September 2011

Getaway day

Hello from the back of a cab headed to downtown Chicago. I seem to have taken to writing in cabs today.

I wrote my game story for MLB.com in the back of a cab speeding to Lambert Airport.

This is one of the days where being being a baseball beat writer is anything but swashbuckling. Ask Jamie Ramsey how many times I wore myself out worrying if I’d make my flight today.

Because there is a day game tomorrow in Chicago, I really wanted to beat it out of St. Louis tonight. My only option was a 6:10 pm CT flight. I knew I was cutting it close but I’ve had closer ones. And to those wondering, writers do not fly on the team chartered plane.

As luck wouldn’t have it, Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson isn’t exactly a quick tempo pitcher. And there were some lengthy innings as both sides pit lots of runners on base only to strand them. And in the getaway day scenario that always creates some back sweat for a writer, extra innings.

Juan Francisco made my day when his RBI single gave the Reds the go-ahead run in the 10th (although I wasn’t rooting, I mean it). Francisco Cordero did me a solid with a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th. Postgame, I managed to get some quotes from Dusty Baker and Bronson Arroyo and split since Francisco was still eating in the off limits area.

I was walking out of Busch Stadium at about 5:05 (remember flight is at 6:10). I ran with my suitcase to a nearby bar called Paddy-o’s where cabs are always lined up. Saw none.

Then I saw a yellow van going to a stop light. More running only to see the cab is full…but he honked a horn and waved to an empty cab on the other side of the intersection. Paydirt!

I got in the cab and to his credit, he got away from downtown traffic quick and headed to the interstate. Thankfully it was a Sunday and it was smooth.

I listened to those quotes on my iPod and wrote most of the game story. After I got to the airport check-in counter by 5:25 or so. Got to an empty security area and before going through, put the finishing touches and sent the story at 5:35. Then I exhaled as I went through security to the gate.

Hopefully the story doesn’t read like it was written in a cab. I’ve done it twice before, including once last season. It’s never fun but sometimes that’s life on the job. I’m fortunate to live in era with laptops, air cards and email. I doubt Studs Terkel or Dick Young beat deadlines or made flights in similar fashion with their typewriters. If so, they are even more legendary in this profession.

Time for dinner in Chicago….whew.

Rubber game Sunday

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*At Class A Dayton on Saturday, SS Billy Hamilton became the first person in Reds organization
history to steal 100 bases. According to the Dragons web site, Hamilton became just the 12th player
in recorded Minor League Baseball history to steal 100 bases in a season. He Reds all-time
organizational record of 98 by Ramon Sambo at Cedar Rapids in 1988. Hamilton is the first player to
steal 100 bases in a season since 2001 when Chris Morris of Peoria stole a Midwest League record 111.

Saturday in STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

Phillips 4
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Bruce 9
Heisey 7
Stubbs 8
Frazier 5
Hanigan 2
Bailey 1

*Rookies Yonder Alonso, Juan Francisco and Todd Frazier did something rather rare last night. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s been nearly five years since three rookies hit homers to help their team wins.

The last such team was the Rockies, who beat the Giants, 20-8, on Sept. 18, 2006, with helpful homers from rookies Ryan Spilborghs and Jeff Salazar and two from rookie Jeff Baker. The Reds last had three rookies hit homers in the same game in 2003 (Ryan Freel, Wily Mo Pena and Tim Hummel) in a win at Milwaukee.

Cueto vs. Carpenter II

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*It’s another shot in left field for Yonder Alonso, who looked pretty good in the seven chances he had on balls hit to him. While there was nothing crazy exceptional, he did his job fine.

*Against Reds starter Johnny Cueto, Albert Pujols is batting .217 (5-for-23) and Lance Berkman is a .227 (5-for-22) hitter. Yadier Molina is hitting .318 (7-for-22). Cueto last faced the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter on July 15 at home and worked 7 ip, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K and was the victime of a blown save.

*The Reds are 7-5 vs. the Cardinals this season.

*It’s absolutely smoking at Busch Stadium this afternoon. The scoreboard temperature as of 3:15 pm local time read 99 degrees.

Swept away by a juggernaut

Read about the 6-4 Reds loss to the Phillies here.

Philadelphia has started to take on a Yankee-esque feeling when they play the Reds, who are now 12-30 against them over the last six seasons — including 1-7 this year. Like the Yankees when they meet some small-market clubs, there are probably teams that the Phillies play which put out a vibe of feeling outmatched before the bus reaches the ballpark. The Reds seem to be one of them.

While the Phillies have that tremendous starting pitching and a tough lineup, that outmatched  feeling is something the Reds have to ditch before they meet them again next season. The Phils have lost 46 games this season and there is no reason why the Reds couldn’t have been responsible for more than one of them.

Still, if the Phillies don’t make the World Series, something will have seriously gone wrong for them in the NLDS or NLCS. They are very, very good. If nothing else, this week should have provided the Reds with a refresher of what they will need to do to get back to the next level again, and beyond.

Notes:

*The Reds were outscored, 21-6, by the Phillies in the four-game sweep. Their scoreless streak ended at 21 innings on Joey Votto’s sacrifice fly in the third.

*Of Vance Worley’s seven strikeouts against the Reds, six were called.

*This was the second time the Reds were handed a four-game sweep this season. Another NL East club, the Mets, did it July 25-28.

*Chris Heisey’s three-run homer in the seventh was his second as a pinch-hitter this season and seventh PH homer for the Reds this season.

Quotes:

“I hope I finish the year. I still feel good. I hope they don’t shut me down. Nothing has been discussed with me yet. I don’t know if they’re talking or what.” — Mike Leake, who has 158 innings pitched this season between the big leagues and Triple-A.

“What really hurt was that two-run homer by Martinez. That was the difference in the ballgame.” — Dusty Baker

“Any time when you’re down to get three at one time, to get us back in it was big for the team. Unfortunately, we couldn’t come back the whole way. This series kind of leaves a bitter taste in our mouth but we have to go have a good road trip and get right back up to .500 and hopefully beyond.” — Chris Heisey

“If you don’t capitalize on opportunities, which are rare, you don’t score. If they score early or quite a few runs, it’s hard to bunch a lot of hits against them. The fact is they don’t walk many guys to put you in position to rally if you fall behind. That’s their key.”  — Baker on the Phillies

Reinforcements are here

Reds lineup vs. Phillies

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

*Outfielder Fred Lewis cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Louisville. By my count, that leaves 39 men on the roster since Jeremy Hermida was taken off yesterday.

*Devin Mesoraco has been assigned No. 39 by the Reds, which was most recently used by Aaron Harang. Other luminaries that have worn 39 for the club have been Dave Parker and Joe Nuxhall. Less than luminary 39′s have been Josias Manzanillo, D.T. Cromer, Tim Belk and current Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.

*Dusty Baker said Mesoraco would spend a couple of days in the bullpen to learn the pitching staff and signs, etc

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