September 2010

Postgame: Stealing home, game stolen

There’s not a lot that can be said after that game, a 6-5 Reds loss. I had never seen a straight-steal of home before and Chris Nelson certainly did something no one on the Reds expected.

Here are some expanded quotes from both sides that tell the story:

“It was one of those situations. I came set and they said ‘step off.’ My initial reaction was that the guy from first was going to second. I step off and turn around. By the time I looked at third base, that guy was halfway home and I didn’t have a chance to get him. it was a complete mistake on my part because you check the runner at third right away and then go from there. I kind of looked past that. Normally you get the guy from first who tries to be sneaky at second. It was a complete mishap on my part.” — Nick Masset

“You’ve got a right-hander pitcher pitching from the stretch and the runner’s right in front of you. And he obviously never saw him. Because he had been running for a while when the screaming and hollering started.” — Rockies manager Jim Tracy

“It’s embarrassing. It’s something that shouldn’t have happened. It’s something I take complete fault for. It’s something you’ve never seen before. Before I was about to throw that pitch, I was going to fake to third and go to first. Instead, he took off right before I had the chance. That’s why I thought the runner from first was stealing second.” — Masset
   
“It doesn’t cross your mind that all of a sudden, he’s going to steal home right in the middle of you standing there. That was a really risky play on their end that paid off. You’ve got a right-handed reliever in the stretch position facing you, and all of a sudden you run home. That’s a big time risky play. It paid off for them. In general it’s not going to pay off. It will cost you a base runner late in the game.” — Joey Votto

“It was a squeeze play, but the pitcher wasn’t really looking at me so I just ran home.” — Chris Nelson.

“I don’t think I’ve ever lost a game like that, a steal at home. They say if you’ve been around this game long enough, you see everything. When you’re not going good, everything goes against you.” — Dusty Baker

*****

*Obviously the Reds can still finish .500 and get to 90 wins and the Cardinals have a hard hill to climb. But the Reds can make themselves feel a touch better by beating up the Pirates and getting on a roll. St. Louis starts a series tonight with a much tougher foe in Atlanta.

Quick notes –

*The Reds took a 5-0 lead and saw Colorado score six unanswered runs

*The Reds finished off a 1-6 road trip, their worst of the year. They tied a season-high with five-straight losses.

*The Reds have lost eight in a row at Coor Field.

*Nick Masset hadn’t given up a run in his previous 15-straight appearances, totalling 17 2/3 innings. He had a 0.30 ERA in his last 28 games.

*Joey Votto is the first Reds batter with at least 30 HRs and 100 RBIs in a season since Adam Dunn had 40 HRs and 106 RBIs in 2007.

*The Rockies have won seven in a row and are bracing to shock the world like they did in 2007. Amazing week for them. They’ve won 10-straight games over first-place teams since Aug. 23. Wow.

More quotes —

“We have no choice. We can’t bring this day into tomorrow. We just have to start again tomorrow.” — Dusty Baker

“We’ve been in this position before. We’re going to go through bad stretches during the season and this is one of them. We just have to dig down a little deeper and look for tomorrow, be optijmic and plan on winning. We’ve done that several times this year.” — Joey Votto
   
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Road trip finale

Thurs lineup vs. COL

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

Orlando Cabrera is sitting for a second-straight day because of a sore oblique again. He reaggravated the injury going from first to third base on Tuesday.

“I can play today,” Cabrera said. “I feel that I don’t want to play one game and sit for two. I’d rather take my rest right now with the day game and hopefully start Friday and play through the weekend.”

“Versus taking him in and out of there every other day, we’re trying to get that thing 100 percent, even though he thought he was before,” Dusty Baker said. “It doesn’t take much for those things to come back.”

*No word on Saturday’s starter, yet, between Volquez and Harang.

“We’ll let you know shortly,” Baker said.

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Postgame: Are you worried?

Wednesday’s 9-2 loss made it four straight defeats and a 1-5 road trip with one game left. Obviously that places even more importance on Thursday’s finale.

Here are some things to ease the concerns — the Reds usually find a way to bounce back from these types of things. They’ve done it most of the season.

*The Reds haven’t lost four in a row since being swept at Philadelphia just before the All-Star break. Right after the break, they were unbeaten in the next seven series (6-0-1).

*The Reds haven’t dropped five in a row since April 14-18.

*The Cardinals were 8-1 losers at Milwaukee tonight which kept the Reds’ National League Central lead at six games and lowered the magic number to clinch to 19.

*The Reds could go 12-11 over the last 23 games and get to 91 wins while St. Louis would need to finish its season 19-6 to reach that mark.

*After this trip, the Reds have only one more series against a contending team — San Diego (Sept. 24-26).

*The Cardinals start a four-game series next at Atlanta. The Reds have Pittsburgh at home this weekend.

A point of concern, however: The Reds have a 16-30 record against the six remaining real NL contenders – the Cardinals (6-12), Braves (2-3), Rockies (2-4), Phillies (2-5), Padres (1-2) and Giants (3-4).

Postgame quotes —

“This is the first year since I’ve been in this uniform that we’ve got something to play for. Regardless of what happens on the field for us personally, we have to put those emotions aside for the betterment of the team. We’re still in a good place. That’s all we can ask for.” — Bronson Arroyo

“Things didn’t go our way tonight at all – the last couple of days. It’s gone their way. That’s what happens when a team is hot and that’s what happens when a team is cold. Nothing lasts forever. We’ll come back tomorrow.” – Dusty Baker

   
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Leadoff batter switcheroo

Weds lineup vs. COL

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

*This is the 100th different lineup Dusty Baker has written out this season. There was a reason he put Drew Stubbs ahead of Brandon Phillips.

“Stubbs is swinging a little better than Brandon right now,” Baker said. “Hopefully Brandon in front of Joey will get some quality pitches to hit too. I’m going with the hot hand to try and ignite our engine. You got to have a key to every engine. These guys the last couple days – with Fowler and Young – you what speed at the top can do for you.”

*In the latest Jay Bruce update, he said he was feeling good. He was slated to take batting practice today with the team.

*Orlando Cabrera is out tonight because of some soreness. He is getting treatment.

*No decision has been made yet on who will start Saturday’s game vs. Pittsburgh.

*It doesn’t sound like Laynce Nix (sprained left ankle) will be ready to come off the disabled list when he’s eligible on Friday. Nix did not travel with the club.

“I heard today he’s not much better, they said,” Baker said. “It was disheartening because he’s a big part of our club – off the bench and spot playing against certain pitchers and defensively late in the game. He’s an important part of this team.”

*The Reds announced today that fans should be in their seats at GABP by 6:30pm on Saturday to watch honors for Pete Rose and the 25th anniversary of his record-breaking 4192nd hit. Gates open at 5:20 p.m. ET

*Well before batting practice started, Rockies coaches and former players Vinny Castilla and Glenallen Hill were raking in the cage with some home run balls. I asked Baker if he and Brook Jacoby ever get tempted to step into the cage.

“Hank [Aaron] told me not to do that when I first took this job,” Baker said. “He said sometimes you could deflate your players, if you haven’t played in a while, and all of sudden you’re hitting equal or better than they’re hitting. I remember one day we talked Frank Robinson into it. He got in the cage. He was hitting some missiles. Nobody wanted to go in after him.”

      
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Postgame: Cueto gets praise

This road trip is getting to be a little yucky for the Reds (that’s a clinical term professional writers use). A 4-3 loss to the Rockies made it a 1-4 on the trip with two games remaining.

The good —

*Johnny Cueto got tapped for three runs in the  first inning but deserves a lot of credit. Pitching with a heavy heart after losing an uncle he was close to, Cueto limited the damage and preserved his team’s bullpen and had a quality start.

“He threw the ball great. You hate for him to lose it and for us to lose it,” manager Dusty Baker said.

*Cueto spent almost all of his time between starts in the Dominican Republic with his family. He found out about his uncle’s death prior to last Wednesday’s game vs. Milwaukee.

“He pitched the last game at home – six innings – when he knew something tragic had happened back in the Dominican,” Baker said. “He’s a strong young man. He came here to pitch. That day we were going to skip him at home and he said ‘no I want to pitch.’”

*Jonny Gomes kept the Reds close in the eighth with a big blast of a homer to left field. It was a two-out shot on a 3-2 count. Estimated distance was 412 feet but it seemed to go further. It definitely went high.

*Trevor Hoffman got his 600th save for the Brewers. Why is that good for the Reds? Milwaukee beat the Cardinals, 4-2, which kept the Reds’ division advantage to six games. It also lowered the magic number a notch to 20.

“Fortunately for us, we didn’t lose any ground,” Baker said. “It’s one less day on the schedule. It’s very important we need to win these next two games.”

The not-so-good —

*It wasn’t an exemplary night for Brandon Phillips, who struck out twice and grounded into a double play. He also got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Carlos Gonzalez made a great throw and it was a close play.

*The crusher was Phillips E4 in the sixth when he booted Seth Smith’s routine two-out grounder. Next batter Miguel Olivo followed with a RBI double. It proved to be the difference in the game.

*The error by Phillips was only his third of the season and ended a 63-game errorless streak since June 16.

More quotes –

“It was tough but I don’t take those things into the game. What happened, happened. I have it in my heart. When I go out there, I put my best on my job. This is my job.” — Johnny Cueto.

“Johnny Cueto, after the first three hitters of the game, bounced back and gave you a pretty good indication as to why he’s a 12-game winner.” — Rockies manager Jim Tracy.

“The first one was a broken bat hit. The second one was a 2-1 count and he was running. He got the ball was down where Fowler likes the ball. He threw a pretty good pitch to Gonzalez. Sometimes if the guys can hit, they can hit. It’s not always a mistake when you give up homers, especially to a quality hitter like that.” — Dusty Baker on Cueto’s first inning

   
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Bruce, Volquez updates

*Jay Bruce took about 50 swings off of a tee today and reported no problems with his sore right side.

“Good. Pain free,” Bruce said of the session.

The plans for now, is Bruce will take batting practice on Wednesday.

“The biggest thing is how I bounce back tomorrow. We’ll go from there,” Bruce said.

*Edinson Volquez was recalled from Class A Dayton since the Dragons season ended. No word yet on how he’ll be utilized. He made two starts for Dayton, including one on Monday. Volquez could be ready to pitch Saturday at the earliest if need be.

“I feel very strong and more comfortable. I think I can throw more strikes,” Volquez said of the Dayton stint. He posted a 1.38 ERA with 4 R (2 ER), 11 H, 4 BB, 19 K in 13 ip.

“I feel very strong and more comfortable. I think I can throw more strikes,” Volquez said.

No doubt, the Dragons will miss Volquez since he was pretty generous. He treated the young players to some nice dinners — steaks, ribs, wings, etc.

“Nobody wants to go down. I knew I had to pitch somewhere to find my rhythm,” Volquez said. I was happy with those guys down there and had a good time.”

Both Dusty Baker and Walt Jocketty said no decision has been made about Saturday’s start vs. the Pirates — Volquez or Aaron Harang.

“To be honest, we didn’t get the chance to talk about it today,” Jocketty said. “We’ll talk more about it when we get back. We’ll see what happens.”

Baker wasn’t worried about Johnny Cueto starting tonight after being in the Dominican following the death of his uncle. Cueto got his running and throwing in while away.

“He did that. I wasn’t worried about Johnny,” Baker said. “He has seen what success running has given him. I knew he was going to throw when he got home. He said he did. I talked to him last night at the hotel. He’s got plenty of homies to throw to. And he seemed rested for a guy that’s come that far.”
 

Jocketty also said there were no immediate plans to call up an outfielder while Bruce is out.

Seeking 80 wins

Tues lineup vs. COL

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

Here’s a note supplied by Jamie Ramsey of the Reds:

If the Reds win tonight, it’ll be their 80th win of the season (game #138). ..they collected their 80th victory of the 1999 season on September 7 (game #138)…won their 80th game of the 1995 season on 9/20 (Game #134)…won their 80th game of the 1992 season on 9/18 (game #147)…won their 80th game of the 1990 season on 9/11 (game #141).

*MLB Network analyst John Smoltz had this to say about Aroldis Chapman last night on MLB Network:

“His arm is legit. It’s as dynamic as any arm we’ve seen, especially from the left-hand side. But I don’t buy the radar gun, especially when it’s down in the zone. It’s going to read a higher number. … His spin-rate and his slider with a dot like that is so tight and so nasty that it really has the hitter more confused than anything else. You throw a 103[mph fastball] down the middle; enough big league hitters are going to hit it. I’m more impressed by his slider coming off the fastball. It looks the same and you can’t tell.”

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Postgame: Dog day afternoon

Monday was certainly a labor-type day for the Reds during a 10-5 loss. It was a brutal day on several fronts.

*Aaron Harang was roughed up again and lasted only 2 1/3 innings. After being staked to a 4-0 lead in the four-run top of the third, he gave it all back in the bottom of the third. His walks to pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to start the inning and to Dexter Fowler to load the bases for Carlos Gonzalez were killer.

*The Reds lineup was 3-for-15 RISP and had 14 LOB. The bases were left loaded three times.

*In just 6 1/3 innings in his two starts since returning from the DL, Harang has given up 12 hits and six walks. Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez has been getting his stuff back together at Class A Dayton. Volquez also pitched on Monday for the Dragons and could be ready in five days to take Harang’s next turn.

Reds manager Dusty Baker said a decision on Harang’s future in the rotation was coming.

“Pretty soon,” Baker said. “We have to discuss things and see. We can’t have the short outings. It puts pressure on my bullpen for the ensuing days after.”

“I can’t think about that right now,” Harang said when asked about his situation. “That’s the last thing on my mind. I need to get back in a groove. I haven’t been able to feel like I’m getting in a groove.”

More quotes –

“He’s got excellent stuff. Not a lot of guys in the league have his kind of stuff and his kind of potential. I have to give him a lot of credit. He threw really well today, considering he gave up a few runs early. They tried to stretch him out a little longer than some teams would allow a pitcher to go. I thought he threw really well. He battled. He competed well.” — Joey Votto on Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, who gave up four runs, seven hits and six walks but struck out eight.

“That’s something I knew was going to happen. It was a matter of time before somebody would connect on me and somebody was going to score a run off me. It’s normal.” — Aroldis Chapman on giving up his first run and hits today.

“The real tough part was walking Ubaldo to start the inning. That’s what started the rally. In this ballpark here, you have to make them earn it. You can’t walk people here. Every time you walk somebody, it seems like they score.” — Dusty Baker on the Rockies’ four-run third vs. Harang

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Labor Day in the Mountains

Hope everyone is enjoying the Labor Day holiday. It’s an absolutely beautiful day in downtown Denver. Not a cloud in the sky and the humidity seems pretty low. Now, if I can just get rid of this dry mouth. The one thing about Denver is you need to drink lots and lots of water. Just a little tip if you ever make it this way.

 


Thumbnail image for coors field 090610.JPGMonday’s lineup vs. COL

Phillips 4
Heisey 9
Votto 3
Gomes 7
Francisco 5
Hernandez 2
Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Harang 1

 

*Johnny Cueto did not meet the Reds in St. Louis, as expected. He is now scheduled to arrive in Denver some time today. Dusty Baker still planned on having Cueto start Tuesday.

*Scott Rolen got the day off today after he started 12-straight games. He was last out of the lineup on Aug. 22 vs. the Dodgers.

“He played every day last week,” Baker said. “I figured today after a tough series was the day. He didn’t want to throw Francisco to the wolves to face Ubaldo [Jimenez]. I told him to let me take care of that. It’s probably the most consecutive games he’s played in a while. He played two day games after nights.”

*Orlando Cabrera also got a break on Monday.

“He’s sore, which I figured he would be after not playing for a month,” Baker said. “It’s a good soreness. It’s not from injury but from not having played.”

*Jim Edmonds is still hoping to play again this season. But he revealed that the right oblique injury is actually a torn muscle. He’s not hitting yet and can’t throw.
 
“I tried throwing the other day but couldn’t,” Edmonds said. “I’ll try again in the next couple of days and see how it goes.”

 

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Postgame: Reds in good shape

The postgame blog entry is coming to you from Lambert Airport because I had to make a fast getaway from the yard. I have a flight to Denver to catch.

*The bad news is the Reds lost two out of three. Considering the Cardinals starting pitching they faced, that’s not a bad outcome. Getting swept, thumped or both would have been the true debacle.

*The Reds have a seven-game lead in the NL Central over the Cardinals with 26 games left. St. Louis, in the midst of a stretch of 31-straight games to end the year, has the tougher schedule down the stretch and have played terrible lately. Is the division locked up? Not quite, but the Reds are in about as good of position as they could want. Give the Reds credit for not acting like they already playoff-bound.

*Fortunately for Cincinnati, Albert Pujols did not come to life during the series. He’s in a 1-for-23 skid, and was 1-for-10 in the series. He still figured prominently in the decisive moment.

*Homer Bailey intentionally walked Pujols to face Matt Holliday. I have no problem with that move and Baker’s rationale was spot on.

“It’s kind of a situation where you pick your poison,” Baker said. “The longer Albert goes without a hit, the more likely he’s about to get a hit.”

Later after the game, Baker also said this:

“Is he going to remain cold or is he due? And that’s the question. I chose the fact that he was due. We had the same situation here the last time. We chose to pitch to Albert with first base open and got burned.”

Bailey had a shot at Holliday since he had him in a 1-2 count. But Holliday got two foul tips. Then Bailey shook off Ryan Hanigan — twice. Holliday received a 96 mph fastball that tailed back over the plate.

Ballgame. Three-run homer for Holliday. 4-2 win for the Cardinals.

“It’s part of the learning process. You have to trust your catcher to direct you through the ballgame,” Baker said.

*Until the sixth, Bailey was enjoying one of the finest outings I’ve ever seen him have. Very efficient, he had 37 pitches through four innings. He threw a seven-pitch first inning, a six-pitch third and a nine-pitch fourth. He had two hits allowed through his first five innings.

More quotes —

“I wanted it black or off and didn’t get it black or off. I just kind of missed my spot there…
It wasn’t for a strike. It was to get off the plate but it didn’t get off the plate.” — Homer Bailey on the fateful pitch to Holliday.

“We came in and took one and that’s huge for us. You like where we stand. The way we’ve played as of late, even though we came in and lost two of three, I think we’re in a good position. Everybody is feeling good about themselves. It should be an interesting run down the stretch.” — Drew Stubbs

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