April 2013

Arroyo loses tough one

As the St. Louis Blues won a playoff overtime game a few blocks away, here are the Three Stars from a closely contested baseball game as the Cardinals edged the Reds by a 2-1 score. (Click here for the full game story)

No. 3 star: Bronson Arroyo — 7 ip, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. — 78 pitches. That’s it. No runners in scoring position. By usual standards, that’s enough to earn a win. But with the offense sputtering of late — not quite.

No. 2 star: Jamie Garcia, STL — 8 ip, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 92 pitches — All Garcia gave up that hurt was a two-out RBI double by Shin-Soo Choo in the fifth inning that scored Derrick Robinson. As you’ll read in the game story, Garcia noted that the Reds were swinging aggressively much of the night.

“That one ball hit by Choo was definitely something you didn’t see much of, which is mistakes up in the zone,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He was down and the ball was really running all over the place. You can’t really teach the stuff he has. It’s just different, and it was sharp today.”

No. 1 star: Matt Holliday, STL — 1-for-4, 2-run HR — Holliday smacked a 3-2 Arroyo curveball for a low-line drive home run. It was deceptive in that it didn’t look like it would be high enough originally from up here. Arroyo explains his thinking on the pitch sequence:

“I went 3-0 on three sinkers there and then I threw him three breaking balls in a row,” Arroyo said. “The full count was either going to be a sinker in or another curveball. I thought I’d walk him with the sinker because he hasn’t been fishing for it much. I had to be perfect in there. I picked the choice of going right at him rather than having first and second with one out and [Allen] Craig up and kind of getting into the meat of their order with the crowd coming into play around the sixth or seventh inning like they always do. You take your chances and play the best odds you can. A big strong guy like Matt Holliday sometimes can beat you, which he did.

“He’s just so strong. There’s maybe a handful of guys in this game that can hit the ball out of the ballpark with that low of trajectory. Especially with the wind not blowing out tonight. He’s a beast. He’s 6-4, 6-5, 240. He is solid and swings as hard as anybody in this game. He hit it good.”

Notes:

*The Reds have scored only 15 runs over their last eight games as they finished April with a 15-13 record.

*Choo is batting .316 (6-for-19) vs. STL This season.

*Garcia is 9-2 lifetime vs. the Reds. They are his most wins vs. any opponent.

*The game lasted only two hours and 15 minutes.

Chapman, Broxton likely unavailable

More than a few Reds players have watery eyes and irritated noses because of allergies on Tuesday

“We’ve got about 12-13 guys that have allergies,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

One of them is closer Aroldis Chapman.

“Chapman looked like hell. I don’t think he’s available tonight,” Baker said. “I don’t know if [Jonathan] Broxton is available tonight. We may have to close with somebody else. He’s gone two days in a row and he threw 30 pitches the day before. I was a little apprehensive about using him last night. I was little apprehensive about using him last night. It’s not the innings sometimes, but the workload of that inning.”

Chapman has also worked two days in a row and earned back-to-back saves.

Hanigan making progress

Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan, who is on the DL with left oblique and right thumb injuries, was on the field hitting during early BP Tuesday.

“It’s made a lot of progress, definitely. There’s still a little bit of healing to do,” Hanigan said. “But I’ve got the strength back [in my thumb], which is No. 1.”

It was Hanigan’s first hitting on the field since he was injured. He had been working solely in the indoor cages.

To treat his oblique strain, Hanigan recently got a cortisone shot and that has sped his improvement.

Hanigan also is improving on the throwing front. He long tossed on the field for the first time with pitcher Mike Leake.

“Today I aired it out to just get the shoulder and arm going. It was pretty good,” Hanigan said.

No timetable is set for a potential return.

Game 28: at STL

Reds lineup vs. Cardinals

Choo 8
Cozart 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Frazier 5
Mesoraco 2
Robinson 7
Arroyo 1

Latos scoreless streak alive

Here are the Three Stars from a Reds 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Monday night. Click here for the full story on MLB.com

No. 3 star: Xavier Paul, 0-for-4 with RBI — It’s not often a guy who goes 0-for-4 would be recognized but Paul had a nifty at-bat in the top of the fourth. He’s down 0-2 before going to a 1-2 count and fouling off three pitches to stay alive. His broken bat grounder to shortstop was slow enough to allow Jay Bruce to score. It proved to be the deciding run.

“It’s not always the hit that wins you the game. It was a battle,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

No. 2 star: Adam Wainwright, STL, 7 ip, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K — Wainwright was tough but was behind right away when Shin-Soo hit a leadoff double, went to third on a sac bunt, and scored on a Joey Votto single.

“The first inning, I really only threw one bad pitch,” Wainwright said. “I had a feeling Choo was swinging first pitch and that’s good – that’s a first-pitch out if you execute your pitch. I just didn’t execute it. He put a good swing on me. They played fundamental baseball and got the run home. And Joey Votto, he’s a great hitter. I threw a tough curveball and he hit it over second base.”

No. 1 star: Mat Latos, 6 ip, 5 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 91 pitches/52 strikes. — Latos kept working out of jams as STL was 1-for-7 with RISP against him. He kept finding ways to escape.

“That was the story tonight. Their first runner kept getting on base. We kept getting out of it,” Baker said.

Latos has a streak of 17 scoreless innings, a team best this season.

One thing to keep an eye on: Latos came out because of tightness in his right hip, which was bothered from his first at-bat in the second inning.

“I felt some tightness in my hip after I took a swing,” Latos said. “It just nagged throughout the whole game. I pitched four [more] innings and then really pushed myself that last inning. It was real tight. I wasn’t able to follow through with my leg on the mound. It should be all right. It actually loosened up.”

Cueto feeling good

Reds ace Johnny Cueto just came in after a 45-pitch bullpen session.

“It was pretty good, no pain,” Cueto said. “I threw my breaking ball, everything.”

It was Cueto’s second time off of a mound since going on DL with strained lat muscle. He wasn’t sure what was next but thought a minor league game was possible.

Game 27: at STL

Reds lineup vs Cardinals

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

*On Sunday vs. the Nationals, LHP Tony Cingrani became the fifth pitcher in Reds history to record four strikeouts in one inning. It happened in the fourth inning after one batter struck out but reached on a wild pitch. The other four pitchers to have 4 K’s in one inning are: Frankie Rodriguez (2001), Tim Birtsas (1990), Mario Soto (1984) and Joe Nuxhall (1959).

*The Reds are 3-23-2 in the previous 28 series at STL since the start of the 2003 season.

 

Big Lutz called up for Heisey

The Reds on Monday placed left fielder Chris Heisey on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. To replace Heisey, outfielder Donald Lutz was recalled from Double-A Pensacola.

Heisey was injured on Saturday vs. the Nationals running to first base as he grounded into a double play. He has struggled in replacing the injured Ryan Ludwick as the regular left fielder and is batting .173 with two home runs and five RBIs in 23 games.

Not a quite a month into the 2013 season, Heisey is already the seventh player from the Reds’ 25-man roster to be placed on the DL.

The left-handed hitting Lutz, 24, batted .211 with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 21 games for Pensacola but had an impressive Spring Training as he batted .277 with two homers. He brings plenty of power and has a little speed too. Dusty Baker spoke highly of him throughout camp, especially since he didn’t begin playing baseball until a teenager.

Lutz, assigned No. 23, was born in the United States but grew up in Germany and is a German citizen. He is a product of Major League Baseball’s European Academy and was the first German player to be added to a big league 40-man roster after the 2011 season.

Click here to read a 2012 Spring Training feature I did about Lutz.

Games 23-26: at WAS

I am not in Washington for the Reds-Nationals series. Catch you on Monday from St. Louis, where I will pick up the rest of the road trip.

Thanks and have a good weekend.

Reds get 8-2 home stand

Some might discount the opponents but an 8-2 home stand is impressive no matter how you slice it. The Reds knocked off three struggling teams that should be beat — the Phillies, Marlins and Cubs — which will come in very handy down the road when they hit an unfavorable part of the schedule or grind.

The pitching staff had a 1.91 ERA in the 10 games. The rotation had a 1.54 ERA and nine quality starts.

Three games went to extra innings. Two of the wins were by 1-0 score — only nine have ever happened in the history of GABP.

Click here for the full game story on MLB.com.

Three stars:

No. 3 star: Jeff Samardzija, CHC, 6 ip, 7 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K. Samardzija took a Shin-Soo Choo comebacker off of his hand and pitched with it bleeding. Other than one mistake to Todd Frazier, he was really good.

“We kind of knew coming in facing Samardzija and with Mat pitching, that runs would be scarce today,” shortstop Zack Cozart said. “And they both pitched well. Mat was lights out. When a guy is like that, as the hitters here, we want to score runs for him just to make it easier. We didn’t obviously and he kept us in it.”

No. 2 star: Mat Latos, 7 ip, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 103 pitches/65 strikes. He survived being hit on the right foot by a comebacker in the first inning and did well without any secondary pitches in his bag of tricks.

“I didn’t have anything today,” Latos said. “I had a four-seamer and a two-seamer, was all I had today. It was tough. Everybody in the big leagues can hit a fastball. It was just a matter of hitting my spots and being able to make key pitches when I needed to.”

Through 5 starts, Latos is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA. He has 11-straight scoreless innings. Not bad for a dude who had a terrible track record for April (5.97 ERA last season, a 2-8 record with a 5.73 ERA lifetime entering 2013)

“I’ve pitched a lot better than what’s been shown over the last couple of Aprils,” Latos said. “I’m real pleased with it. I’ve got one more start to finish up the month strong.”

No. 1 star: Todd Frazier, 1-for-2, HR — Frazier was not cheated for his one run that proved the distance. The estimated distance was 480 feet as the ball kissed off of the riverboat in center field. It was the seventh-longest shot in the history of GABP. The last Reds player to homer in a 1-0 victory was Sean Casey on 8/26/04 vs. the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter. Perhaps a coincidence that both Frazier and Casey wear No. 21?

“I took a couple of steps and kind of figured it was out,” Frazier said. “But I didn’t really know how far until I looked up and saw it bounce off of the boat. It was pretty fun to watch.”

Notes:

*I remember a couple of weeks ago at St. Louis when Shin-Soo Choo made two errors in one game. Some people wanted him moved to left field, to switch with Chris Heisey. Of course that didn’t happen. Choo made a nice play Wednesday to run down Anthony Rizzo’s long drive to the warning track in the fourth inning.

*More great defense came from Zack Cozart, who saved the day in the eighth inning by going behind second base on a tough David DeJesus groundball up the middle and throwing him out on the run.

“Defense saves games. That was a game-saver today,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “If that ball goes up the middle, then they get two. Even if he stops it, maybe one.”

*An 89-minute rain delay pushed back first pitch.

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