September 2011

Is .500 possible?

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

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

*The Reds are 72-76 heading into tonight’s game. (No. 149 of the season). They have to go 10-4 over the final 14 games to finish the season 82-80, or 9-5 to finish 81-81 (.500). How realistic do you think that is? The games on the remaining schedule following this series are the Brewers and Astros at home and the Pirates and Mets on the road. The way things have gone all season, I think it’s a tall order. But it’s something for the Reds to shoot for.

*Johnny Cueto is winless in his last four starts, which included two blown saves. His 2.3632 ERA is .0044 behind Major League leader Clayton Kershaw’s 2.3588 ERA.

*As you likely know, the Brewers win last night officially eliminated the Reds from the NL Central race. The elimination number for the NL Wild Card is 1 since the Braves won today.

A fine 2011 finish for Leake

With nine innings last week and eight innings Tuesday — both vs. the Cubs — Mike Leake finished 2011 in fine fashion.

His line tonight: 8 ip, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. 91 pitches/62 strikes. Reds win 2-1 one night after being clobbered for 12 runs.

Leake finished his season 12-9 with a 3.86 ERA. He leads the Reds in wins and with 118 strikeouts.

Quotes:

“It was nice the last two especially, to make them my best outings of the year. Five months is a long time to not pitch. You kind of forget about it a little bit. Hopefully, it will kick in right away come Spring Training.” — Mike Leake

“It seems like he reads hitters well. He had a very low pitch count and it’s a tight ballgame and I’m like, wow, this guy hasn’t thrown a ball over 90 [mph] and it just shows you how good he is with his understanding of pitching and hitting. Hats off. He’s done an unbelievable job against us. He did it before and he did it today.” — Cubs 1B Carlos Pena on Leake.

“The second year is the toughest because the hitters go to school on you. He made the adjustments. He reads swings better than any young pitcher I’ve seen other than maybe Fernando in that short period of time. He knows what he was doing. His ball was moving. He kept the ball down and elevated when necessary. He changed speeds. He was really pitching.” – Reds manager Dusty Baker

Notes:

*The Reds are 42-28 when they score first and 26-30 in one-run games.

*Brandon Phillips’ first inning HR was the first leadoff HR of his career. It was also the first time he has homered in back-to-back games.

*Joey Votto tied a season high with three walks, something he has done four times.

Leake’s last start

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

Phillips 4
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Bruce 9
Alonso 7
Stubbs 8
Francisco 5
Mesoraco 2
Leake 1

*Assuming the Reds are sticking to the plan, this should be Mike Leake’s final start of 2011. After a bumpy start, an off the field kerfuffle at Macy’s in April and a brief stint in Triple-A Louisville, Leake turned in a respectable second big league season. He came one batter short of a complete game vs. the Cubs in his last start. It will be curious to see what adjustments Chicago has made.

*The Reds elimination number is 1 for the NL Central race and 3 for the NL Wild Card.

*At 10 am Wednesday, MLB will release the 2012 schedules for all 30 clubs.

Francisco goes (very) deep

In the 2nd inning vs. the Cubs,  Juan Francisco took Rodrigo Lopez’s 1-2 pitch very very deep into the night. The ball traveled an estimated 502 feet for a solo homer – the second longest distance in Great American Ball Park history. While other homers have left GABP, this ball was the first to ever clear the moon deck before it landed on the south side of Mehring Way. Jim Day of FS Ohio found the piece of a tree that snapped off from being struck by the drive. Day reported that the ball was retrieved by a person from Rozzi fireworks outside the stadium, who has returned it to the club to give to Francisco.

The ball from Juan Francisco's 502 foot homer. (Courtesy of Rick Walls from the Reds Hall of Fame)

The top 10 home run distances in GABP history:

1. Adam Dunn, 535 ft, 8/10/04 vs LAD
2. Juan Francisco, 502 ft, 9/12/11 vs. CHC
3. Wily Mo Pena, 498 ft., 4/17/05 vs. HOU
4. Reggie Abercrombie (FLA), 493 ft, 4/19/06  vs. CIN
5. Alfonso Soriano (WAS), 492 ft, 5/9/06 vs CIN
6. Derrek Lee (CHC), 482 ft,  4/18/05 vs. CIN
T7. Ryan Howard (PHI), 479 ft, 4/5/08 vs CIN
T7. Adam Dunn, 479 ft, 4/6/06 vs. PIT
9. Albert Pujols (STL), 477 ft., 8/31/03 vs. CIN
10. Adam Dunn, 474 ft., 5/4/05 vs. STL

*Francisco’s HR was the longest hit in the Majors this season, topping a 486-foot shot by Prince Fielder of the Brewers.

*The Dunn 535 ft homer was the only one to reach the Ohio River. It cleared the center field batter’s eye in the days before the riverboat was top of it.

The final homestand begins…

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

Phillips 4
Sappelt 8
Votto 3
Bruce 9
Alonso 7
Mesoraco 2
Francisco 5
Janish 6
Willis 1

*Yonder Alonso, who got only one plate appearance in three games at Colorado, is back in the lineup. Alonso was 10-for-22 with one homer and four RBIs on the nine-game road trip.

*In his previous outing vs. the Cubs on Sept. 5 at Wrigley Field, Dontrelle Willis gave up 4 ER, 6 H, and 5 BB over 7 ip. Willis has walked five batters in each of his last three starts.

*Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up 2 ER, 8 H vs. the Reds on Sept. 6 in his last outing. Jay Bruce is 5-for-9 (.556) with one homer against Lopez.
*The Reds elimination number is 2 from the NL Central race and 4 for the NL Wild Card.

*Remember the ‘#hatsoffcin’ tweets a few weeks ago? Tonight, the Reds Community Fund will receive a $50,000 donation from Head and Shoulders shampoo for winning the inaugural ‘Hats Off’ Twitter contest. Reds fans used the hashtag ‘#hatsoffcin’ more than 130,000 times from June 30-Aug. 31 to defeat the second place Giants.

They said it (again)

Quotes from the Reds clubhouse after a 6-3 defeat to the Cubs sent them to a series loss. The decider was a three-run homer in the eighth inning by Carlos Pena against Bill Bray.

“We had the match-up we wanted. Billy has been great on lefties all year, hitting [.188] off him. Pena is hitting [.135] off of lefties. He made a mistake and hung a slider that didn’t slide. It just spun up there. He didn’t miss it.” — Dusty Baker on the matchup between Bray and Pena.

“Anytime you have these games where they are close games…it’s tough. You just have to move forward with it, learn from it and keep playing.” — Yonder Alonso, who was 3-for-4 with a RBI single in the first inning. Alonso is batting .407 (24-for-59) in 31 games for the Reds.

“I’ve put in all my best to get it done. You know what? Sometimes you throw seven innings and instead of going down, it goes up.” — Johnny Cueto on trying for the ERA title. His 2.36 ERA still leads the Majors.

“He’s tough and I wish I was smart enough to know why we’ve had some success against him, and we have. Maybe when he’s sharp early and strong, he’s tough on whoever. If he tires some, you get opportunities. For DJ to get that RBI single was big early. You just keep battling him. He gets left-handers out really well because he has the fabulous changeup and he doesn’t seem to be as effective with it against right-handers. Sori hits him real well, Ramy. I think that’s part of it. If he’s got his best slider on a given day, that’s why his ERA is under 3.00. I think a lot of our guys have seen a lot of him, too. That works to our benefit, too. He’s a really good starter.” — Cubs manager Mike Quade on Cueto.
 
*I will not be continuing on to Colorado. Have a good weekend. See you Monday.

Wednesday lineup

Reds lineup vs Cubs

Phillips 4
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Bruce 9
Alonso 7
Stubbs 8
Francisco 5
Hernandez 2
Cueto 1

*On the road trip thus far, Yonder Alonso is 6-for-15 with 1 HR and 3 RBIs. Jay Bruce is 7-for-22 with 1 HR and 3 RBIs. Juan Francisco is also 6-for-15 with 1 HR and 6 RBIs. Edgar Renteria is 6-for-13 with 1 HR and 4 RBIs. Brandon Phillips is 7-for-22.

*Lifetime vs. Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, Ramon Hernandez is 7-for-18 (.389) with 1 HR and 4 RBIs.

Valaika at SS

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

Phillips 4
Sappelt 8
Votto 3
Bruce 9
Mesoraco 2
Cairo 5
Frazier 7
Valaika 6
Leake 1

*This is a lineup we have not seen the likes of yet this season. Definitely a plethora of young players in there. Valaika is getting his first big league start at SS, where he played three innings for the Reds last season. He’s played only 13 games at SS this season for Triple-A Louisville, compared to 85 at 2B.

*This is Dave Sappelt’s first big league start in CF after13 starts in LF. Todd Frazier is getting his second start in LF tonight.

*Miguel Cairo is 5-for-17 vs. Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez. So perhaps that is why he is there over Juan Francisco.

*Drew Stubbs is obviously not in there tonight but he’s closing in on 40 steals for the season. Currently he is at 37. No Reds player has totaled at least 40 steals since Deion Sanders had swiped 56 bases in 1997.

They said it…

Just the quotes today after the Reds 4-3 loss to the Cubs

“I felt OK. I wasn’t nervous at all. I felt good. Dontrelle is a guy I’ve worked with a lot. You know what he’s going to do so we had a good game plan. He threw the ball well. We made some mistakes that one inning, myself included, and that’s the way it goes sometimes.” — Devin Mesoraco on his first big league start.

“It’s frustrating because I’ve pitched worse and won. By the same token, I like the way me and Mesoraco worked out there, especially for his first start. This is my 200th big league start so I am happy to have that longevity. I will continue to battle and fight and hopefully I will get one and then in bunches.” — Dontrelle Willis, who is now 0-5 with a 4.21 ERA in 11 starts with the Reds.

“That was the Dontrelle that I knew. Boy he was throwing strikes. He had great command of everything.” — Dusty Baker on Willis’ first three perfect innings.

“We had to make a decision whether to face Aramis or Baker. Baker is one of the toughest guys in this league against left-handers so we chose to face Aramis. We had him fouling off pitches but we went to the well too many times with the fastball and he got the single.” — Baker on the fifth inning two-run single by Aramis Ramirez.

“Honestly, I did not know where the ball was at the time. It was kind of a weird hop and when it camein, I didn’t get a glove on it. I wasn’t sure where it went. I was just looking and looking. By the time I realized he didn’t make a sign and he didn’t touch the plate, Dontrelle already had the ball and he was coming back. It just happened a little quick and I couldn’t find the ball for a chace to tag him out.” — Mesoraco on the play at the plate where Reed Johnson scored on the Ramirez hit. Johnson missed the plate on the first try but neither Mesoraco or Willis noticed.  
 

“I knew the situation, it’s 4-3 with two outs and their 4-hole hitter up there. It’s probably the best time to put a fresh arm in. I had [James Russell] and [Kerry Wood] up. It’s the eighth inning, so you try to keep it intact.” — Cubs starter Matt Garza on the jam in the eighth inning.

    

Mesoraco starts, Alonso in LF

Happy Labor Day and greetings from a truly windy Wrigley Field. After the two scorching 100-degree days in St. Louis followed by a very pleasant series finale on Sunday, it definitely feels like fall on the north side of Chicago today. As I cabbed it up Lake Shore Drive, the waves on Lake Michigan had huge swells and were spraying the sidewalks. Everyone (that was prepared at least) has on jackets.

At the moment, the flags seem to be blowing in. If that turns, it could be a long afternoon for the pitchers.

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

Phillips 4
Stubbs 8
Votto 3
Bruce 9
Alonso 7
Francisco 5
Mesoraco 2
Janish 6
Willis 1

*As expected, this will be the first MLB start behind the plate for Devin Mesoraco.

*The surprise today is that Yonder Alonso is playing LF at Wrigley Field again. Last month, Alonso had a very rough time and one misplay led to an inside-the-park homer run. On the other hand, Alonso has looked decent his last few starts in left field and of course, he’s continuing to hit well.

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