May 2012

Votto has huge Sunday

A lost Mother’s Day dinner was probably worth it for many. Joey Votto had the most memorable of games as his three home run afternoon included a grand slam for the walk off 9-6 victory over the Nationals.

Click here for the full game story.

To the Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Chris Heisey. Guys that go 0-for-4 don’t usually get a star but Heisey had a huge plate appearance in the ninth inning against Henry Rodriguez. Down 0-2 with two outs in the ninth, Heisey took four-straight pitches for ball four that loaded the bases for Votto.

No. 2 star: I will go with the fans that sat out in the rain all day. The rain delay was 3 hours, 36 minutes and the game itself was 3 hours, 45 minutes. The announced crowd was 28,361 fans, but it was nowhere near that number by the ninth. Normally that would merit a No. 1 star but I’d be nuts in this case.

No. 1 star: Joey Votto. Who else? He was 4-for-5 with three homers, six RBIs and four runs scored. Elias Sports Bureau says that Votto is the first player in MLB history with 3 homers and walkoff grand slam in same game. He didn’t have a homer before today since April 30.

“Everybody is talking about how he is just treading water and then all of a sudden he has a game like today,” Drew Stubbs said. “Not only did he hit three homers, he was not far from having five. Hopefully he’s back to the same Joey that we’re used to.”

Votto was in a 2-2 count and had fouled off pitches of 97 mph and 99 mph from Rodriguez.

“Usually in those situations, I try my best to put the ball in play and make something happen,” Votto said. “I took a couple of good swings, missed them and fouled them back. That last one, I tried to make a choice and shorten up. The ball ended up carrying out of the ballpark, which is not that typical when you’re shortening up and trying to put the ball in play.”

News and notes:

*The Reds are 17-16 for the season and can bid the Nationals season series goodbye at 2-5.

*During his eight-game hitting streak, Votto is 12-for-28 (.428)

*The Reds are 10-1 on getaway days and 6-0 on Sundays.

*The last walkoff grand slam for the Reds was by Adam Dunn vs. Cleveland’s Bob Wickman on 6/30/06.

*Mike Costanzo made his MLB debut and hit a sacrifice fly for an RBI in the bottom of the fifth as a pinch-hitter.

Quotes:

“That’s as good of a day as you’ll see outside of Josh Hamilton over there in Texas. That’s a game that will hopefully get us going. We’d like to see Joey hot like that. That was big. You’ve just got to believe.” — Dusty Baker on Votto

“You have the long delay and just grind through the rain playing from behind. You chip away a little bit and end it in that fashion. It’s very gratifying to be able to do that.” — Drew Stubbs

“I didn’t feel super good today. My command was little off on a few pitches and it pigeon holed me to throw a lot of breaking balls. I was just working hard. They were fouling a lot of pitches off. I had guys on base multiple innings. I just couldn’t have a quick inning.” — Bronson Arroyo

“We’re going to try and get every win we can. We’re a good team. I don’t think we’re a .500 team. I think we’re better than that. These are the types of wins good teams get. This is not a special win. If you want to be a good team, you have to get these types of wins.” — Joey Votto

Killing time in a rain delay

It’s after 3 p.m. and the rain delay for the Reds-Nationals finale is at the two-hour mark. The next update we’re getting is at 4 p.m. ET.

Feel free to read today’s notebook, featuring new arrival 3B Mike Costanzo. He’s had an eight-year journey to reach the Majors at 28.

Also in that notebook, Dusty Baker pointed out he’d like his hitters to be more aggressive. He didn’t concede anything to the quality pitching displayed by the Nationals.

Baker believes that the strikeouts weren’t from being too aggressive, but not aggressive enough on quality pitches. Too often, in the manager’s mind, the pitcher has had strike one.

“You want to attack that fastball,” Baker said. “That’s what we have to start doing as a unit. Everybody is asking, ‘How come this guy is swinging at the first pitch sometimes, or do you want him to take a pitch?’ We’re taking fastballs and they’re getting ahead of us.

“I don’t know where people get that from, [asking], ‘Why do you swing at the first pitch?’ Especially with runners in scoring position, they’re going to get ahead of you. There are only one of two things they can do to you, they either run at you and get ahead, or run from you and hope you chase them. If you don’t, then they have to run at you.”

Not included in the notebook was Baker’s feelings on going to New York later this week for a rare trip where they face the Mets and Yankees in back-to-back series.

“I’ve never done that,” Baker said. “You don’t sleep in New York, even when you just go to your room.  There is noise.  Doors slamming all day and night.  People coming in at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning.  Nobody in the town sleeps.  You’ve got sirens and horns.  You don’t sleep.  The second thing is, when you leave New York, you think somebody broke in your room and stole some money because you are always coming up light.  It’s true, I’m on the 52nd floor checking my windows.  I remember the first time I went there, I had a burger, fries and a drink and it was $20…I ate it slower.  I enjoyed every bite.”

5/13 vs. WAS

Happy Mothers Day!

Reds lineup vs Nationals

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

Another 1-run loss to Nats

The Reds six series unbeaten streak is over after back-to-back losses to the Nationals. Saturday was a 2-1 defeat before a sold out crowd of 42,294 fans.

The Three Stars of the game…

No. 3: Aroldis Chapman — 2 ip, 1 H, 4 K. The most fun moment of the night might have been the first duel between Chapman and Bryce Harper in the top of the eighth. Harper struck out on three pitches. He fouled off pitches of 99 mph and 87 mph before whiffing on 100 mph heat. Chapman has not allowed run in his last 23 2/3 innings dating back to 9/10/11 at Colorado.

No. 2: Danny Espinosa, WAS — 2-for-3 with one homer. For the second time in two nights, the .191 hitter coming in hit a homer. Tonight, it was a first-pitch shot to right field leading off the sixth against Jose Arredondo.

“You hate to lose a ballgame on two solo home runs. It was bottom of the order guys that beat us,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said

No. 1 star: Jordan Zimmermann, WAS — 7 ip, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K.

“He was spotting that fastball,” Baker said. “You saw his pitch count was 65 when Latos was almost over 100 at the time. He has excellent command of his fastball, especially away, and he’ll follow it with a breaking ball in the same location. It looks like the same pitch. He didn’t make many mistakes tonight and got strikeouts when he needed them.”

News and notes:

*Cincinnati is 1-5 vs. Washington this season with three one-run losses.

*Joey Votto has a season-high seven-game hitting streak. He’s 8-for-23 (.347) during it.

*Mat Latos’ line: 5 ip, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 BB (tied career high), 4 K. Latos said he was essentially a one-pitch pitcher tonight as his breaking ball was not there. He was strong in the first three innings but his pitch count spiked in the fourth and fifth innings as he worked out of two bases loaded jams. He had 31 pitches in the fourth and 34 in the fifth.

Quotes:

“I was in a rhythm early and somehow I lost it.  I felt like it wasn’t a bad outing considering I literally had one pitch I threw.  I threw 82 fastballs in 109 pitches so it wasn’t too bad for only having one pitch.” — Mat Latos

“To tell you the truth, I would rather get blown out then lose by one run.  It sucks that we lost today.  It just didn’t go our way.  Both pitchers pitched good and we just didn’t come through.  I didn’t come through either.  We just didn’t get it done.” — Brandon Phillips

“Their pitchers are dealing. They’ve dealt on us most of the year and the rest of the league.” — Dusty Baker on the Nationals

 

Rolen to DL, Costanzo up

The Reds announced that 3B Scott Rolen went on the 15-day DL with a strained left shoulder. Cincinnati purchased the contract of 3B Mike Costanzo from Triple-A Louisville.

In a combined 34 games with Louisville and Double-A Pensacola, Costanzo batted .303 with six homers and 24 RBIs. When he appears for the Reds, it will be his big league debut. The 28-year-old was a second-round pick of the Phillies in 2005.

Costanzo will wear No. 25 for the Reds. He will give the Reds a left-handed bat off of the bench. They had none since Willie Harris was sent down.

UPDATED: Here is some quotes from Rolen’s media session at 6:45 after the news was revealed.

“I was struggling.  I called in today at about noon and said that this isn’t working.  I’m hurting, I’m in pain.  I’m not healthy right now and as much as I want to help the team, I am hurting the team.”

“I’m not taking competitive at-bats and they’re actually going the wrong way.  I was fighting to stay on the field and the one thing I talked about all spring–all the way through–was I wanted to play the season.  I didn’t want any DL time.  I didn’t want to talk about the pink elephant in the room and here we’re kind of talking about it.  I’m not healthy right now.  I’m going to go on the DL for 15 days. “

“We’re going to address it and take some time off.  Try to do a lot of stretching, try to get a lot more mobility and try to get the inflammation out of there that is causing the problems.”

“I don’t see this as a very long term thing.  Like I said, it’s not a surgical procedure where we’re going down that road again.  I’ve had a tough time with it and I’m in a bad spot right now with it.  It’s inflammed, fatigued and it needs to settle down and be rested. I’m not sure if there will be injections or what we’ll do with cortizone to try to calm the thing down but we’re going to treat it as well as we can.”

Click here for the video of Rolen interview

Rolen to have shoulder checked

Reds 3B Scott Rolen has a 6 p.m. ET appointment with team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek to have his left shoulder examined. This is the same shoulder that needed surgery multiple times over the years, including last season when he missed most of the second half.

It’s no secret that Rolen has been stuggling. He batting .174 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 29 games.

“It’s a tough question because it’s an easy excuse,” Rolen told MLB.com, regarding his shoulder. “I’m responsible for my at-bats when I go out on the field. I have not contributed. I have not been productive in any capacity.

“I’m not helping anybody right now. I’m not helping the ballclub right now. I’m probably hurting the ballclub right now with the way I’ve been swinging the bat and have been playing.”

Rolen called head trainer Paul Lessard earlier today to let him know his shoulder wasn’t right and then spoke with manager Dusty Baker when he got to the ballpark.

Todd Frazier got the start at third base for the Reds on Saturday vs. the Nationals.

More later…

5/12 vs. WAS

Reds lineup vs. Nationals

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

*Mat Latos has a chance to win a third-straight decision and he’s coming off of his best start of the season — with six scoreless innings and 11 strikesouts at Pittsburgh. He gave up two runs and five hits over five innings on April 12 at Washington.

*Bryce Harper, who needed 10 stitches to repair a self-inflicted gash on his head while going 0-for-5 last night, is in the Nationals’ lineup today.

*As of today’s game notes, Mike Leake remains scheduled to start vs. the Mets on Wednesday.

*The first 25,000 fans at the game tonight will receive a Joey Votto Gold Glove bobblehead.

Leake: ‘Not getting job done’

I’m dispensing with the three stars tonight. The bigger issue was the poor performance by Mike Leake in a 7-3 Reds loss to the Nationals.

Leake’s line: 3 ip (career-low), 7 H, 6 ER (season high), 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR

The homers came from two weak-hitting lefties — Roger Bernadina, who came in batting .189 and Danny Espinosa, who came in batting .191.

Leake has a 0-5 record with a 7.11 ERA in six starts this season.

“I’m just not getting the job done,” Leake said. “I’m missing spots, not hitting spots, and I just have to figure it out.”

If the Reds make a change, the decision might have to be quicker than a few days. Their most likely option, in my mind, LHP Jeff Francis, is scheduled to start on Saturday for Triple-A Louisville. Francis is 2-4 with a 4.15 ERA in seven starts, but has only nine walks compared to 43 strikeouts.

Before you fire back at me, I just don’t see the switch being made to Aroldis Chapman. Yes the bullpen is solid this season, but he’s a huge reason why and Masset and Bray are still nowhere close to being back.

Quotes:

“I was watching (Leake’s) last outing and what he throws to lefties. I know he’s a sinkerballer and he’s got to get it up. He threw me a lot of pitches and I fouled a lot of them. He gave me one I could handle and I hit the home run.” — Roger Bernadina

“We’re all concerned. We’ve been concerned. As far as we know, he’s healthy. He wasn’t getting ahead of anybody. You pitch from behind, you’re asking for trouble. He was either off the plate or over the heart of the plate so we’re concerned, big time. We’re thinking and doing all we can do at this point in time. The rest of it is up to the player.” — Dusty Baker on Leake

“It’s probably in the head somewhere. I just have to find it.” — Mike Leake.

5/11 vs WAS

Reds lineup vs. Nationals

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

*LHP Gio Gonzalez could be a handful for the Reds tonight. In two career starts, totaling 14 innings — Gonzalez has not allowed a run. He gave up two hits with no walks and seven strikeouts on April 12 vs. CIN at Washington.

*The Reds pitching staff ranks fifth in the NL with a 3.27 ERA. They are 12-6 with a 2.64 ERA over the last 18 games.

Pink bat hunt

Louisville Slugger is breaking out the pink bats for Mother’s Day weekend, and several players will be using them on Sunday. This is the seventh season of their pink bat program to raise awareness against breast cancer.

On Saturday, Louisville Slugger is staging a Mother’s Day Pink Bat Hunt around Cincinnati, where 15 bats will be hidden around town. Clues to find the bats will be distributed on Louisville Slugger’s Facebook and Twitter account @sluggernation. The first clue will be sent at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday. The initiative is to benefit MLB breast cancer charities.

The bat looks like this, happy hunting…

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