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.

5 Comments

Let’s talk Playoffs. If the Season finished today the Reds would match up against the Giants. Washington would take on the winner of Atlanta vs. St. Louis. Probably the best case scenario for us too.
Our pitching vs. their pitching
1. Cueto vs. Bumgarner…. advantage Cueto
2. Latos vs. Lincecum…. advantage Latos (Lincecum has had a terrible year and has truly lost his mojo)
3. Arroyo vs. Cain…. advantage Cain (Cain has better numbers this year than either Latos or Arroyo so whether he is #2 or #3 doesn’t matter he gets the edge over them in head to head.
4. Bailey vs. Zito …. slight advantage to Bailey.
5. Leake vs. Vogelsong…. dominate advantage to Vogelsong

Our 1 2 have a pretty good advantage especially if they keep Lincecum in rotation. We might be in trouble if the Giants go to 3 or 4 man rotation and drop Lincecum

Bullpen… clear advantage goes to Reds. We have the best bullpen in baseball with our without Chapman. If he is healthy playoff time we only need pitchers to pitch 6 innings and not 7. for a reduced pitching rotation this is a major advantage, one the Reds took advantage of in 1990.

Lineup and Defense
1B If Votto is healthy clear advantage to Reds on offense and defense here. Belt is pretty much a rookie with decent numbers but nowhere close to allstar material
2B Phillips offensive they are remarkably similar, however, Phillips glove and speed give him a pretty good advantage here.
SS Cozart vs. Crawford. Dead even both offensively and defensively. There numbers are near identical in both categories.
3B Rolen/Frazier vs. Santoval/Scuvaro. Slight advantage if Rolen is in, big advantage if Frazier is in.
C Hanigan vs. Posey. dominate advantage goes to Giants
LF Ludwick/Frazier vs. Blanco. either way dominate advantage to Reds
CF Heisey/Stubbs vs. Pagan. advantage goes to Giants. Pagan is more consistent and has more experience than either Heisey or Stubbs
RF Bruce vs. Pence Advantage Reds. Both has similar batting average but Bruce has more power and a better arm but doesn’t cover as much ground as Pence.

My prediction Reds win in 5 with 4 or 5 man rotation. Reds in 3 or 4 with 3 or 4 man rotation. The numbers seldom lie in baseball. Good thing we won’t start out against the Nationals because we would lose in 4.

I was thinking last night that the Pirates would do well to break camp next year with a team they’re prepared to stick with, because the past two years they’ve ‘improved’ their team after the all-star break and it’s tanked both times. I really hope they don’t finish below .5oo this year, but it doesn’t look good for them.

Remember when I said the Pirates wouldn’t finish above .500? Shhhhh.
Curt

Curt, I’m torn. Do I want Curt to be right (and me – I agreed with you at the time)? Or do I want the Bucs fans’ nightmare to end? One guy? Or an entire city of hard-working Americans? It was close, ok? Pittsburgh wins this one.

It’s a simple question with a simple answer Max. Would they root for you? Hell no.
Curt

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