Reds End Season

The Reds faced a familiar foe in the wild-card play-in and their season-ending woes continued to limit their post season to only one game, a 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh. Johnny Cueto was ineffective and the Pirates never looked back after taking a second inning lead from two homers.

Cincinnati finished their season with a 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh in the wild card play-in game. The Pirates continued their mastery over the Reds by hanging four losses on them to close out their season and taking twelve of twenty contests from them this season. It was the Reds sixth consecutive loss and their bats which finished the season cold stayed that way in their brief post-season appearance.

Last year it was eventual champion San Francisco that did in the Reds and this season the Francisco villain was Pittsburgh's Mr. Liriano who got the win for tossing one-run baseball over seven innings, allowing only four hits/one walk while striking out five. The Reds countered with Johnny Cueto who failed to make it out of the fourth inning and took the loss for allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits/one walk. After the fourth the bullpen kept the Bucs when J.J. Hoover, Alfredo Simon, and Manny Parra, combined for 2 2/3 scoreless innings before Russell Martin added on with his second homer of the game in the seventh inning.

Cueto allowed a couple of homers that put the Reds in a hole. It appeared they would cut into a three lead in the fourth when Shin-soo Choo led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and Ryan Ludwick followed him with a single. However a two-out single by Jay Bruce plated the only run they would manage. Baseball can be a game of inches because the next hitter Todd Frazier nearly gave his team the lead with a three run homer that narrowly missed the left field foul pole. That was the last time they would dent the plate until a solo homer by Choo in the eighth. Ludwick led his team with three hits.

The Bucs would come back the very next inning to get that run back and add another when they chased Cueto and hung another run on reliever Sean Marshall. After that they gave their standing-room-only home crowd plenty of time to cheer over the remainder of the game, their first appearance in postseason since 1992.

Times have changed in Cincinnati and it's been a while to describe a 90-win season as disappointing. They returned most of their personnel from a 97-win campaign a year ago and remedied their anemic leadoff situation with Choo who finished second to teammate Joey Votto for the highest on-base percentage in the league. They did deal with considerable injuries which affected every facet of their roster. Their lineup lost its catcher and cleanup hitter for much of the season. The pitching staff was hit in the rotation, losing Cueto for most of the year, and in the pen where Marshall's and Johnathan Broxton's ailments caused them to have abbreviated campaigns.

Now they will turn their attention on staying competitive next season. The first item on the agenda is deciding if they want to retain the services of Choo who is eligible for free agency and considered by many as a goner. Also southpaw Tony Cingrani had a successful rookie campaign making it doubtful they will shell out another $10+ million to keep Bronson Arroyo.

Much of the talent will return again in 2014 and there should be enough there for them to be a serious contender for their third postseason appearance in four seasons. Previously there had been a drought since they were swept in the NLCS in 1995, so there's a case that can be made that it was a successful season even with the underwhelming finish. Their pitching has been splendid for a couple of years and there's good reason to believe they will continue to be good enough to win a lot more games going forward.

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