Monday, August 12, 2002

Reds do make it interesting


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        Well, OK. So what if Bob Boone's managing still makes you want to break something?

        The Reds were up 7-2 after six innings and Boone thought the game was over.

        Junior Griffey, take a load off. Barry Larkin, put your feet up.

        Brian Moehler used only 80 pitches. To the untrained eye, the last 65 or so looked pretty darned good. Eighty is not a lot of pitches when you've worked six innings, haven't walked anyone and are breezing. Except here.

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Relief pitcher Danny Graves collects his composure after surrendering a game tying two-run homer to Bubba Trammel.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        Here, 80 pitches is approaching cruel and unusual.

        So what? Does it matter that the Reds, even with Aaron Boone's walk-off homer in the 12th, still have a bad case of Big Hit-itis? They left 13 men on base Sunday. Their team batting average with runners on second and third is borderline Mendoza Line (which, by the way, we might rename Castro's Corner).

        Somehow, Cincinnati overcame San Diego and, more accurately, itself, to win 9-7 in 12 innings.

        We use that word a lot with this team: somehow. We've figured them for dead so much, they could qualify for last rites every other day. Somehow, they've recovered.

        “It ended up real good, with a lot of bad in between,” was Bob Boone's read on things. “I don't try to explain it. That's baseball.”

        Oh, how the talk-show freaks would have hammered Boone, had his second-born not drilled that two-run homer in the 12th. As usual, the manager had perfectly logical-to-him reasons for what he did.

        He took Moehler out because he thinks Moehler's pitch count shouldn't be more than 90, given his shoulder surgery 13 months ago. He removed Larkin because Larkin had a stiff neck Saturday. He excused Griffey because his leg is still only 80 percent.

        “I'll be doing that probably the rest of the year,” Boone said.

        There you have it. If you can get past your amazement at some of the things the manager does, you will see a team that hangs around longer than a summer cold. Teams beat the Reds. They won't bury them until someone drives a broken bat through the Reds' heart.

        We'll learn soon how far heart will take them. Cincinnati's tour of the NL's Tomato Can Division is over, for now. The next two weeks, the Reds will face no pitcher named Bobby M. Jones. They still have six games with Milwaukee, the National League's very own American Legion team, but none in the next 19 days.

        The Reds play Arizona, Houston and St. Louis 20 times between now and Sept. 4. Hold your own against the best, keep yourselves relevant in September. Play .345 ball against them -- Cincinnati's current percentage against teams with winning records -- and start planning the off-season fishing trips.

        Winning half of the 20 will keep the Reds interesting. That's because they return to the Palooka Portion of the season starting Sept. 6. Their last 23 games are against sub-.500 teams.

        “It's getting fun now,” Aaron Boone decided.

        Yup, and if you're lucky, Reds fan, you'll still be complaining about Bob Boone a month from now.

       



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