April 2011

Phillips returns

After four games out with a sore right groin, Brandon Phillips is back in there as Dusty Baker said last night.

Reds lineup vs. Diamondbacks

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

*Joey Votto leads the NL in runs scored (16). OBP (.535) and second in hitting (.429) and walks (14). He is sixth in slugging at .643.

*The Reds have scored 13 runs in the ninth inning this season, tying them for second in the Majors with the Cardinals, two runs behind the Rays’ 15.

More later…

Rough night/series at the yard

 Reds starting pitching has suddenly not looked so hot. The only pitcher to reach six innings in the lost series vs. the Pirates was Mike Leake (six on Saturday). We all know he has some other issues going on that could affect his next outing. Bronson Arroyo lasted only four innings and allowed five runs on Friday. Edinson Volquez gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings on Sunday.

And on Monday, Travis Wood lasted a rotation season-low 3 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs and eight hits during a 9-3 loss. The rotation has a 5.23 ERA through 16 games this season.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to get our starting pitching straight,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “They jumped us four runs yesterday, jumped us three today and our pitch count gets extremely high for our starters early.”

Some notes:
*Aroldis Chapman made his return to the mound after a four-day break. Chapman reached top speeds of 102 mph, according to MLB.com Gameday’s Pitch F/X. Sorry to be a killjoy, but he did not reach 106 mph against Andrew McCutchen, as the scoreboard read. It was 102. The bottom line to me, is that Chapman has more life on his fastball again.

*The Pirates hitters challenged Reds pitching all night. The staff threw 196 pitches tonight.

*Travis Wood threw 42 of those pitches in the top of the first inning.

*Pittsburgh series win is their first at Great American Ball Park since a 2-1 visit here from 9/2-9/4, 2008, snapping an 0-4-1 streak.

*Dusty Baker said that Brandon Phillips will return Tuesday. His production was certainly missed in the series.

*Joey Votto has reached safely in all 16 games this season. Votto drew a third inning walk tonight.

*Reds batters notched a season-low four hits vs. Kevin Correia. From the fourth-thru-seventh innings, Correia needed only 28 pitches.

Quotes:

“I don’t know what I’m doing. The guy is throwing 103 and I’m just trying to – I don’t know what I’m trying to do but I was able to foul off a couple of pitches and that’s good by me.” — Kevin Correia on facing Aroldis Chapman

“I feel good. I don’t think my speed went away. It was just like a normal day, like any other pitcher. My arm wasn’t feeling as well as it is and that’s it. My arm never felt bad.” — Aroldis Chapman

“Can you afford to give him three or four days off so he can throw as hard as he did tonight? Or will he get conditioned to going a couple of days in a row? Remember, everybody wanted him to be the closer. You can’t be the closer right now going a couple of days a week. A closer has to go three, four, five days in a row sometimes. Then, you might not use your closer for a week. That’s how things go.” — Dusty Baker on Chapman

“They battled and fouled off some pitches, fouled off some good pitches and hit some good pitches. The times that maybe I made a mistake, they hit it as well. They played well tonight.” — Travis Wood.

Leake arrested, statement

Reds pitcher Mike Leake was arrested Monday on misdemeanor charges of theft. He did not address the media as expected but statements were issued.

 Statement From The Cincinnati Reds

“On behalf of the Cincinnati Reds organization, at this time we are advised to not publicly address this matter because of the pending legal proceedings. However, we do not condone behavior of the type alleged, which is wholly inconsistent with the principles of this organization and our community and is detrimental to the positive direction we seek to follow. When the legal process has been completed, we will handle this matter internally.”
Statement On Behalf Of Reds Pitcher Mike Leake

“Today, Mike Leake was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of theft from the Macy’s store downtown.  Right now, he has been advised by his attorney to offer no further statements on this matter. This case will proceed in the justice system, where Mike’s story will be told. Until that time, there will be nothing further from Mike on this episode until the court proceedings have concluded. However, Mike wishes to apologize to his family, the fans, Mr. Castellini, Walt, Dusty, his teammates and the entire Reds organization for this distraction.”

Leake is scheduled to pitch on Thursday vs. Arizona, but it is not known yet if he will still make that start. We were told by media relations director Rob Butcher that Leake is at the ballpark tonight and in uniform.

Lineup, Hermida called up

Reds lineup vs. Pirates

Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Bruce 9
Cairo 4
Hanigan 2
Wood 1

Some transactions —  3B Juan Francisco was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left calf. RHP Jared Burton (rt shoulder inflammation) was moved to the 60-day DL. OF Jeremy Hermida had his contract selected from Triple-A Louisville. He will wear No. 26.

You may remember that Hermida had a good spring but was one of the final cuts. He batted .342 with three homers and six RBIs during camp. With Louisville, he batted .333/.405/.606 with two homers and nine RBIs.

West Coast trip finale

Reds lineup vs. Padres

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

*Bruce is not in the lineup after he drew two walks and hit a single. He scored two runs. But he’s struggled overall in the early going with a .220 average and .267 OBP. Those two walks gave him a total of three for the season. He has zero homers.

***UPDATE — Bruce tweaked his right groin running past second base and holding up in the fifth inning on that throwing error by the pitcher. Both Dusty Baker and Bruce said he’s available to play today.

*Ryan Hanigan is not catching today because he caught 11 innings last night. Baker plans on having Hanigan catch on Friday as usual for Bronson Arroyo.

*I got a few questions last night about LHP Aroldis Chapman’s lowered velocity — he topped out at 98 mph, and that was his last pitch. Baker was not concerned and there is no issue.

“He was throwing some fastballs but you don’t have the same fastball every day,” Baker said. “You don’t have the same nothing every day. You don’t have to same bat speed. You don’t have the same leg speed. You don’t write as fast, right? There’s nothing to be alarmed about.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to say about him. People want to see him every day. He had gone three out of four days. If he goes two innings last night, he’d be even worse the second inning. Then we wouldn’t have him today at all and there’s a good chance the one off day wouldn’t help that much…Some days you can throw. But some days you’re going to have to pitch. Everybody is concerned about his velocity. I even saw an umpire last night turn around and look at the scoreboard. That’s a first for me. I know he wasn’t looking at the out of town scores.”

Big win in extras

I won’t run it all down here but please read the game story on the web site for how all the great defensive plays saved the Reds collective bacon tonight — namely Brandon Phillips exceptional bare-handed snag and throw in the eighth.

*Unfortunately, starter Sam LeCure got the short end with a no-decision after a really nice night of pitching. In his second start of the season, eCure was sensational for six innings as he gave up one earned run on only one hit with two walks and eight strikeouts. LeCure retired the last 12 batters faced in a row.

*The Reds took LeCure out after 87 pitches.

“Young LeCure pitched great tonight,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He pitched outstanding. But his endurance level wasn’t quite where we want it to be to go deep in the ballgame. He gave us all he had.”

“We got into a good groove and there wasn’t a whole lot of shaking going on and we were able to get on the same page early,” said LeCure about himself and catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Notes:

*All of the hits, and all six runs scored, in the top of the 11th came with two outs.

*Hanigan was 0-for-4 until his two-out double to left field in the 11th scored Jonny Gomes with the go-ahead run in a 2-2 game.

*Drew Stubbs homer was a first-pitch shot and absolutely tattooed. You don’t see many get of center field that quick.

*Aroldis Chapman had a quick 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh. Interestingly, Chapman only topped out at 98 mph when struck out Brad Hawpe looking with his final pitch.

*Nick Masset had another rough one — his third in a row. Two hard hits started the eighth and led to the game-tying run scoring on a groundout. It was Phillips’ play that kept San Diego from taking the lead.

*And in tonight’s notebook — I talked to Phillips and Bill Bray about their good starts to the season.

*Also a Homer Bailey update: 3 ip, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K and 37 pitches during his game at the team complex in Goodyear.

Quotes:

“We played good defense. Sam made a great start. There at the end, I got a pitch to hit. You never know with two outs. I was having a tough night at the plate to that point. I was just trying to battle. I got a pitch I could handle and put a good swing on it. — Ryan Hanigan
“Hani just let the game come to me. I thought it was really fitting that he got what turned into the game-winning RBI there. He did such a great job with everybody. He called a great game. How many balls did he block in big situations? I thought it was really fitting that he came up with that hit.” — Sam LeCure

“We’ve got to get Masset together. He’s struggling right now. He’s struggling with location. Great velocity, just poor location. The ball is right down the middle. He suffered with this last year. We have to do something to help him figure it out.” — Dusty Baker.

Tuesday at Petco Park

Reds lineup vs. Padres

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

*In three lifetime starts vs. CIN, Padres LHP Clayton Richard is 0-1 with a 8.10 ERA

*Scott Rolen is only 2-for-10 vs. Richard, but both hits were home runs. Jay Bruce is 3-for-5 with two doubles and Jonny Gomes is 3-for-7 with one homer. Brandon Phillips is 3-for-6 with one homer.

Volquez, Heisey, Hernandez all big

Uncle Jonathan’s corn cob pipe, does Edinson Volquez like to flirt with disaster.

Like his last two outings, Volquez put the Reds in hole — this time by a 2-0 score. But the Reds had his back as he righted himself and took a 3-2 win.

In the first inning through three starts, Volquez has a 27.00 ERA (nine earned runs). It’s a 1.29 ERA (two earned runs, 14 innings) after the first. He allowed two runs and three hits over six innings tonight with three walks and five strikeouts.

Volquez cruised through innings two-through five. He retired a stretch of 11-in a row.

Although at 88 pitches thru six, he was lifted. It wasn’t by design but Volquez twisted his big right toe in a hole on the mound. (Knights of Columbus, that hurt.)

“I’ll be fine,” Volquez said.

Notes:

*An unsung hero for the night was Ramon Hernandez. The Reds catcher caught two guys stealing and threw a runner out on a sacrifice attempt in the eighth. It was some curious managing by Padres skipper Bud Black to have pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia bunt with a runner on second and no outs. Hernandez fielded Denorfia’s bunt and fired a strike to third base to get the out. Replays showed he might have been safe.

Hernandez also nailed Denorfia trying to steal second on a strike-em-out, throw-em out double play to end the eighth.

“The main thing is not only did he throw the ball but our pitchers gave him a chance to throw the guys out,” manager Dusty Baker said of Hernandez. “Everybody thinks they steal off the catcher. Most of the time, they steal off the pitcher. If a pitcher gives him a chance to throw him out, our guys will throw them out.”

*Before that double play in the eighth, Bill Bray engaged Jorge Cantu in a tense 11-pitch at-bat. Cantu fouled off five-straight 2-2 pitches and got ball three. Bray then got the big strikeout.

*Chris Heisey made a spectacular diving catch to help Volquez in the first inning, resulting in Hawpe’s sac fly. Heisey of course also had the game-winning homer.

*Dusty Baker notched win No. 250 for the Reds tonight. He’s only the 11th MLB manager to reach 250 wins for three different teams. Look for a feature on that later. Some of his current and former players had some things to say in support of him.

*Brandon Phillips was 2-for-3 and has hit safely in 8 of 10 games. He’s batting .410 (16-for-39) on the season.

*Joey Votto was 1-for-3 and has hit safely in 10 of 11 games. He’s batting .444 (16-for-35). He’s a .387 hitter at Petco Park.

Quotes:

“He did start off rough. At least he didn’t say, here we go again. But he settled down and started throwing the ball great. He especially started getting strike one and was throwing 96-97 mph. He started dealing.” — Baker on Volquez

“His velocity was dropping in the fifth and sixth inning. The first couple of innings, he was 96 and it had some really good life on it. I don’t know if he got tired or what exactly. His velocity was down and I got a fastball up and in and was able to get the barrel of the bat on it.” — Chris Heisey on his homer off Padres pitcher Mat Latos, who made his 2011 debut.

“I was talking with Bryan [Price] about making good pitches and getting a lot of groundballs. In situation like that, I need to make a good pitch and get a double play. That happened tonight.” — Edinson Volquez

I’m in a glass case of emotion!

Great Oden’s raven, here is the Reds lineup vs. Padres.

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

*Johnny Cueto (shoulder) pitched today at the complex in Goodyear. His line vs. extended spring guys:

2 ip, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K 34 pitches. Details were not available with, however.

“I know he came through it unscathed. I haven’t got the full report,” pitching coach Bryan Price said.

*Not too surprising Stubbs is sitting. He is 0-for-his-last 10 and has struggled since that last game vs. Houston on Thursday. His average, after a great start, is down to .237.

*RHP Jose Arredondo started his rehab assignment this morning at Double-A Carolina. Arredondo pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.

*Beautiful day here in San Diego. A little cool near the water but not a cloud in the sky.

*Apologies for the ‘Anchorman’ references. I will try to keep them to a minimum.

Missed chances, blown leads

When a team has high expectations and gets off to a 5-0 start like the Reds, fans can be spoiled. And judging from Twitter, highly irate when the game goes south like this one did.

A potentially nice game and series win evaporated into a very tough loss to the D-Backs, 10-8.

What killed the Reds were two blown leads — a 5-0 in the third inning that they couldn’t add to. Then there was the 7-6 lead in the seventh from Jonny Gomes’ homer. 

This was a game that should have been settled early. The Reds had a 5-0 lead in the third with the bases loaded and one out and added no more runs that inning. That proved to be huge.

Notes:

*Nick Masset has taken losses in his last two outings. A four-run, three hit eighth inning zapped him, namely when Chris Young clubbed a 3-2 pitch into the left field seats. Masset has given up seven hits and five runs over his last two outings.

*Aroldis Chapman, pitching on back-to-back days, clearly didn’t have his same velocity (talk about spoiled). Instead of crossing 100, he was mostly 96-98 mph. He also walked three batters (a career high) but got one with a pickoff. He escaped with two strikeouts.

*Mike Leake really didn’t pitch as bad as his line (4.2 ip, 6 ER, 9 H) would indicate. All four of the consecutive one-out singles were either tough plays or rollers that found holes. His 1-0 offering to Ryan Roberts was a big mistake, however.

*Drew Stubbs has opened the last three games with a strikeout in the top of the first.

*Joey Votto tied a career high for the ninth time with four hits. He had three hits over the first four innings.

Quotes:

“When you have an opportunity to ice the game, you have to put your foot on their throat. We’re still learning to do that. We had opportunities to ice that game early and go deep in their bullpen.” — Dusty Baker

“I got a couple of unlucky rolls that went through for hits. And then there was a big mistake of throwing a fastball down the middle. They made me pay.” — Mike Leake

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