Wow. I've been following the Reds and baseball more generally for a pretty long time. The early/mid 70s Reds teams got me into it. I'll always be a Reds fan no matter what happens. Even when awful, avoidable and, yeah, I'll say it, inexcusable stuff like today happens.
I've been as bullish as anyone about our chances with Latos today. I felt certain he wouldn't let us down. Giants eater. Power pitcher. He'd do it.
And, after doing it for four innings, then he didn't.
I'm based in DC. I root for the Nationals as an adopted team. Season tix when they first moved here from Montreal and then proceeded to be terrible for several years.
Yesterday, I was part of the crowd in attendance for the first baseball postseason game here in 79 years. Frank Robinson on scene. F16s did a flyover. And then the team laid the largest of eggs and simply seemed outclassed by the Cardinals. It wasn't season over then since Game 3 but might as well have been. Later on, when we dropped Game 4, I wasn't so put out. Unlike the Nats, this Reds team has been down this road before. They're built to win, I told myself. We'll take care of business, at home, behind our angry swede. Hence the list of reasons I gathered and shared here.
I realized early I was going to have a logistical problem. I had tickets for Nats/Cardinals Game 4 here in DC. But the Reds Game 5 woudn't end before that game started.
Decision: keep watching the Reds game at home until clear what the outcome would be, however late that'd make me for Nationals Park. After all, Reds are Reds. Nats are, well, Nats.
When Posey's ball went over the left field wall, I felt that same shooting pain I'm sure many here on RZ felt. Could Not Freakin' Believe It...and everything else over the past few days that led to it. How? Why? 6-0. Assuming, with very good reason given our penchant for relying on pitching/defense and not putting up many runs, that was season-over. Logged out from RZ very, very bummed out. Grabbed the Nationals tix and headed down to the Park.
On the way to the Park, I brought Marty Brennaman and the game up on the iPhone. Saw it had become 6-3 thanks to BP and Luddy (again!). Felt very, very guilty. Was this going to be the day that I gave up on the Reds and they come back with 7 unanswered?
In our seats at Nationals Park, the music and pre-game rituals were starting up with force. The red towels, today sponsored by the Washington Post versus yesterday's towels (sponsored by a local sports apparel store) were waving everywhere. With everyone freaking out, my head was down, buds in my ears.
I listened. I watched. At times, especially the 8th, I thought maybe it would happen and then I'd make a fool of myself gladly jumping up cheering in the middle of the crowd gathered for a different live game that hadn't yet produced any reason to cheer. They didn't do it. They lost. They so under-delivered, throwing away a great season along with a recent stellar Homer start.
The Nats game in front of me was off to an interesting start though. After all the implosions this series of every Nationals starter (two of whom, Gio and Jordan Zimmerman, have produced big time all year), I didn't have much hope for Ross Detwiler, a good pitcher who'd had a decent year but was no Strasburg, JZim or Gio.
Still very wounded by what the Reds did to me (I know, I know, to all of you too) and by how the Nationals looked like they didn't deserve to even be in the postseason yesterday, I noted something odd. Detwiler was off to a solid start. We didn't give up any runs in the first few innings. In fact, only 1 or 2 hits.
Then, against all odds, we got the first lead. Just one run but when Adam LaRoche's second HR of the series cleared the wall and the place erupted, I did the quick math. The pitching seemed to have shown up today. We have a lead. We could win this thing.
Then the Cards got their one run, product of a sac fly and I was nervous. After all, the Nats, like the Reds, had been pretty silent on the offensive front this series.
All of us in that park who know the team at all (maybe 60%?) were thrilled to see Jordan Zimmerman come out of the pen in the 7th. And the place erupted again as he struck out the side.
But, then, for the 8th, out came Tyler Clippard, who I'm convinced is the hated Yankees plant and curse on a young team. Had a decent 2011 but near abominable in 2012. Kind of like the Stubbs debate, why does Davey Johnson stick with this guy, even as demoted to setup for the surer Drew Storen as closer?
Was not feeling good about Clippard as he trotted out. And then...lights out. 3 Ks (around 1 walk but no matter). Wow!
Storen in for the top of the 9th who did what Storen does, striking out two and getting the third on a flyout.
And then Jayson Werth ended it with the walkoff HR in the bottom of the 9th. Yes, bedlam ensued. And that felt good. Not as good as it might feel if the Nats were really my team; my #1 team. But good nonetheless.
Baseball tomorrow night here in DC. I'll be at Game 5, of course. Have no idea if we can do it. Like the pitching matchup Gio v Waino. Not sure at all whether we can get any freakin' production from Harper, Morse, Suzuki or, for the love of God, Espinosa (who shouldn't be in the lineup imho).
I'm comforted just a bit by the fact any Nats success avenges longstanding and recent Reds grudges. How cool it'd be to eliminate the Cardinals! Not just to move into the LCS but just simply to eliminate the Cardinals. As a Reds fan first and foremost, I'd LOVE that.
If that should happen, very big IF to be sure, I think I like the Nats chances against the Giants even more. If the bats come back to life, as they were nearly all year, well, that's getting ahead of ourselves. Tomorrow won't be easy. We could easily screw it up in many ways.
I hate that the Reds lost the way they did. It really and unequivocally sucks. I'm still as big a fan as ever though. I want them to get a real centerfielder, hold on to Rolen but give Frazier the hot corner. Not sure what I think about Dusty. Know many here want his head. More than all that, I just so want the Reds to get back to the World Series. It has been more than 20 years.
In the meantime, if the mood strikes you, tune in tomorrow night and help root for Washington. If not for the Nats, for the slaying of the Cards which would then grant us the right to maybe, just maybe, kick some Giant butt.
Thanks for listening.