Reds overmatched by Halladay

Edinson Volquez looked as if he was making his first postseason

start, and the jittery Cincinnati Reds played as if they hadn’t

been there in a while, either.

Unlike Phillies ace Roy Halladay, Volquez couldn’t sink much

lower. The Reds’ righty fidgeted on the mound, took deep breaths

between pitches and played with his hair and hat like a nervous

schoolboy – when he wasn’t getting hit hard.

Volquez symbolized all that went wrong for the Reds in their

first playoff game since 1995. He was the surprise choice by Dusty

Baker to start Game 1 of the NL division series and the move

backfired in a 4-0 loss on Wednesday.

While Halladay is perhaps the best pitcher going in baseball and

the NL Cy Young Award favorite, the Reds never made adjustments and

let him pump in first-pitch strikes in at-bat after every futile

at-bat during his no-hitter.

”He threw a no-hitter today. I don’t think anything that we did

would have mattered,” first baseman Joey Votto said.

Maybe so – Halladay threw a perfect game this season and won 21

games.

But the NL Central champion Reds inexperience showed.

”So what, it’s only one game,” second baseman Brandon Phillips

said. ”How many teams have bounced back from one game to still win

the series. If you’re going to lose, we should lose the way we did

today. That’s how I look at it.”

Postseason history is against the Reds. In the 60 previous

division series, the team that won Game 1 advanced 43 times (72

percent).

They’ll send Bronson Arroyo to the mound for Game 2 on Friday.

Arroyo was the only member of the playoff rotation who had pitched

in the postseason before Wednesday. Catcher Ramon Hernandez, third

baseman Scott Rolen and shortstop Orlando Cabrera are the only

starting position players to get there.

Volquez flopped from the first inning in front of the

third-largest crowd in Citizens Bank Park history. He allowed a

one-out double to Shane Victorino then gave the Flyin’ Hawaiian all

of Maui to steal second base. Victorino was ignored at second,

turned a walking lead into a steal and eventually a run.

Volquez allowed four runs in only 4 1-3 innings and labored

through 56 pitches (24 balls) in an ugly outing. He tugged at his

cap and growing dreadlocks, and catcher Hernandez put his palms

down to try and calm his struggling starter.

Volquez came back from right elbow surgery and went 4-3 with a

4.31 ERA in 12 starts.

He chilled out in the clubhouse like he tossed a shutout.

Volquez rested his clasped hands on his stomach and rocked in his

chair, showing more poise in answering questions than he did on the

mound.

”I wanted to pitch like he did tonight,” Volquez said of

Halladay.

He wasn’t alone in having some first-game jitters. Left fielder

Jonny Gomes let Halladay’s blooper fall in front of him in the

first inning, then bobbled the ball for an RBI single

”Edinson’s done a great job for us up to this point,” Gomes

said. ”He couldn’t command his pitches tonight. He was throwing

hard, his velocity was there, his change was there. They just did a

good job of waiting him out.”

The Reds were an unlikely candidate to get no-hit. They led the

NL in batting average, runs, hits, total bases, home runs, RBIs and

slugging percentage – just about every offensive stat that counts –

and had 13 hits against Halladay in his first start against them

this season.

The punchless Reds went down meekly this time against

Halladay.

”It was like a situation where you’re almost helpless because

the guy was dealing,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Rolen argued a called strike three in the fifth, only to have

fans mock him with a ”cry baby” motion with their hands.

Jay Bruce was the only Red to reach base against Halladay on a

two-out walk in the fifth.

”There’s a little shock factor right now, but we’ll be ready to

go,” Bruce said.

The Reds were no-hit for the first time since Phillies pitcher

Rick Wise threw one June 23, 1971, at Cincinnati.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had compared the Reds to the

2007 Phillies. That mostly young, inexperienced team led the

Phillies to the playoffs for the first time since 1993. The first

four hitters in Philadelphia’s batting order combined to go 0 for

15 with 12 Ks in a Game 1 loss against Colorado.

They were swept.

The Reds need to get over their nerves if they want to avoid a

similar fate.