August 2012

Leake goes the distance

After a 6-1 victory over the Mets, the Reds have won five in a row and are 24-8 since the All-Star break…a Major League best. Meanwhile, New York is going the opposite way at 9-22 since the break.

Click here to read the full game story.

The Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Scott Rolen — 2-for-4, double, solo HR. Rolen’s return from a sore back saw him pick things up where he left off…hitting well. Rolen hit a one-out double to left field in the second and slid safely with no issues. A 1-1 game was snapped in the fourth when he took R.A. Dickey deep to left field.

“It was great to see Scotty come back like he did,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

No. 2 star: Todd Frazier — 3-for-4, HR, single, double. Finishing a triple shy of the cycle, Frazier followed Rolen to make it back-to-back homers off of Dickey in the fourth and his was a big shot into the riverboat deck above the CF batters’ eye. Estimated distance: 474 feet, the fourth-longest homer in MLB this season and tied for the 10th farthest in GABP history. Click here to see the video highlight. Frazier also made a slick defensive play at first base in the fifth when he snatched up a Jordany Valdespin grounder and flipped the ball from his glove to Mike Leake covering the bag to beat the runner by just enough.

“I knew I got into it,” Frazier said of his homer. “I didn’t know how far it was until it hit that boat out there. That’s pretty cool. Thankful for the home run and thankful to be a Red. We’re having some fun.”

No. 1 star: Mike Leake — 9 ip, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 111 pitches/70 strikes. In a crisp performance, likely the best of his season, Leake had first-pitch strikes to 21 of 30 batters and notched the second complete game of this season and his career. He started out retiring nine in a row and finished retiring 17 of 19. His lone run crossed in the fourth on a Daniel Murphy double play.

“I was attacking, hitting spots, in and out, up and down, and changing speeds,” Leake said.

News and notes:

*The game lasted a quick two hours, 21 minutes.

*There was an odd moment before the bottom of the second inning when umpires ordered Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey to cut off a couple of homemade bracelets off of his left wrist. This wasn’t a case of gamesmanship from the Reds dugout.

“I didn’t even see it,” Baker said. “Our players didn’t see it. They’re so hard concentrating on that knuckleball. Brandon [Phillips] said he could leave it on because it’s not affecting us. The umpires must have seen it. We didn’t see it. It wasn’t white. It was brown, dark thing once he took it off.”

The Mets agreed that the Reds were not behind the request to cut off the bracelet, which left Dickey irked.

“In the moment, I was a little bit angry because those were a couple of bracelets my girls had made me before I went to Kilimanjaro, and I’ve had them on every day since January whatever it was until the moment that we were in. Nobody had said anything about it, and they were real small and on my glove hand. Nonetheless, I guess it is a rule and I had to follow it…If you look around the league there are all sorts of things that go unsupervised, whether it’s a glove string that’s too long or a band-aid on somebody’s arm or an earring. It’s almost like a holding penalty. You can call one on every play.”

*Jay Bruce, who took Dickey deep in the sixth, has homers in each of his last three games.

*The Reds lead the Majors with eight complete games this season. The staff has allowed one run over its last 34 innings and the starters have a 2.03 ERA over their last eight starts. The run Leake allowed in the fourth ended the scoreless streak at 28 innings for the staff, the franchise’s longest scoreless streak since 1963.

8/15 vs. NYM

Reds lineup vs. Mets

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

*This will be Rolen’s first game since Aug. 7 after he dealt with a sore back.

*In non-Reds news, Giants OF Melky Cabrera was handed a 50-game suspension by MLB for testing posititve for testoserone. Cabrera owned up to using something he shouldn’t have in a statement released via the player’s union. That means Cabrera will be out for the rest of the season. Wow.

Bruce comes through

This is one of those games where few will remember the journey and most will leave thinking about the destination. Jay Bruce’s three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth gave the Reds a thriller of a 3-0 walk-off win over the Mets Tuesday.

Before the bottom of the ninth, Cincinnati was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and stranded 14 — one shy of the season high. Lots and lots of missed chances but they got the one when it was needed the most.

Click here to read the complete game story on MLB.com.

Click below for postgame video from Dusty Baker:

 

The Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Ryan Hanigan — 2-for-3. Hanigan had a two-out double and a two-out single in the game that went for naught. His bigger play came in the eighth on a nice strike-out, caught-stealing double play to end the Mets’ eighth inning vs. Sean Marshall. At that point, it wouldn’t have taken much for a breakthrough in a 0-0 tie.

No. 2 star: Mat Latos — 7 ip, 5 H, 2 BB (1 int), 4 K, 104 pitches/71 strikes. Latos escaped a fourth-inning jam but was otherwise pretty strong throughout. He has allowed one run over his last three starts. He is 5-1 with a 1.83 ERA over his last 10 starts.

“I pitched pretty well,” Latos said. “I was able to locate the fastball down and got lucky a few times. I just continued to do what I’ve been trying to do all season – get down in the zone and attack hitters.”

No. 1 star: Jay Bruce — 2-for-5, double, 3-run HR, 3 RBIs. Bruce, who has been in a profound funk of late and not hitting well since Joey Votto went down, now has two homers in his last two games. It could be a sign he’s trending upward once again. His long ball tonight came on a 1-2 pitch (95 mph fastball) from lefty Josh Edgin.

“He hit a homer the other day in Chicago off a left-hander,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “When he starts hitting balls hard off of left-handers, it means you’re staying in there. Hitting balls to left field is about as perfect a ball you can hit. That was real big for us.”

News and notes:

*Bruce has four career walk-off homers and a team leading 23 homers for the season.

*There was some nice defense tonight. Brandon Phillips robbed Chris Young of a RBI hit and saved Latos in the fourth with a leaping catch of a liner. In the top of the ninth, Drew Stubbs bailed out Jose Arredondo by catching a tailing, sinking ball to shallow center field while on the run. The definitely saved two runs.

*The Reds are 20-8 without Joey Votto.

*And there is this from the Reds: With Sun’s 9-0 win at Chi and tonight’s 3-0 win vs NYM, the Reds have produced consecutive shutout victories for the first time since Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey threw complete games at Pit on 5/11 and 5/12, 2010…haven’t had 3 consecutive shutout wins since 6/21-6/23, 1963 vs Hou (3-0 by Jim Maloney CG, 3-0 by John Tsitouris CG, 4-0 by Bob Purkey CG).

Votto talks about setback

I will have more later on Reds.com/MLB.com but Joey Votto spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since the setback and second surgical procedure on his left knee on Friday. Votto believed he was progressing well.

“It’s completely different,” Votto said. “The first time, it probably took me a week and a half to get to where I am now. It was a very minor procedure. I feel OK. I’m just frustrated, wishing I was playing and stuff. That’s been the hardest part of this whole thing.”

At time of the setback, Votto felt like he was getting close to coming off of the disabled list. He admitted to becoming overzealous and pushing things.

“I hurt it sliding,” Votto said. “It wasn’t a bi-product of any of the strength training stuff or any of the medical stuff or any of the things that I ran myself through – baseball or physical therapy. I banged it sliding. I’ve slid a thousand times. Before I played, I was hoping to get a round of that stuff in. I happened to re-injure it doing that.”

Votto said he wouldn’t return unless he is 100 percent healthy, and has no timetable. He won’t avoid sliding or other things that could pose a risk in order to speed his return to the lineup.

“I’m not going to come back until I can do everything that I have to do as a ballplayer,” Votto said. “I’m not comfortable coming back not being able to play defense or be able to break up a double play or be able go from first to third. I’m responsible for myself once I step on the field. If I can’t take a guy out and it costs us a run or something like that, that’s something I’d have a hard time looking my teammates in the eyes and be able to explain myself. I’m accountable for myself as a player. Whenever I come back, I will be.

“I just want to be healthy the next time I go out there. I’m very happy the team is playing extremely well, playing better than when I was out there. Maybe they don’t want me back in the lineup. The next time I come back, I will be 100 percent ready to play and do everything before I was hurt.”

One thing benefitting the Reds is they are 19-8 since Votto went down last month. They entered today with a five game lead over the second place Pirates. While they certainly want him back, the club can avoid rushing him back…which is obviously something Votto is not comfortable doing.

8/14 vs. NYM

Reds lineup vs Mets

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

*The Reds have Johnny Cueto and TBA listed for both games of Saturday’s doubleheader vs. Cubs. Either way, it’s possible that the rotation’s streak of only using five starters all season will end.

*RHP Nick Masset, who has been out all season with a shoulder injury, is slated to make his latest rehab outing when he appears for Triple-A Louisville at Charlotte on Wednesday. In six appearances spread over AZL, Class A Dayton and Louisville, Masset has a 2.70 ERA with one walk and nine strikeouts.

*The Reds 22-8 record since the All-Star break is best in the Majors.

And, we’re back…..

So…what did I miss?

In many ways, not much. In other ways…a whole lot.

*The Reds managed to improve their first-place lead over the Pirates to 4 1/2 games, despite losing five in a row and having a 3-4 road trip through Milwaukee and Chicago. (I’m sure no Reds fans or readers of this blog panicked at all during that span).

*This team is a remarkable 19-8 without Joey Votto when many were saying, including me, that just treading water at .500 during his absence would be a respectable feat. Now they’re really getting extra tested with the setback Votto had on Friday.

*How do people feel about the big picture with this team right now? From my point of view, it seems pretty optimistic. Can it be better? Sure, but the second-best record in baseball is nothing to sneeze at.

*Can we put Todd Frazier front and center in the NL Rookie of the Year race yet? He certainly deserves the consideration.

In 88 games, Frazier is hitting .280/.339/.528 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs. He’s played well at both first base and third base.

In 92 games, Bryce Harper is batting .249/.328/.406 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs.

Left-handed starter Wade Miley (12-8, 3.02) is having a nice season for Arizona and should be a contender, and Milwaukee right-handed starter Mike Fiers (6-4, 1.80) will be part of the conversation. Am I missing any other contenders that have a legit chance to win?

Frazier could stay in the lineup even longer as Votto remains out and Rolen battles with back trouble again. That wouldhelp his chances at ROY votes.

*How about this item on Aroldis Chapman? Chapman produced saves in each of his last 16 appearances, including three in a row vs. the Cubs, to break the single-season club record held by Jeff Shaw (Aug 25-Sept. 19, 1997). With a 1.26 ERA and 28 saves in 53 games, Chapman could enter NL Cy Young talk. But he’d have a hard time getting by his own teammate, Johnny Cueto, who is 15-6 with a 2.45 ERA in 24 starts. That race, overall, is much harder to handicap.

*It appears that my taking a vacation caused a mini controversy. Thanks for all the comments, positive and negative, while I was out. I will let them stand without responding. I will be glad to be back at the ballpark again on Tuesday and hope you are back with me.

Kudos, Marty

Even though I am away from the ballpark, and Cincinnati, I managed to watch a live feed of Marty Brennaman getting his head shaved. I knew Marty would go through with it and I thought he actually looked pretty good with his new do.

Most importantly, Marty took a fun frivolous thing and turned into a worthy, touching cause. Not only did a large sum get raised for the Reds Community Fund, he brought attention to the Dragonfly Foundation and his moment with the three kids on the field was incredibly moving.

I’m always proud to know and work around Marty, but I was especially proud from afar on Friday night.

Here’s a link to the Shave Marty event:

http://thedragonflyfoundation.org/

Back Aug. 14

Yep…I’m taking a vacation, a real one and not for just a series. So I leave it to you to enjoy the games and to make hopefully constructive comments — whether they are positive or negative. I will be very curious to see where the Reds are when I get back on the beat.

Take it easy and thank you.

23 games over .500

The Three Stars from the Reds 9-4 victory over the Padres that made it three of four in the series, 13 out of their last 14 and 20 of the last 23.

No. 3 star: Johnny Cueto — 7.1 ip, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR. Cueto, now 14-5 with a 2.52 ERA, wasn’t overly sharp in his latest start but he did some nice bullpen preservation work by gettng into the eighth inning. Given a 6-0 lead in the second, Cueto gave up three runs right away in the third…partially because a double play wasn’t converted that would have gotten him out of the inning.

“Johnny pitched well,” catcher Ryan Hanigan said. “He wasn’t as dominant as he can be. He left his breaking ball up a few times and got hit. For the most part, he managed the game. The run support help.”

No. 2 star: Jay Bruce — 2-for-4, 2 RBIs. Bruce’s two-run single with the bases loaded came during the big second inning. Has anyone noticed that Bruce’s bat has come alive lately? He’s got a five-game hitting streak where he’s 7-for-16 (.438) with four RBIs.

No. 1 star: Todd Frazier — 1-for-4, HR, 3  RBIs. Frazier’s two-run homer, his 13th of his rookie season, got the Reds on the scoreboard in the second inning. He added another RBI on a fielder’s choice in the eighth. He has homered in back-to-back games and three of the last five.

“Everybody contributed and we batted around the order,” Frazier said. “You can see everybody is having fun and doing what they have to do. You need to know your role. When everybody knows their role, it’s fun to watch.”

Click here for the game story

News and notes:

*The six-run second inning tied a Reds season-high for most runs in one inning. Not a bad day for a lineup missing Votto, Phillips and Ludwick.

*The Reds are now a Major League best 64-41. A win over the Pirates on Friday can put them better than 23 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1999 season.

*Cueto gave up the first hit of Eddy Rodriguez’s career in the third inning, which happened to be a solo home run. It ended a streak of 11 starts and 80 innings without allowing a homer by Cueto, the longest homerless streak in the Major Leagues this season. It was the longest by a Reds pitcher since Bruce Berenyi threw 85 1/3 homerless innings from June 19-Aug. 24, 1982.

*The Pirates changed their rotation for the upcoming series. A.J. Burnett, and not Erik Bedard, will start on Sunday for Pittsburgh.

*The Reds released RHP Brett Tomko, who had pitched all season at Triple-A Louisville.

Quote:

“Things are going well right now. Guys are playing loose, taking real aggressive swings on pitches in the zone. Nothing surprises me with what we can do, especially when we’re playing like this. We’ve got some momentum obviously. We expect to score runs and expect to get outs. It’s a good feeling. We’re having fun. Things are rolling. We’ve got a long way to go here but we’re in a good spot right now.” — Ryan Hanigan

8/2 vs. SD

Reds lineup vs. Padres

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

UPDATE – Dusty Baker on his bench and healthy player situation:

“Yeah, we’re real short. We were short yesterday,” Baker said.

*Wilson Valdez’s availablity is in question again as he’s still bothered by a stiff neck. There hasn’t been real improvement.

“Not much. It’d be a better chance if we had a night game tonight vs. a day game after night,” Baker said. “It hurts him to slide, that’s when you get jarred. That’s when it goes up and down your vertebrae…like I tell them in spring training, we’re going to need everybody if we’re going to win this thing. So far, we’ve been pretty fortunate as far as having to call on everybody.”

*Baker said this last night regarding Ryan Ludwick…I’m sure you read in my game story because you all read everything I write two or three times a day :-) ….

“We want to keep him on fire,” Baker said of Ludwick. “He’s not old but he’s not a spring chicken either. We have to monitor his workload so he can stay strong and stay fresh.”

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