Monday, September 23, 2002
Last-game loss doesn't dampen spirits
By John Fay email@example.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Jose Rijo, the losing pitcher, could not have been happier. I don't care about that, Rijo said. This day isn't about that. It's about putting on a show for the fans. Mission accomplished.
The Reds lost a game to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 Sunday. But they won the hearts of the fans with a sendoff celebration of Cinergy Field/Riverfront Stadium.
The current Reds were just the opening act for postgame ceremonies that honored stars of the Riverfront/Cinergy era. The sellout crowd of 40,964 made a meaningless game in September feel like Opening Day or a playoff game.
It was a lot of fun, Reds manager Bob Boone said. The crowd was really into the ballgame. It was a real enjoyable day that way.
The game ended with the fans on their feet and Todd Walker at the plate. The tying run in the form of Kelly Stinnett was at first base.
The fans were trying to induce one last ninth-inning, walk-off win. It didn't happen. Walker grounded to second against Phillies closer Jose Mesa and was thrown out.
The Riverfront/Cinergy Era ended at 4:15 p.m. Sunday, Sept.22.
The final game started exactly three hours earlier with a Rijo fastball called for a ball.
Rijo pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out four. The fourth K tied him for fourth on the Reds' all-time list with Johnny Vander Meer at 1,251.
Rijo, of course, isn't the same pitcher who recorded most of those. Five elbow surgeries and six years out of the game have forced him to get by on guile instead of gas.
But, true to his nature, he gave it a good shot.
The fifth was when Rijo gave up a two-out RBI double to Travis Lee. That gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead and ultimately made Rijo the losing pitcher.
Rijo left after the hit. The fans were on their feet instantly and gave him a long, loud ovation. Rijo urged them on by tipping, then waving, his cap.
He was near tears afterward.
It was unbelievable, Rijo said. I didn't feel like I deserved it. I don't think any person deserves that.
Bruce Chen allowed a run in relief in the eighth. That made it 4-2.
Aaron Boone's homer in the eighth made it a one-run game. It would have been nice to have a different ending, Boone said. But today was pretty special.
MILESTONE: Boone has 25 home runs and 30 steals, making him the seventh player in Reds history to hit at least 25 home runs and steal at least 25 bases.
The others: Barry Larkin (1996), Reggie Sanders (1995), Chris Sabo (1990), Eric Davis (1986, 1987, 1988), Kal Daniels (1987) and Joe Morgan (1973, 1976).
ATTENDANCE: Sunday's sellout, the fifth of the season, put fina home attendance at 1,855,787.
Total attendance for the 32 years at Riverfront/Cinergy was 64,650,553.
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