August 2010

A Cain Mutiny?

As well as the Reds West Coast trip is going — already 5-1 — it could move into extraordinary mode with a good showing against the Wild Card contending Giants. The toughest pitcher they could face is in the opener, Matt Cain.

*This was Cain’s line vs. the Reds at GABP on June 8 during a 3-0 loss: 9 ip, 7 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K.

*Cain is 3-3 with a 3.21 ERA in seven career starts vs. CIN.

*The Reds best hitter against Cain is Laynce Nix, who is 5-for-11 (.455) with one homer.

*Lurking ahead on Tuesday for the Giants is lefty Jonathan Sanchez, who is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA against CIN in three starts. Sanchez was a 6-3 loser on June 9 at GABP after he gave up three runs and seven hits over five innings.

*From Better off Red czar and resident club mathlete Jamie Ramsey, the Reds are 97-65 over their last 162 games.

*With some of the Triple Crown talk about Joey Votto lately, the Reds answered a question I admit to not knowing. I knew Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski was the last Triple Crown winner in 1967. What I did not know is that no NL player has won it since the Cardinals’ Joe Medwick in 1937.

*For those who are interested, here is the link to see video of Votto’s 10-pitch AB against Jonathan Broxton from Sunday: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=11274655

Monday lineup vs. SF

Phillips 4
Nix 7
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Edmonds 8
Bruce 9
Hernandez 2
Janish 6
Volquez 1

 

Follow me on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

Reds seeking series win

Sunday lineup vs. LAD

Phillip 4
Cairo 5
Votto 3
Gomes 7
Heisey 9
Hernandez 2 Hanigan 2
Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Arroyo 1

Dusty Baker tipped yesterday that Rolen might not play and that Heisey would definitely play. But it’s an unexpected twist that Hernandez is catching since Hanigan is usually paired with Arroyo. Hernandez has been super hot at the plate of late (.379 with 17 RBIs, last 15 games) but it’s still worth asking.

**Sorry — there was a mistake is the info. Hanigan is the starting catching, not Hernandez. It’s not a scratch or anything.

Follow me on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

Digging Dodger Stadium

Saturday’s lineup vs. LAD

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

One of the fun aspects of being at Dodger Stadium, for me at least, is trying to look down from the press box into the high-end seats behind the plate to spot celebrities. Especially when the Dodgers are winning, they often come out — A-listers to D-listers.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times in L.A. last night that only two were spotted. Larry King was three rows behind home plate. And this is cheating a little — because I didn’t exactly spot Lori Laughlin of “Full House” fame since she threw a ceremonial first pitch. When we wait to get into the clubhouse, it’s near where the high rollers walk out towards their elevators. A few times in past seasons, I’ve seen Charlie Sheen come out, and of course, Larry King.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to see Dodger Stadium — especially since it would often pop up in movies of the 1970s and 80s. Even though the “Angels” were playing the “Mariners,” it was used in the first “The Naked Gun” movie. (Reggie Jackson said “I must kill the Queen.”) I remember it being used at the very end of “Better Off Dead” and a Fleetwood Mac video. (Man, I’m showing my age. For younger readers, MTV showed music videos long before “Jersey Shore” and “The Hills.”) 

I’ve been coming to Dodger Stadium since 2005 because of this job, and it’s definitely a perk. In the hallways between the two clubhouses, there are crisp white Dodgers jerseys with the retired numbers of all their greats — from Pee Wee Reese to Jackie Robinson to Duke Snider to Sandy Koufax to Roy Campenella. In the seats, which were renovated a couple of years ago, fans continually whack beach balls around the seats as security guards try to confiscate them. Flea, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, appears on the video board before the game to tell fans about behaving themselves.

If you’re a baseball fan and ever are out to Los Angeles, I highly recommend checking out this ballpark. Celebrities or no celebrities, it’s one of the best places around to watch a game.

Follow me on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

A fine day in Southern Cal

You can’t beat the sunny weather in Los Angeles, and the view from the press box at Dodger Stadium is about as good as it gets. This is one of the oldest ballparks in the league now, the clubhouse is cramped but it’s still one of my favorite places to watch a game.

 


dodgerstadium 082010.JPGFri lineup vs. LAD

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

*Jay Bruce is 7-for-15 on the road trip with two homers and three RBIs.

*The Reds’ 3 1/2-game lead entering tonight is their largest since 5/19/02 when they had a four-game lead

*All-time vs. the Dodgers since 1900, the Reds are 999-1,040.

*According to the Elias Spurts Bureau, LHP Travis Wood last night became only the third Reds rookie in the last 25 years to win four consecutive starts. Lance Davis in 2001 Tim Pugh in 1992 were the others.

Follow me on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

Time for Reds to love LA?

Dodger Stadium always blares “I Love LA” by Randy Newman when the Dodgers win. So, what do they play after a loss? I’ve never seen a visiting team win in LA — not the Reds, not the Twins. The previous time I was out here last season, Manny Ramirez had an all-timer with that pinch-hit grand slam off Nick Masset, into Mannywood seats in left field and on his own bobblehead night to boot. That was an electrifying scene.

It’s obviously been well-documented that the Reds have trouble with winning in Los Angeles. But they are possibly catching the Dodgers at the right time.

*They already caught a break by missing Ted Lilly, who dropped a shutout on the Rockies last night.

*The Dodgers have lost six of their last 10 games, but did take two of three from Colorado. At 62-60, they are 12 games out of first in the NL West and seven back in the Wild Card race.

*With original Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla on the DL, he’s being replaced by Carlos Monosterios. He’s a Rule 5 rookie that is 2-3 with a 4.91 ERA eight starts this season. He pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief against the Reds earlier this season.

*The Reds will also catch another break on the final third of this trip. When they face the Giants, they miss Tim Lincecum again. Matt Cain, who beat the Reds 3-0 with a seven-hit shutout on June 8, will start the series opener on Monday.

*Has anyone noticed what Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez has been up to lately? Hernandez has hit safely in 11 of his last 14 games since coming off the DL July 22. In that span, he’s hitting .364 (20-for-55). He has 20 RBIs over his last 17 games.

*Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan and formed a splendid dynamic duo this season behind the plate. Reds catchers (don’t forget Corky Miller) lead the NL with a .297 batting average and are second behind the Braves with 73 RBIs and a .371 OBP.

*Because of the Arizona sweep, the Reds only need one win at Chavez Ravine and one more in San Francisco for a winning 5-4 road trip. I have a definite feeling they will be aiming higher.

Follow me on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

 

The West Coast test

It’s finally here — the Reds head to the West Coast for a three-city trip through Arizona, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

When it comes to tests and obstacles that will challenge the Reds mettle as a contender, this is likely the big one, the head cheese, the big enchilada (Why does this sound like that William Shatner scene in Airplane 2?)

What makes this trip a big deal?

Recent history.

Over the last five seasons, the Reds have a 16-35 (.314) record on the West Coast. The road to Chavez Ravine — aka Dodger Stadium — has been a big boulevard of broken dreams. The Reds haven’t won a game there since I’ve covered the team. That translates to 0-12 (!!) at Los Angeles, with the last win coming on July 28, 2005 when LHP Brandon Claussen earned the victory.

On Aug. 24 2006, the Reds started a West Coast swing through SF, LA and SD. when the trip started, they were tied for first place. When the 2-8 trip was over, they were six games back.

I will never forget this scene from that trip: Ryan Franklin threw one pitch and gave up a walkoff homer to the Dodgers Ramon Martinez in the bottom of the 16th inning. After the game, I saw Ryan Freel sitting inside his locker looking almost catatonic. It was pretty much over from there.

Is there good news about this trip?

*Only three current Reds are left from that team — Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Phillips.

*This is a much more big-game tested club with players like Rolen, Rhodes and Cabrera that have been there before. This is also a team hasn’t lost more than five-straight all season and that was in April.

*The Reds swept the Diamondbacks at Chase Field last season and are 5-1 over the last two seasons, A similar outcome this week would be a good way to build momentum for Los Angeles.

*The Reds took two of three from the Giants at AT&T Park each of the last two seasons.

I don’t think the Reds need to have a winning trip to feel good when they come home for the stretch run. They just can’t be embarassed or have a disaster. And if they do lose, they need to hope the Cardinals do too. That’s a pretty low bar to set. If they can take a win at LA and two each at ARZ and SF, that would be a 5-4 trip. Not bad at all.

If they get through this one OK, the next big test is St. Louis over Labor Day weekend.

Let me hear from you…how do you like the Reds’ prospects for this Pacific trip?

(FYI — I’m skipping the Arizona portion. I will be in Los Angeles and San Francisco).

***

One other thing — I was remiss in not posting Aaron Harang’s rehab start line for Triple-A Louisville last night. Against Columbus, he allowed five runs and five hits over five innings with two walks and five strikeouts. Something tells me he’ll get another start with the Bats.

Follow me on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

The swept did some sweeping

The Reds turned around the week rather well. After getting swept by St. Louis, they did it to Florida by getting a 2-0 win Sunday. And after all the angst of the lost series, the Reds end the home stand in first place all alone again. The Cardinals lost by a 9-7 score to the Cubs and dropped two of three to fall a game back in the NL Central.

The good —

*Homer Bailey got it done in a big way with six scoreless innings, three hits, no walks and four strikeouts. His pitch count was high early (44 thru 2 inn, 63 thru 3) but some quick innings kept him in the game and buried the Marlins. After allowing back-to-back two-out singles, he retired 16 of 17 and his last 10 in a row to finish with 102 pitches.

*Miguel Cairo came up huge again with his two-run homer in the sixth — the difference in the game. I keep remembering fans wanting him outta here after less than a month in April.

*Jim Edmonds got his first hit with the Reds after 0-for-12 start with a double off of the LF wall. Edmonds was robbed of a homer in the fourth inning by splendid leaping catch at the wall by Marlins center fielder Emilio Bonifacio.

*The Reds bullpen got into some jams but got it done with three solid innings with Ondrusek, Masset and Cordero. The ninth was fraught with danger after Cordero gave up a leadoff double on a 0-2 pitch. After getting a groundout and a called strikeout, Cordero walked Cody Ross but got Donnie Murphy with a called K to end it.

*Jay Bruce’s 1-for-4 day has him hitting .389 (7-for-18) over his last six games with one homer and six RBIs.

*Orlando Cabrera served a batboy for four innings in a pretty comical scene. Be sure to see my story on that on MLB.com

The not-so-good —

*Joey Votto got run in the bottom of the first for disputing a 1-1 strike call by home plate umpire D.J. Rayburn. Votto didn’t so much dispute in a visible sense, but obviously said something that got him tossed. That’s two first inning ejections this season.

The Marlins were 0-for-9 RISP for the day, 0-for-27 for the series. No matter which team it is, that’s brutal.

Quotes —

“That’s a reverse sweep. That’s what we talked about before this series started. That’s a quality team over there. They’ve got some dynamite hitters, some good pitching and they’re going to be good for a long time. We held their offense down today pretty much, which is a hard thing to do. Coming out of Washington, they had some hot bats.” — Dusty Baker

“He’s been great. He stays ready all the time. I told him yesterday he’d be playing today. He works hard. He trains hard. He loves to play and he knows what it takes to win. I’d hate to think where we’d be without him.” — Baker on Cairo

“I enjoy every single day of my baseball career and my life. I’ve been blessed to wear this uniform and all the uniforms I’ve worn. I enjoy what I do. This is what I know how to do. It’s been nice to be here and be in the big leagues.” — Miguel Cairo

“The biggest thing was pounding the zone. I thought my balls-to-strikes ratio was pretty good. That’s what I went into the game thinking.” — Homer Bailey

 

Follow me on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

Grandal in town, has taken physical

The deadline to sign Draft picks is 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday night. By the looks of things, the Reds should be able to get their deal done with 12th overall pick, Yasmani Grandal.

Reason No. 1 — Grandal is already in town. The former Univ. of Miami catcher has spent the last two nights watching the Reds-Marlins games from general manager Walt Jocketty’s suite, seated next to suspended manager Dusty Baker.

Reason No. 2 — Grandal has already taken his physical.

“They’re progressing,” Jocketty said of the talks with Grandal’s agent, Greg Genske. “We had him in [Saturday] for a physical. We wanted to get it out of the way so we didn’t have to wait until the last minute.”

If the Reds are unable to sign him before 11:59 p.m. ET Monday, they lose their rights to him and he goes back into the draft pool. Cincinnati would receive a compensatory pick for the 2011 Draft in the same slot where Grandal was picked.

Jocketty flew to Phoenix Sunday morning ahead of the upcoming Reds road trip against the Diamondbacks and planned to watch the organization’s rookie-level team play Sunday night. It also makes him available to negotiate throughout the day during the Reds’ off day on Monday.

“It’ll go until tomorrow and we hope to get it done by tomorrow,” Jocketty said of talks

I asked Jocketty if a 40-man roster spot was in play for Grandal during the talks. The Reds have a full roster and little maneuverability in that regard if that is part of the proposals.

“I don’t want to comment on that yet. Not until everything is done,” Jocketty said.

Here is the story on MLB.com/Reds.com.

Who is that guy at 2B?

Sunday lineup vs. FLA

Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Votto 3
Gomes 7
Edmonds 8
Cairo 5
Hanigan 2
Janish 6
Bailey 1

*To make room for Homer Bailey’s activation on the 25-man roster, the Reds optioned 3B Juan Francisco to Triple-A Louisville. That, of course, left the Reds with one spare infielder. To get some protection, they’ve had outfielder Chris Heisey working out in the infield lately, especially at second base.

“I haven’t taken groundballs in about a week but I’m going to go out there in a little bit and take some grounders,” Heisey said Sunday morning. “It’s in case of emergency. I’ve played shortstop my whole life and then in college, the second half of my junior year was spent at shortstop. I’m would not say I’m comfortable in the infield, but I don’t feel like a stranger. I trust my hand-eye coordination and reflexes enough to at least knock the ball down and throw it across the infield.”

*As I type this, Heisey is taking grounders from Chris Speier and practicing flips to second base.

“Anybody else – I can move Brandon to shortstop, Cairo to here to there. Scotty can play third base or first base if something happened to Joey,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You start thinking of different scenarios. If something happened seriously, we’d have to get somebody in here. Whatever it is, it’d be a stopgap situation until we got somebody in here.”

*Back in 2008 when they were shorthanded, the Reds had to use catcher Javy Valentin for an entire game and part of one other at third base. The funny thing is, Valentin never had one ball hit to him. So much for the ball finding him.

*LHP Travis Wood had a two-inning start for Louisville at Columbus last night. Why two innings? It wasn’t an injury but a tune-up to get him ready for his next start in Cincinnati. The Reds still list Thursday’s starter at Arizona as TBA. Wood is eligible to return by then. Incidentally, Wood worked scoreless last night with three hits and a walk. He struck out two during the Bats’ 1-0 loss to Columbus.

*Baker has been playing the Van Morrison album “Too Long in Exile”  the last couple of days while he’s been suspended.

“I broke it out,” Baker said. “That’s how I felt.”

*And here is a compliment from one of the Marlins about the Red the last two games.

“I give the Reds credit,” ourfielder Cody Ross said. “They’re not running slop out there. They pitch well, play great defense. Brandon Phillips is everywhere. I hit to the right, he’s there. I hit the ball up the middle he’s there. They must have the perfect scouting report on us.”

Follow me on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

Postgame: Cordero hears you

Francisco Cordero has 31 saves in 37 attempts but also now has 34 walks in 52 1/3 innings this season. Two walks and a single tonight put him in another pickle in the ninth before he and the Reds hung on for a 5-4 win over the Marlins.

Cordero isn’t oblivious to the boos he’s been hearing. And give him credit, he’s not shifting the blame to you, the media, the mound, the weather, bad pre-game food, the fog at the PGA Championship or poor season debut the other night of American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior.

Tonight after the game, Cordero blamed himself. Here are the extended quotes. I couldn’t get them all into my story.

“I have to stop walking people,” Cordero said. “I’ve got to do that or it’s going to be like that every time. I see how upset the fans are with me. I understand that. Every time I walk someone, that guy comes in to score. It’s not like I’m giving up a lot of base hits. It’s walks. I really don’t know what to say about that. It’s not my style. It’s not me. I’ve never been like that my whole career. I have to keep working and try to be better every time out.”

“I created that myself, walking people. I’ve got nobody to blame but myself. Putting me in that situation, putting the team in that situation and putting the fans in that situation, it’s why they’re upset with me right now. I’ve been walking too many guys. [The fans] have been great, unbelievable to the team. They’re coming out on the road, coming out a lot to the stadium. They want to win. Putting the fans in that situation is not fair.

“In the end, we got to go home happy. I know they got to go home happy.”

 

Follow me on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 429 other followers

%d bloggers like this: