I was watching Lieber pitch tonight and noticing how he seemingly refused to move the ball off the plate. He pounded the zone with stirkes and induced contact early in the ABs. When Reds batters tried to take pitches (as Felipe Lopez did in his first two ABs), they quickly found themselves behind on called strikes.
It got me thinking -- the Reds thrive on patience at the plate, and they seem to get all sorts of confused when the opposing pitcher doesn't let them take pitches and work the count. So, I went and picked out the last few losses that've been hung on the Reds with low run totals:
5/13 (0 runs): John Lieber: 0 walks (0 total for the game)
5/5 (1 run) Brandon Webb: 0 walks (0 total)
5/3 (0 runs) Jeff Francis: 1 walk (2 total)
4/22 (0 runs) David Bush: 2 walks (2 total)
The common theme in all these games, especially the last two, are pitchers that pound the zone with strikes and don't let the Reds sit back and remain patient.
Now, how about a couple games where Reds dominated the opposing pitching:
5/10 (9 runs): Livan Hernandez: 4 walks (9 total)
5/7 (9 runs): Orlando Hernandez: 4 walks (5 total)
5/4 (7 runs): Josh Fogg: 5 walks (7 total)
4/23 (11 runs): Doug Davis: 9 walks (13 total)
You want to know the problems with the Reds offense? Look at the number of batters taking free passes vs. the number of batters hacking away early in the count. If opposing pitchers want a blueprint on beating the Reds, it starts with not beating themselves.