Monday, September 30, 2002

Expos 7, Reds 2

Walker, Guererro miss milestones in final game

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONTREAL - The Reds' season-ending 7-2 loss to the Montreal Expos was what you'd call heart-breaking.

        The big moment came in the eighth inning, when first base umpire Alfonso Marquez called Vladimir Guerrero out on a check-swing third strike, ending the Expos outfielder's chances for a 40-40 season.

        What was Reds manager Bob Boone's reaction?

        “I almost went out to argue the call,” he said.

        The Olympic Stadium crowd of 25,178, watching perhaps the final Major League Baseball game in Montreal, showed its anger at the call by tossing debris onto the field. The Reds went back to their dugout during a six-minute delay.

        They probably would have called it a season right there.

        But the Reds finished the game, ending their season 78-84 - a 12-win improvement over last year, but a disappointment for a team that spent 57 days leading the National League Central Division.

        The two most notable things about Sunday's game were Guerrero's failure to become the fourth player to reach 40 home runs and 40 steals in a season, and Reds second baseman Todd Walker coming up one hit shy of batting .300.

        Right-hander Jimmy Haynes (15-10) started for the Reds and took the loss. He went five innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits with five strikeouts and five walks.

        In Boone's mind, Haynes' performance doesn't detract from what he did this season.

        “I don't put a lot into this game,” Boone said. “We had two regulars (Walker and Adam Dunn) out there. It's been like that the last month with Casey, Junior (Griffey) and (Barry) Larkin out. I've had to beat on Aaron (Boone) because we have no replacement. Todd Walker's gotten no rest. You didn't see the 2003 Reds out there today.”

        The Reds would definitely like Haynes to be part of their 2003 rotation. He set career highs for wins and a career-low for ERA (4.12).

        “I couldn't have asked for much more all year,” Haynes said. “I didn't want it to end like it did.”

        Will he be back?

        “I really haven't thought about it,” Haynes said. “I'd like to. It's a good bunch of guys. We had a good year. It was a lot of fun.”

        Walker needed to go 2-for-4 to end the season at .300. He went 1-for-4 and was robbed of a hit on a great play by Expos starter Tim Drew in the fourth inning.

        “I don't know how he made that play,” Walker said. “It wasn't meant to be.”

        Walker ended up at .2990196. If Drew hadn't made the play, Walker would have finished at .30006535.

        Walker was 10-for-42 over his last 10 games, dropping his average from .304 to .299.

        “I wanted to hit .300,” he said. “But I wanted to play a full season. I could have shut it down and hit .300, but that's not the way to do it.”

        He admitted feeling pressure.

        “The last 10 days have been tough,” he said. “The last thing you want to do as a hitter is feel like you have to get a hit.”

        Walker struck out swinging against former Red Joey Eischen in his last at-bat.

        The Reds were swept three games, but Expos fans felt they were robbed because they didn't get to see their beloved Vlad get to 40-40. Montreal manager Frank Robinson hit Guerrero leadoff to get him an extra at-bat. It worked. He got his fifth at-bat in the eighth.

        The Expos, targeted for contraction before the season, could leave Montreal in 2003 and play in Washington D.C. or Portland, Ore., among others.


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