June 2012

Cueto boosts sick Reds

Despite having several players either dragging or down and out completely by flu-like symptoms, the Reds cruised to a 7-1 victory. Let’s take a look at the Three Stars (sponsored by your Stanley Cup winning L.A. Kings)

No. 3 star: Wilson Valdez — 3-for-5, 1 RBI, 1 run scored. A .188 hitter and filling in for the ailing Zack Cozart, Valdez had three singles in a nice evening.

“It was a great game Valdez had for us big-time,” manager Dusty Baker said.

No. 2 star: Joey Votto — 2-for-4, two-run HR, RBI single. The Indians brought in LHP Tony Sipp to face Votto in the seventh during a 2-1 game. Votto crushed a 2-0 pitch into the left field seats.

“What a performance by Joey. Joey was sick too,” Baker said. “I said don’t take any BP today, stay inside and come out game time. I could tell he was exhausted from running. You see Joey’s head down and you know something is wrong. That was a gutsy performance by Joey too.”

No. 1 star: Johnny Cueto — 9 ip, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 122 pitches/81 strikes. It was Cueto’s sixth career complete game and the second of this season. When Cueto gave up an infield single with two outs in the ninth, he had to lobby to stay in. Fans were booing Baker when he visited the mound.

“When I saw him coming to the mound, I said I want to finish my game,” Cueto said. “Then he came and asked me how I felt, I said ‘give me one more hitter.’ Dusty said I trust you and I will give it to you.”

Cueto is 7-3 with a 2.46 ERA in his 13 starts this season. For the second time in as many starts, he stopped a losing streak from building and cut it off at two games.

Click here for the full game story

News and notes:

*Mike Leake, who is also sick, was scratched from making Wednesday’s start. Mat Latos will move up a day  and Leake might go on Thursday. With the off day on Monday, Latos will be working on his normal rest.

*The Reds are 24-10 this season when they get a quality start.   *Todd Frazier has hit safely in eight of his last nine games and 9-for-27 (.333) during that stretch.

*Jay Bruce’s six sac flies, including the one for the go-ahead run in the fifth, leads the Majors.

Quotes:

“He expanded the zone on us really well. He was using his slider backdoor and got the ump to start giving him a couple inches off [the plate]. When you start trying to worry about that pitch, and all you can do is foul it off, he would kind of come back in with a fastball in. He had you off balance and it was getting hard to find the barrel on the ball. You might make contact, but not barrel it up too well. He did a good job. He pitched well tonight. There’s a reason he has his record and ERA.” — Indians 2B Jason Kipnis on Cueto

“Johnny’s strong. He’s been training. He’s learned how to train and take care of himself. He runs tirelessly. I’ve been telling him that for years. It’s sunk in. That’s what the great ones do.” — Dusty Baker on Cueto going the distance.

“I wasn’t feeling too good throughout the day, but it wasn’t really as bad as some of the other guys. They were throwing up and I never had any of that. It was an interesting day for sure. It was weird to try to piece together how everyone got sick. I don’t think we’ve figured it out.” — Chris Heisey

6/12 vs. CLE

Reds lineup vs. Indians

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

*Update Cozart, Stubbs and Votto are among Reds players that are sick with flu-like symptoms

*Bill Bray made his second rehab appearance for Class A Dayton on Monday and pitched 1 2/3 innings of perfect relief. Bray is expected to continue his rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville Thursday and Friday.

*Louisville infielder Chris Valaika had arthroscopic surgery today to report torn medial meniscus and a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. (UPDATE — Valaika’s ACL is only irritated and frayed and it was cleaned up, according to trainer Paul Lessard)

Draft picks sign

A slew of 2012 Reds Draft picks have signed lately. The most notable new one is the second round selection, SS Tanner Rahier.

ROUND PLAYER POS. BIRTHDATE HT. WT. B/T HOMETOWN
2 Rahier, Tanner J. SS 10/12/1993 6-2 205 R/R Indian Wells, CA
3 Langfield, Daniel P. RHP 1/21/1991 6-1 210 R/R Somerset, MA
4 Moscot, Jonathan S. RHP 8/15/1991 6-3 205 R/R Pacific Palisades, CA
5 Felt, Mason T. LHP 3/16/1994 6-3 185 R/L Hoschton, GA
6 Hudson, Joseph T. C 5/21/1991 6-0 205 R/R Odessa, FL
12 Peterson, Brent M. SS 10/20/1992 6-0 180 R/R Bakersfield, CA
15 Klimesh, Bennett L. RHP 10/20/1990 6-4 220 R/R Wilmette, IL
16 Routt, Nick W. LHP 8/28/1990 6-4 200 L/L Silver Spring, MD
18 Stephens, Jackson RHP 5/11/1994 6-2 190 R/R Oxford, AL
19 Muehring, Austin T. RHP 5/18/1991 6-3 185 R/R San Diego, CA
21 Remer, Jordan V. LHP 3/19/1990 6-2 210 L/L Oakland, CA
22 Rachal, Avain S. SS 2/11/1994 5-11 180 R/R Cypress, TX
24 Saunders, Michael L. RHP 3/7/1991 6-2 210 R/R Mt. Morris, MI
28 Wiley, Matthew O. RHP 12/11/1989 6-4 240 R/R Houston, TX
31 Salter, Michael RHP 1/22/1992 6-4 205 R/R Kingwood, TX
34 McCaffrey, Richard P. LHP 12/31/1990 6-1 205 L/L Los Altos, CA

Bullpen, Chapman on the hook

Sunday night under the lights had the makings of a big night for Cincinnati. Given the full ESPN treatment, there were cool overhead blimp shots of the city and a crowded ballpark with over 34,000 fans. And there was a 6-2 lead in the seventh inning with two outs.

As pretty as it all looked, only the results matter. And they were crushing in 7-6 Reds defeat to the Tigers.

All of the pertinent information is my game story — click here and the full version should be up shortly.

Here are two quotes:

Dusty Baker: “Homer was good. We decided he shouldn’t face Cabrera with 112 pitches after he hit him hard a couple of times. He’s a dangerous man. Then we walked him, which set up Prince Fielder’s hit off of Marsh two nights in a row. We were put behind the eight-ball by the walks.”

Homer Bailey on whether he had anything left in the tank:

“I felt like I did. It felt like my velocity was still pretty good and I was making some pitches in that last inning. It was Dusty’s decision and with all the confidence I had in our bullpen, why would you argue with it. Those guys have been picking us up all year. It’s funny how the cards fall some days.”

Postgame video of Baker:

My take: If Arredondo or Marshall got the third out, no one is complaining about Bailey not facing Miguel Cabrera, who took Bailey to the warning track for a near homer in the fifth. With an off day coming Monday, no problem to me with using up the bullpen…especially if the guys did the job. It just so happened that they didn’t on this rare occasion.

As for the eighth, giving Chapman a six-out save chance with two on in the eighth with a three-run lead. It wasn’t unreasonable though. He’s the best reliever on the team and has pulled out two inning wins earlier this season. As Baker put it, this was “the inning of decision.”

Chapman, incidentally, was not in the clubhouse when media was allowed in.

Three stars:

No. 3: Homer Bailey — 6.2 ip, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 112 pitches/70 strikes.

No. 2: Todd Frazier — 2-for-4, HR, 4 RBIs — Frazier had seven RBIs in the series.

No. 1: Austin Jackson — 2-for-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, game-tying two-run double in the 8th off Chapman.

Reds and Travieso ‘pretty close’

*The Reds appear to be closing in on signing their first-round pick from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

Negotiations are well progressing with 14th overall selection, RHP Nick Travieso from Archbishop McCarthy High School near Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“We’re pretty close,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told MLB.com. “I think we’re just trying to finish up a couple things, hopefully sometime this week.”

Travieso has not been brought up to Cincinnati, yet, to take a physical. It’s being discussed when he might come in.

“If we can get it done before we leave town,” Jocketty said.

The Reds begin a six-day road trip on Friday. The recommended bonus slot for the 14th pick is $2.375 million. I will have a little more later in my notebook on MLB.com/Reds.com

*LHP Bill Bray, on the DL since April 24 with groin and back injuries, pitched one scoreless inning for Class A Dayton on Saturday night in his first rehab assignment outing. Bray walked one batter and struck out one. He is scheduled to pitch again on Monday.

6/10 vs. DET

Reds lineup vs Tigers

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

Fielder, not Verlander, foils Reds

Let’s take a quick gander at the Three Stars following a 3-2 Reds loss to the Tigers.

No. 3 star: Ramon Santiago — 2-for-4, 1 HR. Santiago hit only his second homer of the season in the top of the second inning.

No. 2 star: Bronson Arroyo — 7 ip, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HR. 87 pitches/65 strikes. Arroyo retired 12 of his first 14 batters, with the only blemishes being a pair of solo homers.

“Just facing an American League lineup, because you don’t know a lot of the guys, so I was definitely going a little bit harder,” Arroyo said. “I was pitching at a more max effort than I normally do and that’s why I was out of the game after less than 90 pitches, because it had taken it’s toll on me. I was throwing a lot more hard fastballs and even breaking balls, a lot of them were in the upper 70s, which I normally don’t have to do so much. Being that this is a lineup that has a lot of danger in it, I just wanted to make sure that I try to put these guys away.”

No. 1 star: Prince Fielder, DET — 2-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBIs. Fielder made it a 2-0 game when he blasted a two-out homer off of Arroyo in the fourth. It was Fielder’s RBI single off of Sean Marshall in the eighth that was the game winner. Fielder came into the at-bat 5-for-23 (.217) with 10 K’s vs. Marshall lifetime.

“He’s been lights out against lefties,” Dusty Baker said of Marshall. “He got a curveball up on Boesch and then I had to make a decision at the time. I certainly didn’t want him to face Cabrera. He had quite a bit of success against Prince. He got a slider over the heart of the plate and Prince got a base hit. That was the ballgame.”

Baker video postgame on Arroyo

Click here for the game story

News and notes:

*Marshall hadn’t given up a hit in his previous 10 appearances since going from closer to setting up.

*The Reds have nothing to hang their heads about when it came to facing Justin Verlander. The much ballyhooed Tigers ran up a pitch count of 127 over six innings. The Reds gave him 30 and 35-pitch innings respectively in the fourth and fifth innings. But you could see Verlander reaching back when he had to. At one point vs. Jay Bruce in the fourth, he went from 92-95 to 100 mph on four-straight pitches to strike him out.

“That’s one of the things that makes him who he is and what he is. Any time you can cruise at 90 and get up to 101, it changes the game a little bit,” Bruce said.

*The Reds were 1-for-8 RISP today. They’ve stranded 28 runners on base the last three games.

*Todd Frazier had that one hit with a lined single to right field off of Verlander’s 101 mph pitch.

“I was trying to find a pitch to hit,” Frazier said. “He was throwing a little harder than he usually is. Usually if you throw harder the ball doesn’t move as much. He was trying to get that fastball and he threw me three in a row and I did something with it. That’s what I was trying to do, just get a couple runs in and drive some guys in.”

*With his fifth-inning single, Arroyo was the first pitcher to get a hit off Verlander since Adam Wainwright in 2009.

*The crowd of 42,443 was the largest non-Opening Day regular season crowd in GABP history.

Quotes:

“Gotta win those tight ones, the low-scoring affairs where it’s a grind to get runs, we have to be able to win those. Today’s a perfect example. 2-2, we got nobody on, two outs, Boesch double and Prince comes up with a big hit. Those are the types of clutch hits in a tight ballgame like this that you need.” — Justin Verlander

“The guy can pitch. He’s not MVP-Cy Young for nothing. You see whenever he got into trouble, he dialed it up to 100. He’d be 92-93 then reach back. That’s what the great ones do. They always have something left. When you can add 7-8 mph upon command, it shows what you really have inside. … It was a great challenge for our ballclub. We rose to the occasion. So did he when he needed to. It was a tough one to lose but we played hard. We were one hit or one pitch away from winning the ballgame.” — Dusty Baker

6/9 vs. DET

Reds lineup vs. Tigers

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

*Tigers ace Justin Verlander is pitching for the first time at GABP. He has lost his last three starts, something that hasn’t happened since he lost four straight from Aug. 27-Sept. 20, 2008. Verlander also leads the AL with 86 strikeouts.

*Verlander is also 16-2 lifetime in Interleague Play. Dusty Baker, who has faced some nasty pitchers in his playing days, was asked about what he’d tell his hitters about handling Verlander, the 2011 AL MVP.

“No. 1, you have to get on that fastball and try to let him get too far ahead of you,” Baker said. “If he gets ahead of you, he’s got some weapons to put you away with. Hopefully we get to him early before the bad sightlines come.”

Baker recalled that playing in late afternoon-early evening can also be tough.

“Here, have of [the field] is in the shade and half is in the sun,” he said. “Our guys and everybody complains that they really can’t see. You see how Leake and Latos and everybody is pitching up until about the fourth inning. Then in the fourth inning, it’s , ‘boys we can see now.’ The ball looks white instead of gray. Twilight is a tough time for anything. It’s tough to see the stitches off the ball. I liked playing at night because the lights would reflect off of the white part, therefore illuminating the seams and you could pick up the stitches.

“When everything looks the same, your swinging at movement instead of the ball. We have to get him early before he gets locked in. I remember facing J.R. [Richard] and [Tom] Seaver and Nolan Ryan and these guys at this time. It was very, very difficult. I remember one time in a twilight doubleheader, Seaver threw the ball. I heard it hit the catcher’s glove but I didn’t see it.

“When I saw the schedule, you think about this guy [Verlander] last week. You think about him last night. You think about him on the way to the ballpark. This is like playoff-world series challenge. Rarely do I ever think about playing but if I was young enough, I’d like the challenge of today. You always want to match yourself against the best even if you are not the best. But you can’t look at him with too much awe. You can respect him but don’t think he’s better than you.”

Valdez bunts for a Reds win

That there was one wild and wacky game for the Reds (those always seem to happen on Friday fireworks nights). A 6-5 victory in 10 innings came on a walk-off sac bunt by Wilson Valdez.

Here is the game story

To the Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Sam LeCure — 2 ip, 3 K. LeCure earned the victory with six up, six down in the ninth and 10th innings. It was huge, especially when we learned postgame that Chapman and Marshall were not available.

“It was a big spot in the game there,” LeCure said. We were up, they battled back and it was kind of back and forth with the momentum all night.”

No. 2 star: Joey Votto — 3-for-5, 3-run HR and double No. 25 of the season. He extended his hitting streak to a career-high-tying 14 games.  Votto is batting .549 (28-for-51) with three homers and 13 RBIs during his hitting streak. It was Votto’s three-run homer to center field that gave the Reds 4-0 lead in the third inning.

“I felt really good lately,” Votto said. “A lot of the stuff I was working on earlier in the season I was having trouble with. I think that I’ve cleared it up. You’re always battling in this game to get back to neutral and in the past stretch I feel like I have been, but you can never explain when you go through these hot stretches why it happens. But it does and you enjoy and you continue to work to minimize the valleys and get yourself ready to work.”

Co-No. 1 stars: Wilson Valdez/Miguel Cairo — Cairo led off the bottom of the 10th with a triple, lumbering his 38-year-old body around the bases as the right fielder struggled to get the ball around the corner. Valdez pinch-hit and perfected bunted towards first base in a safety squeeze. Cairo broke for home on contact and slid headfirst for the winning run.

“When you win, you have to feel good,” Valdez said. “I feel good for my team and I feel good for myself because I had an opportunity to make my team win. I’ve done my job, I think.”

“He works on it. He’s good at it and confident about it,” manager Dusty Baker said. That was an outstanding judgment by Miggy on when to run and a great slide at home plate. That’s big when you win games like that, especially after we lost a game like that yesterday.”

Ruled a sacrifice bunt, it was the first time the Reds won a game on a walk-off sacrifice bunt since Jeff Reed dropped one vs. the Giants in the 12th inning on June 26, 1990

News and notes:

*Chris Heisey snapped a 0-for-12 skid with a single in the third inning. Heisey also made two more nice diving catchers in center field.

*Reds starter Mat Latos pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs (three earned) and seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Latos also skirted trouble in the second and fifth innings by inducing two double plays.

*Latos snapped a 0-for-15 streak this season and a 0-for-29 since last season when he hit a fourth-inning single.

*Todd Frazier, who was scratched because of back spasms before the game, delivered a huge pinch-hit double to tie the game at 5-5 in the eighth.

Quotes:

“When you’re home you want to win every game that you can. The way we’ve been playing, we believe, and we have confidence right now. We’re hitting, we’re pitching, we’re playing good defense and good things happen when you do that.” — Miguel Cairo

“We were thinking about having those first and third runners out there and not getting anybody home and they’re going to  come back to haunt us. But our guys battled through and kept fighting.” — Dusty Baker

 

6/8 vs. DET

Reds lineup vs. Tigers

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

*The Reds signed their first three 2012 Draft picks….OF Jesse Winker (compensation rd, No. 49 overall), 11th rounder LHP Nolan Becker and 25th rounder LHP Sean Lucas.

**UPDATE — about an hour before game time, the Reds scratched 3B Todd Frazier because of back spasms. Miguel Cairo started in Frazier’s place.

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