There was a lot of anxiety for Reds fans to see their team's new lineup debut after acquiring leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo. Choo did not disappoint, going 2-5 with a hit-by-pitch and a run. The problem was that the rest of the lineup could only muster one hit in nearly five hours of baseball. The Angels Chris Ianetta played the villain in Redsland by knocking in all of his team's runs in a 3-1 win at Great American Ball Park in 13 innings.
The game started out a pitcher's duel between aces Johnny Cueto and Jered Weaver. Both teams put up a run in the third inning, the Angels on a solo homer from Ianetta and the Reds from Choo crossing the plate on a wild pitch. That's the way the score stood at the end of regulation with both sides getting strong outings from their bullpens. Jonathan Broxton retired the eighth in order and Aroldis Chapman threw a shutout ninth inning. The Angels did escape a bases loaded jam in the eighth by striking out Chris Heisey and Jay Bruce.
The score was still 1-1 when Sam LeCure finished two scoreless and then J.J. Hoover was the fifth Reds pitcher to enter the game. He dodged a bullet in the twelfth after a one-out triple by Peter Bourjos by striking out Mike Trout and inducing a groundout by Eric Aybar. Finally in the next inning Ianetta delivered a single with two outs and the bases loaded to provide the margin of victory.
The play on which Choo scored will likely prove very costly to the Reds. Previously he reached on a double and advanced to third on a ground ball. With one out Ryan Ludwick walked before the wild pitch was offered to Bruce. Choo barely beat the tag at the plate and Ludwick took an extra base. He dove into third safely, but had to leave the game with a dislocated shoulder. The team is awaiting results of an MRI on Tuesday do determine his status going forward.
That injury could have a significant impact on the Reds lineup. In the past Brandon Phillips has been used at leadoff and cleanup. Trading for Choo and re-signing Ludwick was supposed to free his bat to go to its preferred spot of second in the lineup. Pending the severity of Ludwick's injury manager Dusty Baker may opt to move him back to fourth because he's always been reluctant to bat left-handers Bruce and Joey Votto consecutively. Also, should Ludwick go on the DL there will be some uncertainty of his replacement. There are only five outfielders on the 40-man roster and one of them, Yorman Rodriguez, is a Rule 5 protection expected to start his season in single A. They do have a spot open on the 40-man so former Kansas City farmhand Derrick Robinson could be added.
One game is in the books. Cueto and the Reds showed great pitching, but managed to score only once in thirteen innings. They'll have 161 more chances to correct that.
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