Well, that went even worse than could be expected. Beating Roy Halladay was a tall order, but to not manage even a single hit was surprisingly atrocious.
Halladay is, quite simply, the best pitcher in baseball because he possesses the four skills that make a truly dominant starting pitcher. First, he possesses good command and the corresponding low walk rate. Second, he has the plus pitches to generate a high strikeout rate. Third, he induces groundballs at a high rate. Fourth, he is very efficient with his pitches. There are a select few pitchers who excel in all four areas, but Halladay is the best of them.
Obviously, the headlines tomorrow will read something to the effect of "Doc Halladay Fires Bullets on the Way to History." And, justifiably so. However, if Halladay had not used the Reds like a rented mule on his ride into the sunset and history books, then the focus would justifiably have shifted to different issues.
The Reds made several mistakes, the types of mistakes that you simply cannot make against the defending NL champs. In the second inning, the Reds defense misplayed two chances. They won't show up as errors in the box score, but they were plays that good teams should make.
Edinson got two quick outs before walking Carlos Ruiz. Wilson Valdez then hit a groundball up the middle which was gloved by Orlando Cabrera whose momentum carried him past second base. Cabrera tried a backhanded flip to Brandon Phillips at second, but Ruiz beat the play. Cabrera went to second, but it's hard to see why he didn't try to throw out Valdez at first. His momentum was heading that direction and a quick pivot would have put him in good throwing position. Maybe he thought Ruiz would be the slower runner and easier target, but replays show that he had the better shot at Valdez. If Cabrera makes that play, then the inning ends without any runs scoring. He didn't, so the inning continued.
The next hitter was Roy Halladay who hit a soft liner to leftfield. I don't think there is any question that even a decent defensive outfielder makes the play on that ball. Jonny Gomes did not make the play, which allowed a run to score and opened the door to two more in the inning.
Of course, a top of the rotation starter like Edinson should never allow the opposing pitcher to do damage with the bat, but Edinson only got 2 swings-and-misses in his outing. Allowing Halladay to drive the ball to the outfield to plate a run was a mistake on Edinson's part. So, that's yet another mistake on the ledger.
The final mistake came during the 6th inning when Logan Ondrusek airmailed first base on a routine groundball. In many respects, Ondrusek's error was the most forgivable, as it was merely a physical mistake, which is bound to happen to everyone who plays the game. Cabrera's mistake was the result of a poor decision, the mistake on Gomes was actually the organization relying heavily on him in leftfield, and Edinson's mistake was either the result of poor execution, a poor plan of attack, or both.
Given the sheer dominance of Halladay, these miscues don't really matter, but going forward these types of mistakes will significantly reduce the Reds' chances of success. And, when facing the defending NL champs and arguably the best team in all of baseball, these types of mistakes simply don't cut it. The more I watch and think about the game, the more I have come to think of individual plays or events as fractional wins. Each and every event in a baseball game plays some role in the outcome of the game. The more plays a team successfully completes, the more fractional wins it picks up. The more fractional wins a team compiles, the greater the probability of victory. The Reds simply can't afford to drop fractional wins all over the diamond for the Phillies to simply scoop up at their leisure.
As they showed tonight, the Phillies can be a truly dominant team, so the Reds can't afford to give the Phillies extra outs in Game 2 when, hopefully, the Phillies come back to earth and aren't quite so dominant. It's a short series, so the Reds need to get up off the mat in a hurry, but it won't get any easier with noted Red-Killer Roy Oswalt taking the mound. Hopefully, Bronson Arroyo's high contact approach will somehow, some way translate into success in a bandbox against a lineup heavy with lefthanded hitters.
GO REDS GO!!!!!!!!