Saturday, April 14, 2007

Gameday 4/14: Reds @ Cubs (L 7-0)

Sometimes, it hurts not to be able to watch a game on TV (especially when WGN and STO both have the Indians/White Sox game on...).

Other times, I consider my mental health, and I think how great it is that I wasn't subject to the torment. The same, old torment.

If the early stages of the '07 season have taught us anything, it's that not a lot has changed since last year. That is, the media needs to rethink its definition of this Reds team, and perhaps some fans need to do the same.

This team has the most overrated offense in the majors. It baffles me to no end every time I hear the media say, "Well, their pitching is suspect, but with that lineup, maybe it won't matter." Say what?! This lineup used to be fearsome, at least in the sense that anyone from top to bottom could jack one out of the park. This team could never hit with runners in scoring position. This team could never avoid those devastating double plays.

Thank God we've got a stable front end of the rotation and a couple of servicable bullpen guys, or else this team would be vying with the Nationals for the crown of futility. Not only is this team not hitting with scoring position, it isn't hitting in any sense of the word.

This so-called fearsome lineup is hovering around the middle of the pack (16th) in team average and runs (12th). If it weren't for guys like Conine and Gonzalez coming in and providing a surprise spark to the lineup, this team would be lucky to breach the top 20.

Against a floundering and desperate Cubs team that was languishing at 3-6 coming into the game after a $200-million spending spree this past offseason, the Reds could manage only three hits going into the ninth inning.

I wish I could have seen the game on TV, because I don't like to miss any of Arroyo's starts. Today, however, he didn't seem to have the command of his last two starts:

6.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 4 K

A Conine error in the seventh sparked a five-run rally that iced this one. Unfortunate that one of the only guys in the lineup that consistently is producing gives up such a killer error.

The bullpen, after a few solid appearances against the D-Backs, couldn't get the job done today. Coutlangus walked the only batter he faced to load the bases, and Santos promptly gave up a bases-clearing double to Derek Lee. Nothing worked today. Just one of those days that we're seeing a few too many of lately.

You have to give credit to Rich Hill, though. He's been stellar this season, and though I can't gauge it well since I wasn't watching the game on TV, he likely played a huge part in the Reds' offensive failures today. In his two starts, he's accrued only four hits and one run over 14 innings. With Zambrano's early struggles, he's risen up to carry their rotation so far.

It's early in the season, I know. There's no telling what this team could do as they get warmed up (figuratively and literally). But after the offensive disappointments last season, I'm not holding my breath for anything.

The rubber game is tomorrow at 1:05. Kyle Lohse goes up against Ted Lilly. As long as Lohse doesn't throw a couple fat ones over the plate like he did against the D-Backs, he should be OK. Whether the Reds can hit Lilly this time, however, is another story.

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