The excitement that is the 2008 season had the chance to take another giant step forward this afternoon. The much anticipated season debut of Homer Bailey ended with mixed reviews by a number of 'critics'.
The deck certainly looked stacked against the youngster today. He was not only facing one of the better offensive teams in the National League, but he was also matched up against the Phillies ace in Cole Hamels.
The Reds offense has had more than a little trouble figuring out quality left-handed pitchers, so Homer certainly needed to be on top of his game today to give the surging Reds a chance to win.
Mr. Bailey came out and did exactly what was asked of him. Little did he know, the Reds defense joined their offense in taking the day off today. Homer's final line: 6.1 IP; 4H; 2 ER; 4BB; 1K, usually would be enough to keep his team in the game. Today there were two problems with that type of thinking.
Problem #1: The Reds role-players are starting to come back down to Earth. Corey Patterson has been nothing short of awful lately (excluding his short AAA stint last month) by going 0 for his last 23.
Jerry Hairston Jr. has been just a tad better, with his current 3 for 17 stretch. With Ryan Freel on the DL and Ken Griffey Jr. limping around these days in the Reds outfield, it is dire need for one of those guys to step up and produce.
Problem #2: Cincinnati's defense today looked a little too much like the "Bad News Bears" for my liking. A dropped pop-up by Paul Janish lead to one run, which was followed two innings later by an awful display of defense by Ken Griffey Jr. that cost the Redlegs a couple more runs.
It's no wonder Bailey began to feel like he had to be "perfect" to have a chance to win today's game, which lead to him overthrowing and getting away from his mechanics.
On one side of the coin it was a very disappointing loss for the Reds. Not only did the team look sluggish and old at times, but they wasted a very good start from one of their "young guns".
On the flip-side it was a very uplifting debut this season for Mr. Bailey. Homer has long been tabbed the "next big thing" for Cincinnati, and has yet to live up to the hype. Many critics have pointed out the fact that he only struck out a single hitter today as a sign that he "pitches to contact" a little too much.
The way I look at it, a young 22 year-old just came up and gave the Reds a much needed quality start against a very potent offense. I, for one, look forward to Homer's next start. Let's just hope the rest of the team shows up for that one.