably be concerned, too. Well, if the Reds can joke around moments after the ace of their rotation leaves the game in the 1st inning, then I’m not going to worry.
This was only 1 game of a 5 game series, but I like the way it started.