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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Reds Cards In Rubber Game

The rubber game of the Reds'/Cardinals' series had nothing to do with rain gear from an all day pouring rain. It was, in fact, the deciding game of the three-game series.

The Reds were trying to take a second straight series from the National League Central leaders, having broken "service" in St. Louis last week.

A pair of young pitchers were given the responsibility of pitching the deciding game.  Michael Wacha, 24 of the Cardinals and Michael Lorenzen, 23, for the Reds.

Wacha won the romper room pitching duel 3-0

"Wacha was outstanding today," Bryan Price said. "We didn't get much going. Votto was on base four times but we didn't put a threat together until he left."

Both put up "nadas" for three innings.

Jason Heyward singled over Brandon Phillips' leaping effort for the Cardinals first hit, leading off the fourth inning. Heyward stole second as Randal Grichuk missed his swing at a 3-2 pitch.  Kelton Wong walked.  Tony Cruz delivered a two-out run scoring single.

"It's easy to overlook he is a young inexperienced pitcher. This is only his second year as a starter," Price said. "He has room to grow."

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The Reds got a two-out double in the first by Joey Votto and a two-out single in the third from Phillips but did nothing with them.

The Cardinals added two more in the fifth on another two-out single from Wong with Matt Carpenter, who dropped a double out of Jay Bruce's reach. Stephen Piscotty was hit with a pitch by Lorenzen.  Heyward's slow roller erased Piscotty. Heyward stole second again and scored the Cardinals' third run.

"Lorenzen got in a situation where he had to give Wong a first pitch fastball," Price said. "He just has to learn the tricks of the trade. We brought him up out of necessity but we think he can handle it. He's handled it pretty well."

"I didn't have bad stuff," Lorenzen said. "I competed with everything. I had some guys 0-2 and they battled. That's what the Cardinals are known for. They took pitches. They checked swings and fouled balls off. I want to win but if you take the results out of the equation. I learned a lot. It's a step in the right direction."

Wacha finished seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits. It extended the Reds' string with 16 scoreless innings.

The Reds' threatened against former teammate Jonathan Broxton. With one out Jason Bourgeois walked. Votto walked in his third straight at bat. Frazier got the crowd excited with a fly to deep center that Grichuk caught at the edge of the warning track.  Randy Choate, the left-handed specialist, came on to face Bruce and struck him out.

"The park played big today," Price said.  "That ball Frazier hit might have been out on a normal day."

The Reds brought the tying run to the plate against Trevor Rosenthal. Byrd singled and Barnhart walked.  Rosenthal struck out pinch hitter Brayan Pena on a 3-2 pitch.  Phillips flied out to right to end the game.

The Reds are retooling the pitching staff with five rookies.  They know they will have added challenges ahead.

"I'm learning all the time," Lorenzen said.

"This season provides an opportunity to pitch competitively  in September," said Price. "The need to pitch in September to see what it's like. It will pay dividends eventually but we're going to go through some growing pains. They will grow together as a close cohesive group."

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