May 2010

Postgame extra: Bullpen SOS?

The Reds’ 20-game stretch is really starting to take its toll on their bullpen, which was pummeled after Bronson Arroyo’s short 4 1/3 inning day during a 12-4 loss.

Carlos Fisher allowed four runs and Mike Lincoln allowed one, plus one of the inherited runners from Fisher to score.

The bullpen has a 6.32 ERA (15 ER, 21 1/3 innings) over the last eight games.

Baker let Fisher bat for himself in the top of the sixth in an attempt to preserve the bullpen some. In the bottom of the sixth, Fisher faced five batters and let four reach – including two on walks. That turned into five runs and the game was out of reach for the Reds.

Over his last 7 2/3 innings in six appearances, Lincoln has allowed 12 runs.

In case you’re wondering about bullpen help –

*RHP Enerio Del Rosario must stay at Triple-A Louisville before a recall for at least 10 days, by rule, unless there is an injury.

*Jared Burton entered today with four-straight scoreless appearances for Louisville.

*Logan Ondrusek had scoreless outings in eight of his last 10 appearances but was tapped for four runs in each of the other two games.

*GM Walt Jocketty went into Baker’s office right after reporters left. Good bet they were talking relievers.

“It’s a possibility. I’m going to talk to Walt today,” Baker said to reporters. “Those guys have been throwing a lot.”

The good —

*In the top of the first on Scott Rolen’s single to center field, Brandon Phillips noticed Colby Rasmus take his time retrieving the ball. Phillips sped into another gear and took third base while Rolen went to second on the throw. Jonny Gomes’ single brought both runners home for a 2-0 lead.

*Daniel Ray Herrera had a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth inning.

The not so good —

*Never a fan of rain delays but this one was handled quite well. The grounds crew and umpires anticipated the storm and had the tarp on before the rain fell. The game was delayed an hour, but it might have been worse if they tried to play through some of the rain.

*Arroyo’s four-pitch walk to pitcher Jamie Garcia with two outs in the fourth after play resume proved to be a killer, and led to three St. Louis runs.

Quote:

“The only two fresh guys we had are Lincoln and Herrera. We have two tough days left here and we didn’t want to go through your whole bullpen today and be really stretched out tomorrow and have the young kid [Sam LeCure] going Wednesday.” — Dusty Baker

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Memorial Day in St. Louis

Greetings from St. Louis on what will be a steamy Memorial Day.

First, and most importantly, thanks to all that served the country — past and present. You are not forgotten.

Lineup vs. STL

Cabrera 6
Cairo 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Bruce 9
Stubbs 8
Hernandez 2
Arroyo 1

*Joey Votto is taking batting practice as I write this. Dusty Baker said there was “a chance” that Votto (stiff neck) would be back in the lineup. This is his sixth-straight game out of the order.

I’ve been fielding several questions the last few days on whether this stiff neck is actually something related to his personal issues last season. This has nothing to do with that. It’s just a stiff neck. Hopefully every single physical injury Votto might have throughout his career doesn’t spark constant questions about his mental health, too.   

*Baker wasn’t sure if LHP Arthur Rhodes would be available today. Rhodes exited yesterday’s game with a cramp in his calf and has been dealing with a sore foot.

*Homer Bailey (right shoulder inflammation) threw for the first time since he went on the DL last Monday. Bailey threw for 10 minutes from 90-100 feet.

“Everything felt absolutely wonderful,” Bailey said. He is eligible to be activated on June 8.

*I had a typo in my series preview on MLB.com. Reds starting pitchers come in 10-0 with a 2.55 ERA in their last 16 games since May 14. I wrote 2.45. I’ve always been terrible at math, which doesn’t serve me well in this stats-driven business.

*Both teams are wearing white caps with stars and stripes in the logos.

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Postgame extra: Blanked

Well, we’ve seen what happens when Mike Leake doesn’t have his good stuff. Six scoreless innings. He got the no-decision in a 2-0 Reds loss to Houston, in 10 innings.

Leake said the humidity bothered him — not quite as dry as his Arizona State days.

“Now that I know what it’s like a little bit, I think I will be a little better,” Leake said. “This is not my type of weather, especially growing up on the West coast. In Arizona, it’s a dry heat.”

Leake is 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA through 10 starts.

The good —

*Leake got double plays in his first three innings, including with runners on first and second and no outs in both the first and second.

*The first double play was a 4-6-3 started by Brandon Phillips, who made a slick backhanded stop on a Berkman grounder.

*Double play No. 2 was courtesy of Laynce Nix in center field, who caught Tommy Manzella’s flyball and then threw out Hunter Pence trying to tag up and take third base.

“We have such a great defense – you don’t want to expect it but you kind of know they’re going to do something for you,” Leake said. “It helps us because we’re not afraid  to throw certain pitches. We’ll get a groundball in a situation where we want a groundball because we know they’ll make it behind us.”

*Leake allowed seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts. He was done after 97 pitches.

“Very impressive,” Dusty Baker said. “When he struggles with his control, it’s not like he’s way wild. He’s barely wild. He had a bunch of near misses off the plate. The guy just keeps pitching.”

*Francisco Cordero had a nice 1-2-3 ninth inning, used only nine pitches.

The not-so-good –
 
*After 27 runs over the last two games, nada over 10 innings Sunday.

*The team that’s best in the league hitting with runners in scoring position was 0-for-9 and stranded 11 men

*The Reds’ 18-game streak with a home run is over.

*The last shutout loss in extras was Aug. 8, 2003, at San Diego,

News —

Arthur Rhodes pitched another scoreless inning over the seventh and eighth but left with a cramp in his thigh.

A quote –

“He just has a good feel for moving the ball in and out, he keeps it down. He’s got a little more movement probably than you give him credit for. Some guys feel like, for example, if you’re facing a Brandon Webb where his sinker drops two feet, well Leake’s doesn’t look like it’s moving that much but I think it is. If you go back and look, it moves late, and it moves more than you give him credit for. So I think that’s how he’s able to induce as many ground balls.” — Astros 1B Lance Berkman on Leake.

See you Monday from St. Louis.

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Votto close, not yet ready

Sunday lineup vs HOU

Cabrera 6
Cairo 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Nix 8
Hernandez 2
Janish 5
Leake 1

Joey Votto ran and threw yesterday and plans to take BP today as a test for his stiff neck. Talking to him today, he certainly looked to be moving much better.

“I feel better,” Votto said. “It’s hard to go from nothing to a game without batting practice. I anticipate I will hit today, do my exercise, running and throwing. We’ll see how it feels from there.”

Baker wouldn’t say if Votto would be in the lineup when the Reds open an important series Monday vs. the Cardinals. But it sounded as though he was not inclined to rush him.

“When they say they’re ready, I like to wait one day longer,” Baker said. “There’s something different about working out than there is to playing. … The importance and impact of the next series – if it was September, it’d be a different thing. But right now, we can’t afford to lose him for any extended length of time.”

 

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Postgame extra: Quote parade

What was said following a 15-6 blowout of the Astros, which put the Reds nine games over .500 at 29-20.

“He threw the ball well and kept the ball down. He made some big pitches when he needed to make them. You could tell they nubbed a couple of balls off the end of the bat. He masked his pitches very well. Everything looked the same coming out of the same spot.” — Dusty Baker on Sam LeCure, who earned his first MLB win.

“I never pitched before but I’m assuming it’s a lot easier to pitch with the lead – especially when the guys score early. He battled. He gave up the bomb to Hunter but got the next ball from the umpire and threw downhill. He kept his chin up.” — Jonny Gomes, on LeCure.

“I feel really good about it. I believed in the fact that the game is still the same, just a little bigger stadium. I went out there and executed pitches and I had thrown to Hanigan before and felt really comfortable with him back there. We had a good little groove going.” — Sam LeCure.

Winning your first big league game can be rough on the guy who gets it. What happened to LeCure is pretty common outcome for a rookie first-time winner

“I got some shaving cream,” LeCure said. “They made me sit down in the shower in my uniform and they poured beer all over me. I got quite a bit of Pert Plus in my eyes. But it’s pretty cool. Any time that you’re able to not just get to the big leagues but get a win and it’s against the team in your division, it’s a big night for everybody.”

No Votto, roster move made

Fri lineup vs. HOU

Cabrera 6
Cairo 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Bruce 9
Stubbs 8
Hanigan 2
LeCure 1

*Joey Votto is missing from the lineup for the third-straight day (stiff neck).

Asked about whether the disabled list was possible for Votto, manager Dusty Baker couldn’t really say.

“I don’t know. I ain’t no doctor. I hope not,” Baker said. “I hope it’s just a stiff neck. It was better yesterday than the day before. We’ll wait as long as we can.”

*Miguel Cairo is 5-for-9 with a homer over the previous two games in Votto’s place, which has been a solid picking up of the slack.

“You want to contribute and do the little things that help the team win games,” Cairo said. “You don’t play every day so when one of the big boys, the regulars, gets a day or something happens to them, you’ve got to be ready to go out there and help the team.”

Cairo will be making his fourth start this season at first base, a position he hasn’t previously played since 2008 with the Mariners. Of his 727 career games in 14 seasons, 131 have been at first base.

*Arthur Rhodes, who has had been bothered by a sore foot the last couple of days, said he was ready to pitch tonight.

*To make room for Sam LeCure on the roster, Enerio Del Rosario was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.

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Postgame extra: Eight over .500

In an 8-2 win over the Pirates, the 28-20 Reds are eight games above .500 for the first time June 30, 2006. They took three of four in a series they were supposed to win. Not downplaying the outcome here but the Reds of the past didn’t always beat the teams they were supposed to beat. They remain in first place, one game up on St. Louis, which beat the Padres.

Again, check out Matt Brown’s story on the site. I’ll be writing the game story again on Friday, in addition to everything else.

The highlights –

*Johnny Cueto had another nice night — six scoreless innings, three hits, two walks, a season-high nine strikeouts. He came out after 101 pitches, in part, because of the blister on his right index finger.

“We got him out of there as a precaution for that blister,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He had a big lead and it came out fine tonight. He also had a lot of pitches (24) that sixth inning.”

*Like this time last year, Cueto has put together a stunning set of starts the past month. He is 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA over his last six starts, including victories in the last four-straight starts. In five starts from late April to mid-May of last season, he had a 4-0, 1.25 stretch. He was 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA in the first half. Everything fell apart just before the All-Star break as his arm wore down. Cueto didn’t pitch winter ball this past off-season and his conditioning has been strong. He’s eliminated the one really bad inning. It could all equate to being a very good omen for the Reds as the season goes on.

“I’m doing more running outside, better conditioning,” Cueto said with the translation of bullpen coach Juan Lopez. “That’s the reason I’m way better than last year.”

*The Reds and Cueto did not expect the blister to prevent him from making his next start.

*This game was seemingly put to bed within two innings, when the Reds got a 7-0 lead. They sent nine to the plate in both innings.

“That’s huge. You get 3-0 and we batted around before they even got to their fourth or fifth hitter,” Baker said. “You’re assured most of the time that the top of your lineup is going to get five at-bats.”

*Scott Rolen hit a three-run home run to left field in the first, giving him 11 for the season. That equaled his totals for each of the past two seasons.

*Jay Bruce followed Rolen with a homer to right field, his first long ball since April 29. It’s the second time the Reds have had back-to-back homers this season.

“It’s fine. I wasn’t out there saying ‘yes, I hit my first homer of May today,’” Bruce said “It’s not the idea going in. it’s always nice to hit homers, whenever you hit them.”

*With Joey Votto out the last two games, Miguel Cairo has stepped up. Cairo was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and is 7-for-13 over his last three starts since last Thursday.

News –

*Brandon Phillips left after the seventh inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. Phillips was replaced by Drew Sutton, who went 0-for-1 with a strikeout.

*Aroldis Chapman returned to the mound for Triple-A Louisville on Thursday. Against Gwinnett, Chapman threw five scoreless innings with three hits and one walk allowed with seven K’s and two wild pitches while throwing 90 pitches. He left with a 4-0 lead,

More quotes –

“Two years ago today, I got called up. Last year, I hit two homers on May 27 and this year I hit one. May 27 is a pretty good day. Johnny was pitching too.” — Jay Bruce, who has 48 homers in 257 games since his MLB debut.

“It was kind of painful. The last inning, it kind of burned a little bit. It’s hurting right now.” — Johnny Cueto on his blister.

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Votto better, but still out

Thurs lineup vs. PIT

Cabrera 6
Cairo 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Stubbs 8
Hernandez 2
Cueto 1

*Joey Votto seemed relaxed at his locker but walking around, he didn’t look quite as good. A stiff neck has kept him out another game. It appeared doubtful Votto would be available to pinch-hit.

“It’s better than yesterday,” Votto said. “Yesterday wasn’t a very good day. I really didn’t feel that well. I came and talked to Dusty and ran in by Paul [Lessard, head trainer]. They came to the conclusion that I should take the day off.”

*Sam LeCure arrived from Louisville today and was ready to get started. He was handed his No. 63 jersey and cap as reporters were at his locker.

“This is what everybody works for,” LeCure said. “Anybody who has ever put on a uniform, this is the pinnacle. It’s taken some time and some bumps in the road. I know it’s so cliché and I promised myself I wouldn’t say it, but the closer it gets, the anxiety starts to build. I’m sure it won’t really set in until I get out there and I’m warming up tomorrow.”

LeCure was picked over Matt Maloney and Travis Wood to replace the injured Homer Bailey in the rotation.

“He’s been pitching the best,” Dusty Baker said. “Houston generally does better against left-handers than right-handers. Maloney has been pitching well too. Chapman has the blister. You want to go with who’s been pitching and throwing the best. You try to have a guy here that’s earned it as often as possible. You can’t always do it.”

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Postgame extra: Arroyo rolling

We have a new associate reporter on board starting this week, named Matt Brown. Matt handled the game story tonight on MLB.com/Reds.com for the Reds 4-0 win over Pittsburgh. Please give it a look.

The good –

*Bronson Arroyo. 7 2/3 scoreless innings with five hits and two walks (one intentional) allowed and five strikeouts. After a leadoff walk to Aki Iwamura in the first, Arroyo retired 11 in a row and faced the minimum through the first four hitless innings. He did a real nice job turned a 1-6-3 double play in the first to erase that walk.

“It was a good game,” Arroyo said. “The first inning I was missing a lot, all my pitches. I felt really strong but my command was just all over the place. It happens sometimes you come out of the pen feeling funky but to get that double play the stab up the middle probably turned the entire game around for me. If I have 2 guys on and I’m having to face the meat of the order with nobody out, it would have been a different ball game. But I got out of that one and my command came back and I felt good throwing the fastball down and away to some of these guys and kind of got on a roll. When you have a lead its a lot easier to pitch.”

*Arroyo has won four-straight starts and five of his last six. In those six starts, he is 4-0 with a 2.66 ERA. Also big is that his last two wins have followed difficult one-run losses, including that heartbreaker in Atlanta on Thursday. He’s been a good guy to have when you need to keep a loss from festering.

*Daniel Ray Herrera faced one batter but it was a huge situation. Given bases loaded, two outs in the eighth and a 3-0 lead, lefty-hitter Garrett Jones represented the go-ahead run. Arthur Rhodes was not available. Herrera stepped up and fanned Jones with a 66 mph screwball.

“I gave him some good pitches away and a breaking ball he didn’t fish for,” Herrera said. “Luckily, he swung over that screwball.”

*Filling in at 1B for Joey Votto (stiff neck), Miguel Cairo was 2-for-4 and was hit by a pitch. Cairo hit a home run in the fifth inning. He’s only batting .216 but is 4-for-8 in last two starts.

*On Lastings Milledge high line drive in the seventh, Brandon Phillips made a spectacular leap and catch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Phillips get that vertical.

“That was a two-handed slam right there,” Baker said.

*Chris Heisey’s homer in the bottom of the eighth was good insurance. It was Heisey’s second pinch-hit homer of the season and third overall.

The not so good —

*More trouble for Nick Masset. After Arroyo came out with a runner on first and two outs in the seventh, Masset faced two batters. He allowed Neil Walker’s single, a wild pitch and Andrew McCutchen’s walk that loaded the bases. Herrera cleaned up the situation.

*In his last six appearances, totaling two innings, Masset has allowed four hits, four runs and three walks while going 0-2. There were some boos when he came out of the bullpen to replace Arroyo. He’s much better than he’s pitched during this up-and-down year. Baker is counting on that fact and there really is no better right-handed option in-house that can do Masset’s role. He has to get it together.

*The Reds left 11 men on base for the night, including four in the first two innings. 

More quotes

“You’re sailing along smoothly, and all of a sudden, one hit and you say ‘no problem.’ Then one walk and you’re in trouble. Daniel came on in that situation. There’s only one lefty out there. I know Walker doesn’t hit lefties as good as righties but if he doesn’t get Walker, now you have to face McCutchen whose hitting .430 against left-handed pitching. After that, they’re all left-handed until you get down to Milledge. They had us in a crossfire right there. I thought that 2-2 pitch [to McCutchen] was pretty close. That would have really boosted Masset’s confidence. Right now he’s struggling some. We have to help him figure out how to get back to Masset.” — Dusty Baker on the eighth inning situation with Masset and Herrera.

“No, but it’s part of the job. Bronson threw a hell of a game. Masset, I wanted to pick him up too. It’s part of the game to leave them there. Don’t let those runs come in for my guys.” — Daniel Ray Herrera when asked about the uneviable situation of entering a game with the bases loaded.

“I try to be honest with him. The first batter of that inning Cedeno and then the last batter, they just wore me out. I was already running low on a fuel a little bit being so hot out there, so humid. I felt like somebody in the pen had a better opportunity to get a lefty out then I did so I gave him the signal and I feel like I should do that just for the fact that I want him to trust me when I say that Ive got enough left in the tank to go ahead and finish somebody off late in the game.” — Bronson Arroyo on signaling to Baker that he was done following Iwamura’s fly out in the eighth.

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Janish away, Sutton up, Votto sore

Weds lineup vs. PIT

Cabrera 6
Cairo 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Nix 7
Stubbs 8
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

*Dusty Baker indicated yesterday that an off day was coming for Joey Votto but that’s not why he’s missing from tonight’s lineup. It turns out that Votto is out with a stiff neck.

Votto has the best numbers vs. Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf at 4-for-7 (.571) with one homer so it was unfortunate for the Reds.

“If you can’t go, you can’t go,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You know Joey Votto. If he could go, he was going to go. He called and left a message this morning. He went and saw the doctor and he thought it would better if he doesn’t play today.” 

*Also out is lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes with a sore foot. Baker hoped to have Votto and Rhodes back Thursday.

 

*Infielder Paul Janish was placed on the bereavement list to attend his grandmother’s funeral near Houston. IF/OF Drew Sutton was recalled from Triple-A Louisville. Janish can be gone from three to seven days but was expected to be back Saturday.

*Sutton was batting .268 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 37 games for Louisville. He had hit safely in each of his last seven games (11-for 24, .458, 8 RBIs).  Sutton played 42 games with the Reds last season and batted .212.

*Edinson Volquez pitched a simulated game for the first time on Saturday in Goodyear. He threw 40 pitches total — or two 20-pitch “innings.” The club is still determining Volquez’s schedule going forward, but he could pitch in extended spring games as soon as next week.

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