September 2012

Reds expect Baker back Monday

If everything goes as planned, Sunday will be bench coach Chris Speier’s final day as acting manager. Dusty Baker will be in St. Louis tonight and back on the bench managing on Monday for the final three-game series. Baker missed his 11th game Sunday as he’s been recovering from an irregular heartbeat, followed by a minor stroke.

“Dusty is doing well. He sends his best,” Speier said Sunday morning. “I think everybody has to understand I’m following suit here. It hasn’t been easy to take over something when the mainstay of this organization is going through what he went through. There’s a definite cloud over it because we’re worried about him. We’re really, really happy he will be in St. Louis tonight.”

Pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who is starting on Monday, was also pleased to know Baker would be healthy enough to return.

“It’s always nice to have the captain of the ship around,” Arroyo said. “Any way you cut it, if you’re missing a 25th man on the team, it’s much easier to not notice that than to miss your manager. He’s the guy that brings a lot to the table. He’s a head figure you want to be there to kind of represent the ball club.”

9/30 at PIT

Reds lineup vs. Pirates

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

*This will be Todd Frazier’s first game as a right fielder in the Majors.

Rotation having special year

When Mike Leake makes his start tonight, he will be the fifth Reds starter this season to reach the 30 starts plateau in a single season.

Only seven pitching staffs in Major League history produced five pitchers with at least 30 starts each:

1977 Dodgers, 1980 A’s, 1993 Dodgers, 2003 Mariners (coached by Bryan Price), 2005 Cardinals, 2005 Indians and 2006 White Sox.

*On Friday night, Homer Bailey became the third Reds starter after Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos to reach 200 innings this season. Bronson Arroyo is at 197 innings and starting on Monday and should reach 200.

“This staff – unless they shut some people down, they’ll have four guys throw 200 innings,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “To me that’s an incredible achievement In this day. I don’t know the last time that’s happened, but that fact grabs you.”

*The last MLB team to have four starters pitch 200 innings was 2006 White Sox: Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland and Javier Vazquez. The last Reds team to have four guys at 200 or more innings was 1943: Elmer Riddle, Ray Starr, Johnny Vander Meer and Bucky Walters.

*Bailey notched his 13th win last night and Arroyo is sitting at 12 victories. Cueto has 19 and Latos also has 13. The last Reds team with four pitchers with 13 or more wins was 1970: Jim McGlothlin (14), Jim Merritt (20), Gary Nolan (18) and Wayne Simpson (14)

*Two teams this year, so far, have four pitchers with 13 wins or more — San Francisco and St.Louis.

9/29 at PIT

Reds lineup vs. Pirates

Valdez 4
Cozart 6
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Heisey 7
Navarro 2
Stubbs 8
Leake 1

Did that really happen?

“Did that really happen?” It was the question I asked a colleague in 2010 after I watched Roy Halladay no-hit the Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS. And now a few hours after Homer Bailey no-hit the Pirates on Friday in a 1-0 Reds win, I find myself saying the same thing.

Honestly, this didn’t shock me as much. With Bailey’s track record vs. the Pirates at PNC Park and the way the game was falling into place, I had the vibe a no-hitter was a real possiblity by the fourth inning. And I started looking stuff up and preparing myself, and writing my story likewise.

So we only need Two Stars tonight — Ryan Hanigan at No. 2 for catching it and Homer Bailey at No. 1 for pitching it. It’s the second no-hitter I’ve ever witnessed, but the first where the team I cover regular got one. And it was fun to watch, indeed.

You never know what you’ll see when you come to work.

No-hitter stories on MLB.com:

Main story — Homer’s odyssey to no-hitter

In tossing no-no, Bailey reaches full potential

Bucs on wrong side of history

Pirates question error, but don’t question Bailey

Bailey’s no-hitter ties MLB record

9/28 at PIT

Reds lineup vs. Pirates

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

*This will be Todd Frazier’s first game in LF since June 30 at San Francisco.

*The magic number to clinch to No. 2 seed over the Giants, is 3.

Navarro gives Reds walkoff win

The Three Stars from a 2-1 Reds walkoff victory over the Brewers:

No. 3 star: Mat Latos — 7 ip, 3 H, 1 R, 1 intentional BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 89 pitches/59 strikes. Latos retired 14 of his first 15 with the only blemish being Carlos Gomez’s leadoff homer to right field in the third inning. Considering how well he pitched, Latos didn’t feel his best on the mound.

“I was satisfied. I didn’t have my best stuff today at all. I felt like I battled. I felt like I had to grind the whole game. And I felt like I pitched real well even though I didn’t have my best stuff. I’m just happy for everything that’s been going on this year. I’m happy with my performance the whole year. I’m happy we’re winning ballgames.

“I didn’t have my fastball. I threw one at 88 today. My slider was in the dirt and couldn’t throw it for strikes. I hung a couple of them. But I was able to throw a few changeups today and that’s what really helped.”

In his last 18 starts, Latos is 8-2 with a 2.45 ERA. Overall he is 13-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 204 1/3 innings. With one more regular season start to go, he feels prepared for the playoffs.

“It’s the first time I’ve pitched 200-plus innings,” Latos said. “I’ve been healthy all year, thank God. Everything is right.”

No. 2 star: Todd Frazier — 1-for-4, HR. Until Frazier slugged a game-tying home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Reds offense was again sluggish. It had only three hits and was scoreless for 16-straight innings. The first-pitch shot to center field off of Brewers closer John Axford gave Frazier his first homer since Aug. 21.

Entering the at-bat, Frazier was 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts in his last three games.

“I’ve felt comfortable in every at-bat I’ve had this past week,” Frazier said. “I just couldn’t really put anything together. I’ve had some hits here and there, but nothing to the point where I’m stinging the ball like I usually do. It’s going to happen.”

No. 1 star: Dioner Navarro — 1-for-4, RBI triple. Navarro battled Axford for a nine-pitch at-bat, which including slugging two fastballs deep to right field and foul — a few feet from being home runs. Finally, Axford threw a curveball that Navarro drove to the warning track in right field as Jay Bruce scored the game-winner.

“It was a tough at-bat,” said Navarro, who has taken advantage of his chances since coming up in late August. “Frazier hit that big hit for us, I think that set the tone. I just wanted to put the ball in play and make something happen. Once I was at 3-2 I definitely didn’t want to strike out. I just wanted to put the ball in play. I knew Jay was going to be running and I tried to make something happen. Fortunately enough, the ball found the gap.”

News and notes:

*Brewers starter Willy Peralta was burying the Reds with 5 2/3 scoreless innings before he had to exit with a right biceps strain.

*The win covers over, at least for the day, the lack of hitting overall which was mentioned in the blog last night. Acting manager Chris Speier remains unconcerned about the bats.

“I think if we would be in St. Louis right now wondering if this was it, then you might be a little bit concerned,” Speier said. “Don’t get me wrong, good pitching is going to get good hitting out. This team came into our series on fire offensively. Good pitching is going to do that so I don’t think there’s any concern.”

Click here for the game story by Mark Clements.

Catch you Friday from Pittsburgh.

9/27 vs. MIL

Reds lineup vs Brewers

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

Worried about offense?

The Reds haven’t had many games this season where they are blown out, but that was exactly what happened in an 8-1 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday.

*In terms of the postseason situation, the Reds (93-62) trail the Nationals (94-61) by one game for the No. 1 seed in the NL playoff bracket. Because Cincinnati was 2-5 vs. Washington this season, they would lose the tiebreaker. That effectively means the Reds need to be a game up on the Nats at season’s end to get the top seed.

*Some hitters are in funks lately — namely Brandon Phillips (5-for-39), Scott Rolen (6-for-43), Chris Heisey (4-for-38) and Jay Bruce (7-for-50) as pointed out by stats man Joel Luckhaupt. In 22 September games, the Reds have been held to two runs or less nine times and they are 12-10 this month. The good news is they have eight games to find a groove before the postseason. Acting manager Chris Speier wasn’t worried about the offense’s lack of production of late.

“Not really,” Speier said. “I’m sure we’d like to get on all cylinders here shortly. I’m sure things will take care of themselves hopefully tomorrow and the rest of the way out. Everybody is in that situation. They’re hoping the pitching and the hitting come together and usually the teams that have that are the ones that succeed.”

Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, who has been burned by low run support several times this season, wouldn’t mind seeing more scoring from his team.

“That’s always been a concern since I’ve been on this ball club,” Arroyo said. “We’ve had to grind a lot this year to win some close games. In the playoffs, it’s going to be a coin toss. Every facet of the game is going to be, so you can’t just pin one thing on a team and say ‘This has got to happen if you want to win.’ I think runs are definitely a premium at that time of year, and we haven’t been scoring a lot as it is in these regular season games. I hope we get a little bit hotter and put some more pressure on these guys. It’s not so much just putting runs on the board, but I think having more guys on base and putting their starting pitcher in some more compromising positions to get their pitch count up and to feel like we have some pressure on them all the time would definitely be beneficial for us.”

*In Wild Card news, the Pirates painful slide continued with a 6-0 loss to the Mets. Pittsburgh is now eliminated from the postseason after a promising start to the season.

*Arroyo, who gave up four runs in six innings, allowed five-straight hits in the three-run third inning — all with two outs. Before the big rally, Arroyo had retired eight of his first nine batters.

*No one in the bullpen fared well tonight. Logan Ondrusek gave up two runs on Ryan Braun’s 41st homer of the year in the seventh. Sam LeCure gave up a run in the eighth. Alfredo Simon gave up a run in the ninth.

*Overall, the pitching staff allowed a season-high nine extra base hits.

Three Stars:

No. 3 star: Joey Votto — 2-for-2, with a RBI double in the first inning and he reached base in all four plate appearances. Votto has gotten a hit in 11 of his last 12 games and reached safely in 40 of 77 plate appearances since returning from the DL. He has 20 walks.

No. 2 star: Ryan Braun, MIL — 2-for-5, double, 2-run homer.

No. 1 star: Norichika Aoki, MIL — 3-for-4, HR, two doubles, two RBIs.

9/26 vs. MIL

Reds lineup vs. Brewers

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

*If you have a  chance, check out my feature today on Dusty Baker and his discussion of the challenging year he’s had. The interview was done earlier this month, but was still telling in light of the health issues he’s currently coping with.

*Chris Speier is 8-2 lifetime filling in for Baker, entering tonight. He was  4-0 filling in while the manager was suspended for two games each in 2008 and 2010.

*The Reds enter tonight tied for the best record in baseball. They haven’t finished a season with the best record since the strike-shortened 1981 season (66-42). Of course, the Reds were prevented from going to the playoffs because of the split-season format used by MLB that year after play resumed.

 

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