May 2009

Historically good pitching

Sorry for not hanging a “gone fishing” sign up while I was out for a couple of days. I skipped the Florida series but had to catch a flight home from Pittsburgh Sunday right after the game.

Here is a note from the Elias Sports Bureau about some splendid Reds pitching:

For only the third time in the live-ball era, the Reds have posted four team shutouts over a six-game span…the starting pitchers in those shutouts were Edinson Volquez, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto and Volquez again…starters in the previous 2 instances were Elmer Riddle, Johnny Vander Meer, Joe Beggs and Vander Meer in 1943, followed in 1970 by Gary Nolan, Jim McGlothlin, Jim Merritt and Nolan.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston 3B
Votto 1B
Phillips 2B
Bruce RF
McDonald LF
Hanigan C
Janish SS
Arroyo P

News you can use:

SS Alex Gonzalez (strained left oblique) was re-examined on Wednesday. The Reds are holding off putting Gonzalez on the DL for now.

“He’s better today than he was yesterday,” manager Dusty Baker said. “At this point, if he keeps improving over the next couple of days, we might not have to DL him. I know [going on the DL] is not what he would like after being on the DL a year and a half. But we’ll get to a point when we’ll have to make a decision on his progress.”

If Gonzalez does go on the DL in a few days, it can be made retroactive to Tuesday if he doesn’t appear in a game. Paul Janish and Jerry Hairston Jr. will fill in. Part of the issue if Gonzalez does go on the DL is there aren’t many infielders lighting it up at Triple-A Louisville. Chris Valaika is batting .176, Danny Richar is hitting .213. Neither are on the 40-man roster. Drew Sutton made his Louisville debut yesterday after being out with mono and went 1-for-4.

3B Edwin Encarnacion (small chip fracture, left wrist) had his cast removed today. He was placed in a removeable splint that he’ll likely wear for at least one week.

More on the pitching: The Reds’ 3.61 team ERA is best in the National League. The last time this team finished a season leading in ERA was 1940.

The Reds reached six shutouts last night in their 26th game, their fastest to six shutouts since the 1914 Reds threw their sixth shutout in their 25th game. They had six shutouts during all of the 2008 season.

“I am just trying to stay the heck away,” pitching coach Dick Pole said. “They’re having fun right now and it’s not up to me to cramp their style. Let them keep enjoying what’s going on.”

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Getaway day, move up Rosales?

The Reds need to win this series over the Pirates to take two of three.

“It’s another important getaway day,” manager Dusty Baker said.

The Reds are 4-1 in previous getaway day games, a nice thing to have when you’re looking to take momentum on the flight out of town.

Adam Rosales came into Sunday batting .556 (5-for-9) through three games. Rosales is still batting seventh but Baker seriously contemplated moving Rosales up in the lineup from the seventh spot. Then he changed his mind.

“He’s just learning the pitchers and stuff,” Baker said. “Let him chill a little bit down there. Let him marinate.

“We’ll take it one step at a time first. To bat second, there are a lot of things you have to do. Rosie isn’t a real taker yet. With Willy Taveras on in front of you, you have to do some taking. I like that speed at the top up there, especially in front of Votto.”

Saturday’s 14-hit output was the new season high. Since April 18, the Reds have raised their team average from a Major League low .208 to .242.

“I think every one of them believes in themselves,” hitting coach Brook Jacoby said. “It’s just a matter of time before they start feeling really comfortable. Confidence is a big part of it too.”

Reds lineup:

Taveras cf
Dickerson lf
Votto 1b
Phillips 2b
Bruce rf
Hernandez c
Rosales 3b
Gonzalez ss
Cueto p

And congratulations to Reds media relations director Rob Butcher, who completed his first marathon at the Flying Pig today. Rob’s time was three hours, 29 minutes.

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http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

Loving it on the road

The Reds enter Saturday night 8-3 on the road this season, which is their best road start since 2002 when they also were 8-3. If they win tonight or tomorrow, that will be four-straight winning road series. The club hasn’t done that since August, 2005.

The back-to-back shutouts Wednesday and Friday were the first since the Reds blanked the Dodgers twice on Aug. 7-8, 2007. There haven’t been three-straight shutouts since June 21-23, 1963.

As expected, Chris Dickerson is back in the lineup for the first time since Monday (concussion-like symptoms).

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Dickerson LF
Votto 1B
Phillips 2B
Bruce RF
Hernandez C
Rosales 3B
Gonzalez SS
Owings P

Dusty Baker was asked if he was tempted to keep Ryan Hanigan behind the plate since he hits whenever he plays. In his five games when starting (all with Arroyo pitching), Hanigan is batting .412 (7-for-17). Ramon Hernandez is batting .246 but has come on lately.

“What are you going to do with Ramon who is just getting his stroke together?”Baker said. “If you have a good team, I don’t think this team is used to having so many good players at as many positions. Ramon is my catcher but when Hanny plays, he does his thing and we win. That way will keep him sharp and keep Ramon strong through the rest of the season.”

In the eighth inning Friday after walking, Adam Rosales was picked off by lefty reliever John Grabow and immediately after reaching the dugout was spotted speaking with top base stealer Willy Taveras. It was Rosales who sought out Taveras for the help.

“There’s a lot to learn and a lot of new information,” Rosales said. “Stealing with lefties, I have to get better. I just went first move on that guy. Some lefties you can pick up easily but I haven’t been up here long enough and we had a steal sign. I asked Willy if it was the smart thing to do if we have a steal sign. He said it was all you can do, really.”

Dickerson, Paul Janish and Darnell McDonald were among those that got extra swings in early BP today. Janish hasn’t played since Sunday vs. the Braves.

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The rotation is humming

 The rotation was the story again as Friday’s 4-0 win over the Pirates has given the Reds back-to-back shutouts. While throwing eight scoreless, Bronson Arroyo gave up four hits, three walks and struck out four.

After two first inning hits, he got a Nate McLouth double play and rarely had trouble after that.

“I knew my command was good,” Arroyo said. “I was like ‘if I can make it through this inning without giving up a run here, I’ll be alright.’ Luckily I got the double play and got out of that inning. It just worked out like I thought. It doesn’t always work out like that.”

At one point, Arroyo retired 10 in a row and 16 out of 17 batters. It was the second-straight eight inning start for the rotation after Edinson Volquez and Francisco Cordero threw a one-hitter that blanked the Braves Wednesday. The scoreless innings streak is at 19 overall.

Brandon Phillips hit a leadoff homer in the eighth — the other way. He seems to be heating up.
The lineup did strand 10 men on base but still got enough, especially against a Pirates team that’s been scoreless over their last 22 innings.

“A lot of teams wanted some of our pitching,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You have to be strong in one major area and that’s the area you want to be strong in – pitching. These guys are getting better and better, more confident and one guy feeds off another guy.”

More Arroyo: “I feel like this is the best staff we’ve had since I’ve been here. If we can continue to do things like this, it just breeds confidence in the guys from top to bottom. We hope we can keep holding them down until we can score eight or nine a night and we won’t have to sweat it so much.”

Follow updates on Twitter at:

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

It's Hanigan's turn again

Addressing the opening comment from the Volquez posting…yes, Ryan Hanigan is catching again for Bronson Arroyo tonight in the series opener vs. the Pirates. Of course, that’s no shock considering he’s caught all four of Arroyo’s previous starts. Hanigan has hit .357 (5-for-14) in those games.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston LF
Votto 1B
Phillips 2B
Bruce RF
Rosales 3B
Gonzalez SS
Hanigan C
Arroyo P

LF Chris Dickerson, who suffered a head injury on Monday, isn’t back in there but that has more to do with the Pirates starting lefty Zach Duke.

UPDATE: Dusty Baker said that Dickerson would likely start on Saturday vs. RHP Russ Ohlendorf. Dickerson took BP on Wednesday and was cleared to play as early as today.

“My vision really hasn’t been a problem but it is processing small stuff,” Dickerson said. “Everything is much better. I’m ready to go. I’m back with no lingering dizziness or symptoms in effect. No post-concussion syndrome effects.”

Follow updates on Twitter at:

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

Volquez the bobblehead man

From the Reds media relations dept.

AND THE WINNER IS…: RHP Edinson Volquez was the pitcher selected as the Fans’ Choice Bobblehead to be given to the first 30,000 fans on Sat, 7/18 vs Mil…Volquez received 3,047 of the 7,344 votes (41.5%) cast online at reds.com…his bobblehead is part of a collectible set of 4 that also features Joey Votto (Sat, 5/9 StL), Jay Bruce (Sat, 7/4 vs StL) and Brandon Phillips (Sat, 8/15 vs Wsh).

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