Reds score nine times in ninth to embarrass Cardinals 13-4

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The joke was on Shin-Soo Choo for most of Monday’s Reds-Cardinals game, as the newly converted center fielder dropped a pair of Yadier Molina flyballs to give St. Louis three of its four runs.

Then came the top of the ninth inning. With Cardinals closer Mitchell Boggs in a 4-4 game, the Reds exploded — well, that’s probably not precisely the right word — for nine runs, turning the NL Central battle into a 13-4 laugher.

Here’s how the inning went:

– Shin-Soo Choo walked
– Chris Heisey fouled off a sac bunt attempt, then popped out (1st out)
– Choo advanced to second on a wild pitch
– Joey Votto was intentionally walked
– Brandon Phillips flared a ball down the right field line that bounced off the chalk for an RBI double (5-4)
– Jay Bruce was intentionally walked, loading the bases
– Todd Frazier walked (6-4)
– Jack Hannahan grounded to third, David Freese bobbled, everyone safe on infield single (7-4)
– Ryan Hanigan grounded to short, Pete Kozma bobbled, everyone safe on error (8-4)

At this point, Boggs finally gets pulled in favor of Marc Rzepczynski

– Cesar Izturis singled to right (9-4)
– Shin-Soo Choo tripled to left (12-4)
– Chris Heisey grounded out (2nd out)
– Joey Votto singled to left (13-4)
– Brandon Phillips walked
– Jay Bruce grounded one off Rzepczynski’s glove for an infield single
– Todd Frazier struck out (3rd out)

Two intentional walks, three regular walks. An error and two more infield singles that could have been errors.

In all, it was pretty much the ugliest inning you’ll ever see from a good baseball team. Boggs and Rzepczynski combined to throw 52 pitches to 16 batters. Boggs was charged with six earned runs, taking his ERA to 14.54. Rzepczynski gave up two runs.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.