June 2010

PGX: Big win for many reasons

Wednesday afternoon’s 4-3 Reds win over the Phillies on Jay Bruce’s two-run home run in the eighth was big in many ways.

*They took two of three to claim the series

*It meant a 4-2 home stand before beginning a tough 11-game, three city road trip heading into the All-Star break.

*The Reds beat Roy Halladay, who pitched a complete game. They’ve now beaten two pitchers that have thrown perfect games this season, incidentally. (Dallas Braden at OAK was the other)

“It is a big win because those are the type of guys were going to be facing if we make it to the playoffs,” Bruce said. “It was big for us to come back and [for] everyone to put the at-bats together that they did to get that win.”

*It was the Reds’ MLB leading 25th come-from-behind win and their 14th win in the final at-bat, which tied the Braves for the MLB lead. Cincinnati was trailing 3-0 after four innings.

“You want to leave before this road trip on a high note. It doesn’t get any higher than this game today,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It was a very well-played game in all respects.”

The good —

*Joey Votto moved into a tie for the NL lead with 18 homers when he hit a 1-2 pitch into the right field bullpen. It was a tough pitch low and inside. Not many dudes could have done that there with that location. Votto has reached base in a MLB season-high 38-straight games.

*On the heels of his rare bad night and 33-scoreless appearance streak ender, Arthur Rhodes got the win when he pitched a 1-2-3 top of the eighth — striking out Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and getting Raul Ibanez to fly out.

“It was good to see Dusty get me out there today against the same guys and me have a 1-2-3 inning,” Rhodes said.

*After Jonny Gomes leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth, Bruce completed the comeback when he smoked a first-pitch into the right field seats. It was a no-doubter.

The not-so-good —

*Starter Aaron Harang’s one blemish was a big one. Dane Sardinha, the former Reds prospect and a .130 career hitter in the big leagues entering the day, hit a first pitch for a three-run homer with two outs in the fourth and Halladay on deck.

*The Philadelphia seventh and eighth hitters were a combined 10-for-17 with three homers in the last two games. Whether it was Brian Schneider, Sardinha or Wilson Valdez, all of them were playing because a regular is injured.

“Aaron made just one mistake to Sardinha,” Baker said. “The bottom of the order here, they killed us. We held their big boys in check pretty good. But the seventh and eighth hitters hit three three-run homers in two days.”

News —

After the game, the Reds optioned LHP Daniel Ray Herrera to Triple-A Louisville. Herrera has been inconsistent this season while going 1-3 with a 3.91 ERA in 36 games. He had 11 of his 39 inherited runners score and retired 23 of 36 first batters faced.

“We sent him down there to get his act together and find his control,” Baker said. “Usually he’s a guy that can throw wherever he wants to throw it. It seems like the last couple of months, he’s been in and out with control and location. He will be back.”

More quotes —

“It’s important to anybody, I don’t care who you are. Arthur was the first one to come in here and say ‘thanks for getting me back out there.’ I really didn’t need that. I was going to get him back out there no matter what. It’s apropos that he got the loss last night and got the win today.” — Dusty Baker on getting Arthur Rhodes back on the mound after Tuesday night.

“We had some opportunities with runners on third and less than two outs. You just pray those don’t haunt you. You could tell that very good pitchers, they seem to bear down and know how to get out of those situations. He reached back. He had his best velocity and location when he was in trouble.” — Baker on Halladay.

“I made bad pitches in the eighth. I left two balls up that cost me.” — Phillies starter Roy Halladay

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No Rolen, Stubbs

Tues lineup vs. PHI

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

*Scott Rolen got this game off instead of the usual day game after a night game on Wednesday. Why? Roy Halladay is pitching for the Phillies on Wednesday.

“Cairo would have drawn two tough assignments on day games – Greinke and Halladay. So we changed it,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We kind of discussed it. He said it wouldn’t be right on Miggy to draw those tough assignments.”

*Aroldis Chapman has three innings in two appearances since moving to the Triple-A Louisville bullpen. So far, he’s allowed one run with two hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Chapman is scheduled to work two innings tonight after Edinson Volquez makes another rehab assignment start.

“Excellent,” GM Walt Jocketty said when asked how Chapman was doing as a reliever. “His last time out [on Saturday], he pitched one inning and faced two left-handed hitters and struck them out. He got the right-hander out. In that one performance, he was dominating.

“We’ve got him on a program for a couple of weeks to pitch an inning, get a day or two off, then a couple of innings. It’s a regular program so he doesn’t end up hurting himself.”

If and when Chapman comes to the Majors, it won’t be in the next couple of weeks.

“It’ll be some time after the All-Star break before we make a decision,” Jocketty said. 

*Baker was asked if deserving All-Stars like Rolen, Votto, Phillips or Rhodes could get overlooked because the Reds haven’t won for so many years.

“It makes it probably more difficult when their manager is not choosing some of the players,” Baker replied. “We’re not drawing three million people like the Phillies, Dodgers, Yankees and Mets. And also, we don’t get a lot of national recognition – to this point.”

*Brandon Phillips pled guilty this morning to reckless driving in Kenton County Court. He avoided a conviction by agreeing to take a remedial driving course and paying court costs. Phillips was going 72 in a 35 mph zone on Friday in Park Hills, Ky.

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Postgame extra — Deee-fensssse

It was tough to count the defensive gems tonight behind Johnny Cueto during a 7-3 victory over the Phillies.

*Joey Votto picked and turned the 3-6-3 double play to end the top of the second after Cueto had a shaky start to the inning.

*Brandon Phillips snagged Raul Ibanez’s grounder and flipped to second to begin a 4-6-3 double play in the third. Ibanez looked safe but Cueto escaped having runners on first and second with one out.

*That one out in the fourth came when leadoff hitter Chase Utley was thrown out by center fielder Drew Stubbs trying to stretch a single into a double.

*SS Orlando Cabrera had two nice plays. He stopped an Utley grounder in the hole and made a nice one-hop throw to Votto at first base in the sixth. In the eighth, he made an over the shoulder catch on Ross Gload’s pop up to shallow left field.

“We’ve been lucky this year with the way our defense is playing. I appreciated the way they played tonight,” Cueto said.

*Those plays helped Cueto get eight innings and 109 pitches after a shaky start. He allowed six hits and two walks and for the first time this season — he had no strikeouts.

*Cueto has a 0.87 ERA over his last three starts (2 ER/20 2/3 innings)

*Bill Bray pitched the ninth, giving him his first big league action since the final day of the 2008 season. Bray had Tommy John surgery in 2009 while in Triple-A. He allowed a two-out homer to Ibanez when the game seemed in hand.

*Scott Rolen notched career home run No. 300 with his two-run shot off of the foul pole in left field.

More quotes —

“Those guys aren’t that easy to strikeout either. They have some quality hitters over there. Sometimes you put too much emphasis on strikeouts. If you can make them put the ball in play and use your defense, that eliminates the high pitch count that Johnny is prone to get sometimes.” — Dusty Baker

“I was concentrating on keeping the ball down to the hitter and just getting a groundball” — Johnny Cueto.

“We’re trying to get a series, we’re trying to win a series. We know theyre a good team without a doubt, and we think were a good team. So were going to go out and play good baseball. This series isn’t over, we still have work to do against these guys and obviously we have a tough road trip.” — Scott Rolen


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Monday vs. Philadelphia

Monday lineup vs. PHI

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

*Dusty Baker said the club has not decided on a starter for Thursday against the Cubs. “Soon,” Baker said.

I think it will be Travis Wood, who has a 2.82 ERA over his last 10 starts and a 0.63 ERA over his last four starts. He last pitched on Friday and worked eight scoreless innings.

*Homer Bailey (right should inflammation) threw for the first time today since he was shut down over two weeks ago. Bailey threw on flat ground and made 30 throws from 60 feet. He will increase the intensity and distance each day.

“When you don’t throw for two weeks and all of a sudden throw, it’s kind of like sitting on the couch for a long time and then walking,” Bailey said Monday. “The first few steps you’re like ‘oh man.’ After that, it’s all right, I’m good. It was pain free. Everything was nice and loose. Granted, it’s only day one but definitely they’re good signs.”

*Outfielder Chris Dickerson (right hand/wrist surgeries) is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday but that’s not even close to happening. Dickerson, whose rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville got scrubbed last week when he was sore following batting practice, got a cortisone shot in his wrist Sunday.

“It’s sore today and hopefully some of that point from the shot will go away and I can start swinging again tomorrow,” Dickerson said. “It’s not exactly following the plan of being out four-to-six weeks. I’ve talked with specialists from all disciplines and when you get into the wrist, it’s very delicate. And it can be very touchy sometimes.”

*Baker will have a deeper bullpen with Bill Bray joining fellow lefties Arthur Rhodes and Daniel Ray Herrera. The Phillies starting lineup tonight features four lefty hitters and two switch hitters. A fifth lefty is on the bench.

“It’s not a luxury. It’s something I think is a necessity at this point,” Baker said. “If your lefties are getting lefties out, that’s when the luxury comes in. Boy, do they have some lefties.”

*Through three games of his rehab assignment at Louisville, Ryan Hanigan is 1-for-11 (.091). Hanigan is scheduled to DH for the third time tonight in the game at Norfolk.

*After this series, the Reds don’t play again at Great American Ball Park until they open the second half of the season on July 16 vs Colorado…the 15 days without a home game is the Reds’ longest since a 15-day stretch from May 31-June 14, 2001.

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Postgame extra: Offense humming

Some notes out of the 10-3 Reds win over the Indians that has them on a four-game win streak:

*Jay Bruce is some kind of nice tear these days — 9-for-12 in his last four games. Bruce had two doubles, a walk, a sac fly and three runs scored. His average is up to .287.

*Orlando Cabrera was 2-for-5, which snapped his 0-for-19 skid.

*Drew Stubbs ended his 0-for-14 with a two-run homer to right field in the second inning and was 2-for-4, four RBI night. His long ball was responsible for the go-ahead runs. The four RBIs tied a career high which he set in April.

*Scott Rolen hit homer No. 16, giving him the team lead. He led off with sixth by clocking a 1-0 pitch deep to left field.

*The last few games since the Seattle debacle, the Reds have been spreading the offense around pretty well. Four players had two hits and every starting position player except for Joey Votto had at least one hit. In these last four games, the lineup has produced 23 runs.

*Aaron Harang walked five but had an otherwise decent outing. He allowed three runs and eight hits over seven innings. At 6-7, his win total is equal to what he had in both 2008 and 2009.

*And the Cardinals lost in Kansas City, which means the Reds are back in first place, a half-game up. 

Quotes —

*Dusty Baker was asked if the signing of Gary Matthews Jr. to a minor league contract would push Stubbs to better performance.

“Not really, it probably just gives us some insurance in the minor leagues,” Baker said. “I don’t think Stubbs has to worry too much about that. He’s been working hard. He’s been up and down, mostly up, the last few weeks. The thing about him is no matter what he’s hitting, he seems to drive in runs. We need that down in the seventh spot because you’re going to come up, especially with the guys we have in Gomes and Votto and Bruce getting on base – you need some RBIs down there. It’s a very important part of your lineup.”

“The season is just a course of ups and downs. You try to ride the ups as long as you can and minimize the low points. Any time that you can get a little something going you just try to keep up with it and string it out as long as possible.” — Drew Stubbs

“When you get out there and guys put some runs on the board for you early, it always makes it easier to go out there and try to pitch and not have to worry too much about making maybe one or two mistakes.” — Aaron Harang.

Have a good rest of the weekend, I’m off. See you on Monday.

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The Ohio Cup, part deux

Friday lineup vs. CLE

Phillips 4
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Bruce 9
Stubbs 8
Hernandez 2
Aaron Harang 1

*Orlando Cabrera is 8-for-60 in his last 15 games, including a current 0-for-18 slide. He is out of the leadoff spot for now. 

“At-bats are piling up for Cabrera,” Dusty Baker said. “Maybe getting some non at-bats, some sac bunts, some hit-and-runs and different things will take some pressure off him.”

Cabrera has a better chance to break out tonight since he  is 7-for-18 (.389) in his career vs. Cleveland starter Aaron Laffey.

“I know but when you’re not going good, track record don’t mean nothing,” Baker said. “He had a good track record against some of the guys on the road too.”

Baker was asked if the just-signed Gary Matthews Jr. could eventually fill the leadoff role.

“Matthews has got to get his act together first,” Baker said. “How do you do that without your act being together? Matthews is going to Triple-A to get his act together. If his act was together, he’d be playing somewhere and probably leading off.”

*Ryan Hanigan was 0-for-2 Thursday as the DH in his first rehab assignment game for Triple-A Louisville.

*Homer Bailey (right shoulder inflammation) said he is going to resume a throwing program on Monday — nothing too intensive at first however.

“I feel like I can probably start throwing now,” Bailey said. “I feel pretty good. But we have this plan working. It seems to be going pretty well. We’ll take our time and stick with it.”

*Reliever Mike Lincoln (strained right side muscle) hoped to begin throwing by next week.

*Tonight is Irish Heritage Night, so the Reds are donning green caps for the game vs. the Indians.

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Reds sign Matthews

The Reds signed veteran outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. to a minor league deal and he was scheduled to report to Triple-A Louisville Thursday night and begin playing on Friday.

After an off-season trade from the Angels to the Mets, the 35-year-old Matthews batted .190 with a .266 on-base percentage in 65 plate appearances and was released on June 15.

Matthews will be the everyday center fielder at Louisville.

“In the past, he showed that if he plays a lot, he’s a better player,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “He hasn’t had that opportunity with the Angels or Mets the last couple of years.”

The Reds currently lack outfield depth at Louisville, which also added value towards adding Matthews. But if he does well, Jocketty said it was possible for him to come up to the big league level.
Matthews’ father, Gary Matthews Sr., was a longtime Major League outfielder and is a very close friend on manager Dusty Baker’s.

A lifetime .257 hitter with a .332 OBP, Matthews’ best season was his All-Star year of 2006 with the Rangers when he batted .313 with 19 home runs and 79 RBIs. As a free agent after that season, he signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the Angels — only to disappoint in Anaheim.

“Hopefully, if he can get back, at some point he can help us at the Major League level,” Jocketty said.

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Postgame extra: 3-3 on West Coast

A 3-0 win over the A’s meant a 3-3 road trip. For Reds fans having chest pains over the first three games in Seattle, this might relax things a little bit. Remember, they came in 15-35 in West Coast games over the past five seasons. Winning the first two games of the series had to happen but taking the sweep is a nice added morale boost.

The Reds are still seven games over .500 at 40-33. Not a bad place to be considering how the six-game West Coast trip started.

“Big time, that’s like a reverse sweep,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We got swept and then we sweep. It’s not the way you plan it. But that’s the way it worked out. We’re actually going home the same we left – seven over [.500]. Hopefully, we can get back to double-digits pretty soon.”

The good —

*Johnny Cueto took a shutout into the eighth inning. Worked seven-plus innings and allowed seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

*The play of the game was a non-routine 4-2-5 double play that came with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth. Gabe Gross hit a soft liner to second base, where Brandon Phillips alertly let the ball short-hop and threw home to Ramon Hernandez for the force. Hernandez threw to Miguel Cairo at third base and got the double play. Had Cairo not tagged the runner and just touched the bag, he likely could have turned the triple play.

“That was a really smart play by Brandon, the play of the game,” Hernandez said. “Bases loaded, no outs and then you get two outs with no runs. That’s big.”

*Nick Masset and Cairo came up big for Cueto in the eighth after he allowed two hits before being lifted. Kurt Suzuki was robbed when his hot grounder to third base was stopped by a diving Cairo, who touched the bag and threw to first for a double play. Masset struck out Kevin Kouzmanoff to end the threat.

*In his last three outings, Masset has 3 2/3 innings of perfect pitching. Need a bigger sample size but it’s starting to look like he’s finding his mojo again.

*The Reds rotation posted a 2.33 ERA over the six-game trip.

*Jay Bruce was 3-for-3 with a walk and 7-for-10 in the series. He came in a 4-for-25 skid before the series. Down in a 0-2 count in the first, Bruce had a big two-run single to put the Reds up early. Bruce was batting .194 RISP w/two outs coming in.

The not-so-good —

*Reds were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10. They were 3-for-23 RISP in the last two games and left 21 on base.

*Orlando Cabrera went 0-for-5 today and is batting .133 (8-for-60) over his last 15 games.

Quotes —

“I was looking at our starters the last two games the way they were pitching to those guys. I was paying attention to the way I was pitching to throw in the same pattern.” — Johnny Cueto

“We’re going to have a nice day off [on Thursday] and go back home and regroup and get ready for the weekend series. We’re trying to play good baseball and have fun, and keep doing what we’re doing.” — Ramon Hernandez

“We played good baseball. They didn’t get the breaks they needed. We capitalized on things when we needed to. That’s kind of how the series went.” — Jay Bruce

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Volquez, Chapman, Leake — news

*Edinson Volquez pitched five innings and allowed one earned run on three hits with no walk and one strikeout in his latest rehab start for Triple-A Louisville. Volquez threw first-pitch strikes to nine of his 19 batters and reached as high as 98 mph. Of his 80 pitches, 49 were strikes.

*In 13 innings over three starts, Volquez has yet to allow a walk.

*Aroldis Chapman is pitching in relief today for Louisville for the first time this season. And for the first time this year, Reds GM Walt Jocketty indicated that he could be looked to eventually come up as a reliever.

“We may look at that,”  Jocketty said. “If Volquez comes back and Bailey isn’t far away, the best opportunity will be out of the bullpen. But we could still possibly use him as a starter.”

Update: Chapman pitched two innings of relief and allowed one run, two hits and one walk with three strikeouts.

*Mike Leake is being pushed back from his next turn in the rotation and will not pitch in the Cleveland series. Leake, who pitched this past Monday vs. the A’s will start on Tuesday vs. the Phillies. Aaron Harang, Sam LeCure and Bronson Arroyo will start the next three games vs. the Indians.

*Ryan Hanigan will leave Thursday for Louisville and his rehab assignment. Hanigan will be gone 7-10 days, and DH the first couple of games. He will be behind the plate for Volquez’s next start.



Weds lineup vs. OAK

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

Cueto RHP

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