April 2012

Bruce is NL Player of the Week

From my colleague Joey Nowak:

Reds right fielder Jay Bruce, who led the Majors in slugging and total bases last week, was named the National League’s Player of the Week, Major League Baseball announced on Monday afternoon.

Bruce tallied 24 total bases and a 1.143 slugging percentage while also tying for the Major League lead with four home runs. He was second in the NL with 10 RBIs and a .542 on-base percentage on the week.

It is Bruce’s fourth career Player of the Week honor, having won once in 2010 and twice last year (most recently Aug. 15, 2011)

Bruce and Votto big in win

The Reds have won seven of their last 10 games with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over the Astros. They also took two of three in the series. Lots to like with this team lately.

Click here for the full game story on MLB.com

Click here for Dusty Baker’s postgame comments on video.

And to conclude April, the Reds are back to .500 at 11-11 before the Cubs come to town Tuesday after Monday’s off day.

As the NHL playoffs chug into the second round, the Three Stars of Sunday’s game.

No. 3 star: Jordan Lyles, HOU — 6 ip, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. Lyles, freshly called up from Triple-A, held the Reds hitless for the first three innings.

No. 2 star: Joey Votto — 2-for-3, 1 HR, 4 RBIs. Votto ended a homer drought that lasted 68 at-bats over 19 games. The team was trailing 2-0 when he slugged a two-run homer off of Lyles. It was 5-3 Houston lead in the seventh when Votto managed to pull a tough pitch for a two-run double to right field that tied the game.

“He actually threw a good pitch and I should have made an out,” Votto said. “I found a spot. It wasn’t a very good swing and I picked the wrong pitch. I got lucky in a way.”

The No. 1 star is Jay Bruce, who was 1-for-3 with the game-winning home run in the eighth. Bruce led off the inning vs. Fernando Rodriguez and hit the first pitch over the right field fence. He has a career-best four-straight games with a homer and is 16-for-38 (.421) over his last 10 games.

“It’s a long season and we’re a month down, but I am continuing to work,” Bruce said. “I will try not to focus on the numbers as much as the preparation and work that I do on a daily basis to be able to go out and perform and help my team.”

News and notes:

*This was a day when the Reds had to pick up a lackluster Mat Latos: 6.1 ip, 10 H (career high tying), 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HR.

“I got sick right before the game and I was grinding through it as much as possible,” Latos said.

*Over his 13 career starts in the month of April, Latos is 2-8 with a 5.73 ERA and 14 homers allowed. He has allowed 5+ runs in 5 of those 13 starts since 2010. He’s done it just twice in his other 53 starts (Thanks Joel Luckhaupt for that second tidbit).

*Logan Ondrusek nabbed the victory with another stellar inning in the eighth. The Reds bullpen has a 2.82 ERA for the season.

Quotes:

“The way we started was really ugly. I think it was a shock to everybody in the clubhouse. It was kind of humbling. It was a good thing. I’m a firm believer that you don’t want to start off slow but there is nothing wrong with starting off slow. It keeps you in check and makes you work a little harder and concentrate on the fundamentals of the game. Those are what will carry you throughout the middle of summer and the end of the year.” Joey Votto on the .500 month.

“That was the only thing eluding him in his young career right now. When he gets a good pass on a ball, there’s nobody more dangerous than him around.” — Dusty Baker on Jay Bruce

“It’s always good when you can come through for your team like that. Obviously I wasn’t the only part of that comeback.” — Jay Bruce.

4/29 vs. HOU

Reds lineup vs. Astros

Stubbs 8
Cozart 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Ludwick 7
Frazier 5
Hanigan 2
Latos 1

*INF Miguel Cairo is eligible to come off of the DL Monday and return on Tuesday after having a strained left hamstring. It remains to be seen if that will happen however. Cairo has been running and hitting all week without issue.

“I feel good but I think I have to run the bases first,” Cairo said. “I go by what the trainers tell me. I’m the worker and do what they tell me to do. Hopefully in the next couple of days, I don’t know the plan. I wish I could tell you. The good thing is I feel good and my legs feel good. We’ll see what happens on Tuesday, Wednesday or whatever.”

“I don’t know,” manager Dusty Baker responded when asked if Cairo would be activated for Tuesday. “You say you’re feeling good and then I give you another day. We’ll see.”

*Todd Frazier starts today at third base for Scott Rolen. Frazier is 5-for-10 in six games since his April 17 call-up to replace Cairo. Frazier has mostly pinch-hit.

“I knew it was going to mainly be a pinch-hit role and helping out Scotty at third base when they need it for a day game,” Frazier said. “Coming in to start today, I’m very excited. I try to bring a lot of energy to the table, like I’ve been doing on the bench and helping the guys.”

*Of course a decision is coming up on who has to come off of the roster when Cairo is activated. I think it would be awfully tough to send Frazier down the way he has performed. Then again, that exactly what happened after his strong Spring Training. We’ll see.

*Saturday’s  PNC/Players for the Planet E-Waste Recycling Drive at Hyde Park Plaza collected approximately 40 tons of electronic waste from over 450 vehicles. Drew Stubbs greeted recyclers along with Cincinnati-native Nick Lachey in the morning. Reds fans can still participate in the final day of the drive on Sunday at the Kroger Marketplace in Newport, Ky from 10am to 2pm.The first 200 cars will receive two free tickets to a future Reds game. Acceptable items include PCs, computer monitors, TVs, keyboards, VCRs, DVD players, printers, radios, etc. At $10 donation is suggested to offset recycling costs.

 

All around solid victory for Reds

That was about as complete a win as the Reds could ask for during Saturday’s 6-0 blanking over the Astros on Saturday.

Click here for the game story on MLB.com

On to the Three Stars…

No. 3 star: Zack Cozart — This is for his defense. Cozart made a spectacular diving stop on a sharp grounder in the sixth to rob J.D. Martinez and then made an equally superb throw to first base for the out. In the eighth with Brian Bixler batting, Cozart made the long run and catch into the seats on a foul pop to the left side.

“Unbelievable,” Martinez said of the first play. “What are you gonna do? I thought I had a hit. I saw him layout and said ‘no way’. If that doesn’t get No. 1 on Sportscenter I don’t know what will”.

“I was so shocked that I caught it,” Cozart said of the diving stop. “I kind of caught it behind me. It worked out well to where it flipped me around to where I could get a throw off.”

No. 2 star: Johnny Cueto — 7 ip, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 120 pitches/78 strikes. He wasn’t dominant, especially in the first two innings when he survived a bases loaded jam with two outs in the first and a leadoff double in the second. But Cueto settled in and gave the Reds seven scoreless.

“He was throwing a lot of near strikes early,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “The first two innings, we were getting a little concerned. He was at almost 50 pitches the first two innings. We were like ‘oh no, hopefully he can go six if he has a couple of short innings.’”

And the No. 1 star: Jay Bruce — 2-for-3, 4 RBIs. Bruce went the other way in the third for a two-run double that barely landed inside fair territory in the left field corner. In the fifth, he launched a first pitch for a two-run homer. That’s three homers in three games for Bruce.

“Where he is in that fifth spot is very, very important, that RBI slot,” Baker said. “One thing we know for sure is he can get a lot of them in a short period of time.”

News and notes:

*Aroldis Chapman had his first shaky appearance of the season in the ninth with a single and two walks allowed that loaded the bases. But Chapman struck out last batter Chris Snyder and extended his scoreless innings streak to 12 1/3 to start the season.

*Scott Rolen made a sweet play to take a hit from Snyder in the seventh and threw him out from his knees to end the inning.

*Cueto leads the NL with six sacrifice bunts after he executed another one today.

*Ryan Hanigan extended his season-high hitting streak to seven games. The club is 9-3 when he starts and the staff has a 2.43 ERA when he’s behind the plate.

Quotes:

“He’s going to give you everything he’s got every time he goes out there. it feels good to go out to the game and watching this guy, you feel like you’re going to win. You feel like if you give him the ball, he’ll keep you in the game the entire time.” — Jay Bruce on Johnny Cueto

“That’s what good teams do. They play all nuances of the game well and they execute. Johnny pitched great. The defense was awesome and we hit when we needed to. That’s perfect.” — Dusty Baker

4/28 vs. HOU

Reds lineup vs. Astros

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

*Jose Arredondo has retired his last 16 batters in a row. Gone from last season seems to be Arredondo’s penchant for walks. With the bullpen depleted early by injuries, the effectiveness of him, Aroldis Chapman and Logan Ondrusek has been a big boost.

*The Reds bullpen has a 2.45 ERA over its last eight games.

*On this date 56 years ago, Frank Robinson hit the first of his 586 career home runs.

*New Hall of Famer Barry Larkin turned 48 today.

*Nick Lachey will be on hand today as part of a fundraiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Lachey will serve as the honorary captain.

*In the Minor Leagues, Class A Bakersfield has won 11 in a row after a 3-7 start to their season.

*SS Billy Hamilton was 3-for-4 on Friday for Bakersfield and is batting .395 (32-for-81) in 21 games this seasaon. He has 12 stolen bases in his last five games, including seven in his last two games.

*At Double-A Pensacola, OF Ryan LaMarre is a 10-game hitting streak and he’s batting .378 (17-for-45) during the streak. It improved his overall batting average from .212 to .333

Leake struggles again

Following a 6-4 Reds loss to the Astros, a quick look at the three stars….

No. 3 star: Jay Bruce — 2-for-4, HR, 2 runs scored. After a 58 at-bat drought without a homer, Bruce has two in two days, over six at-bats.

No. 2 star: Jose Altuve, HOU — 2-for-5, RBI triple in 3rd, RBI double in 4th.

No. 1 star: Wandy Rodriguez, HOU — 6 ip, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K

Here is video of Dusty Baker talking after the game. Click here

News and Notes:

*Mike Leake didn’t fare well with 3.2 ip, 7 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. The Reds were down 6-0 after four innings. That’s three in a row rough outings — 16 runs (13 earned) over 15 2/3 innings in the right-hander’s last three starts.

“He’s working hard. He’ll find it,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Everybody is capable of having three bad ones in a row. Just don’t panic.”

*Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco hit homers on back-to-back pitches during a comeback attempt in the ninth. It was the first time the club has back-to-back homers this season. It was Mesoraco’s first homer of the season.

*Todd Frazier hit a RBI triple as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. Frazier has a five-game hitting streak (5-for-6, .833 in that stretch).

*Drew Stubbs was 1-for-4 and has a five-game hitting streak.

*Joey Votto ripped a RBI double in the sixth inning following a 13-pitch at-bat vs. Wandy Rodriguez. The count was 2-2 before Votto fouled off six of the following seven pitches. Votto finally lined a double to left field that scored Stubbs.

“He took everything I had. I threw him a lot of quality pitches,” Rodriguez said of Votto. “He’s a good hitter. Everybody knows that. I give all the credit to him.”

Quotes:

“He’s just finding the heart of the plate sometimes, at the wrong time. This is killing him because this guy is a competitor big time. He’ll get it. He’ll figure it out. Perhaps, he should try less. He’s trying real hard, probably too hard. A lot of times when you’re not relaxed and trying too hard, it makes your ball straighten out instead of having that late life like he usually has and movement.” — Dusty Baker on Leake

“I gave them a couple of good pitches to hit. They were swinging early against me and I wasn’t making good pitches. I think I’m just trying to figure out throwing strikes and what not to give them to hit. I’m just kind of stuck in the middle right now.” – Mike Leake

 

4/27 vs. HOU

Reds lineup vs. Astros

Cozart 6
Stubbs 8
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Ludwick 7
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Mesoraco 2
Leake 1

*Wondering why Jay Bruce is batting seventh tonight? He is 1-for-26 with 13 strikeouts lifetime against Astros LHP Wandy Rodriguez, who is pitching tonight.

*LHP Bill Bray (strained left groin) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. Bray met the team in Norfolk.

*Reds Minor League catching prospect Tucker Barnhart contributes to a blog called “We The Prospects.” Check it out by clicking here.

Marshall blows save, game

A big ol’ heartbreaker at GABP for the Reds on Thursday.

Taking a 5-3 lead into the ninth, Sean Marshall blew his first save in five chances when Angel Pagan hit a three-run homer for a 6-5 loss to the Giants.

What killed Marshall was the leadoff walk issued to Joaquin Arias to start the rally. Marshall also just missed a strike three pitch to Pagan before the 1-2 curveball was taken deep to left field.

Read more about the game here.

Three stars:

No. 3 star: Homer Bailey — 6.1 ip, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 86 pitches/59 strikes. Bailey was getting groundballs from the aggressive Giants most of the afternoon. He had only 72 pitches through six innings, thanks in part to a six-pitch fifth and a nine-pitch sixth. Had Brandon Phillips turned a double play ball from Arias in the fourth, he might have had an even better line.

“We had some quick innings there,” Bailey said. “Today, we have a fastball and split working so we were able to get some groundballs and quick outs.”

No. 2 star: Jay Bruce — 3-for-4, two RBIs, two runs. In the sixth, Bruce lifted a high drive to right-center field. It looked catchable for Pagan until the ball landed in the first row of seats for Bruce’s fourth homer of the season and his first in 58 at-bats.

No. 1 star: Angel Pagan, SF — 3-run homer did in Marshall and the Reds. He struck out on a curveball from Marshall on Wednesday. Not this time.

“I knew he was going to try to get me again but I wasn’t trying to look for it, I was just trying to react if he threw it for a strike,” Pagan said. “He threw it in my zone. I tried to put it in play and it went out of the park.”

“It was kind of a defensive swing but he put the barrel on it,” Marshall said. “He got it up in the air and unfortunately, that’s how the game swung. It was a tough way to lose today because the guys played so well. Homer was outstanding today and Logan did a great job bridging the gap to get to myself.”

News and notes:

*On the 0-2 pitch to Pagan before the homer, it appeared to eversoclose to being strike three. But it was called a ball by plate umpire Tim Welke. Marshall didn’t really dispute the call.

“I didn’t hit my spot on the pitch,” said Marshall, now 4- for-5 in save chances. “I was looking for a fastball up the letters. Devin was setting up for that. The ball was borderline. It was close. But the next pitch was the one that mattered.”

*Marshall gave up only one homer in 78 games pitched last season for the Cubs.

*It was the first time that the Reds lost a game this season when leading after eight innings.

*Joey Votto struck out three times today, running his total to 22 in 19 games. He didn’t record his 22nd strikeout last season until his 34th game.

Quotes:

“That’s one of those games that saves your sanity. We’ve had a tough time here but we finally broke the streak, the curse, whatever, and finally won a ball game here. It took a huge hit. We were getting runners out there, in the eighth inning too, and were looking for a big hit. Angel, it’s harder to get a bigger hit than that. Two outs from getting swept and he delivers. It makes for a pretty good road trip and a better ride home.” — Giants manager Bruce Bochy

“You’ve got to put it behind you. It’s not going to be easy tonight or today but by the time you get to the ballpark tomorrow, it has to be a distant memory. We’ll start a new streak tomorrow.” — Dusty Baker

“One of the biggest mistakes was walking the leadoff hitter. When a guy gets on base, it kind of throws you out of your rhythm. You’ve got to pitch out of the stretch and I didn’t make the pitches that I wanted to. It cost me a three-run home run and a loss.” — Sean Marshall

4/26 vs SF

Reds lineup vs Giants

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

*RHP Nick Masset got the results from the MRI exam he had on on his shoulder Wednesday. The results weren’t bad, but weren’t enough of what he hoped to hear. Masset was not cleared to throw.

“I got good news on the MRI. It’s starting to heal up in there,” Masset said Thursday. “The part of my capsule that was a little strained is healing but it’s not fully healed. For us to put this behind us and move forward, it has to heal all the way. It’s going to take time. I can’t give you a number unfortunately. I was hoping to be able to throw this week. It’s not going to happen.”

Masset will keep building arm strength, doing physical therapy, etc. He descibed the injury as a small strain in a capsule inside the right shoulder.

“We don’t want to have any setbacks in the future when I do start throwing,” he said. “Ultimately, I don’t want to hurt myself or hurt the team by coming back too early and going back on the DL. Say it was 80 percent [inflamed] before, now it’s 40 percent. We’re trying to get it to zero to where it’s fully strong. As long as I start feeling good, it’s when I will start throwing.”

*Before today’s game, Joey Votto will receive his 2011 Tip O’Neill Award from the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Votto has won the award the last two years but is sharing it this year with Brewers closer John Axford.

Comeback win for Reds

We’ve got a quick turnaround for Thursday, so we’ll keep it neat and quick after a nice 4-2 win for the Reds over the Giants. Cincinnati scored four in the seventh after Barry Zito took a 2-0 lead into the inning.

Three stars:

No. 3 star: Reds third base coach Mark Berry — made the call to send Ryan Ludwick home from third base on a shallow sacrifice fly by Wilson Valdez. Ludwick barely slid home with the tying run ahead of Nate Schierholtz’s throw before it go through the catch.

“Schierholtz can really throw,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You’ve got to take a chance right there. It was a good play by Mark Berry to send him. It was a heck of an at-bat by Valdez, and a heck of a slide by Ludwick. I don’t know if he was out or safe if [the catcher] held on to the ball but it was a close play.”

No. 2 star: Barry Zito, SF — 6 ip, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

No. 1 star: Scott Rolen — 1-for-3, HR. It was Rolen’s leadoff homer in the seventh against Zito that perked up the Reds’ bats and started the winning rally. Rolen, who had a two-run double in Tuesday’s win, is hoping for more frequency of hits. He jokingly told Jeff Piecoro on FS Ohio that it was a career saver to get the homer.

“That’s kind of been the joke around here. I get a hit about once every two weeks,” Rolen said. “It was timely. [Zack] Cozart and I sometimes joke ‘that’s a career saver right there.’ He was trying not to over blow it but that’s ok. That was a necessary result right there.”

News and notes:

*Bronson Arroyo reached the 10 years of MLB service time tonight and became a “10-5 player,” since he’s had at least the last five seasons with one club. He’s been in Cincinnati since 2006. That means he now has full no-trade privileges.

“Now there are three things you are sure of in life — death, taxes and I can’t be traded,” Arroyo said.

*Reds starters have issued only six walks in their 40 2/3 innings.

*The Reds bullpen has a 1.93 ERA over its last six games. Tonight was a big night for the group. After Arroyo departed following five innings and a 2-0 deficit, J.J. Hoover, Jose Arredondo, Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall all provided a scoreless inning each. It was Hoover’s MLB debut tonight.

Quotes:

“We’ve played good. We didn’t swing the bat on the beginning of that road trip. The bats are swinging it now and we’re tacking on those runs in the seventh and eighth innings. If you can do that often, and as much as we have the last couple of days, you can win a lot of ballgames.” — Sean Marshall

“That was a good one to win and a good one to come back. Zito had us eating out of his hand big time. He changed speeds and threw slow curveballs and changeups. You can see why he pitched so well in his last start.” — Dusty Baker

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