Winning series, .500 road trip

There were some smiling faces and relaxed dudes in the Reds clubhouse and they earned it with a 4-3 victory over the Rays on Wednesday.

That meant a winning series, two of three.

That meant a .500 road trip at 3-3.

The trip featured two walk-off losses on home runs and a two-run defeat. Tampa Bay pitchers — Jeremy Hellickson, David Price and James Shields — gave the Reds all they could handle and combined for 31 strikeouts.

But the Reds tandem of Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez were as good or better.

Two-out hits were huge today — Ryan Hanigan’s three-run homer in the fourth and Fred Lewis’ RBI single in the seventh were the the game offensively.

 “Hopefully, we’re close here to making a run,” Hanigan said. “We’re starting to play better baseball. I think guys are healthy and I think if few things go right for us, we can make a little push here.”
 

Notes:

*Nice afternoon for Volquez, who worked 6 1/3 innings and gave up three runs, four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. He had no hits allowed through four innings and retired 11 of the first 13 he faced and 15 of 18.

*Two relievers that were  left frustrated last night — Logan Ondrusek and Bill Bray — bounced back very well today with a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

*Hanigan’s home run was his third of the season and first since he hit his other two on April 3.

*Tough day for Jay Bruce, who got the “golden sombrero” with 0-for-4, four strikeouts game.

*The Reds were not pleased with the work of home plate umpire Angel Hernandez. Dusty Baker had a long and animated talk with Hernandez after Drew Stubbs had a check-swing strikeout in the second inning. Leading off the eighth, Joey Votto was called out on strikes on a pitch that sailed over the other batter’s box. Votto argued pretty intensely but was spared an ejection when Baker intervened. He knew the club could not afford to lose Votto from the game.

*The Rays are 1-8 all time against the Reds.

*Rays DH Johnny Damon received a standing ovation after his sixth-inning single. It was career hit 2,654 and tied him with Ted Williams for 71st all-time.

Quotes:

“Big series win. We played good baseball this series, all the way through. We had three tough guys we faced. I thought we did a good job against Price even though he pitched well. We got him late and fell behind and came back, which shows a lot of character for this team. Today with Shields, we got the lead and never gave it up.” —  Ryan Hanigan

“Me and Brook [Jacoby] have been working on keeping my hands in tight and getting to my strong point and driving the ball. Basically, I just worked the count and got a good pitch to hit. Volquez kept us in the game. Hanigan had a great day at the plate. We played good defense.” — Fred Lewis

“We played a very good series and they played a good series. I’ll tell you, they’ve got some good pitching over there too. Especially the last couple of days, we faced some of the best pitching we’re going to see. You see why they are where they are and you can see why we’re getting to where we’re trying to get to.” — Dusty Baker

“You can’t walk guys out there, especially two guys in a row with no outs and put runners on first and second. I did a good job with guys on first and third to strike the guy out there and I left the ball over the plate to Freddy Lewis and I think that if I get that ball where I wanted it, I end that inning with no runs.” — Rays starter James Shields, who struck out 10 over seven innings.

3 Comments

A good win, so this is not complaining. But if pitchers are taught to pitch to contact, why aren’t hitters taught to swing to contact? 31 k’s in 3 games is a lot!

Simple explanation. You have a team that strikes out far too much even under ordinary circumstances against a pitching staff that, even though they don’t receive the attention granted Boston and New York, might be the deepest in all of baseball outside Philly. Whether they are that good or not, they certainly rack up the Ks.

Friday morning: Now if we could just keep the Reds from playing anymore games, they could win this division!

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