May 2012

Reds escape after pitchers duel

After a wild ninth inning had the Reds escaping town with a 2-1 victory, here are your three stars….

No. 3: Joey Votto  — It was Votto’s RBI double to the gap in right-center field off of John Axford that snapped a 0-0 tie in the ninth inning.

No. 2: Johnny Cueto — 7 ip, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, 104 pitches/61 strikes. Cueto was brilliant and showed his poise in the second and third innings to escape jams. In the second, Cueto gave up an Aramis Ramirez leadoff double and a one-out single to Jonathan Lucroy. Taylor Green grounded into a routine 6-4-3 double play to kill the rally. There was a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the third and then retired 12 in a row.

Cueto has a 1.12 ERA through seven starts and has allowed just one run over his last 23 innings in three starts.

“I knew it was going to be tough. [Cueto] is probably the most underappreciated pitcher since he’s been healthy last year,” Brewers ace Zack Greinke said. “His numbers are pretty insane, and I don’t think I’ve really heard anyone talk about him being one of the better pitchers in the league. Maybe it’s time to start that.”

No. 1 star: Zack Greinke — 8 ip, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K, 104 pitches/69 strikes. Greinke came in 13-0 lifetime in starts at Miller Park and the Brewers had never lost a game here that he started, including the postseason. That’s how tough it was for the Reds today and how big it was that they won.

“The guy can pitch,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “You knew when the game started that there was a good chance that there wouldn’t be any runs scored, on either side.”

Click here for the full game story.

News and notes:

*The Reds won two of three in the series and four of six on the road trip. They are unbeaten in their last six series.

*The win gave Dusty Baker 1,500 for his managerial career. The team gave him the lineup card and a bottle of champagne as a momento.

*Zack Cozart was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and saw his six-game hitting streak end.

*Jay Bruce was 0-for-3 with a walk and saw his 11-game hitting streak end.

*As fast as the first eight innings went, the ninth inning was nuts. John Axford needed 32 pitches in the top of the ninth and couldn’t keep it tied at 0-0. Sean Marshall couldn’t pick up the save and threw 35 pitches before he was pulled with one run in and two on.

*Logan Ondrusek picked up Marshall to get his first big league save.

Quotes:

“It’s rare that a pitcher’s duel like that lives up to its billing, but it certainly did today.” — Brewers LF Ryan Braun

“Today didn’t feel any different. I’ve been in games with guys on before and you treat it the same way. You just have to make sure you make pitches and get ahead of guys. Kottaras has been hot for them so that walk really didn’t hurt too much. Luckily I was able to get Ishikawa to fly out.” — Logan Ondrusek

“We were lucky that Johnny threw equally well. They kind of negated each other. Zack is always a handful. John Axford is a very good pitcher in his own right and we stole one from him. It’s great whenever you can sneak out a win against those two pitchers.” — Joey Votto

“It’s all about winning series. It would be nice to sweep some teams sometimes but as long as we win series. We’re trying to get as many wins as possible.” — Brandon Phillips

“I felt good because I was throwing my game. I was trying to keep them away from scoring runs. That was my game.” — Johnny Cueto

“That was an old-school pitching matchup with two very good pitchers. You hope you don’t make any mistakes and if they make some, you have the ability to capitalize. Neither side made any mistakes. We just got one more key hit than they got.” — Dusty Baker

5/9 at MIL

Reds lineup vs. Brewers

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

*UPDATED — For those wondering why now for Todd Frazier in LF, check these numbers against Zack Greinke.

Ryan Ludwick: 0-for-11, 6 K
Chris Heisey: 0-for-3, 2 K

That played a large reason in the decision. I’ll have more later on Reds.com/MLB.com.

Two-strikes, two outs and…

Homer Bailey seemed to have two outs and two strikes on everybody and couldn’t retire anybody. That was the case during an 8-3 Reds loss to the Brewers. All eight runs by Milwaukee scored with two outs.

Bailey, who entered with four-straight quality starts, had a season-low 3 2/3 ip, a season high six runs allowed and lot of displeasure.

“It was probably more frustrating knowing the fact I’ve been pitching pretty well as of late, and today I didn’t pitch at all — I threw. That was more nerve racking than anything.”

During the first two innings, Bailey had two strikes and two outs on seven batters that would reach safely. It was essentially the story of the night. Click here to read the whole thing on MLB.com.

The Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Jonathan Lucroy, MIL — 2-for4, 2 RBIs, 1 run scored

No. 2 star: Jay Bruce — 2-for-4. His two-run homer in the sixth got the Reds on the scoreboard and extended his hitting streak to 11 games. During the streak, Bruce is batting .415 (17-for-41) with seven homers and 14 RBIs.

No. 1 star: Ryan Braun, MIL — 3-for-4, double, walk, RBI, 2 runs scored

News and notes:

*Scott Rolen hit a RBI double in the eighth inning. It was career double No. 506, which tied him with Babe Ruth for 48th on the all-time list.

*The bullpen scoreless streak is over at 24 1/3 innings. It happened when Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo hit a RBI single in the sixth against Sam LeCure. Jose Arredondo gave up a Cesar Izturis homer in the seventh. And while it didn’t count on the bullpen’s ledger, J.J. Hoover gave up three inherited runs to Bailey’s line in the fourth when Aramis Ramirez hit a bases loaded triple.

*Zack Cozart was 2-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to six games.

Quotes:

“They were fouling off a lot of stuff. For the most part, we were actually in good counts with those guys. Then it was foul ball, ball, ball, foul ball, foul ball. Whether they got out or not, 17 pitches after two hitters and neither of them got on. It’s what happens when you’re not pitching.” — Homer Bailey

“Man, he was nasty tonight, too. You have to get those guys deep in pitch count because they start getting tired and making mistakes, and you take advantage. He was nasty, throwing 95 [mph]. He was almost too nasty, where he was in and out of the zone quick and you didn’t swing at it. His slider was real hard, but it wasn’t starting in the zone and you could see it. That’s one of the nastiest I’ve seen him.” — Jonathan Lucroy on Bailey.

 

5/8 at MIL

Reds lineup vs. Brewers

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

*Dusty Baker is seeking career victory No. 1,500.

*The Reds have a chance to go unbeaten in their last six series if they can win tonight. They are 4-0-1 in their previous five.

*The Reds currently rank second in the NL in team ERA with 3.17.

*Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen have historically been strong against Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo. Bruce is 8-for-17 (.471) with one homer and Rolen is 7-for-13 (.538) with one homer.  Ryan Ludwick is 4-for-11 (.364) with two homers against Gallardo.

11 pitches = 5 runs

The Reds road trip is 3-1 with two to go after a 6-1 win over the Brewers Monday. That’s 11 wins in the last 16 games.

Down 1-0 and hitless through three innings, the Reds had five runs score in the top of the fourth over a span of 11 pitches from Marco Estrada.

Click here for the full game story.

On to the Three Stars….

No. 3 star: Zack Cozart — 1-for-5. It was Cozart’s homer in the fourth that got things going for the Reds. It was the first hit against Brewers starter Marco Estrada. Cozart has a 5-game hitting streak where he’s 6-for-18 with two homers.

No. 2 star: Jay Bruce — 1-for-4. Bruce hit a titanic three-run homer later in the fourth. I didn’t see it land, but it looked it went to the windows in the back of the right field bleachers here. The estimated distance was 463 feet.

“It’s usually as good as I can hit one, pretty much,” said Bruce, who has a 10-game hitting streak.

No. 1 star: Bronson Arroyo — 6.2 ip, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 110 pitch/73 strikes. The strike zone was certainly generous but Arroyo was changing speeds very effectively and locking up some Brewers hitters. I saw one radar gun speed at 71 mph. There was only one dangerous jam in the fourth inning when Arroyo escaped after having runners on second and third with no outs and the bases loaded with two outs. After that, he went on to retire a stretch of 10 out of 11 batters.

“Getting out of that inning was obviously the springboard to the rest of the game,” said Arroyo, who told Bryan Price he was out of gas when he exited in the seventh.

News and notes:

*Reds pitchers have struck out 29 batters over the last two games. There were 12 Ks on Monday.

*Following Arroyo’s exit, Logan Ondrusek and Sean Marshall worked 1 1/3 innings to run the bullpen scoreless streak to 22 1/3 innings over the last eight games.

*Neither side seemed happy with HP umpire Dan Iassonga’s strike zone. There were eight called strikeouts and several hitters took long looks at Iassonga after being punched out. Joey Votto had an extended discussion with him following his fifth-inning K.

*In his return from the DL, Miguel Cairo pinch-hit in the ninth and drove a two-out, RBI ground-rule double to right field.

Quotes:

“He threw all his pitches for strikes. I don’t care if it was a fastball, cutter, changeup, curveball, all that stuff — he threw them all for strikes. And in pretty much any count. And he kept us guessing throughout the counts. That’s what the good pitchers do.” — Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks on Bronson Arroyo

“It was a different lineup than you expect against these guys with the guys they had hurt. I didn’t really have a lot of reps against four or five of those guys. I was kind of feeling my way through the game. Luckily, we got some runs and getting out of that fourth inning was huge. It changed the whole momentum of the game.” — Bronson Arroyo

“It gets to be like a feeding frenzy. I’ve seen it from the other side too. It’s the game of baseball. You go to the bathroom and come back, it could be four or five runs on the board. That’s how quickly it happens and that’s how it happened for us tonight.” — Dusty Baker on the top of the fourth inning

5/7 at MIL

**UPDATE To make room for Miguel Cairo’s activation from the 15-day disabled list on Monday, the Reds sent Willie Harris outright to Triple-A Louisville.

Harris, who was 72 hours to report to Louisville, was batting .086 (3-for-35) on the season. He was signed to a Minor League deal in January and made the team out of Spring Training.

Reds lineup vs. Brewers

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

*No word has come yet about a roster move, regarding INF Miguel Cairo. However, I did see Willie Harris exiting Miller Park as I was walking in. During his three games at Class A Dayton during his rehab assignment, Cairo was 0-for-10 with two strikeouts.

*I’ve gotten some questions about SS Billy Hamilton being taken off of the roster on Class A Bakersfield’s web site. Hamilton had left the team to attend a funeral, but has returned.

No PIT for me

I will be off for the Reds series at Pittsburgh this weekend. So feel free to talk amongst yourselves. Just keep it civil please.

Before someone asks if I am on vacation, the answer is no. Just off. I will be in Milwaukee for the next series.

Birthday thievery

The Reds got Homer Bailey’s birthday gift by stealing a win from the Cubs on Ryan Dempster’s birthday. A 4-3 victory came in 10 innings after Cincinnati scored three in the ninth on Carlos Marmol and one in the 10th on a Scott Rolen sacrifice fly.

No matter how it came — it was a very, very big win for Cincinnati. They were one inning away from losing two games with one run scored on only six hits.

“5-3 at home sounds a lot better than 4-4, especially going on the road,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said of the home stand. “Hopefully we can have a great road trip.”

Click here  for the game story on MLB.com

The Three Stars of the game…

No. 3 star: Zack Cozart — 1-for-1, run scored. Getting a day off, Cozart did not enter until the 10th but made a nice diving stop to rob Darwin Barney on a leadoff hit. In the bottom of the 10th, Cozart’s leadoff single set up the winning run.

“You’re just sitting there because you’re just sitting there,” Cozart said. “And all of a sudden, we get some people on. Dusty says, ‘get ready to run, get ready to hit and oh, you’re going in at shortstop.’ There’s a lot of different stuff you have to do.”

No. 2 star: The Reds pitching staff — Homer Bailey and relievers Jose Arredondo, Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall and Logan Ondrusek. Bailey gave up only three solo homers through six innings but survived a bases-loaded, one-out threat in the sixth without a another run crossing. The bullpen guys each pitched a scoreless inning, which is pivotal to set up a comeback.

“Our guys battled today very well. As you could see, if we can keep it close, we can do anything,” said Ondrusek, who got the victory with a scoreless 10th.

No. 1 star: Ryan Dempster, CHC — 8 ip, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 101 pitches/67 strikes. He deserved a better 35th birthday. Two of his hits came from the bat of Joey Votto. He was burying the Reds all afternoon.

“According to our reports, he could be 3-0 and 4-0 now,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “His ERA is under one. You can’t pitch much better than that. He was mixing it up with fastballs in, fastballs away, cut fastballs, sliders, changeups. Like last night, we weren’t sad to see him go.”

News and notes:

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time in Major League history that two starting pitchers faced each other on their birthdays. Both Bailey, who turned 26, and Dempster signed balls for the Hall of Fame.

“I found out when I was in the training room and the Hall of Fame came in with some baseballs we were asked to sign,” Bailey said. “It’s pretty neat. I guess if you’re going to be in Cooperstown, there was worst ways you can be in there.”

*Chris Heisey provided a perfect sacrifice bunt in the 10th after Cozart’s single. Heisey reached when pitcher Rafael Dolis made a bad throw, allowing Cozart to go to third on the error.

“We have been practicing it. Obviously, it’s a big part of the game,” Heisey said of bunting.

*In the ninth with a runner on third base representing the potential winning run, Baker elected not to use his bench to bat for shortstop Wilson Valdez even though Rolen and Cozart entered the game on defense in the 10th.

“Last night the guy didn’t make Cozart look very good,” Baker said of Dolis. “If you recall, last night he made him look pretty bad.”

*Indeed, Cozart was caught looking at a strike three in the eighth inning by Dolis in Wednesday’s loss.

*The Cubs had five home runs in the two games here, all solo shots. The team entered the series with a MLB low nine homers.

Quotes:

“I tell all of our guys that if you’re not starting, it doesn’t mean you won’t be in the game. Stay in the game, stay ready and stay loose.” — Dusty Baker

“It’s a good swing to get on a plane with a win as opposed to being down about the loss.” — Chris Heisey

“We won. That’s what is most important whether I get the win or someone else gets the win. We get the win.” — Homer Bailey

“It didn’t look good there for a while but Homer and the staff kept us right there and kept us in range. After you come back and tie the game, kind of the only thing left is to finish it. That was a nice win for us. I don’t think it would have been a very happy flight to Pittsburgh the way those first eight [innings] went.” – Scott Rolen

5/3 vs. CHC

Reds lineup vs Cubs

Heisey 8
Harris 5
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Ludwick 7
Mesoraco 2
Valdez 6
Bailey 1

*Obviously, this lineup isn’t one we’ve seen often. There were several reasons it was chosen, according to Dusty Baker.

“We’ve got a lot of ball and you have to get some guys playing time so they’re ready when you need them,” Baker said. “Sometimes you do it one at a time and sometimes you do it as mass substitutions. Plus the guys I am not playing haven’t had a whole bunch of success against [Ryan] Dempster.”

*Drew Stubbs is in a 0-for-14 funk, and is 4-for-21 lifetime (.190) vs. Dempster.

“Drew was going pretty good and now he’s starting to scuffle a little bit,” Baker said. “I want to stop it before it gets chronic.”

*Scott Rolen is 6-for-34 (.176) lifetime vs. Dempster. Willie Harris is 3-for-7 (.429).

*INF Miguel Cairo (strained left hamstring) is headed to Class A Dayton for a rehab assignment expected to last three games. Cairo will play with the Dragons Thursday night, Friday and Saturday.

“If everything goes right, I will meet the team in Milwaukee,” Cairo said. “The big thing is playing defense, and reacting to balls and running the bases when you get a hit.”

*And here is something you don’t see often. Today’s starting pitchers — Homer Bailey and Dempster — are both celebrating birthdays today. Bailey turned 26 while Dempster is 35.

“One is going to be happy, the other is going to be sad,” Baker said.

All Samardzija

It was all Jeff Samardzija as the Cubs buried the Reds in a 3-1 loss on Wednesday. For the game story, click here.

To the Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Brandon Phillips — 1-for-4. It’s a reach, I know. Phillips notched the Reds first hit with a single. His heads up play to start a run down on Jay Bruce’s double play to first base allowed Joey Votto to score his team’s only run.

No. 2 star: Bryan LaHair, CHC — 1-for-4, HR. LaHair hit a 2-2 fastball to right-center field off of Bronson Arroyo in the top of the second for a homer that gave Chicago the lead.

No. 1 star: Jeff Samardzija, CHC — 7.2 ip, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 94 pitches/60 strikes.

“That’s the best we’ve seen probably this year against us,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Usually he doesn’t have that kind of command and control. Our reports say he’s throwing the ball good and you could see he was at 95-98 and when he left, he was throwing 95-96.”

News and notes:

*Bronson Arroyo pitched OK, but it paled compared to Samardzija — 6 ip, 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 99 pitches/67 strikes.

*Even though the run scored in a rundown fashion, Bruce did not get a RBI in the fourth inning as itwas correctly was ruled a GIDP, no RBI, run counts.

*Drew Stubbs was 0-for-4 in the game and is in a 0-for-14 skid.

*J.J. Hoover was impressive again as he pitched the ninth inning. Hoover had one strikeout, getting Reed Johnson with 94 mph heat.

*Ryan Hanigan’s career-best eight-game hitting streak ended with a 0-for-3.

*Here is my story on Jay Bruce and the plans for Brian Wilson Field in Clermont County. You can also watch some video below.

Quotes:

“They fought me hard tonight. The Cubs aren’t traditionally a lineup that would foul off so many pitches off me. They got my pitch count up quicker than I wanted to. I was grinding after the first inning, almost every inning. That takes a toll on you a little bit.” — Bronson Arroyo

“We can’t say a whole bunch about that game. We didn’t do anything wrong. They just did a lot of things right.” — Dusty Baker

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