September 2010

The Bloomquist era begins

Weds lineup vs. ARI

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

*3B Scott Rolen is not in the lineup because of stiffness in his upper back and neck.

“It happened on a swing during my third at-bat, my first strikeout last night,” Rolen said. “It was a slider down and I caught something.”

Rolen is listed as day-to-day for a return, which will likely happen in Houston.

“I’m not worried about it,” Rolen said.

“I could tell last night when he took a couple of funky swings,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I could tell something was wrong when one hand came off the bat. Plus when he gets real, real quiet, I’ve come to learn something is not right.”

*After Miguel Cairo starts tonight at third base, Baker plans to start Juan Francisco there on Thursday.

*Chris Heisey is available to play but is still bothered by a sore left biceps. Baker is trying to rest him as much as possible.

*Laynce Nix (sprained left ankle) is jogging but not running yet. He has been hitting in the cage.

*Orlando Cabrera is 9-for-18 lifetime vs. Arizona LHP Joe Saunders. On the other hand, Willie Bloomquist is 0-for-11. 

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Postgame: Wood good for playoffs?

Reds rookie LHP Travis Wood is trying to make a case for getting a spot on the Reds postseason rotation. On Tuesday, Wood pitched well but not great. He gave up nine hits and three runs over five innings with no walks and a career-high eight strikeouts.

Wood is 5-3 with a 3.46 ERA this season. Over his last six starts, he is 2-2 with a 4.73 ERA.

With Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto locked in. Wood, Homer Bailey and Edinson Volquez will seek the other one or two spots in the rotation.

“I try not to think about it,” Wood said. He has a career-high 183 1/3 innings pitched this season.

Other notes —

*Got to give credit to Daniel Hudson because he flat out pitched great with eight scoreless innings. Since coming to the NL, Hudson is 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA in nine starts. The one loss was vs. the Reds in Arizona on Aug. 17.

*Ramon Hernandez was robbed of a potential game-winner in the ninth. He scored a bases-loaded drive to the right field gap that was snared with a great running catch by Justin Upton.

*Aaron Harang made his first relief appearance of the season in the ninth. After he walked leadoff batter Augie Ojeda, he caught him stealing and got two fly outs to left field.

*Sam LeCure pitched three scoreless innings of relief after Wood departed.

*Brandon Phillips is 1-for-his-last 19 after a 0-for-4, 2 K game.

*A Cardinals loss to the Cubs closed the Reds’ magic number to 12.

More quotes —

“With [Hernandez] I wasn’t playing so much to right field I was playing more to the gap because he drives balls out there. Once it came off the bat I knew I had a bead on it. Actually it kind of went up in the lights a little bit and I was a little hesitant whether I was going to catch it or not, but it came out once I got beyond the lights and I was able to snare it.” — Arizona RF Justin Upton

“He’s a good athlete and very fast. He got a good jump after I hit it. It was a great play. You have to tip your hat to a guy that can make a good catch like that, especially to end the game.” — Ramon Hernandez on Upton

“He had a lot of strikeouts but they centered some balls too at the right time, RBI time. Travis pitched pretty good.” — Dusty Baker on Travis Wood

“At the end of the day, 3-1 them. I need to go deeper in the ballgame, control pitches and get ahead of hitters.” — Travis Wood.

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Inside the numbers

Tues lineup vs. ARI

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

*On MLB.com today is a story I wrote that looks inside the Reds’ record this season. While they’ve done a tremendous job beating they teams they should beat and the teams in their division. But they haven’t fared well against the other winning teams. One record that jumps out is a 1-12 road record vs. contenders at Colorado, Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco. Click on the story here

“We definitely have some work to do. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t case,” Reds first baseman Joey Votto said. “I don’t think it’s in the back of our minds. I genuinely don’t think this team worries about teams but we have some winning to do, especially against those tougher teams, those division-leading teams.”

*The streak of nine losing seasons that ended with last night’s 82nd win was the Reds longest since they missed the playoffs for 11 seasons from 1945-55.

*The 44 wins at Great American Ball Park this season is a single-season record since the park opened in 2003.

 

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Postgame: Big night for Bruce

Lots of storylines surrounding Reds’ 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

*A huge night for Jay Bruce in his return after 12 games out with a sore right side. He was 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs.

*In his last five games, Bruce is 11-for-19 (.579) with seven homers and 12 RBIs. It could be big for the offense to have a red-hot Bruce slugging these last three weeks heading into the postseason

“It was a big day for Jay,” manager Dusty Baker said. “That was a big day for us. We needed that today.”

*Bronson Arroyo notched his 15th victory, tying a career high. Arroyo has 15 wins in three-straight seasons now. At 197 2/3 innings, he is closing in on 200 innings for the sixth-straight year. That’s amazing consistency. He pitched six innings without feeling sharp. After two homers in the second, he shut Arizona down.

*The Reds (82-62) got win No. 82 to guarantee their first winning season since 2000.

*With a St. Louis loss, the Reds’ NL Central lead is seven games again. The magic number is 13.

*The announced attendance of 12,061 fans was the lowest this season at GABP.

More quotes —

“It helped me be more relaxed. That’s the biggest thing about hitting. You need to be relaxed up there. I guess that’s how I’m supposed to feel all the time. Hopefully I can feel that, know what it’s like and repeat it.” — Jay Bruce on his hitting approach while returning from his injury.

“That was a gutsy performance by Bronson. He didn’t look like he had it at all early. All I saw were some 83s and 84s up there. We were wondering if the radar gun had slowed.” — Dusty Baker

“I just didn’t have stuff. I came out of the ‘pen knowing it was going to be a war. You feel sluggish sometimes and don’t have a lot of zip on anything. Fortunately, I had some command. If you don’t have one, you hope you have the other.” — Bronson Arroyo

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New lineup, Bruce is back

Ignore the lineup in the previous post. There was a change. Chris Heisey is out and Jay Bruce is in for the first time since Aug. 30. He’s been out with a sore right side.

“I’m ready to go,” Bruce said. “It’s time to go. I want to get ready for that push and help my team as much as I can.”

Reds manager Dusty Baker said that Bruce didn’t talk his way into the lineup.

“He’s been saying that for a couple of days,” said Baker, who noted that Bruce likely won’t be 100 percent the rest of the season but good enough that he can play.

“Heisey is hurting some now. We’ll try to play Jay the next couple of days,” Baker said. “Heisey might be ready Wednesday when we have a lefty. We’ll see what’s going on.”

Monday lineup vs. ARI

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

*Laynce Nix (left ankle) and Jim Edmonds (right oblique tear) took batting practice today. Edmonds could be ahead of Nix in returning because Nix isn’t able to run yet.

 

Reds acquire Bloomquist from KC

A couple of moves….

The Reds acquired Willie Bloomquist from the Royals for cash or a player to be named later. Bloomquist was hitting .265 for the Royals this season with three homers, 17 RBIs and eight steals.

With the Reds strapped for healthy outfielders, the 32-year-old Bloomquist can do that and play the infield. He’s played every position this season except pitcher and catcher.

Bloomquist will wear No. 9. I will double check later to be absolutely sure, but he should be ineligible for the postseason roster since he was acquired after Aug. 31.

*To make room on the 40-man roster for Bloomquist, RHP Enerio Del Rosario was designated for assignment.

*Also, the Reds recalled reliever Jared Burton from Triple-A Louisville. Burton hasn’t been up all season and was 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 33 games for the Bats.

Monday lineup vs. ARI

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

 
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Postgame: Baker behind Cordero

Sometimes with this job, especially on Twitter, trying to be pragmatic ends up making you look defensive. Of course, everyone is calling for Francisco Cordero’s head or for a demotion after his second blown save this weekend in a 3-1 Reds loss. Today on Twitter, I tried to do the former and came across sounding like the latter.

Obviously, it’s been a shaky season at times for Cordero and if I’m the Reds, I’d a little worried about his ability to put games away in the postseason. But is he going lose his job? No chance. And should he lose his job? No.

Cordero, who is 35 for 43 in save chances, never makes it look easy when he gets saves but until Friday, he saved 11 in a row since July 9 and he had converted 18 of 19. It’s not Dancing with the Stars or figure skating — there are no style points for how saves are made, even if he loads the bases with walks and hit batters.

These two times though, it wasn’t the walks killing Cordero and the Reds — just clean hits by the Pirates. Combine Friday and Sunday, he’s allowed seven hits and five runs. (***update, I screwed up…I forgot about the leadoff walk.)

“It was not my best. I’m not pitching my best right now. It’s real disappointing,” Cordero said.

Everyone is naturally calling for Aroldis Chapman to be installed as the closer. Sure he throws 103 mph, but do you really want a 22-year-old with seven career big league games holding down the toughest job during the postseason? At this point, the Reds and Cordero are locked in together in the ninth inning and that’s not going to change, according to Dusty Baker.

“We all feel terrible for Coco. He’s a heck of a teammate and we need him,” Baker said. “We need him badly because he’s our closer. Nobody else is really ready to close. He’s our closer. I know people are hollering for this person and that person. What happens when the next person doesn’t do it? Then you’ll be hollering for somebody else. You can’t keep doing that. Look at Philadelphia that went to the World Series with Brad Lidge. You have to stick with him and we have to get him together. Nobody feels worse than him, nobody.”

Quick notes –

*Orlando Cabrera hurt his left heel scoring on Joey Votto’s RBI double in the fourth. He remained in the game until Paul Janish took over on defense in the ninth.

*Brandon Phillips went 0-for-4 and his hitless in his last 12 at-bats. He is 6-for-43 (.140) in seven games since returning from a hand injury.

*The Reds six-game home winning streak is over.

More quotes —

“You can’t really go down looking in that situation like I did. I got some pitches I should have hit and just didn’t get it done. We had the game won today. We had a chance and I had a chance to get us back to a tie or take the lead. I just didn’t pull through.” — Chris Heisey, who was caught looking at strike three with the bases loaded to end the game.

“That whole inning guys put together some pretty good at-bats. To get to Cordero twice in one series is not easy to do”. — Pirates manager John Russell on the top of the ninth.

“It’s not like I was pitching to my little boy. He is a big league hitter. He’s a pretty good hitter. He’s young but he’s a big league player.” — Francisco Cordero on Andrew McCutchen, who hit the three-run double in the ninth.
 
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Targeting Tuesday for Bruce

Sunday lineup vs. PIT

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

*OF Jay Bruce (sore right side) is considered available to pinch-run and play defense today. His return is pretty close. Bruce hasn’t played since Aug. 30.

“We’re targeting Tuesday,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “They said he won’t completely heal 100 percent until the winter. Waiting a couple of more weeks is going to help but it’s not going to … so we may have to space him. He’s very close. He let it out pretty good yesterday. He swung pretty good.”

*Nick Masset and Aroldis Chapman are not considered available from the bullpen today. Chapman and Masset had both pitched the last three games.

 
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One surprise, one non-surprise

A few days ago in Denver, I talked to outfielder Jim Edmonds and came away with the impression his chances of returning from a torn right oblique muscle this season were remote. Imagine my surprise when we learned Edmonds was activated from the disabled list Friday.

Turns out, Edmonds and Dusty Baker didn’t see the move coming too.

“I really wasn’t expecting to come off today,” Edmonds said. “[Walt Jocketty] told me and that’s a good thing. Nobody wants to be on the DL anyways. I’m here if it’s needed.”

“I was surprised myself,” Baker said. “Walt informed me. I saw him moving around pretty good in the outfield. I haven’t seen him hit. So far he’s been hitting off the tee.”

The Reds have played with only three healthy outfielders for 10 days since Jay Bruce went down with a sore right side. There is no Minor League outfielders on the 40-man roster and no room on the roster at the moment to open space up.

“He figured he could take me off [the DL] right now and be in case of an emergency, I’m sure,” Edmonds said. “We’re kind of short right now. Whatever it takes.”

*In a non-surprise, Edinson Volquez was told Thursday that he would be the Reds starter on Saturday. This seemed like it was coming once Harang was lifted early from Monday’s start after only 2 1/3 innings at Colorado.

*Aaron Harang will move to the bullpen and be available as a long reliever. Baker said Harang handled the news professionally.

“Usually his nemesis inning is the third or fourth inning,” Baker said. “He can give us a couple of innings, which we’ll need hopefully in long relief or middle relief. It’s a very unusual situation for him and us.”

*Mike Leake was also activated from the DL, but not to pitch.

“Leake will fit in to pinch-hit, pinch-run, pinch-bunt. Pinch everything,” Baker said. “He told me two months ago if I needed an emergency outfielder, he could do that too. That’s a real emergency. He’s not ready to pitch. He wasn’t supposed to pick up a ball for two weeks.”

*SS Orlando Cabrera (left oblique) likely will be rested through the weekend, Baker said.

*Bruce is not available today off the bench. He is still not rushing a return.

*LHP Arthur Rhodes was not available Thursday because of a sore foot. It’s not clear yet if he’s available tonight.

“We’re kind of the walking wounded right now,” Baker said.

 
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Still no Bruce, Cabrera

Friday lineup vs. PIT

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

   
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