As Neil Walker tossed a ground ball hit by Zack Cozart over to first basemen Justin Morneau, the Cincinnati Reds season ended just like that.
A season which was plagued by injuries like Ryan Ludwick on Opening day, Johnny Cueto on multiple occasions, Ryan Hanigan, Tony Cingrani and many more. A season that still ended with 90 wins and a birth in the National League Wild Card, the third time in four seasons the Reds have made it to the playoffs. Unfortunately, the expectations were much higher.
"I feel like the city of Cincinnati really deserves better," second baseman Brandon Phillips said. "During the season, there was no point to people who say negative things. But now, since the season is over, we deserve everything. We choked. I don't care how my teammates feel about what I am saying now, because it's truth. Either you win or you go home. And I'm going home. The last place I want to be is on my couch."
Coming into the 2013 season, many believed that Cincinnati was the team to beat this year. The acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo to an already loaded lineup of Phillips, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick along with a pretty good pitching staff seemed to give the Reds an upper hand on the rest of the competition. But throughout the season, they had their ups and downs.
Those ups and downs came to an end Tuesday. the 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates meant they would have to watch the rest of the playoffs from the confines of their own homes.
Pirate starter Francisco Liriano, who owned the Reds on multiple occasions throughout the season, was at it again as he went seven innings allowing just one earned run on four hits.
"As soon as he got the first three outs," said his catcher Russell Martin who had two home runs on the night, "I felt like it was going to be a good day for him."
It didn't take much time for the Pirates to take the lead against Reds starter Johnny Cueto. After a quick first inning, Marlon Byrd led off the second with a solo bomb to left which got the stadium rocking. The entire stadium began taunting the visiting pitcher, "Cue-to, Cue-to!"
"I don't listen to them," Cueto said via translator. "That doesn't scare me."
But after a fly-ball out, Russell Martin stepped into the box and launched a 2-1 fastball into center field for the first of his two home runs on the night. After two, the Pirates led 2-0. A run in the third and two more in the fourth chased Cueto from the mound as he only lasted three and a third innings giving up eight hits and four earned runs.
"They beat us on both sides of the ball. They just played better," Jay Bruce said. "They pitched better. They hit better. They were at home. There's nothing really else to say. It was, in my opinion, pretty apparent the whole game."
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