The Cincinnati Reds have a very good baseball team. That isn't opinion, it is fact.
Coming into Atlanta on Wednesday they had won nine of their last 10 games, were seven games above .500 and in first place of the National League's Central Division.
The starting pitching had been superb, the hitting was outstanding and their defense was second to none.
The Braves slowed their roll on Wednesday night with a walk-off win in the ninth inning, 5-4. The Reds had tied it in the ninth inning on a solo HR by rookie Chris Heisey off Braves closer Billy Wagner. It looked like another come-from-behind victory was imminent.
With two men on and one out, Wagner settled down and struck out Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce to end the rally.
Today, the Reds were ahead 8-0 thanks in part to a grand-slam home run by Joey Votto and a two run double by outfielder Laynce Nix.
They held a 9-3 lead from the fifth inning and into the bottom of the ninth. Arthur Rhodes relieved Nick Masset with the bases loaded, three already in and nobody out.
He struck out rookie phenom Jason Heyward swinging, and was promptly replaced by the save-whore himself, Coco Cordero. The game wasn't televised and I was getting updates on my Palm Pixi.
I knew it was going to end badly when the change was made. Cordero is the most unreliable closer, to make so much money, I have ever witnessed.
There was no reason to call him in with a 9-3 lead so T-Pick waited until the Braves got within "save range" and brought Coco in to face pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad.
Let the record show that Masset got nobody out in the ninth and Rhodes struck out the only batter he faced.
After five pitches, Conrad put Cordero's offering into the left field seats with an assist from the glove of Nix. Not only did Cordero blow his third save attempt, he was saddled with the loss.
Cordero cannot just save a game and let everybody go home happy. He has to set a stage, walk two or three, give up a hit or two and possibly a run or two before being handed a save.
Only five times in his 22 games this season has he managed to work a perfect inning. Keep in mind, when he comes in the game is on the line 99 percent of the time.
I never will understand the love everyone has for the closer. Pitch the man with the hot hand. The man who has already worked up a sweat, had the butterflies chased from his stomach and pitched admirably.
I can see relieving another if he has pitched poorly or if a situation actually called for it, but not just to let a blowfish come in and ruin the momentum of the entire squad.
If Cincinnati expects to seriously contend for the Central Division crown, they must either get rid of Coco or at least use him in a different role and make Arthur Rhodes the closer.
NOTE TO EDITOR: I have seen lately that most article titles are being changed, many times to a negative effect. Please do not alter the title. If it sucks the way it is, let's ride it out. Thanks