This might be better served here than in the Misc. Updates thread. Nevertheless, here goes from the May 4th game at Florida ...
I hate to say it, Dusty, but you dug your own hole with several moves or non-moves last night that really put the Reds in a bad situation. Here's the tally:“That one was the toughest one so far,” said manager Dusty Baker. “In my managerial career (San Francisco, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati) I’ve had more late losses here than anywhere.”
Top of the 8th inning
Willy Taveras singles with one out during a 2-2 ballgame. The Reds signed Taveras to give them a speed and stolen base threat at the top of the order, and this is the precise situation where that threat needs to help the Reds win ballgames. Chris Dickerson sees four total pitches, and Taveras roams no further than a few steps off first base. Taveras absolutely should have been running, and whether or not it was Taveras' decision or Baker's, it was a crucial lost opportunity.
Of course, Dickerson singles and Taveras moves up to second base. Rather than attempt to swipe third to give the Reds a runner on third and on out, Taveras sits still at second base. Joey Votto hits a medium deep fly ball that would have easily scored Taveras from third base had he figured out a way to get there.
That's lost opportunity number one right there as the Reds ultimately do not score.
Bottom of the 9th inning
Dusty Baker uses his spot starter and long man, Nick Masset, to record only one out. With the pitcher's spot due to leadoff the top of the 10th, that leaves Baker no choice but to pinch hit for Masset in the 10th. Masset gets the job done and gets the game to extra innings, but now Baker left himself managing an extra inning game without his long reliever.
Top of the 11th inning
After a Jay Bruce walk, the Reds have Brandon Phillips on second base and Bruce on first base with only one out. Renyel Pinto starts using a high leg-kick motion on the mound, a leg-kick so high that Phillips could have gotten a massive jump and swiped third base easily if he chose to do so. Instead Phillips goes nowhere, and Ramon Hernandez lifts a deep fly ball to left field. Had Phillips made his way over to third base, he scores easily on that fly ball.
That's lost opportunity number two right there as the Reds ultimately do not score.
Top of the 12th inning
After a Paul Janish leadoff single, Baker sends up Darnell McDonald to attempt a sacrifice bunt to move Janish to second base. At this point, McDonald is the second last position player to enter the game for the Reds with only Ryan Hanigan remaining on the bench. If McDonald's only instruction was to bunt, then Baker could have sent up either Bronson Arroyo or Johnny Cueto to do just that. Instead, he burns a position player and McDonald ultimately grounds into a double play.
And finally, the best is saved for last ...
The Marlins batted in no less than 8 different innings during which the game was tied 2-2 (7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th), with five of those frames coming in extra innings.
Francisco Cordero, the Reds' best reliever, does not make an appearance at all during the game. It is simply absurd how much Dusty Baker is tied to the save rule that he is unable to use Cordero in some of the highest leverage situations the Reds will see all season. The fact that the Reds played a 14-inning game that was tied 2-2 for 8 innings and Cordero doesn't make an appearance is beyond ridiculous.
Not only that, but Baker's plan was to bring in Micah Owings after Herrera rather than Cordero if the game went beyond 14 innings. That sure would have been a brilliant plan to still keep your team's best reliever sitting in the bullpen while trotting out a starting pitcher who threw 102 pitches two days ago.
The Reds flat deserved to lose last night's game. The Marlins didn't win it; the Reds simply lost it. And considering Baker was going to trot out Owings in a situation that risks injury, it's probably for the better that they went ahead and blew the game in the 14th inning.