June 2012

Another CG in book for Latos

Here is a quick edition of the Three Stars following a 2-1 Reds victory over the Giants on Saturday.

No. 3 star: Zack Cozart — 2-for-4, double, walk. Cozart seems to be catching a spark again after a 0-for-19 skid ended before the road trip. He hit a homer on Friday and had a nice game on Saturday. He leads all NL rookies with 19 doubles.

No. 2 star: Ryan Hanigan — 1-for-3. Hanigan drew the bases loaded walk from Barry Zito in the fourth inning that plated the Reds’ first run. Hanigan also enjoyed a fine day behind the plate working with top guy of the day.

No. 1 star: Mat Latos — 9 ip, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 115 pitches/82 strikes. That’s back-to-back complete games for Latos. No Reds starter has done that since Aaron Harang in September, 2006.

“It’s the same thing, just pounding the zone and getting strike one,” Latos said. “You have to get strike one on a good hitting ballclub like them. Those guys when they swing the bat, put good swings on the ball. Strike one is key.”

Click here for the complete game story, with stuff from Hanigan and pitching coach Bryan Price about the improvements Latos has made lately.

Click here for a status update on Joey Votto, who left in the fifth inning because inflammation in his left knee.

News and notes:

*Cincinnati finished June with a 15-12 record.

*In the previous 18 seasons of three-division play, the team leading the NL Central on July 1 won the division 14 times. The Reds have a one-game lead over the Pirates heading into Sunday.

*That’s back-to-back CG’s with Leake and Latos. That hasn’t happened for the Reds since Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey did it in May 2010.

Votto injured

Reds first baseman Joey Votto exited Saturday’s game vs. the Giants in the fifth inning because of inflammation in his left knee. He was taken out as a precautionary measure.

Facing Barry Zito with one out in the top of the fifth, Votto grounded a slow roller towards third base and was slow getting out of the batter’s box. He jogged to first base as he was thrown out by Pablo Sandoval.

Votto, who was 0-for-3 in the game, was replaced by Miguel Cairo before the bottom of the fifth.

UPDATE:

Votto didn’t believe he was seriously hurt. It originally happened on Friday when he went from first to third base on a hit in the fifth inning.

“Last night sliding into third base, I jammed it a little bit,” Votto said. “Today I tried to play through it and it started acting up.”

Votto wasn’t sure yet about whether he could play on Sunday.

“We’ll have to see,” Votto said . “I certainly didn’t feel good. I don’t see why this should linger. There is nothing structural. It’s an instance where last night it happens sliding sometimes. Today with the short turnaround, it lingered a little bit. I will be fine.”

6/30 at SF

Reds lineup vs Giants

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

*Here’s a note from last night: Mike Leake became the first Reds pitcher to hit a homer while throwing a complete game since Pete Harnisch on Aug. 9, 2000, vs Atlanta.

6/29 at SF

Reds lineup vs. Giants

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

*Looks like Phillips is good to go. He passes a concussion test called SCAT 2, which tested him for balance, memory and speech.

“He did very well. He told me he was doing better today,” head trainer Paul Lessard said. “I’m sure he had a mild concussion. That’s the way I’m treating him.”

Lessard said that Phillips’ symptoms did not require a stint on the new 7-day DL for concussions.

“He got 100 today and got a 90 yesterday,” Dusty Baker said of Phillips’ tests. “He was trying hard to lobby to get back in the lineup. As long as he passed the test and the trainer said it was OK, that’s all it took.”

*Nick Masset is likely to have his next bullpen session on Saturday.

“We’re working on arm strength, keeping it going and doing a daily routine,” Masset said. “I’m throwing my pitches.”

If Masset gets through this session OK, he could move on to facing live hitters in Goodyear. But Masset did not have a plan yet.

Reds blanked in Bumgarner 1-hitter

The Reds’ 11-day West Coast trip did not get off to a snappy start as they were handed a one-hitter and a 5-0 shutout by the Giants.

Click here for the game story.

Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Ryan Hanigan — only because if it wasn’t for Hanigan, the Reds might have been no-hit. Hanigan hit a leadoff single up the middle in the sixth inning. It proved to be the lone hit. Drew Stubbs walked twice and was the only other base runner.

No. 2 star: Melky Cabrera — 2-for-2, 2 walks. Johnny Cueto thought he had Cabrera down on a strikes with a 3-2 fastball for a 1-2-3 first inning. Cabrera wound up walking.

“I made a great pitch and I thought it was a strike,” said Cueto, who gave up three runs, two earned, and a season-high four walks over six innings. “But you know how things go. The umpire said it was high.”

No. 1 star: Madison Bumgarner — 9 ip, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 106 pitches/72 strikes. First CG. Bumgarner was sensational in every way tonight and not the same dude that was 0-2 with an 8.56 ERA in three career starts vs. CIN.

“He’s a cutter guy now. He threw a lot of cutters compared to when I faced him last year,” Hanigan said. “He changed. It’s not how he pitched. That’s what he’s doing now and it’s working for him. Until teams make the adjustment, he’s dealing. I’m glad he didn’t throw a no-hitter. I’m glad I got one. He earned it tonight, bottom line. He carved us up – jam jobs, strikeouts. I think we were a little flat. That all combined to that he beat us tonight.”

News and notes:

*The last time the Reds were dealt a one-hitter was July 29, 2009 vs. the Padres. Mat Latos was the opposition starter.

*For the Giants, this marks a franchise record fourth conseuctive shutout. The other three were in a sweep over the Dodgers. San Francisco hasn’t had 36-straight scoreless innings since it was the New York Giants in 1948.

“It’s been quite an impressive run these guys have been on,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s how good they are. They’ve all have been locked in. Four consecutive shutouts — I’ve never seen it, it’s so hard to do. You have to have four pitchers on top of their game, and Madison was tonight. That’s quite the game he threw.”

New lineup, Phillips out

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

The Reds said that Brandon Phillips still had lingering effects from his collision at second base with Aramis Ramirez on Weds.

Phillips update

Reds 2B Brandon Phillips is currently in the Reds lineup as of 4:40 pm PT, but that could change. Phillips, who took a shot to the head as Aramis Ramirez was caught stealing on Wednesday, took some swings in the cage on Thursday at AT&T Park. Shortly thereafter, he and head trainer Paul Lessard went into Dusty Baker’s office and closed the door.

When asked if he was still in the lineup, Phillips said “We’re going to see how I feel when I go on the field. I will take some groundballs, see how it feels and go from there…I feel like I’m OK. Hopefully I can help the team out.”

Asked how the hitting the went, Phillips chuckled at first.

“It went OK,” Phillips replied.

Was there concern that Phillips might have a concussion?

“That word came up yesterday,” he said. “It’s the last thing I’m trying to think about. I’m trying to stay positive. I never felt like this before. The only thing I can really say is it’s my birthday and I’m really happy.”

Today is Phillips’ 31st birthday.

“I looked at the play a little bit and can’t believe I felt like that after that play,” Phillips said. “He hit me kind of square on. I just hope I feel all right and hopefully I can go out there and play. I’ve been swinging the bat pretty good. I’m playing good defense. We’re in first place. Hopefully I can go out there and try to get a ‘W’ tonight. It’s a very important road trip for the team that’s going to make us or break us.”

UPDATE: Reds manager Dusty Baker felt Phillips would need to be better than OK.

“Definitely, especially here in this twilight and especially with these hard throwers they’ve got here,” Baker said. “If you lose any kind of vision or blink out for a second, you can get hit upside the head with a 95. He has to feel better to play. We’ve got Cain tomorrow, who throws about a thousand [mph]. You have to be better than OK.”

6/28 at SF

Reds lineup vs. Giants

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

*Jose Arredondo has caught a break in that a scoring change made all of his three runs allowed unearned. Cody Ransom’s sacrifice/fielder’s choice in the ninth inning is now a fielder’s choice/E3 on Joey Votto. That helps Arredondo lower his ERA from 2.78 to 1.95. He gave up three hits and three-straight walks, including two with the bases loaded, in a poor showing.

*Today is Brandon Phillips’ 31st birthday and bench coach Chris Speier’s 62nd birthday.

*Dusty Baker comes in 14-12 as a visiting manager at AT&T Park.

*These are the last few hours you can vote for the All-Star Game starters. Balloting ends at 11:59 pm ET Thursday. Click here to vote.

6/27 vs. MIL

Reds lineup vs. Brewers

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

Chapman’s somersaults

I had a 30 minute drive home from the ballpark to the Sheldon Cave and did some thinking about Tuesday’s game. There was a lot to remember and it was certainly one of the more memorable games of the 2012 season.

Aroldis Chapman punctuated the night with a double roll somersault off of the mound. (Here is Mark Clements’ post-game story on the moment, with the video)

It was an honest moment of pure joy and fun from a guy who was badly in need of a positive outing. But I can see why it was not received well in the clubhouse.

A few years ago when I covered the Twins, a then-young Carlos Silva notched his first complete game with a shutout of the Angels. In a moment of euhporia and celebration, Silva heaved the game ball into the upper deck at the Metrodome. The Twins were not remotely pleased. Not only could Silva have injured a fan with the ball, he could have been construed as showing up the team he just vanquished — per the list of baseball’s “unwritten rules.”

As for Chapman, he could have injured himself and, he too could have been construed as showing up the team he just vanquished.  The last thing the Reds would want is to have one of their hitters get buzzed in retaliation on Wednesday.

At worst, it was a teaching moment. Chapman got a talking to from pitching coach Bryan Price behind the scenes. He was alone at his locker looking forelorn and I saw Jay Bruce speak with him at length.

I personally don’t think Chapman was trying to show up the Brewers. But I can guarantee that the next time he records a save after a rough stretch, he will know to just shake hands and move on.

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