30 games over .500
The Reds are 30 games over .500 at 87-57 following a 2-1 win over the Pirates for a three-game series sweep. The fading Cardinals were swept by the Padres out west. So here’s where it all stands:
Cincinnati has an 11 1/2 game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central. That’s the largest division lead in the Majors.
The magic number to clinch is 8.
“It was a nice sweep,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re one step closer to winning the division. We’ll keep playing like we’re playing.”
Click here for the game story by Mark Clements.
The Three Stars:
No. 3 star: A.J. Burnett, PIT — 6 ip, 5 H, 2 R, 2 B, 8 K, 1 WP, 101 pitches/63 strikes
No. 2 star: Ryan Hanigan — 1-for-3. Hanigan hit a leadoff single in the third inning and scored the game’s first run. But he also figured in the best defensive play of the night. In the sixth with one out after Alex Presley’s triple, Baker and bench coach Chris Speier called for a pitch out. It proved wise as Presley broke for home in a suicide squeeze as Clint Barmes made a desperation bunt attempt. Homer Bailey slipped in his delivery and put the pitch in the dirt, however. Hanigan made a nice block, recovered the ball and tagged out Presley. It was a huge momentum killer — the rally went from runner on third with one out to two outs and no one on, just like that.
“I think all of that credit goes to Dusty and Speier over there,” Bailey said. “As soon as I saw the sign, I tried to get it higher and more away and I slipped on the mound a little bit. It worked. Hany has been a warrior out there. He blocked the plate, did a great job. He had chalk and dirt all over his face. Most of the credit goes to them. I just threw it.”
“Trying to scratch a run out. (Pitch-out) was a good call by them,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
No. 1 star: Homer Bailey — 7 ip, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K, 116 pitches/78 strikes. Bailey was smooth for the most part, except for three-straight singles in the fourth that scored his lone run. He is 1-0 with 1.24 ERA over his last three starts and he’s 11-9 overall. The Reds have four 11-game winners for the fist time since 1990. (Armstrong, Browning, Charlton, Rijo).
“Homer’s been dealing his last four or five starts and didn’t get a whole bunch to show for it,” Baker said. “We wanted to hold that one big time. He’s lost the last three or four where we didn’t hold the lead.”
News and notes:
*One night after Jonathan Broxton filled in for Aroldis Chapman, J.J. Hoover pitched the ninth and recorded his first big league save. Hoover gave up a two-out single before striking out Jose Tabata to end the game. A lot would have to happen next season — (Chapman not closing, Broxton not re-signed, Ryan Madson not re-signed) but I could easily envision Hoover taking on that role in 2013. He’s been closing at Triple-A Louisville and has good stuff. But that’s a conversation for another day.
*Dusty Baker recorded win No. 1,571 as a manager. That ties him for 19th all time with Hall of Famer Dick Williams.