June 2011

Bautista, Blue Jays here

Reds lineup vs. Blue Jays

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

As Dusty Baker said on Wednesday, we have to see what the West Coast trip means in these games coming up. If the Reds can keep some momentum from the 5-2 trip, all is well. The last thing they need is to lay an egg this weekend vs. Toronto.

I will be very curious to see how Major League home run leader Jose Bautista handles his bat  in GABP. With the warm weather and the small confines, there could be a few souvenirs this weekend if he’s not pitched carefully.

Rehab assignment updates:

*RHP Homer Bailey (right shoulder) pitched last night for Triple-A Louisville vs. Toledo, his second start. He allowed three runsand 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings with no walks and two strikeouts. There was one homer. He threw 83 pitches/55 strikes

*LHP Aroldis Chapman (left shoulder) pitched Wednesday for Double-A Carolina. His line for a one-inning start in the Mudcats’ 7-0 loss at Jackson was 1 ip, 0h, 0r, 1 bb, 2k, 28 pitches, 18 strikes.

*RHP Sam LeCure (right forearm) is scheduled to pitch again Saturday vs Toledo.

For once, the Reds love L.A.

Big road trip. Huge road trip.

Most teams, including the Reds, come to the West Coast just hoping not to tailspin. Many are hopeful to come out of it .500 or could even accept being one under .500 for the trip. Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Dodgers gave the Reds a 5-2 West Coast trip. They haven’t had a winning western journey since they went 7-4 in 2004. That was also the year of the last Reds sweep at Dodger Stadium (May 14-16).

“A real nice birthday present,” said manager Dusty Baker, who turned 62 today. “It’s first time I can remember in 10 years winning a game on my birthday. That’s the one thing I wanted today. That was the perfect ending to this West Coast trip.”

Every time the Dodgers win a game here, they play the familiar Randy Newman song “I Love LA.” I got pretty used to hearing since the Reds lost 12 times in a row at Dodger Stadium from 2006-09.

And not much of a celebrity wrap for this series. Last year, we had Harrison Ford among others. This year, it was only Larry King and Mary Hart — both on Tuesday night.
 

Notes:

*Jonny Gomes was all over the field defensively today with some nice plays. One particularly marvelous

one came when he robbed James Loney with two outs in the third with runners on first and second. On Loney’s tailing fly to the left field foul line to end the inning, Gomes was fully laid out when he made the diving catch. Travis Wood thanked Gomes with a point. Gomes also made two other catches that were worthy of circles in the scorebook.
*Wood was so-so, despite the quality start. Only one run and five hits but the five walks (one intentional) made for some tense moments. Wood gave up an Ethier two-out double and two walks — one with the bases loaded — to force in a run.

*Scott Rolen was 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI doubles and a RBI single. Five of Rolen’s seven hits on this trip were doubles. He hasn’t felt great since fouling a ball off his left foot Sunday and missing Monday’s game.

*By not playing today, Drew Stubbs became the last Reds player to miss a game this season. He had played in all 69 previous games, with 64 starts.

*The Reds are 17-18 on the road this season.

Quotes:

“Some great defense and early runs. Everybody was spent from a short night here so we wanted to score early, which we did. We didn’t score more but it was enough.” — Dusty Baker

“Gomes played an outstanding outfield today. If the ball was going up, I wanted it hit to him the way he was playing today. We also had some good clutch double plays and that helped a lot.” — Travis Wood

“It really hurts. It kind of puts a little sting into us because if we get two runs we’re right back in that game. That was obviously a nice play.” — Dodgers manager Don Mattingly on Gomes’ third-inning catch

“We need to win series. I’ve been boring you guys to death saying the same thing for two years now. But we split in San Francisco, which you take. Maybe we could have got one more. They’re a good team too. We played well there and came here and obviously played real well. A 5-2 trip, I think we’d take that 10 out of 10 times before we left.” — Scott Rolen

Bruce, Stubbs rested

Reds lineup vs. Dodgers

Heisey 8
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Lewis 9
Hanigan 2
Wood 1

“A lot of changes today,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re going with fresh bodies. We want to take advantage of two days off and take advantage of a five or six hour night everybody is working on.”

*Jay Bruce is not off as a result of the home plate contact he had with Rod Barajas last night. He is 2-for-20 on the road trip.

“I see him fouling off pitches now and slowing down a little bit from being so hot,” Baker said. “I remember Ted Williams said that most guys go into a little tailspin because they’re running the bases a lot.”

Bruce still had a whole bunch of scrapes on his right shin after getting the business end of Barajas’ shin guard.

“I’m fine. It didn’t feel great,” Bruce said. “If you’ve ever slipped a pedal on your bike into your shin, that’s what it was like. It hurt a lot in the beginning but it wears off.”

*Sam LeCure took the loss for Triple-A Louisville last night. Against Lehigh Valley, he pitched 1 2/3 innings and allowed one run and two hits with one walk and three strikeouts. That included a home run. In three rehab outings, LeCure has a 2.45 ERA over 3 2/3 innings.

*The Reds will be wearing 1944 throwback uniforms today. The Dodgers have throwback uni days any time they have a weekday matinee game. Cincinnati’s uniforms are the type that a 15-year old Joe Nuxhall wore when he debuted that season.

*Today is Baker’s 62nd birthday.

West Coast winning…

Some quick stuff with day ball looming quick.

*The Reds are assured a winning West Coast trip with a 3-2 win over the Dodgers. That’s 2-for-2 here thus far and 4-2 on the trip with Wednesday left to play.

*Joey Votto frankly didn’t look good in his first two at-bats when he struck out on some nasty Clayton Kershaw curveballs. But he certainly came up big in the eighth with his RBI single off Scott Elbert. In previous meetings with Elbert, Votto was 0-for-2 with two Ks.

*Johnny Cueto has a 1.68 ERA this season and has yet to allow more than three runs in his eight starts.

*With 279 career wins for the Reds, Dusty Baker moved into the club’s all-time Top 10 in victories, bumping out John McNamara.

*Francisco Cordero notched save No. 14 in the ninth and No. 304 for his career. Now he’s 19th all time , tied with Jeff Montgomery.

*Jay Bruce came up sore after being thrown out at the plate in the fourth inning. His leg was crunched by the shin guard of catcher Rod Barajas blocking the plate. Stay tuned.

*Dusty Baker said Drew Stubbs was already slated for a day off on Wednesday before tonight’s game…Stubbs came up with three hits, including a big insurance run with his RBI single in the ninth.

 

Quotes:

 

“It’s very tough to do that on the west coast. Before I was called up, I think we had a half a decade since there was a winning west coast road trip. We had a good year last year and we did it once or twice. We’ve been really competitive, especially against two good teams. The Dodgers are a little underrated and the Giants are world series champs. To be able to split a series in San Francisco and then come here and win the first two and be able to say going home that we have a winning west coast trip is a big deal.” — Joey Votto

“He was dealing. He was electric tonight. He got some pretty good hitters out. When he left the game, he was throwing better than at any other time. But we had to get those runs. Fortunately for us, Cairo got on and we pushed across another run because he certainly deserved to win.” — Dusty Baker on Cueto

“He’s known for clutch. You don’t get to be the MVP not clutching up. A good hitter that doesn’t look well the first couple of at-bats, it makes him concentrate and want it even more. That was a big at-bat he’s had.” — Baker on Votto
“Every pitch was working good today. At the beginning of the game, I didn’t have the feeling of the baseball. When I got in trouble, I got off the mound, took a deep breath and concentrated. I kept the ball down.” — Johnny Cueto.

Cueto’s 100th start

As I continue to feel like the Lincoln Lawyer cruising LA’s freeways in a giant black Town Car, I greet you from another beautiful day at Dodger Stadium.

Reds lineup vs. Dodgers

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

*Johnny Cueto’s toughest matchup could come against Matt Kemp, who is 5-for-9 with two homers against him lifetime. This is also the 100th big league start of Cueto’s career. The Reds could really use another good start from Cueto, who has yet to allow more than three runs in any of his previous seven games. Taking this series tonight would already lock  a winning road trip out west, would  be very welcomed.

*It appears that Yankees SS Derek Jeter is headed to the disabled list with a calf strain. That means he won’t be chasing his 3,000th hit next week at Great American Ball Park

Rotation on a roll

 The Reds aren’t breaking off on a huge winning streak yet, but they are getting some very good starting pitching. And that could eventually reap benefits for sustained winning.

Bronson Arroyo worked into the eighth inning for the Reds 6-4 win over the Dodgers. He allowed 4 ER, 6 H,  0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB. He threw 98 pitches/68 strikes.

The Reds rotation is 5-1 with a 2.17 ERA over the last eight games and has three wins during the 3-2 road trip to this point.

“It’s going to be the key for us,” Arroyo said. “If we don’t have that, we’re not going be able to win ballgames. As good as our offense has been numbers-wise throughout the whole year compared with the rest of the league, it’s not enough to overcome four and five-run deficits early in the ballgame. For us to get deep in the ballgame like we are, try to peel back the innings for the guys in the bullpen a little bit, especially going into the hotter months of the season, will be key for us.”

Notes:

 

 

*Arroyo is 4-0 with a 2.60 ERA in his last four starts vs. the Dodgers.

*Francisco Cordero notched career save No. 303 by striking out the side in the ninth after a leadoff walk. Cordero is tied with Doug Jones for 20th on the all-time saves list.

*Homers by Chris Heisey (two outs, sixth) and Joey Votto (three-run shot, seventh) snapped a five-game streak without a home run for the Reds.

*Arroyo helped himself with a bloop RBI single to right field in the seventh that provided the go-ahead run.

*After the Reds couldn’t win a game at Chavez Ravine from 2006-2009 (0-12), they have won three of the last four here.

Quotes:

“They’ve thrown well. They threw well in San Francisco. Obviously Bronson threw well tonight. You hope for that every time. Our offense is necessary but the team’s priority is always pitching and defense.” — Joey Votto

“That was a big home run by Heisey because Kuroda was really dealing at the time.” — Dusty Baker

In Los Angeles

After a four-game sabbatical, I am back among the working scribes at Chavez Ravine. Today might win my first annual contest of oddest rental car of 2011. Although not requested, I was given a large black Lincoln Town Car. One parking garage place asked me if I was there to pick up someone like I was a limo driver.

So if you need a ride to the airport, I will charge a flat rate.

Reds lineup vs. Dodgers

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

*Reds hitters have not had a home run in a season-high five games. The last time they were six games without a homer was Sept. 4-9, 2001.

 *The latest NL All-Star ballot results are out.

*It was announced today that Paul McCartney will be in concert at GABP on Aug. 4

***UPDATE — Scott Rolen is out of the lineup with a sore left foot. Rolen fouled a ball off of that foot in the 2nd inning of Sunday’s game vs. the Giants. Dusty Baker would have played him tonight had Rolen been good to go.

 

“I’m not dead and it’s not broken,” Rolen said. “But it happened in the second inning yesterday and I had to stand out on it for three hours. I’ll be pretty hobbling on it.”

 

5-4 homestand, not 6-3

 Even though the Reds dropped two of three to the Dodgers last weekend, they had a chance to sweep the Cubs three-game and complete a very nice 6-3 home stand.

It didn’t happen.

The Reds were awfully quiet during a 4-1 loss to the Cubs. After coming up empty during a bases-loaded, one out rally in the first inning, there was only Jay Bruce’s RBI single in the third inning off Ryan Dempster. After that, Cubs pitching retired the final 19 of 20.

“We had a chance for a sweep,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “That three in a row is eluding us big time. We’ll get it. We’re like real close. Perhaps we’ll turn it around on this road trip. The last road trip, we had a bad one so we’re due for an excellent one.”

The Reds leave for a 7-day trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles. It stays tough after that with the Blue Jays and Yankees at home.

Notes:

*Dempster had a great game but was nearly a scratch because of hip pain. Chicago had Rodrigo Lopez also warming up pre-game just in case.

*The game essentially turned on back-to-back Cubs homers for three runs in the fourth by Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez. For Arroyo, they were homers No. 15 and 16 allowed for the season, tying him with Brett Myers for the NL lead.

*A fourth run charged to Arroyo scored on a Jose Arredondo balk in the seventh. With runners on the corners and two outs, Arredondo had a 3-2 count on Ramirez when he made a pickoff move to first base. He had keep the ball upon realizing Joey Votto wasn’t holding the runner.

*Bruce’s RBI single gave him a 10-game hitting streak.

*Jonny Gomes struck out as a pinch-hitter with Paul Janish on third with a two-out triple. Gomes is 0-for-10 as a pinch-hitter this season with seven strikeouts.

*Joey Votto has an eight-game hitting streak and has reached 60 of his 62 games played.

Quotes:

“It’s definitely disappointing. The way we’ve been playing lately, we can’t really afford to have a lot of close games get away from us. It’s been tough for us to come back from games that we’ve been behind once we’ve given up the lead. It’s hard to overcome that. Right now, we’re just fighting to get every win we can and we just can’t seem to be able to catch a nice streak where they seem to come easy. Everything has been difficult. It’s not going to get any easier in the next couple of weeks.” — Bronson Arroyo

“Somebody has got to tell him he’s playing behind him in that situation. I’ve seen Aramis hit that hole over there too many times. That’s one of his favorite RBI holes over there. We were trying to cover that hole but just didn’t communicate and tell him we were playing off the bag at 3-2. We have to tighten up our game in all departments. If we do that, we’ll be great.” — Dusty Baker on the Arredondo balk.

“All the games here on out are big games for us. We’re playing catch-up in the division and we have to win every one that we can.” — Drew Stubbs

*You won’t have me in San Francisco these next four games. We’ll pick it up from Los Angeles on Monday.

Bailey to rehab assignment

Homer Bailey (right shoulder) will depart tomorrow for a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville. Bailey will meet the team in Syracuse and is slated to start on Saturday vs Lehigh Valley. He is expected to make at least two starts before being activated.

Reds lineup vs Cubs

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

*LHP Aroldis Chapman threw 24 pitches, 12 strikes in two-thirds of an inning and gave up three runs, three hits and one walk with no strikeouts for Double-A Carolina. Chapman is expected to make four appearances for Carolina.

*RHP Jared Burton’s three-week old throwing program took another step when he threw in the bullpen for the first time on Tuesday. Burton, recovering from right shoulder surgery, said he was throwing at around 55-60 percent. After a another more bullpen session on Friday, Burton will head to Goodyear and throw live BP.

*SS Edgar Renteria (back) hit, ran and threw on Tuesday and is doing better. He is on track to get into some games in San Francisco.

*3B Scott Rolen is still out what’s now being called a viral infection in his throat rather than strep throat.

*And finally, RHP Edinson Volquez was a man of his word. Volquez produced a plastic shopping bag that was full of his shorn dreadlocks and hair. Check it out:

Volquez has short hair, long outing

Edinson Volquez sure looked different on the mound without the dreadlocks, but the Reds saw he returned from exile with the stuff that made him successful in the past.

In an 8-2 Reds win over the Cubs, Volquez had this line: 7 ip, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. 105 pitches/61 strikes. And he survived a 30-pitch second inning where he left the bases loaded. He also induced two double plays from the Cubs.

“He was locating his fastball a lot better. That’s the Volquez we knew from before,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Volquez had no ill will about being sent down to Triple-A Louisville on May 23.

“I knew I needed it. I was cool,” Volquez said. “I wasn’t mad with anybody because I was struggling in the big leagues. I had to do something. I went back to Triple-A and made the adjustments and came back to the big leagues like I did tonight.”

For the Reds to have a real shot at catching the Cardinals, they need Volquez to keep doing more of the same.
 

Notes:

*With two walks and one hit tonight, Joey Votto has now reached safely in 59 of his 61 games this season and 14 in a row.

*Jay Bruce has a nine-game hitting streak. He’s batting .412 (14-for-34) with three homers and 7 RBIs since May 29.

*Miguel Cairo hit the second grand slam of his career in the seventh inning to turn a 4-1 game into an 8-1 game.

*In the fifth, Drew Stubbs made a tremendous diving catch in right-center field to rob Kosuke Fukudome of extra bases. Stubbs didn’t have a smooth landing on the grass but the catch was solid nonetheless.

*The Cubs defense? Not so stellar. A rally started in the fifth on a Volquez grounder through the left side. Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro each had alligator arms and let the ball squeak through. It was the beginning of a two-run inning.

*For a complete rundown of Day 2 (rounds 2-30) of the Reds Draft, Tyler Jett has the story.

*Among the day 2 notables, 3B Sean Buckley was taken by the Reds with a 6th-round pick. Buckley, who is listed rather large at 6-4 and 220 pounds, is the son of Reds amateur scouting director Chris Buckley. In the 22nd round, the club took LHP Amir Garrett from basketball powerhouse Findlay College Prep in Nevada. Garrett is already committed to play college basketball for St. John’s and is the No. 68 ranked hoops prospect, according to Rivals.com.

*Finally, there is a heat emergency for Wednesday’s day games and temps expected in the mid 90s.

Quotes:

“I didn’t see him until right before game time. He looked pretty good, real good actually. Brandon has been on him the whole spring about cutting that mess off his head. He looked handsome.” — Reds manager Dusty Baker on Volquez’s new short hair

“I got my haircut last night. It was too hot, the weather. I was tired too, three years of long hair. I decided to cut it out. … I love my hair. I’m keeping it at my house. I’m going to bring it tomorrow.” — Edinson Volquez

“We got a pretty good pitching staff. We need to start getting going. It’s already June. The heat is here. We have to take advantage of those other pitchers getting tired. Hopefully our pitchers, they get hot and start pitching good.” — Miguel Cairo

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