The tires are flat just a few days after the Reds bandwagon was getting full.

After holding a commanding 9-1 lead, the Reds end up losing 10-9 in stomach punching fashion to the Atlanta Braves.

The Reds jumped out to a eight run lead in the second inning and everything seemed juuuust fine. Rookie Mike Leake had his seventh quality start in eight appearances, going six innings giving up five hits and three runs (one earned).

Mike Lincoln breezed through two innings before manager Dusty Baker inexplicably left him in for the ninth. At 9-3, it didn’t seem like a big deal.

After getting into massive trouble Nick Masset was brought in for damage control in a 9-5 game. He walked a batter then was the victim of a Miguel Cairo error and was relieved by the 40-year old veteran Arthur Rhodes. He promptly struck out the Braves best hitter Jason Heyward (the guy that beat the Reds on Wednesday).

Then Dusty brought in closer Francisco Cordero to finish of Atlanta and those pesky Braves once and for all. Yet another questionable call if you ask me. Well, guess what happened? Pinch hitter Brooks Conrad hits a grand slam, and the Braves complete the epic comeback.

This one hurts bad. Really bad. Giving up a lead like that might stick with the club for awhile. It’s a loss that could be looked at in September as one of the reason the Reds just didn’t cut the mustard in ’10. Losing two games in a row via the walk-off has given the Reds a taste of their own medicine.

The Cardinals have regained first place, and now the Reds are playing catch-up again. This isn’t a “the sky is falling” article, but holy crap this is a tough one to swallow. The best thing the Reds can do now is completely erase it from their collective memories, and beat the living daylights out of the Cleveland Indians.

There are now legit concerns regarding the $12M closer, Francisco Cordero. He has blown three saves already, he only had four of last year! He is 35, and clearly not quite the pitcher he once was. He might be getting over worked by Dusty, but either way something aint right. Simply put, he is having trouble throwing strikes. Oh, and the set-up man Masset blew the game before.

As a strength for most of the year, the bullpen is now becoming a startling problem for the Reds.

It’s not the end of the world, but this next week will be very telling about the resolve of this young Reds team. This is the time when veterans such as Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera need to lead by example, and make sure the team doesn’t unravel. Sure it’s still May but the Red Legs need to put a hurting on their Ohio rivals to regain the swagger they had built up over the past week. 

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