May 2010

Wednesday.

Reds lineup:

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

Regarding last night’s play with Brandon Phillips, Dusty Baker said it was addressed.

“I talked to him about this,” Baker said. “We talk to Brandon quite often. I guess he’s better than he used to be. We’re still trying to get him to the point where he can be a big difference maker everyday because he certainly has the skill and the ability.”

“What’s tough as a manager is when you’ve got an A student that’s getting B’s.”

When asked for his reaction, Phillips did not want to comment.

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Baker calls out Phillips

Should Brandon Phillips have had a triple in the third inning after he admired his drive to the wall a little long, thinking he had a second homer? Baker thought so.

“Probably, yeah,” Baker said. “:It looked like at first, he thought it might have been gone. Then he started running probably halfway but it was a little too late at that time.”

Phillips had to settle for a double. But if he had reached third base on the play, he likely would have scored on next batter Joey Votto’s fly ball to left field.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. A similar one occured in Houston last week when a routine fly became a three-run error and Phillips only reached second base instead of third.

There were gaffes last season also. In Kansas City, Phillips ignored a take sign on a 3-0 count and put his team out of a rally. On July 20 in Los Angeles he was thrown out at second base when he thought he had a routine sacrifce fly. He didn’t speed up until the ball fell in front of Andre Ethier, who threw Phillips out at second base. That one cost Phillips a game on the bench. There was also a stern rebuke from Baker that night.

“We’ve all talked to him until we’re blue in the face,” Baker said that night.

“I messed up,” Phillips said, also on that night in L.A. “That’s my second time not hustling this year. It won’t happen again.”

Keep this in mind: no one else on the Reds has a problem with hustling.

Moving on to some good:

*Catcher Ryan Hanigan made a nifty stretch and catch just before the top step of the Mets dugout on Angel Pagan’s fifth inning foul pop.

*Reliever Carlos Fisher struck out the side in the eighth — but they were no pedestrian hitters. Fisher fanned Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and David Wright. The Reyes K came on three pitches with an 82 mph changeup for strike three. The Bay strikeout was a 94 mph heater.

“He threw the ball the best he has since he’s been up here,” manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s a very positive thing for us.”

The just plain odd: Leading off the game, Angel Pagan had a bunt base hit to right field. I have a tough time believing Pagan meant to do it just like that, but it worked.

And the sad: Not game related but beloved Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell died today at 92 after a bout with inoperable cancer.

“Ernie Harwell, it goes without saying, was one of the greatest in the history of our profession,” Marty Brennaman said. “More important than that, however, he was one of the finest people I’ve ever known. I was privileged to call Ernie my friend. I will miss him greatly.”

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Hernandez or Hanigan?

Tuesday’s Reds lineup vs. Mets:

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

Question of the day – Who is your preference at Reds catcher — Ramon Hernandez or Ryan Hanigan? Hanigan is generally Arroyo’s battery-mate, but he’s also catching others like Harang and Bailey. Hernandez has done well with Mike Leake. Pitchers have a 4.58 ERA with Hanigan — it’s 5.73 with Hernandez.

Hanigan enters tonight batting .389 with 10 RBIs. Hernandez is hitting .245 with four RBIs but has come on stronger of late.

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Postgame extra: Leake

A 3-2 win over the Mets in 11 innings was achieved by Laynce Nix’s walkoff home run and Nick Masset’s stellar two scoreless innings of relief. I will have plenty about that in game story on MLB.com/Reds.com — please head over there when you have a chance.

Pushed to the background a little tonight was the effort of rookie Mike Leake.

“It was well pitched game on both sides, especially Leake. He pitched great,” Dusty Baker said.

Leake pitched six innings with one of his two runs allowed being earned. He walked and struck out four and threw 100 pitches.

“They got underneath my balls for the most part,” Leake said. “I didn’t get as many groundballs as I hoped to. It seemed like they liked the low ball. They dropped their hands down to it tonight. Francoeur was a good example in the second. I had to mix and match a little more today.”

Drew Stubbs’ two-out dropped catch on Jeff Francoeur’s liner scored the first Mets run. Another run scored in the sixth after Orlando Cabrera dropped Ramon Hernandez’s throw to second as Luis Castillo stole second. Castillo went to third and scored on a Jose Reyes double.

“They’re always doing their best out there,” Leake said. “You can’t complain about anything. It’s baseball. There will be games when it doesn’t go the way you want it. the good thing is we stayed in there long enough to  get that clutch hit.”

It was the first time Leake didn’t get into the seventh inning but it was his fourth quality start.
He is 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA in five starts.

Other notes:

*Chris Heisey was 0-for-5 in his MLB debut.

*Mike Lincoln has not allowed a run in his last six appearances (4 innings, 1 hit)

*The Reds are 3-0 in extra innings games this season.

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Heisey debuts vs. Mets

Reds lineup:

Chris Heisey will be making his MLB debut tonight. He was called up on Friday to replace injured OF Chris Dickerson but did not appear in any of the three games at St. Louis.

Stubbs 8
Phillips 4
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Cabrera 6
Heisey 9
Hernandez 2
Leake 1

*Dusty Baker had multiple reasons for using Heisey and resting Jay Bruce.

“I figured it was a good day – our first day back home,” Baker said. It was a rough last few days, sleep and rest wise. Plus, [Oliver] Perez is tough on lefties. Everything just factored in.”

Naturally, Heisey was pleased to see his name on the lineup card today when he arrived at the ballpark.

“I’m pumped up. First I got called up here and now I have a chance to start,” Heisey said. “About a week ago, you could have told me and I’d say not yet. Maybe later in the year.”

*Read more later in my notebook on MLB.com.

*Outfielder Chris Dickerson had surgeries to remove the hook on the hamate bone in his right hand and to “clean out” his right wrist this afternoon. He is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. 

*Today is Homer Bailey’s 24th birthday.

*Aroldis Chapman is pitching tonight for Triple-A Louisville at Buffalo. Follow on MiLB.com and MLB.TV.

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Postgame extra: rotation better

Dusty Baker probably put it best about the last six games.

“It was a good trip with the potential to be a great trip,” Baker said after his Reds got blanked by Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals, 6-0.

Had the Reds won today and gone home with a 5-1 record it would have been a good slingshot into the next series vs. the hot Mets.The most important thing to come out of the trip was the rotation got right again. Of the six games, there were five quality starts. The starters went 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA.

With three runs and seven hits allowed over six innings (zero walks, six Ks) Aaron Harang had two-straight quality starts on the trip, which is big considering where he started the season. But he had zero wiggle room against a superb Chris Carpenter.

It gets even more daunting when you see these numbers: Carpenter is 9-3 with a 2.02 ERA in 15 career starts vs. the Reds. He’s won seven-straight decisions since June 6, 2006.

Harang said Carpenter’s success did not intimidate him.

“I’m not facing my hitters. I just have to go out and worry about my game plan and what I’m going to do with their hitters,” said Harang, who is 0-2 vs. Carpenter this season. “If I can be out there and just outpitch him and let our guys get to him first.”

More Harang: “We came out on top this trip. It’s a bummer to go home with the last two games being tough losses. The guys have an upbeat attitude. We’ll just go home and get things turned around.”

How do you feel about the trip that was?

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Sunday in St. Louis

Reds lineup as they try for a 5-1 road trip.

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

Many people have blamed Dusty Baker for the shortcomings of the Reds, especially in the early few weeks. After a really bad game vs. the Padres, he held a team meeting last Saturday and the players responded by winning five straight. They’re guaranteed a winning trip no matter how today works out.

The question of the day: Do you give any credit to Baker for the improved play? If you’re giving him much of the blame for the bad, can you offer credit for the good?

This was Baker’s take on the outcome from his meeting when I asked him this morning:

“I don’t know. I don’t think about it,” he said. “You don’t want to take credit for something. You just want to win. You do what you have to do because it’s your job. Sometimes you don’t know. It’s a delicate thing. Sometimes, you can send them into further depths. If that’s all it took, you’d have one once a week.”
 
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The Great Pujols debate

Dusty Baker had a rationale for letting Homer Bailey pitch to Albert Pujols in the seventh inning on Saturday. It’s coming but first a set up of the situation:

A 1-1 game, Skip Schumaker on second base with a stolen base with first base open and two outs. Matt Holliday on deck. Pujols was 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a first-inning intentional walk.

Bailey had a 1-2 count before throwing two more balls. On Bailey’s 3-2 pitch — and career-high pitch No. 121 of the day — Pujols ripped a RBI double to put St. Louis ahead.

“He was supposed to throw him something to fish and it got over the heart of the plate,” Baker said. “The kid had 120 pitches. If I walk out there, the kid right then has no chance if I go to somebody in my bullpen. We were operating short in the bullpen. I wanted to give the kid a chance to win the game because he pitched his butt off. He pitched great.”

St. Louis added another run in the inning. The Reds came back and tied it in the eighth before losing, 6-3.

“If it had been the eighth or ninth, it would have been no problem,” Baker said about the idea of giving Pujols the intentional pass. “In the seventh,  I said ‘ok we’ve got two more innings to come back.'”

On Twitter, a few people questioned Baker’s decision to pitch to Pujols. Anyone else want to chime in with their two cents. What would you do there?

Me? I would have intentionally walked Pujols there and let a fresh Carlos Fisher take his chances against Matt Holliday. I get Baker’s rationale though for wanting to get his guy the win. 

Of course, are we even having the discussion if Pujols’ liner was caught or if Bailey made that last pitch for strike three?

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Surgery for Dickerson

It’s a short turnaround…

Reds lineup

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

From the club: OF Chris Dickerson on Monday will have surgery to remove the hook of the hamate bone in his right hand along with arthroscopic surgery on his sprained right wrist. A prognosis for recovery will be determined at that time. Dr. Tim Kremchek will perform the procedure. 

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