A 6-5 Reds walk-off loss to the Pirates came on a wacky blooped single by Neil Walker off of reliever J.J. Hoover, but a varied string of events combined to lead to that unpleasant conclusion for Cincinnati.
The Reds had just taken a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth when Price turned the game over to lefty Manny Parra to begin the bottom of the inning against first batter Andrew McCutchen. Entering the at-bat, McCutchen was 6-for-14 (.429) with a homer lifetime against Parra.
McCutchen hit a 0-1 pitch to right-center field for a game-tying home run.
“Don’t forget, a lot of the numbers are based on Manny when he was in Milwaukee and he wasn’t the same Manny Parra we are seeing now, No. 1,” Price said. “No. 2, that people don’t know going into the game, there were a couple of guys we weren’t going to use in the game. I didn’t have the luxury of using a right-handed relief pitcher for one hitter to get to Manny and then to get to Hoover. It would have destroyed our bullpen. We were heading towards extra innings, potentially, in a one-run game at the time.
“I have a lot of confidence there in Manny. Manny hung a split and McCutchen hit it out of the ballpark, but I don’t regret the decision. We did not feel we could utilize a pitcher for one out the way we were set up in our bullpen for the rest of the game.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Hoover walked Russell Martin and McCutchen back to back with one out. With two outs, Walker lofted a soft single that crossed up second baseman Brandon Phillips in short right field. Martin scored the winning run as Jay Bruce‘s throw bounced once and sped up high through Devin Mesoraco‘s hands at the plate.
“It started in one direction and it was a scuffed ball that went completely the opposite way,” Price said of the final hit. “There was no way Brandon could have read that. He was moving towards where it would have gone traditionally.”
“It’s totally on me,” Hoover said. “I kind of hung that curveball. We were trying to get it down in the dirt. It was a 1-2 count. I had [Walker] where I needed him. I tried to get the curveball in the dirt and left it up a little bit where he could handle it.”
“I wouldn’t call Ike’s a bad pitch. I broke his bat on the home run,” said Leake, who gave up only the four fourth-inning runs over his seven innings. “He just was able to get his hands to it and do some damage. Alvarez was a mistake that he hit. They’re an aggr in those situations. You really have to do that. He came up with the big play of the night.”