That’s a Wrap
That’s 162 down, zero to go. The Reds’ season extended by an extra inning in the season finale, but it was not enough to push the Reds to victory. The club had an opportunity to make history and become the first team in Major League Baseball to finish with the same record three years in a row.
Shooting for a 68-94 finish is sad enough on its own. Not being able to accomplish it is even worse. The Reds dropped game 162 in extra innings to put an exclamation point on the disappointment 2018 was in Cincinnati.
The 2018 season was supposed to be a year full of promise for the Reds. They have been in a rebuild since 2014, one could even argue 2013, despite making the playoffs, the Reds knew it was their last year even having a chance to compete.
Rebuild in the Wrong Way
Well, the alleged final year of the rebuild did not go as planned. The Reds actually finished with a worse record than their previous two seasons, seasons where they knew they were not going to be competitive. The worse start in franchise history is largely to blame for the final record for Cincinnati, but would it have made that much of a difference even if they were around .500 in their first 21 games?
The Reds were able to sneak away with one win in their final series of the season, but they could not produce much more.
In game 162, they did put out their best chance to win. All-Star first baseman Joey Votto and fan favorite Billy Hamilton were pulled in the fourth inning. Since the Reds had already clinched last place in the National League Central, manager Jim Riggleman wanted to give the two longtime teammates a chance to receive a standing ovation from the fans who have endured yet another long season in Cincinnati.
Sal Romano was honored with the last start of the season. He pitched a fine game during his five-inning start. Romano had trouble causing batters to whiff with just one strikeout, but did what is most important and kept runners off the bases. He allowed just three hits and one walk. Unfortunately for Romano, he was unable to maintain the shutout in his final inning of work.
The Pirates crawled back in the fifth inning due to a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch. A game that appeared to have everything going in Cincinnati’s favor, was now open to either them or their division rival.
The early offense came in an exciting manner. With Votto at the dish in the first inning, Hamilton did what he does best and swiped third base. He then took advantage of an errant throw allowing him to score the first run of the game.
In the second inning, Tim Federowicz picked a good time to hit his first home run of the season, his first as a Red as well. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Reds were able to add a fourth run thanks to another Pirates error. Blake Trahan hit a chopper to second and Kevin Kramer lost the ball when he tried to transfer it from his glove to make the throw, allowing Curt Casali to cross the plate.
Matt Wisler’s Reds tryout took a turn for the worst. Although he only allowed two hits, they both left the yard. Starling Marte and Josh Bell hit back to back home runs off of Wisler, leading to a quick hook.
Dilson Herrera was able to give the Reds one final lead with a solo shot of his own, but that would be the last time the Reds held a lead in 2018. Kevin Newman and the Pirates immediately responded with an RBI single in the seventh.
The bullpen was able to hold their own after the tie game until the game went into extra innings. Jackson Stephens tossed a wild pitch, allowing the Pirates to score, putting an end to both clubs’ seasons.
The 2018 season was the definition of a rollercoaster in Cincinnati. The season started worse than any other year in Cincinnati. Following the horrendous start, the team played so well that playoffs went from a complete joke to a crazy possibility.
Teams that finish in last place usually produce only one All-Star, but the Reds had three. Raisel Iglesias had an argument of his own, but putting four players from a last place team in the All-Star Game never happens.
Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez had phenomenal seasons. Anthony DeSclafani finally returned to the rotation, albeit, a mediocre return, but a return nonetheless. Luis Castillo had a September for the ages, and Homer Bailey no longer starts for the Reds.
The rebuild will take longer than expected, but the Reds are close. If the ownership can move on from their personal relationships with Bailey and Hamilton and focus on what is best for the team, that will accelerate the rebuild. Nick Senzel and Jonathan India are two sure to be studs, and the Reds also have Hunter Greene in the minors.
While 2018 was disappointing, the future is coming and it looks to be bright if it is handled correctly.