April 2012

4/11 vs. STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*RHP Ryan Madson is scheduled to have Tommy John surgery later today on his torn elbow ligament. Madson will miss the entire 2012 season.

*For the second-straight game, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was not in the lineup because of a sore left hamstring. Phillips wasn’t expected to play, especially with the weather being cold of late. Baker was hopeful, but non committal about whether Phillips could play in the next series at Washington.

“He wants to be ready, but he’s not,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You have to do a lot of stuff at second base, if you play it the way he plays it. You just don’t want him to feel obligated [to play] because he just signed a contract. That’s a separate issue.”

*Baker expected that Joey Votto would find his way out of an early season slow start. Votto enters today batting .188 (3-for-16) with one homer and six strikeouts. The manager was asked if Votto was being pitched differently this year.

“They pitched him differently last year than the year before,” Baker said. “You get an MVP behind your name, they’re going to pitch you differently. They’ll spend more time on you at meetings. They will spend more time on you in the video room. Sometimes they run from him and sometimes, they run at him.

“It’s just a matter of combating it. He’ll figure it out. We certainly need him.”

Three stars, Cold bats

Two runs, seven hits….that is all the Reds have mustered through the first two games of their first showdown with the Cardinals. After one run last night, the other run came on a Joey Votto sac fly in a 3-1 loss.

My three stars of the night…

No. 3 star: Mike Leake — 6 ip, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR. Leake was kicking himself for three mistakes (homers by Beltran, Freese and a triple by Berkman) but he had a good outing. At one point, he retired 12 of 14 and also made a nice fielding play to turn a double play to end the top of the 2nd.

No. 2 star: David Freese, STL — 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBIs, 1 run scored. He’s off to a .444 start this season.

The No. 1 star: Kyle Lohse, STL — 6 ip, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB (int), 2 K.  He firmly kept the Reds in check and had plenty to do with keeping the bats quiet for a second-straight night.

News and notes:

*With the bases loaded in top 1, Scott Rolen turned a very nice double play to end the inning. He fielded the ball as he stepped on third base and fired a one hop throw to Joey Votto, who made the scoop.

*In the second, the Reds blew a chance after Jay Bruce led off with a double. Both Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs could not advance Bruce as they grounded out to third base. Heisey did try to bunt Bruce over on his first pitch but fouled it off.

“We attempted to move him and didn’t get him over,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s what we practice all the time. Get them over and get them in. We just have to do the little things, especially when you’re struggling to score runs. You have to scratch, claw and scrape any way you can to get that run in. Then you start rolling from there.”

*After his eighth-inning single,  Cardinals 1B Lance Berkman left the game with tightness in his left calf.

*For the story on Brandon Phillips upon his signing a six-year, $72.5 million contract, click here.

*And for reactions from teammates about the Phillips extension, click here.

*In tonight’s notebook, seemingly sticking to a Phillips theme,  updating his injury, plus Willie Harris and a Nick Masset update. Click here.

Quotes:

“I think Westbrook was a little more sinker heavy and letting his fastball work. And he made us beat the ball in the ground. Lohse was a little more of a mix guy, with a lot of sliders and changeups mixed to the lefties. They both had quality games where they kept the ball out of the middle of the plate, kept it down and kept us off-balance.” — Drew Stubbs.

“It might not be said but we’re a defensive team. Those plays are kind of expected to be honest with you with this team. It’s very nice to be able to have a defense play behind you like that.” — Mike Leake on the plays that ended the first and second innings.

4/10 vs. STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*Not surprisingly, the freshly re-signed Brandon Phillips is not in the lineup after the left hamstring cramp he came down with on Monday night.

Phillips signs 6-yr, $72.5M deal

UPDATE — The Reds announced the signing. A press conference is scheduled for 4 pm.

 

According to MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden, and a few others, the Reds and 2b Brandon Phillips have agreed Tuesday to terms on a six-year, $72.5 million contract. The club has not confirmed any signing with Phillips.

“Just got to say, THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!!!! Looks like y’all might have to deal w/ me a little bit longer,” Phillips posted on his Twitter feed early Tuesday afternoon.

The 30-year-old Phillips, has been playing out the $12.5 million option year on his contract and could have become a free agent after this season. Negotiations on had stalled since talks about a new contract began in September.

Of course, the Reds signed Joey Votto to a 10-year, $225 million deal last week. The club felt then that Phillips would still get a deal to stay in Cincinnati, and now it appears he has, or is very close.

Three stars, All Cardinals edition

It was a rather flat night for the Reds during a 7-1 loss to the Cardinals in Monday’s series opener. Not much to like about this game from the Reds point of view.

Homer Bailey found out there is no cruising through the St. Louis lineup, even without Albert Pujols. After two quick outs in the first inning, Bailey gave up three home runs for four runs and a quick 4-0 deficit. He settled down after the  first, but it proved to be already too late.

Especially when the Reds lineup totaled only three singles on the night.

On to tonight’s “Three Stars,” as selected by yours truly.

No. 3 star: David Freese, STL — 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBIs. Freese took a 0-1 pitch the other way for a two-run homer against Bailey for the second of three Cardinals homers in the top of the first.

No. 2 star: Jake Westbrook, STL — 7 ip, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 2 K. 88 pitches/55 strikes. Westbrook survived issuing four walks through the first two innings and kept the Reds hitless and scoreless for 5 2/3 innings. He also got a big strikeout on Joey Votto in the fifth to leave a runner stranded on second base.

And the No. 1 star: Yadier Molina, STL — 2-for-3, HR, 3 RBIs. He had the third long ball of the first inning against Bailey and it was launched to straightaway center field. Molina’s two-run double to left field against Jose Arredondo in the eighth put this game well out of reach.

News and notes:

*Brandon Phillips exited Monday’s game vs. the Cardinals before the sixth inning with a cramp in his left hamstring. Phillips legged around from first base to score on Westbrook’s error throw to first base following Zack Cozart’s comebacker to the mound. He was removed as a precaution.

“I don’t think it’s too serious, but he probably won’t play tomorrow because you’ve got to get him well,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s what you’re always guarded against, especially playing your first game in the kind of chilly air out there. It’s a thing you try to avoid. We’ve been good on leg injuries from Spring Training until now, except for Billy Bray’s groin. Other than that, we’ve had none. We just have to take caution and hope it won’t be too long.”

*The last Reds pitcher before Bailey to give up three homers in one inning was Justin Lehr against the Astros on Sept. 16, 2009.

*Bill Bray made his season debut with 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Bailey. Bray walked one and struck out three.

Quotes:

“I just got a little passive with two outs. I didn’t stay aggressive. Once you open that can, it’s kind of hard to shut sometimes. The wind blowing out like that, small park – it’s going to happen. After the first, I just tried to get as deep into the game as I could.” — Homer Bailey

“He got two quick outs and then made a couple of pitches that were improperly located. He had one down the middle to Holliday and then a walk and then one down the middle to Freese. And one down the middle to Yadier. After that, he settled down. But it was a little too late at that time.” — Dusty Baker about Bailey.

 

Baker happy for Matheny

Reds manager Dusty Baker knows he’ll have a different opposing skipper on the other side of the field tonight vs. the Cardinals. But it’s someone he’s known and is friends with — Mike Matheny, who replaced the retired Tony LaRussa.

“I’m glad for Matheny that he got the job. He’s a good guy,” Baker said on Monday.

The thought of Matheny had Baker recalling a funny story from last season.

“I was talking to Matheny [on the phone] when I got stopped by the police last year in St. Louis,” Baker said. “I made an illegal left turn when I was with [clubhouse manager] Rick Stowe. It was like a comedy. Rick was scared to death. He thought he was on an episode of “Cops.” He had his hands on the dashboard.”

Worried about being late to the ballpark that day, Baker made a second mistake of getting out of the car while the officers were running his plates. But everything turned out OK. And once again, it proved Baker has a friend in just about every city and every walk of life.

“They let me off with a warning,” Baker said. “After he saw my license and stuff, he knows I wasn’t out-running him. [The officer] happened to be a guy I was nice to when he was bartending in Sacramento when I was out.”

Other items:

*The Reds and Cardinals meetings usually has layers of intrigue that come with them, especially since both teams expect to contend all season for the NL Central flag.

“I feel like the Cardinals are the best team in the division because they won it all last year,” said Brandon Phillips, who had one very infamous scrape against St. Louis in 2010. “They’re playing good baseball like they always do. I feel they’re the team to beat. I feel we’re going to give many teams a run for their money.

“Any time you play the Cardinals, you always have a chip on your shoulder. You always want to beat those guys and you always want to beat the best.”

*Tuesday would be Johnny Cueto’s normal day to start since he pitched on Thursday. Mike Leake is getting the ball, however, as Cueto will work on a fifth day of rest. There was no thought of skipping Leake.

“You have to pitch Leake some time,” Baker said. “You don’t want Leake to go two weeks without pitching. It’s a long ways and the extra day won’t hurt Johnny either.”

*After Spring Training, the Reds released LHP Clay Zavada. He was one of the later cuts in camp.

*SS Paul Janish, currently at Triple-A Louisville, was named the International League’s player of the week. Janish hit .429 (6-for-14) and led the league with two home runs (both on Opening Day), 14 total bases, and a 1.000 slugging percentage.

4/9 vs. STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

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

*Homer Bailey is 2-5 with a 5.64 ERA lifetime vs. STL. Matt Holliday is 5-for-16 (.400) with one homer and three RBIs. Rafael Furcal is batting .417 (5-for-12).

*According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jay Bruce is the first player in Reds history to have three home runs through the team’s first three games.

*From MLB Network: The St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds game on Wednesday, April 11 at 12:30 p.m. ET will be available live on MLB Network in the Cincinnati television territory. MLB Network will televise Fox Sports Midwest’s feed of the game.

Three stars, Nice series win

Sunday’s Three Stars of the game after a Reds 6-5 victory over the Marlins

No. 3 star: Carlos Zambrano, MIA. 6 ip, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. Zambrano, pitching for the first time since 8/12/11 for the Cubs when he made a tumultuous exit from the game, recovered well after a 3-0 Reds first inning lead. He retired 16 of 17 until Jay Bruce hit a two-out homer in the sixth.

No. 2 star: Aroldis Chapman 2 ip, 1 H, 3 K. Strong performance for Chapman in the relief role for the victory. He held Miami in check to setup the comeback. Chapman hit 100 mph on four occasions, including three times as he struck out Emilio Bonifacio to end the top of the ninth with a man on third base.

And the No. 1 star of the game: Jay Bruce, 2-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBIs. Bruce has three homers for the series. His second long ball off of Heath Bell tied the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth and gave the Reds new life in a rally that culminated in Scott Rolen’s PH infield single. Bruce also has 12 career multi-homer games.

News and notes:

*Rolen is 8-for-18 lifetime (.444) as a pinch-hitter, with 10 RBIs. But he’s not a fan of the role, per se.

“It’s certainly not easy,” Rolen said. “It’s not something you’re used to. Everybody says ‘cold.’ But as soon as you realize you’re in the game, your blood pressure goes through the roof. You’re not really cold. You get circulation in a hurry. It’s like a starting pitcher going to the bullpen. You have time to prepare. You’re nerves go up and down and such. It’s not easy on the guys that do it, like Cairo and everybody. They’re great at it. I’m not sure that’s my job.”

*Brandon Phillips notched hits in his first two-at-bats on Sunday vs. the Marlins. The second hit, a rolling single up the middle in the bottom of the second inning, gave Phillips his 1,000th hit as a member of the Reds. He’s the 28th player in club history to reach 1,000 hits.

“I didn’t know what they were clapping for, honestly,” Phillips said. “I really knew nothing about it. I’m not the type of person that worries about career stats and stuff like that. I try to perform for my team and my family. But it was beautiful for the fans to show their love to me. It meant a lot.”

*Entering the ninth inning, Bell’s 0.90 career ERA vs. the Reds was his lowest against any team he has faced at least 15 times.

*Take away the seventh, and I thought Bronson Arroyo looked very good today (6.1 ip, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HB) Arroyo threw only 82 pitches (64 for strikes) and had lots of good movement. Miami picked away and benefited from a throwing error by Ryan Hanigan that set up a sac fly by Logan Morrison for an unearned run in the sixth. In the seventh, a leadoff HBP to Greg Dobbs would begin a critical Marlins rally.

Quotes:

“Physically, I felt great. If I could feel like that every time out, I’d be thrilled with the season. I felt strong.” — Bronson Arroyo

“He’s one of the best closers in the game. I got a pitch I could handle and put a good swing on it.” — Jay Bruce on his homer against Heath Bell

“I came in here, they gave me a job to get the final three outs, and I didn’t do it. I pitched yesterday, but it wasn’t a save. I went out there and I didn’t do my job. My job is to save the game, and I didn’t do it one bit. I’m definitely going to strive to be better and not let that happen again. The whole team went out there, and we used just about everybody and they played one heck of a game. Zambrano pitched one heck of a game. For me to go out there and just blow it in one inning is really stupid. They don’t deserve anything like that. I need to be more accountable and I need to be better than that.” — Heath Bell

Sunday vs. Marlins

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

 

*Ludwick gets a start because of the matchup vs. Miami’s Carlos Zambrano. Ludwick is batting .375 (9-for-24) with two home runs and five RBIs.

“Ludwick has hit Zambrano better than anybody here,” manager Dusty Baker said.

*Had Juan Francisco made the team in camp, these were the types of games he would have started for the Reds — day after night when Scott Rolen gets a rest. The Reds still like their choices however, especially with Miguel Cairo. The 37-year-old Cairo filled in very capably at third base last season when both Rolen and Francisco were hurt.

“He did a great job for us,” Baker said. “I’ve got Cairo. I’ve got Willie Harris and I’ve also got Wilson Valdez too. I’ve got some options. A lot of it depends on who I think needs at-bats, who’s pitching and what kind of defense I need.

“Cairo has played third a lot behind Bronson [Arroyo]. The left side of the infield gets a lot of action. Cairo has a pretty good idea of what he’s going to throw in certain counts, certain situations and he’s played more there than anybody.”

Three stars, Phillips update

The Reds certainly opened the season in the way any team would hope — with an all-around solid game and a 4-0 win over the Marlins on Thursday.

Although baseball is, and always will be, my first love…I’m also a big hockey fan. One thing I like about NHL games is the awarding of the “three stars of the game” mentions after the final horn blows. It doesn’t always have to be members of the Reds, but it is today.

So let’s give “Sheldon’s Three Stars” a crack:

No. 3 star: Zack Cozart, the first Reds rookie shortstop to start on Opening Day since Frank Duffy in 1971 was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored.

No. 2 star: Jay Bruce. He was 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Bruce had a sac fly in the first inning and a big blast of a homer off of the center field batter’s eye in the seventh. The solo homer was estimated at 442 feet.

No. 1 star: Johnny Cueto: 7 ip, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 95 pitches. He looked like the ace he is today.

News and notes:

*On the heels of signing Joey Votto to a mammoth contract, the Reds appear close to locking up second baseman Brandon Phillips.

“It’s not done,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said after the game. “I feel good about it. Hopefully in the next week or so we will get it done.”

*Fans have asked about Drew Stubbs and bunting all winter. Perhaps fittingly, Stubbs pushed an absolutely perfect bunt past the mound towards second base for an easy single to leadoff the second inning.

“It’s just an added weapon to the arsenal and I thought today was a great time to use it,” Stubbs said.

*Scott Rolen had an error fielding Emilio Bonifacio’s first inning bunt, but made up for it with a spectacular defensive play in the top of the second. Rolen stopped Gaby Sanchez chopped grounder near the line, fired a leaping and across the body threw to first base, where Joey Votto stretched and scooped the one-hop throw for the out.

*The last time the Reds shut out their opponent on Opening Day was April 9, 1980 vs. ATL.

*The crowd of 42,956 fans was the regular season record at GABP.

Quotes:

“Johnny is a No. 1 guy and supposed to do that. Not to put added pressure on him, that’s what he does. He’s our day one guy, the guy that will matchup usually against other teams’ no. 1. I faced him from the opposing side and he’s got great stuff. “ — Ryan Ludwick on Cueto

“My big goal today, and all year, was just slow down and take what they give me and not try to do too much. From time to time in my career, my emotions have gotten the best of me. I think that’s going to be big key to my success.” — Jay Bruce

“I could have gone another inning. They did not give me the opportunity to do it. I only had 95 pitches. I wanted the ball. I felt strong, like I could have kept going.” — Johnny Cueto

“The young man has matured big time before our eyes. He doesn’t fight Johnny Cueto anymore. Before his own worst enemy was probably himself. I feel he’s gotten past the point and matured to the pitcher he is. Sky’s the limit as long as he stays healthy.” — Dusty Baker

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