How the '95 Reds recovered

Since they’re the more recent of the two teams in baseball history that started out 0-6 and still got to the playoffs, I figured it would be worth a history lesson. Not only did they have the misfortune on a bad start, they faced the added disadvantage of a shortened schedule thanks to the lockout that winter.

In fact, that was part of what was working against them when the season began. Because MLB lost the first three weeks or so to the season, they had to pick up the schedule on the fly. So the Reds played their first two games at home against the Cubs, hit the road for San Diego without an off day, then came back to Cincinnati after a three-game sweep to the Padres.

Three of the six opening losses were one-run games. One was an extra-inning loss to the Cubs, another a comeback loss to the Padres, then a getaway day loss in San Diego which the Reds scored three with two outs in the top of the ninth to tie it (including a Barry Larkin home run), then lost it without giving up a hit in the bottom of the ninth.

After a shutout back at home to Curt Schilling and the Phillies, it looked like a low point. Then after the Reds finally won a game, they lost two more, including a five-hit shutout to Bobby Jones, John Franco and the Mets. When they scored runs, they couldn’t hold opponents, and when the pitching was decent, they couldn’t score. The only thing going right for them was Larkin, who was hitting lights-out and still had trouble scoring runs early.

Two weeks after that blanking by the Mets dropped the Reds to 1-8 and five games out of the NL Central lead, they were back at .500, having run off six straight and 10 of 12. And they kept on winning, largely with great pitching. They won 10 of their next 11 through the end of May, on top of the Central five days later, and they were 29-14 on June 12 after a four-game series sweep at Houston. They got 18 games over .500 by the All-Star break and topped out at 31 games over .500 by the end of August, at which point they topped the Central by 14 1/2 games.

Larkin, you might remember, won NL MVP honors that year in somewhat of a surprise over Colorado’s Dante Bichette and his 40-homer season. Statistically, Larkin wasn’t lofty that year, but was all-around excellent. The real standout? Pete Schourek somehow won 18 games, the only time he ever finished with double-digit victories.

I’m not saying it’ll happen again. I’m just trying to give an idea how the Reds pulled it off. They finished with an 85-59 record and a nine-game lead on the rest of the pack in the division. Considering their 1-8 start, that means they went 84-51 from that point on. That’s the record the 2006 Tigers held on Sept. 1 before they limped down the stretch.

13 Comments

The worst thing about being 0-6 is the fact that if it can happen at this time of the year it can happen agqain.

I’m sure everybody will be pleased but I am ticked.
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I just posted a multi-paragraph synopsis of the Tigers and how they can salvage their reptuation and season–(along with a bullpen critique) and the stinkin’ BLOG lost it on me!
Jason, bring back the good old days!

I would have to agree that this blog leaves a lot to be desired. The old way was a whole lot better. This one just seems to go blank all the time. Hopefully MLB is working on that. Keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrows game. I am sure ready for a celebration after a good win! Go TIGERS!!!

I’m writing this in HTML code so if it looks strange,
well……that would be why. This is an experiment.

Sorry we couldn’t read your synopsis, Dan. That would have been
interesting. I suppose when we want to post something long we should
type it out first in Word or something, then paste it over.

Maybe we can put some dents
in the Green Monster tomorrow and start winning some games.

–Rich

Experiment failed.

I wanted to see Dan’s comments, too. Maybe the safest thing to do is to write longer posts in Word (or a non-MS product) and then paste. You would get the spell-check, too, that way.

Oh yeah, and go Tigers!

Billy Packer and Tim McCarver are brothers, aren’t they?I hope Grandy didn’t re-injure his hand celebrating the Jayhawks win.–Rich

Well, I think the day off is really an important one for the club. While it was really great hearing Curtis is on the mend I hope the club is vigilant and not try to puch him along faster than he should be. There may be some inclination to do that if they continue to lose.

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It’s one thing going 0-6 but it’s a whole other concern in the way that the games have been lost. A day to breathe and reflect today and then we send out probably our best bet at stopping this nonsense. Kenny has the right stuff and he has character. Those traits have been conspiciously absent lately in these insufferable defeats. I hope Cabrera can get it going. He does not seem ready to play. He played some winter ball and even though he hit for a decent average, he was not mashing the ball like we would expect he should be able to. I don’t know his body language nor have I seen him enough to draw any firm conclusions, but he just doesn’t seem right.

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It’s always a little dangerous to get too critical of the bullpen. There are some pretty sensitive reactions to that problem among fans and players. IMO, it just isn’t good enough to support this team through to a championship run. No one in sports like to here the term malingerer, but I am really beginning to wonder about Fernando Rodney. I have never, ever seen that fierce look and indomitable spirit that you would on his face as your late-inning guy. I just don’t think he has the demeanor for that role. I am not expecting anything from him this year.

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I don’t think we can reasonably expect Zumaya to be any more than 80% healthy and I think we should prepare for him to have a real struggle on his hands when he returns.

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That leaves us with a closer who needs to come into a game with a lead (now there’s a novel idea) and is approaching 40. Lopez has failed twice with inherited runners. He has been OK after both those failures. Maybe he is more suited to start off an inning rather than be relied on in a pressure situation.
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Bazardo is really more of a starter than a reliever. Miner and Grilli are iffy. Seay is pretty tight but JL tends to use him in pretty limited appearances. I think if a guy is good then use him. If Seay shows he can throw an inning or more effectively then scrap the LHP/LHB formula and let him go for it. Maybe he could be another Willie Hernandez?
I do like Bautista because he seems to be fearless, throws hard and he has good stuff, but is the other shoe (the control issue) gonna fall?

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I don’t think we’re going to get any kind of surprise on the trade front at this point so I hope a couple of these guys can find a way into bullpen prominence. Really good relievers do appear out of nowhere sometimes.

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Also on my wish list: That Carlos takes his job a bit more seriously at first base, that Sheffield can play with his itty bitty finger injury, that Pudge does not revert to being undisciplined at and behind the plate, that Renteria can show us a little more range and arm (as well as bat) and that Cabrera, Polanco and Ordonez collectively hit about .320

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I can’t leave letting the starters off the hook. They half to bear down hard when they get ahead in the count. Especially the dreaded 0-2 count. If they are not going to waste it then make sure it is a pitch that at the knees.

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Verlander was right, the guys also need to go out and have fun. If they can do that their skills will make them pretty tough to beat.

I probably shouldn’t jinx myself, but I have not had those kind of problems with this new blog. However I don’t think that you should have to put periods in, inorder to seperate paragraphs.
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Now on to our pathetic Tigers. Dan I like a lot of things you said. While I have typically like how Rodney performs in the game, I too wonder if he will ever have it for an extended period of time.
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The batters issues go without saying. Starting pitching has been okay with the exception of Nate and the debacle of Sunday night. I think that each of those guys in the pen have the ability of doing well. Grilli, Miner and Lopez have shown it at times, but have never been real consistent.
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By the way I know the secret to getting pitchers to do poorly. Have them on your fantesy team. I have Neshak and Betencourt and they both blown up games. By the way I have Polanco and Cabrera and neither of them have been doing much either. I have he jinx. Like in the beat the streak thing I have only gotten one day correct. So now I just put guys on that I don’t want to hit and I put them to get hit and it really has worked out. Not for my winning streak of course but for that particular guy to not get a hit.

GO TIGERS

The Boston series will be a true test of the entire pitching staff. Those guys can get into your bullpen more efficiently than any team I’ve ever seen. I believe that Nate’s problems last year stemmed not from a tired arm, but from the mental damage Boston inflicted on him during that start at Fenway. If ever there was a time to carry 13 pitchers, this would be it.
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What I’ve liked about Bautista is his consistency. No sign of a blowup anywhere that I’ve seen. Maybe he’s really found it now. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to a bad outing, and there will be one somewhere down the line. And I think Jones can still do the job as closer this season. So there again, it’s on Miner and Grilli and whoever can step up. Zach’s got the stuff but he needs a lot of in game help with his approach. Grilli’s got the stuff, and I’d say he has the same issue as Zach.
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The hitter’s approach has been very disappointing. The idea of having such an awesome aggregation of hitters is not to win games by 13-3. No, it’s those games when you’re down, 5-2 in the sixth inning, but you know in your mind that you’ll still pull it out because you’ve got the guys to do it. This has been totally absent so far. Another thing that’s bound to change are those hard grounders for doubleplays. At some point, those start finding a hole and then you’re in business. That will happen, that’s just baseball.
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Bottom line though, is the fact that we’ll be into May before we see any light. The schedule dictates that. We’ll need to have one of those exciting, coming from back in the pack type of races. Rather than dwelling on 0-6 teams who have failed to make the postseason, let’s turn our thoughts to the 1987 Tigers. That team was 11-19 at one point, then became the best team in baseball after that.
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–Rich

Sorry to hear you guys are having problems posting on the blog. When you lose something you’re about to post, is it because the site gets a page not found or does it just not post what you typed up?

Jason it just ahppened to me again right in the middle of responding to you!.
What happens is that the page appears to be loading for an extended period and if you try to comment during that time you run the risk of this happening:

Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage

Most likely causes:
You are not connected to the Internet.
The website is encountering problems.
There might be a typing error in the address.

What you can try:
Diagnose Connection Problems

More information

I believe I have had trouble even after the page has fully loaded (dometimes it says Done but with errors)

At any rate–the techno people should be able to do something to correct this. I don’t think it’s rocket science for them.
Thanks,

Dan

GK, Dan & Rich – very well put.

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