April 2012

4/25 vs. SF

Reds lineup vs. Giants

Stubbs 8
Valdez 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Rolen 5
Ludwick 7
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

*Lifetime vs. Giants starter Barry Zito, Wilson Valdez is 3-for-10 (.300). Brandon Phillips is 7-for-15 (.467). Drew Stubbs is 4-for-8 (.500)

*As for why SS Zack Cozart is off…

“It’s a day against a softer thrower and those young guys aren’t crazy about soft throwers – old guys too for that matter,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I believe in playing everybody. Valdez has had pretty good success against Zito. So has Stubbs.”

*RHP Nick Masset is awaiting the results of a new MRI taken Wednesday on his injured right shoulder. Masset said the test was to compare the shoulder’s progress compared to the original MRI he had in late March.

“Progress? Yeah, I feel good. I’m making some big steps towards being healthy,” Masset said. “I’ve been working really hard and doing a lot of therapy and everything they’ve asked me to. We’ll see what it looks in there and build off of that. Hopefully I have another attempt to throw towards the end of the week. We’ll see how it feels.”

*INF Miguel Cairo is making progress with the strained left hamstring that put him on the DL on April 17.

“I ran and hit the last two days and had no discomfort,” Cairo said. “It’s just one day at a time right now.”

First win for Latos

Believe it or not, the Reds 9-2 win over the Giants wasn’t just a first victory as a Red for Mat Latos. It was the team’s first win at night this season. The latter part was merely trivial.

The outcome of the game was not…especially as the bats superbly backed up a very nice outing by Latos. More on him in a few lines…

The Reds have won four of their last five games to improve their record to 8-9.

The Three Stars of the game….

No. 3 star: Jay Bruce — 2-for-3 with a walk. Bruce’s bases loaded double was lined to the right field wall for two runs in the six-run 7th inning that blew the game open. Following that 0-for-19 skid, Bruce now has a five-game hitting streak where he is 8-for-20.

No. 2 star: Brandon Phillips — 2-for-3, 3 RBIs. It was Phillips two-run homer off of Matt Cain with two outs in the bottom of the first inning that gave Cincinnati a 2-0 lead. Cain had taken a streak of 18 scoreless innings into the start.

“It was something slow,” Phillips said of the 2-2 home run pitch. “It felt good coming off of my bat, I’ll tell you that. It felt good getting things going for the guys, especially with Cain pitching. He doesn’t make that many mistakes, but he made a mistake with me and I took advantage of it.”

And the No. 1 star… Mat Latos — 7 ip, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 95 pitches/66 strikes. Latos did not give up an extra base hit and enjoyed a very strong performance for his first win as a Red. He had 48 pitches through five innings and showed something as he battled through a two-out bases loaded jam in the sixth. He used 37 pitches in the inning, including 19 in some hard-fought duels with Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey. There were some close calls in both plate appearances. Latos also threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of his 26 batters.

“I can be emotional sometimes,” Latos said. “I was excited to get out of that inning without giving up a run. It was a 2-0 ballgame at that point. That’s a big inning. I get out of that and everybody can exhale. I just wanted to let it all out. I was fired up to get that out.”

News and notes:

*During the big seventh inning after Bruce’s double, Scott Rolen scorched a line drive to left field for a two-run double. After some misses in the previous at-bats with RISP, it was sorely needed. The double was No. 504 of his career, tying him with Roberto Alomar for 50th all time.

*Drew Stubbs was 2-for-4 with a RBI single and a sac bunt in the third inning that drew a loud applause. Stubbs has been on a tear since moving to the second spot.

*There were bench warnings issued to both teams in the ninth inning. In the seventh, Giants reliever Dan Otero hit Joey Votto on the behind with a pitch. Votto gave Otero a brief stare as he politely picked up the ball and tossed it back to the pitcher. In the ninth, Sam LeCure threw a pitch at Buster Posey’s legs, bringing the warning. Posey got payback though with a two-run homer.

*Reds pitchers have a 2.80 ERA when Ryan Hanigan catches. The team is also 7-3 when he is behind the plate.

Quotes:

“Nobody really wants to go out there and get the crap kicked out of them. It’s definitely some weight lifted off of my shoulders. It’s a positive to take into my next outing.” — Mat Latos

“He was hitting all of spots and looked real good today. I was very proud of him.” — Brandon Phillips on Latos.

“His pitch count was relatively low tonight, especially the first five innings. Then he ran into trouble in the sixth, or else he could have still been pitching. He was throwing an outstanding breaking ball. He used his fastball a lot more, throwing 94-95. That’s the Latos that we know. It was good to get him that first win, big time.” — Dusty Baker

4/24 vs. SF

Reds lineup vs. Giants

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

*Giants starter Matt Cain is 4-3 with a 3.07 ERA in eight career games vs. CIN. He last faced them in 2010 and was 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA in two starts. On 6/8/10 at GABP, he threw a complete-game shutout with seven hits.

*Ryan Ludwick is 6-for-16 (.375) with 2 HRs and 5 RBIs lifetime vs. Cain. Scott Rolen is 3-for-7 (.429).

*Tonight is another installment of “Bark in the Park.” There will be 660 dogs in attendance.

Bray to DL, Hoover up

Roster move by the Reds Tuesday…

LHP Bill Bray went on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 19, because of a strained left groin. RHP J.J. Hoover was recalled from AAA Louisville. Hoover, who was acquired in the April 1 trade that sent 3B Juan Francisco to the Braves, had a 2.00 ERA with four saves and 17 strikeouts in eight games totaling nine innings.

Given No. 60, Hoover will be making his Major League debut when he appears.

For Bray — this is the same injury that set him back during Spring Training.

Three Stars, Getaway win again

For the third-straight series, the Reds were staring at a possible series sweep. Once again, they put it together for a getaway day win to get one game.

It might not seem like much, but it was huge to get a 6-3 win for a few reasons. If nothing else, they are 2-5 on the road trip and can still finish it with a .500 record if they can sweep the 3-10 Cubs. That didn’t seem possible a few days ago.

On to a Reds-centric Three Stars of the game….

No. 3 star: Drew Stubbs — 3-for-5 with his first homer of the season. Stubbs has a five-game hitting streak going. His seventh inning homer was a good response for the club because Matt Holliday hit a 3-run bomb in the sixth to tighten the game at 4-3. The last extra base hit he had was a triple vs. the Mets on 9/27/11, spanning 50 at-bats.

“I’m still not where I need to be or feel like where I want to be,” Stubbs said. “But a lot of times, it takes a few days like today to get you rolling. I think the home run was the best swing I’ve had this year. If I can start to get some of those, I can find my groove and hopefully take off.”

No. 2 star: Brandon Phillips — 2-for-5, 2 RBIs with his first homer that season that put the Reds on the scoreboard first in the three-run fourth inning. Phillips also had a RBI single in the fifth.

“It felt good to get my first RBI. My leg is feeling so much better,” said Phillips, playing with a sore hamstring. “I’ve been treating it every day. I feel like it’s getting stronger. I stayed back on my leg more. The more innings I played, the more I started feeling it. At the beginning of the game, I felt real good. I think the heat on my leg was wearing off … I got a lot of Icy Hot on my leg. I have to put the whole jar on me next time.”

And your No. 1 star: Bronson Arroyo — 8 ip, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 90 pitches/66 strikes. Arroyo was sensational and has a 2.91 ERA through three starts. As evidenced by his strike-to-ball ratio, he had it going all right today. His only blemish of the day was two singles and Holliday’s three-run homer in the sixth. After that, he retired his last eight batters. Dusty Baker did not consider letting Arroyo complete the game.

“The guys they had coming up were some dangerous dudes,” Baker said. “One of them was Holliday, who hit him out of the ballpark. That was enough.”

Arroyo got the rotation its first win since Johnny Cueto on April 5.

News and notes:

*Sean Marshall got his 2nd save in the ninth. After a leadoff single by Holliday, Marshall struck out the side using a lot of off-speed stuff.

*Before his homer against Arroyo, Holliday entered the at-bat in a 0-for-11 funk and had been 5-for-his-last 34.

*The homers by Phillips and Ryan Ludwick in the fourth marked the first time this season that the Reds homered twice in one inning.

*It was also the first time the Reds hit three homers in a game this season.

*The Reds took advantage of the fact that Adam Wainwright is still not 100 percent back from Tommy John surgery. Wainwright hasn’t pitched well yet and lasted five innings with 88 pitches today.

“Going into a day like today facing a guy like Wainwright, in the past you’d thinking ‘oh man, we’re down 0-2 facing a guy like Wainwright,'” left fielder Ryan Ludwick said. “But he’s coming back from an injury. His velocity is a little bit down. I feel like we were able to take advantage a little bit. In that scenario, you’ve got to because when he’s on and back 100 percent, he’s one of those guys that you’re lucky just to get one run.”

More quotes:

“It was big. Just as a staff for the five guys, we’ve been toeing the rubber and throwing the ball pretty decent and have not been able to pull out victories for ourselves or the team. It’s huge definitely. We’re still early in the season but you want  to get the ball rolling and that if you do what you’re supposed to do out there, you have a chance to win and the club is in support of that. Today, that all fell into place.” — Bronson Arroyo on the rotation getting a long-awaited victory.

“No. 1, he’s not sick. That’s huge. Last year the guy had mono early. That takes a lot out of you for a long period of time. The guy can pitch. Plus, Steve Carlton once lost 20 games and came back and won a whole bunch of games. Sometimes, there are bad years, for whatever reason. It seems like in modern baseball, there is no room or tolerance for a guy that has a down or bad year. Those things happen.” — Dusty Baker on Arroyo

“We’re going to Chicago. It’s going to be cold up there. We’re going to have to grind. They are playing about the same type of baseball we’ve been playing right now. Obviously, these guys we just played are the guys everybody is chasing. We have to take care of business. Hopefully we finish this road trip strong.” — Ryan Ludwick

***I will not be in Chicago. Catch you next time from Cincinnati when the Reds play the Giants.

4/19 at STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*Dusty Baker was asked about his concern over Brandon Phillips’ left hamstring, especially after he had to move slowly up the line while hitting into two double plays on Wednesday. There isn’t consideration at the moment to put Phillips on the DL.

“There’s always concern,” Baker said. “I don’t know anybody that hasn’t played with a hammy or a quad or something. You could put him on the DL and you still won’t know when [it will be all better]. That’s the thing about baseball, once you hurt something, it usually stays hurt a long time. You don’t have a week [between games] to recuperate. There’s concern. That’s why I told him to play smart with your stride. Have no sudden stops or starts. If you’re out on a double play, just be out so you can play again. I told him if they boo you for not hustling, don’t pay attention to them because you want to play another day.

“I’ve never been on the DL so I gave him instruction on how to play hurt. When he was out, everybody was asking when he would come back and how come he’s not back yet? Now everybody is asking if there is any fear of hurting him. You can’t have it both ways.”

*The Reds are 1-5 on the road trip and need a win today to avoid a sweep.

“It’s the third series in a row that’s a sweep avoider,” Baker said. “These keep you afloat. I told you this start was the toughest part of our schedule. The next toughest is when we got to New York and that long trip to the west coast before the break. We’re facing two of the best teams in the league right now – Washington and St. Louis.”

Latos roughed up

No extra innings this time. Just one rough night for Mat Latos. In 5 2/3 innings, Latos tied a career high with eight runs allowed during an 11-1 loss to the Cardinals. Here is the game story on MLB.com (complete version to post soon)

The overall line: 5 2/3 ip, 9 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 112 pitches/71 strikes. There were three runs allowed in the first and a two-run homer surrendered to Carlos Beltran in the second that made it a 5-0 game. Three more runs crossed in the sixth.

Amazingly, it lowered Latos’ career ERA at Busch Stadium from 25.31 to 18.82.

“They’re a good hitting ball club,” Latos said. “It wasn’t really about not hitting my spots. It was more not trusting my stuff…I was not trusting my stuff and not just rearing back and letting it go. I was trying to be too fine and too perfect. I said the hell with it, reared back and just threw and gave it everything I’ve got. I think the outcome was a little different.

“The positive out of it is I found out what I hadn’t been doing.”

Through three starts as a Red, Latos is 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA.

The Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Devin Mesoraco — 2-for-3, including beating out an RBI infield single to shortstop. Mesoraco also made a nice block at the plate to get Jaime Garcia from scoring on a Rafael Furcal double in the fourth.

No. 2 star: Rafael Furcal, STL — 4-for-5, two doubles, two RBIs.

No. 1 star: Jaime Garcia, STL — 7 ip, 7 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 89 pitches/52 strikes, induced four double plays and was 2-for-3 at the plate with a two-run triple in the sixth that finished Latos’ night.

News and notes:

*Jay Bruce snapped a 0-for-19 skid with a second-inning single during a 1-for-4 night.

*Brandon Phillips grounded into two of the Reds’ double plays and looked like he was really slow on his sore left hamstring.

*Scott Rolen’s double in the top of the ninth gave him 503 for his career, tying him for 51st all time with Andre Dawson.

*The Reds were 2-for-20 tonight with men on base.

Quote:

“They jumped on him early. Then he settled down in later innings and then they jumped him again. I didn’t want to go through our bullpen so early.” — Dusty Baker

4/18 at STL, Lineup shakeup

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*Considering how things have been going, a lineup shakeup is hardly surprising.

*According to the Reds notes: Phillips has hit in the cleanup spot more than any other spot in his career (397 games, .278, 59hr, 248 RBIs).

*Reds pitchers are 2-5 with a 2.88 ERA over the last seven games, including a 1.73 ERA for relievers.

Three stars, Extras, Extras

I can’t recall a Reds road trip quite like this one. Four extra inning games out of five with three of them ending in losses.

On Tuesday, it was a 2-1 defeat vs. the Cardinals that provided the latest sting.

“How many times can your heart get ripped out in a short period of time?” Dusty Baker asked.

The full game story should be up shortly…

The Three Stars of the game….

No. 3 star: Carlos Beltran, STL — 2-for-3, HR.

No. 2 star: Johnny Cueto — 7 ip, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 113 pitches/69 strikes. Cueto had runners in scoring position over the first four innings, but only gave up Beltran’s first-inning solo homer. St. Louis was 0-for-9 RISP with 14 LOB, in large part due to Cueto.

No. 1 star: Kyle Lohse, STL — 7 ip, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Threw 20 of 25 first pitch strikes. Lohse began by retiring his first six batters and 12 of his last 13 batters. He was lifted after only 90 pitches

News and notes:

*The rotation remains winless since Cueto on April 5.

*Jay Bruce was 0-for-4 and set a new career-long hitless streak at 0-for-19.

*The Reds got some bad fortune in the third inning when Drew Stubbs was called out going from first to third on Ryan Hanigan’s single. Replays showed that Stubbs clearly should have been safe.

*Baker chose to hit and run Devin Mesoraco with Brandon Phillips batting in the 10th. Phillips struck out and Mesoraco was nailed going to second base to end the inning.

“With Brandon up, if I don’t run Mesoraco and Brandon hits the ball on the ground – with his leg it’s a double play,” Baker said. “If you run him and he strikes out it’s a double play. You’re between a rock and a hard place.”

*Sam LeCure and Bill Bray pitched the 10th inning, with LeCure’s leadoff walk of David Freese setting up the final rally by the Cardinals. Baker chose to go with those pitchers and not use Aroldis Chapman or Sean Marshall.

“Everybody is getting paid. Everybody has a job to do,” Baker said. “Chapman went two innings two days ago. We didn’t want to go Chapman again.”

More quotes:

“I think when you’re on the road, it’s a little tougher. If you’re in extra innings and the home team wins, it’s always going to be a walk-off. It’s a little more dramatic. We’ve had some really close ballgames lately and unfortunately, we’ve been on the losing end of the stick. We’re competing. Offensively, we’re not having big innings. We’re not stringing stuff together right. Our pitching right now is doing an outstanding job.” — Ryan Ludwick

“We just have to stay right here and right now and not get too panicked about what’s going on.” — Jay Bruce

“We’re playing just good enough to lose right now. We just have to execute better because we practice and practice and preach and talk about things. It’s just not happening right now.” — Dusty Baker

4/17 at STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*In a second Reds transaction on Tuesday, RHP Jordan Smith was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Smith missed most of Spring Training with a sore right elbow. He had been rehabbing in extended spring training in Goodyear.

*The order for the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft was announced today. The Reds have the 14th pick in the first round.  They also have the 49th (Type B compensation for Ramon Hernandez), 57th (Type B compensation for Francisco Cordero), the  78th, 109th and 142nd picks. The Draft, which begins with first-round coverage on June 4 at 7 p.m. ET, will now be 40 rounds total, instead of 50.

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