May 2012

5/25 vs. COL

Reds lineup vs. Rockies

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

*With a LHP going for Colorado and his being 0-for-14 and 1-for-31 of late, it’s not stunning that Jay Bruce gets a break from the lineup tonight.

*From the Reds: The Reds’ game rained out at Great American Ball Park on May 1 vs the Cubs has been rescheduled for 1:10 p.m. on Saturday, August 18 as part of a day/night doubleheader…the originally scheduled game will begin at 7:10…fans with tickets dated May 1 can use that same ticket at the gate for admission to the 1:10 p.m. game with no exchange necessary…fans also can exchange their tickets dated May 1 for any other 2012 game, pending availability.

Mesoraco’s slam wins for Reds

The Reds are rolling with six-straight wins and a 25-19 record. A 6-3 victory over Atlanta made it a four-game series sweep.

Click here for my game story on MLB.com

The Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Todd Frazier — 2-for-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 RBI. Frazier’s RBI double in the fourth inning provided the game’s first run.

No. 2 star: Homer Bailey — 6 ip, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 98 pitches/61 strikes. Save for the Michael Bourn two-run homer with two outs in the fifth, Bailey was strong throughout. He now has a 3-3 record and 4.19 ERA with seven quality starts out of his nine games this season.

“I didn’t really feel good tonight,” Bailey said. “We just had to go out there and make do with what we had.”

No. 1 star: Devin Mesoraco — His grand slam inside the left field foul pole in the bottom of the sixth put the Reds ahead for good. It was the first grand slam of Mesoraco’s short career. He got a long ovation and obliged with a curtain call.

“It stayed true and really didn’t hook at all,” Mesoraco said of his homer. “It’s a pretty good sign for me as a hitter. That’s something I definitely look at. If you’re coming around the ball, those are the ones that are going to hook foul but that was a good swing.”

News and notes:

*The Reds slugged 10 home runs in the series and scored 14 of their 16 runs vs. ATL via the long ball. Yowza.

*Homers have compensated for a lack of RISP-hitting. During the winning streak, the Reds are 7-for-44 (.159) with runners in scoring position. Reverse yowza.

*Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, have gone a combined 5-for-40 (.125) during the win streak. They’re getting picked up by the others, especially younger guys like Mesoraco, Frazier, Cozart, etc.

“It’s been a lot of the young guys coming through, which is what you like,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It builds their confidence. They feel they belong here and worked hard to get here.“

*Starting pitching has been huge…the rotation is 5-0 during the streak with a 2.41 ERA. (11 runs/41 ip)

*Zack Cozart is 8-for-19 during a five-game hitting streak.

*I know fans might be inclined to complain about the RISP and it’s certainly not a good thing. But during winning streaks like this when all is working out in the end, sometimes it’s better not to look at how the sausage is made. The Reds just got through a 14-game stretch vs. plus .500 clubs with a 9-5 record. That is nothing to sneeze at, for sure.

5/24 vs. ATL

Reds lineup vs. Braves

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

*The current five-game winning streak matches the longest streak from 2011.

*The last time the Reds swept a four-game series from the Braves was April 13-16, 1990 at Fulton County Stadium. The last four-game home sweep of ATL came April 9-13, 1980 at Riverfront Stadium.

*MLB.com youth reporter Meggie Zahneis will serve as an honorary captain tonight. It’s part of a group ticket sales night for her school, Lakota West Freshman High School.

*The Reds will honor the retiring Chipper Jones tonight in a pre-game ceremony. Scott Rolen and GM Walt Jocketty will be taking part.

Frazier’s walk-off winner

The Reds have won five-straight and are five games over .500 (24-19) following a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Braves.

Click here for the game story on MLB.com

To the three stars…

No. 3 star: Tommy Hanson, ATL — 6 ip, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 93 pitches/61 strikes. Hanson gave up a questionable infield single by Zack Cozart with a throwing error that put Cozart on second base. Cozart would be stranded on third base after a two-out walk as Hanson went on to retire 12 in a row. A Ryan Hanigan two-out single in the fifth inning was the first legit hit of the game.

No. 2 star: Bronson Arroyo — 6.2 ip, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 107 pitches/66 strikes. Arroyo threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of 26 batters and now has five quality starts in nine games. He got a no-decision after being lifted in the seventh as Atlanta sent Chipper Jones up to pinch hit.

“We’ll take it. Bronson did his job,” Dusty Baker said. “At that time, I didn’t like the matchups they potentially had coming up there. Especially with Chipper Jones, who’s hitting like .400 off of Bronson. We probably wouldn’t have pitched to him, but that late in the game, you hate to put an extra base runner on base, especially with the bullpen they have out there. They can shut you down.”

No. 1 star: Todd Frazier — 1-for-4. The one hit was a biggie as Frazier hit the walk-off homer to right field for the win. It was the  first walk-off of his career. It reached the first row of seats in right field.

“When I was going to first, I knew I had a lot of it,” Frazier said. “At the same time, you’re hoping it’s a lot more than that. I didn’t think I had all of it. Watching it rounding first, it just got over. That’s fine with me.”

News and notes:

*People like to poo-poo the stat of quality start and I know it’s not the greatest barometer in the world. But it certainly beats the antonym and the Reds will certainly take what they’ve been getting. During the winning streak, the Reds have gotten five quality starts. The starters are 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA in this stretch.

*Brandon Phillips made an absolutely brilliant defensive play in the seventh. Phillips knocked down a grounder from Michael Bourn. After he bobbled in on the ground, he tossed for the inning-ending force play at 2B from his back. It was a big play as Atlanta was threatening with two outs. Click here to watch the play.

*The Reds aren’t hitting like gangbusters lately, but they are getting some clutch ones at the right time. Nine of their 10 runs scored in this series have come via the home run.

*Zack Cozart is on a four-game hitting streak and is 6-for-15 in those games.

*Jay Bruce is mired in a 1-for-27 skid.

5/23 vs. ATL

Reds lineup vs. Braves

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

*This will be the 300th Major League start of Bronson Arroyo’s career. It’s his 336th game overall. There are 23 active pitchers with at least 300 starts and six with at least 400. Jamie Moyer is the active leader with 637 starts.

Phillips goes yard, twice

A 4-3 victory over the Braves has the Reds a season-high 4 games over .500 at 23-19. The Cardinals won again over SD so CIN remains a 1/2 game out of first place.

Click here for the complete game story on MLB.com

Cincinnati has played 12-straight games against clubs with winning records (WAS, ATL, NYM, NYY, ATL) and are 7-5 in the stretch so far. Especially since it started tough vs. the Nationals, the Reds have acquitted themselves well during the past week-plus.

Dusty Baker postgame video:

The three stars of the game:

No. 3 star: Michael Bourn, ATL — 3-for-4, including the first 2 HR game of his career. Bourn’s first long ball snapped a 0-for-11 and 1-for-17 slump.

No. 2 star: Mat Latos — 7 ip, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 116 pitches/79 strikes.  Latos matched his season high with seven innings pitched (last done April 24 vs SF) and had one of best efforts of the season. Following the leadoff homer by Bourn in the first, Latos retired eight in a row and nine of the next 10.  He retired 11 of his last 12 as well.

“It’s about time. I felt real good, body-wise, mechanics-wise, pitches,” Latos said.

No. 1 star: Brandon Phillips — 2-for-4, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs — Phillips doubled his season home run total (now 4) with his first homers since April 24. Phillips credited both his hitting coach Brook Jacoby and Braves 3B Chipper Jones with getting his homer swing back. Phillips had gone 96 ABs without a long ball.

“I came in early today,” said Phillips, who played through a sore left hamstring for much of April and early May. “I sat down with Jacoby and just told him ‘I’m starting to feel my legs.’ He said ‘come look at this video.’ I looked at my video from last year and this year. I was more upright than I was last year. I had to change a little bit because I was playing with my hamstring earlier so I stood up a little bit so I couldn’t feel it. He said ‘just squat down lower in your stance and let’s see what happens.’ Next you thing you know my first at-bat I hit a home run. It really helped me out a lot.

“I talked to Chipper before the game too. He was telling me I have good hands and I should go out there and start using them. Me and Chipper are cool. He said that to me and I can’t believe I started hitting some home runs today. I looked down at him in the dugout and he was busting out laughing. It was pretty funny.”

News and notes:

*Aroldis Chapman, who notched save No. 2 in the ninth, hasn’t allowed an earned run since 9/10/11 at Colorado. He also has one strikeout in each of last 24 appearances going back to that game as well.

*Zack Cozart is out of his funk and 4-for-11 with two homers in his last three games.

Francisco irks his manager

Ex-Reds 3B Juan Francisco took Mike Leake deep for a home run in Monday’s 4-1 Cincinnati win over the Braves. Francisco admired his long ball a little too much, for Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez’s taste. The Atlanta skipper also wasn’t fond of how Francisco flipped his bat.

Courtesy of my colleague Kevin Goheen, who is covering the Braves this week for MLB.com:

“I spoke to the young man about that the following inning and told him we try not to do that around here,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t like it here. The Braves have been known as a classy organization and I don’t encourage that. Somebody could get hurt; one of his teammates or even himself. Hopefully he’ll get the message.”

Click here for video of Francisco’s homer.

“It kind of [ticked] me off that it was him of all people,” said Leake on Monday. “But it was nice to get a little run going where I was able to throw from the windup.”

Leake retired 14 in a row after the homer.

After a poor showing in Spring Training where he came in overweight and fighting a calf injury he did not rehab properly, Francisco was traded from the Reds to Atlanta on April 1 for RHP J.J. Hoover.

5/22 vs ATL

Reds lineup vs. Braves

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

*At 22-19, the Reds are three games over .500 for the first time this season. Since STL won last night, they remain a 1/2 game out of first place.

*Caleb Lloyd, the Thomas More College student that caught two home run balls has extended his fame to a second day. Lloyd was invited to be an honorary captain by the Reds and will be on the field pregame for the lineup card exchange at home plate.

Leake does it all for first win

The Three Stars after a 4-1 Reds victory over the Braves gave them three in a row and six of nine.

No. 3 star: Zack Cozart — 2-for-4, 1 HR. Cozart needed that after a 2-for-29 skid during the road trip. He went deep in the top of the fourth inning with two outs.

“The road trip wasn’t too kind to me,” Cozart said.

No. 2 star: Drew Stubbs — 2-for-3, 2 HRs. Stubbs hit the game’s first long ball and was the third of the Reds to go back-to-back-to-back in the fourth.

“Whenever you see the guys in front of you hit a homer, it kind of ramps you up a little bit to do it also,” Stubbs said. “I don’t know why that was but we were able to put three good swings in a row.”

No. 1 star: Mike Leake — 8 ip, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 98 pitches/68 strikes, 1-for-3 w/ HR. Leake, who got his first victory, now has two very good back-to-back starts following a lousy first six when he was 0-5 with a 7.11 ERA. At one point, he retired 14 in a row.

“I was just attacking, going after hitters and not worrying about who is in the box,” Leake said. “It’s nice to have a little attitude these last couple of outings.”

*The homer was his first in the big leagues, but Leake can handle a bat. His 31 hits in the past three seasons are tied for 2nd most in the Majors.

Click here for the complete game story

News and notes

*Aroldis Chapman wasn’t available tonight but the job got done — with a little drama. Jose Arredondo retired his first two batters but then issued back-to-back two out walks. The former closer, Sean Marshall, had to come in and retired final batter Jason Heyward to get his eighth save.

*The same kid — 20-year-old Caleb Lloyd caught both the Leake and Cozart home runs. Click here to read his story. Maybe he could get an honorary star too?

*The last time Cincinnati hit three-straight homers was 9/10/11 at Colorado.

5/21 vs. ATL

Reds lineup vs Braves

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

*The Reds enter tonight a 1/2 game out of first place, behind STL in the NL Central. The Cardinals coming off being swept at LA, return home for a game tonight vs. the Padres.

*3B Juan Francisco, the ex-Red, is in Atlanta’s starting lineup tonight and not Chipper Jones.

*Jones, who is retiring at season’s end will be honored before Thursday’s game. The Reds are using commemorative bases to honor Jones’ career.

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