September 2010

Thursday

Thurs lineup vs. HOU

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

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NLDS matchups as of Thursday

If the postseason began today, the National League Division Series match-ups would be…

Games 1, 2 and 5*: CIN @ PHI, ATL @ SF
Games 3 and 4*: PHI @ CIN, SF @ ATL

The Giants (90-68) are two games up on the Reds (88-70) for the second seed in the NL.

The Padres (88-70) are two games behind the Giants in the NL West (SF’s magic number is 3) and 1 1/2 games behind the NL Wild Card leading Braves (90-69), which also have a magic numnber of 3.

Because they have the best record in the NL locked up, the Phillies have chosen the eight-day N.L. Division Series, beginning on Wednesday, October 6th at Citizens Bank Park. The NLDS that does not involve the Phillies will begin on Thursday, October 7th.

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The day after yesterday

This is definitely a lineup not previously shown by the Reds this season. A lot of guys are getting breaks after a big night on Tuesday. One key guy to watch will be Laynce Nix. This is his first start since spraining his left ankle in August. Nix hobbled down the line on a double play ball last week in Milwaukee. This could be a good test.

Weds lineup vs HOU

Bloomquist 9
Valaika 4
Alonso 3
Francisco 5
Heisey 8
Nix 7
Janish 6
Miller 2
Cueto 1

Some quick notes –

*No playoff rotation has been decided, Dusty Baker said.

*The regular players were told to be ready to play if needed tonight. Much of the regular lineup should be back on Thursday.

*And this isn’t a surprise but it’s official, Mike Leake is done for the season.

“We decided today that we’re going to shut him down,” Baker said. “He’s going to travel with the team. There’s not enough time to get him ready. He hasn’t been on the mound. Some of the guys that have been on the mound are sharper and ready than he is right now. He was a bit disappointed but was happy when he found out he was going to travel with us. Like I told him last night without him, we wouldn’t be here now. He was a big part of this thing.”

*Leake was 8-4 with a 4.23 ERA in 24 games. Take away two rough relief outings, he had a 3.78 ERA in his 22 starts. He reached 135 2/3 innings in his first professional season.

*For the next couple of games, I will be working on playoff preview stuff. My colleague Kevin Goheen will be covering the rest of this series on the big web site. I will still blog when I can.

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What a way to clinch

That was one moment I will never forget and I’m sure many Reds fans won’t either.

Jay Bruce delivered a huge home run at the hugest of moments in a 3-2 win over the Astros. His ninth-inning blast to center field off Tim Byrdak on the very first pitch was how the Reds clinched the NL Central. It couldn’t have been done much better than that. I’ve never seen or heard GABP erupt like that. I could feel the place rattling and the fans yelling all the way up in the press box.

Here are some stories to check out:

On the long wait for the Reds and the fans — 15 years.

A game story recap, with video of the Bruce home run

Now it’s late. I stink like champagne and beer. I will head home. But I will leave you with a boat load of quotes gathered from the clubhouse.

 

“I really can’t dream of hitting a walkoff to win the division. It’s unbelievable. It’s a great team. I’ve been so happy to be around it. It’s been awesome.” — Jay Bruce

“2010 playoffs, Cincinnati Reds. It doesn’t get any better than that. It’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it?” — Dusty Baker

“It’s an exciting time for the city. You could feel the energy from the first pitch tonight. Everybody seemed to be really into the game. It was like every play, every hit, you heard the oohs and ahhs throughout the game. It means a lot to this city. I know they’ve had a tough time – 15 years now – we have to enjoy this tonight and look forward to the future.” — Aaron Harang

“They’re sticking around waiting for us. It means a lot to them. And we had a good turnout tonight. I’m glad we got the support. It’s a big moment in the Cincinnati Reds recent history to walkoff a game to go the playoffs. I think that’s pretty cool.” — Joey Votto

“This is my fifth year here. It’s been a long drought for just myself. All of these guys never experienced this. The last time I had an opportunity to taste some champagne was in 2005 [with Boston] and now it feels like I’ve never been there either. It’s a good time. Hopefully we’ll enjoy the moment and get back to business over the next few days.” — Bronson Arroyo

“I think the main thing for him is that we’ve been talking a lot about just calming down and just taking what they give you. You just have to go out there and take what the situation presents and right there he was just looking for a fastball and he hit it. He’s got tremendous ability and when I first got here I was surprised by how tremendously poised he was and how much he was into the game and how much he paid attention to both sides of the ball. It just goes to show that everything paid off for him tonight. This has got to be a humongous moment for him. I’m happy for him.” — Jim Edmonds on Jay Bruce

“This was just awesome. I mean no one gave this team a chance to win and this team battled all year long. They said we didn’t have enough pitching and then it was too much pitching, then we didn’t have enough veteran leadership and then we had too much veteran leadership. We just have some players who played day-in and day-out, we have a manager who led, a manager who in spring training had all of the guys who had won World Series bring in our rings and show these guys the rings. He said this is what can happen and I feel this is going to happen this year. Dusty’s dad died last year and he said that he had already told him that this was going to be the year for us. The things Dusty has done with this team, telling them that we were going to win and having them keep the faith. He says ‘you know if we have a 25-man roster we’re going to use every one of you. If there is one of you guys in here who don’t believe you’re going to cause us to lose this thing so I want everybody on the same page and the same page was to win. Just to see how these guys played, and to win it how we won it tonight, that’s been going for us all year long.” — 1B coach Billy Hatcher

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Trying again to clinch

Tues lineup vs. HOU

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

 

*The Reds clinch with a victory tonight. If they lose, they’ll have to wait out the end of the Cardinals-Pirates game (8:15 pm ET first pitch).

*Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez is a tough left-hander but is 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA in three starts vs. the Reds this season.  However on July 25 in Houston, he pitched seven scoreless innings with one hit for a 4-0 win. On Sept. 17, he gave up three runs, three hits and six walks with 10 strikeouts for a no-decision in a 5-3 Astros win.

*Jonny Gomes is 7-for-18 (.389) with two homers and nine RBIs vs. Rodriguez

*Jay Bruce is 1-for-17 (.059) with 10 strikeouts, so that’s a little surprising. Bruce was also bothered by a sore right side again Sunday but its OK. 

“I feel good, I feel ready to go,” Bruce said. “I haven’t faced Wandy much lately just because we’ve played the matchup a little bit but I feel that I have improved off of lefthanders and proven myself a little more to where he can put me in there. But it was Dusty’s decision and I appreciate the fact that he has the confidence in me to let me get in.”

*Dusty Baker said Sunday he was going to put Brandon Phillips back to leadoff but appeared to change his mind.

*Not surprisingly, there is a larger media gathering at GABP than usual. I’d guess that it rivals what we normally have on Opening Day. There is a definite vibe on anticipation in the area. Baker acknowledged it’s a different day.

“It’s a day where you strive to get to this point for so very long,” Baker said. “You run this race and you’re one step from the finish line. You’re full of anticipation and desire to finish it tonight. It’s great we’re in a position to do this at home. I’ve done it both ways. It’s a lot more fun and a lot more exhilarating when you can do it in front of your fans, friends and family. It’s a great feeling.”

Scott Rolen is a veteran of some clinches and was looking forward as well, but wasn’t looking ahead too much.

“We still have to play baseball. I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer,” Rolen said. “We’ll go out and play and hopefully get us a win tonight instead of waiting to see what [the Cardinals] do. We’ll get in here, put some tarps up, put on some terrible music on and get some champagne going.”

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The waiting really begins

Homer Bailey had a huge outing today — both for the team and personally. After allowing two solo homers in the second inning to Adrian Gonzalez and Yorvit Torrealba, he got uber stingy. He finished with seven innings and five hits, two runs and one walk allowed and six strikeouts.

Dusty Baker made sure Bailey knew it was a big game and the right-hander delivered.

“We talked earlier, remember, about building an ace,” Baker said. “That’s what potential aces do. They stop the bleeding and stop a losing streak.” 

“It’s times like that you have to lock down,” Bailey said. “I knew with our offense that two wasn’t going to beat me. I just had to make adjustments on the fly.”

“When you have that day of rest sometimes, sometimes you feel too loose and too strong. You have to kind of back down a little bit and stay balanced a little bit more.”

So now, the magic number to clinch is one. It could get a little weird since the Cardinals host the Pirates Monday. A STL loss clinches the division for the Reds on their off day. As it looks right now, there seems to be no plans to gather at GABP to watch the game.

“Nothing,” Baker said about any plans. “Tomorrow is a rest day, an unpack day. I’ll probably watch TV. I’ll probably watch the Cardinals, watch baseball games like I always do and do some scouting. I’ll just try to relax and then watch Monday Night Football.

“Guys have stuff to do. They have family stuff. They’ve seen these guys 156 games already, probably 180 days almost with off days. You need some personal time, some family time and probably some guys will have to prepare to move out of their places because some have leases only until Oct. 1. There’s a lot to do. It’s a perfect off day tomorrow.”

Clinch today?

It’s pretty simple. If the Cardinals lose and the Reds win today, the NL Central is clinched.

Sunday lineup vs. SD

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

*Jay Bruce is getting the break today because of his right side being sore again. It’s more of a precaution than anything however.

“We just want to make sure he doesn’t hurt it again,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Plus, we want to win this thing and get guys some work in to keep everybody sharp for when we go to the playoffs.I told you he probably wouldn’t heal 100 percent until the winter time. It was just a little tight esterday. I didn’t want to take a chance of him re-injuring it with this lefty and we got a day off tomorrow. That gives him two days off. I told him not to hit today.”

“It’s sore here and there, but it’s all about management of it,” Bruce said.  “It’s not getting any worse, and Dusty and I have a pretty good line of communication and he talked to me about it.  I’ll have today off – not starting, so maybe I’ll have to go in there at some point.  [Sunday] and [Monday] off, and we’ll get back at them on Tuesday.”

*Yesterday I asked Baker about the decision to bunt Cabrera in the ninth inning before Votto was intentionally walked. The answer he gave was good but he followed up this morning. He knew that the bunt would take the bat out of Votto’s hands and defended it.

“That’s playoff stuff. That’s what you’re going to have to do,” Baker said. “We’re a team. You can’t just depend on one guy. You depend on one guy, you’re going to lose. There’s fundamental baseball. There are times when you do certain things. That was fundamental baseball.”

“I’d rather take my two chances with a runner in scoring position than a possible run at first base.”

“Now you understand why I took Bronson out. That’s playoff baseball. When you get the chance to get some runs, you go get some runs.”

Baker also pointed out that Heath Bell is quick to home plate, which reduced the chances for Drew Stubbs to steal from first base.

“He’s one of the best,” Baker said. “I don’t have these notes for nothing. He’s 1.23 to the plate. That’s pretty quick. There aren’t many closers around that quick. Coco is 1.7 -something.”

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Votto in, Phillips moved down

Sat. lineup vs SD

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

*Brandon Phillips is batting .145 (12-for-83) in his last 20 games since returning from being hit on the right hand by a pitch. He was 0-for-4 with a walk but clearly frustrated in the sixth when he fouled out to first base and left runners on first and second.

*Joey Votto is starting for the first time since Monday. Votto was taking some Vitamin C and said he felt better. He had a tough assignment last night pinch-hitting in the ninth inning vs. Padres closer Heath Bell

“I just hadn’t had an at-bat in a while or hit on the field,” Votto said. “That type of stuff tends to help. I felt like a fish out of water there. But I’m sure I will be fine today.”

*Check this out from the Reds:

One of Aroldis Chapman’s pitches to Tony Gwynn Jr. last night reached 105.1 on the Pitch/FX system, the fastest speed ever reliably recorded.Chapman threw 7 pitches to Gwynn in that AB.  The average speed was 103.2 mph.

Called Strike    102.6
Ball    103.7
Foul    102.5
Foul    104.1
Ball    105.1
Foul    103.1
Called Strike    101.5

*Courtesy Trent McCotter, SABR
Fastest pitches on record, beginning with 2006 postseason, using Pitch/fX

105.1 mph: Aroldis Chapman, CIN v. SD 9/24/2010, facing Tony Gwynn Jr.

104.8 mph: Joel Zumaya, DET v. OAK, 10/10/2006, facing Frank Thomas
103.9 mph: Aroldis Chapman, CIN v. MIL, 9/1/2010, facing Jonathan Lucroy
103.8 mph: Aroldis Chapman, CIN v. MIL, 9/1/2010, facing Jonathan Lucroy
103.4 mph: Joel Zumaya, DET v. OAK, 10/10/2006, facing Frank Thomas
103.4 mph: Joel Zumaya, DET v. OAK, 10/10/2006, facing Jay Payton
103.4 mph: Neftali Feliz, TEX v. KC, 9/1/2010, facing Mike Aviles 

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Votto still sick

Joey Votto wasn’t at Petco Park most of the afternoon, because he was at the offices of the Padres team doctor being examined. Votto is still not over his sinus infection.

“He’s on his way back. I just got a call from him a little while ago,” head trainer Paul Lessard said. “He doesn’t have any restrictions on him. It’s just when he feels ready to go. He’s feeling lousy right now. His head is still pounding on him.”

Lessard and the Reds weren’t sure if Votto would be available to pinch-hit tonight.

“I’m actually going to get him to exercise and get a little sweat going to see if it opens things up. He’ll do a little cardio when he gets here. Hopefully that’s a positive. He said he left his room to eat and went back to his room. That was his day yesterday.”

Lineup, Stubbs note

 


petco park 092410.JPGFri. lineup vs SD

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

From STATS Inc.

After Drew Stubbs went 2-for-2 as an in-game replacement on Opening Day, Reds manager Dusty Baker moved him into the leadoff spot. Stubbs was hitting .174/.267/.283 in 26 games when the experiment ended on May 5. Since then, he’s batting .266/.331/.463 in 115 games, with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs.

Among Reds players over this span, only Joey Votto (30) has more home runs, and Stubbs ranks fourth in RBIs. Stubbs, who leads Reds regulars with 25 steals and an 80.6 steal percentage, has been showing more patience and pop. In his last 40 games, he has batted .298/.373/.525 with nine doubles, seven homers and 23 RBIs.

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