April 2013

Game 22: vs. CHC

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Rotation on a roll, despite loss

You can read about the Reds 10th inning downfall in extra innings to the Cubs by clicking here and reading the full story on MLB.com. Overshadowed, at least for one night, was another brilliant night of starting pitching from the rotation.

This time it was LHP Tony Cingrani with 7 ip, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR 99 pitches/66 strikes. He has 17 strikeouts in 12 innings over two starts.

The Reds rotation has a 1.71 ERA through the first nine games of this home stand. No one in the five-man group has allowed more than two earned runs. Eight of the nine guys have quality starts. This is an impressive run for a crew that’s missing ace Johnny Cueto.

If there was one complaint from Tuesday, Cingrani didn’t do a very good job in the second inning of watching Alfonso Soriano. He easily ran on Cingrani to steal both second and third base before scoring the game’s first run on a sac fly. It’s stuff he will likely tighten up down the road.

To answer the question you’ll likely have that I already have been getting on Twitter, I do not know what becomes of Cingrani once Cueto gets back. I’d gather Cueto is at least a couple of weeks away since he’s not working from a mound yet and has just resumed throwing. A lot can happen between now and then. Certainly right now, no one has pitched poorly lately to warrant being punted from the rotation. If Cingrani has to go back to Triple-A, it won’t be fun or deserved at the current pace … but it won’t kill him.

*The Reds pitching staff struck out 13 (more pizza for ticketholders) and have struck out at least 10 batters in six-straight games.

*Manny Parra on the other hand, did not help himself as Sean Marshall prepares to be activated from the DL soon. Even though a worn down bullpen forced him to work a second inning he normally wouldn’t have, he now has 15 hits and seven runs allowed over 6 2/3 innings and six appearances.

Three stars:

No. 3 star: Tony Cingrani (see above).

No. 2 star: Shin-Soo Choo, 3-for-4, walk, run scored — Choo has reached in all 20 games he’s played this season and 18 of his last 23 plate appearances.

No. 1 star: Carlos Villanueva, CHC — 8 1/3 ip, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 99 pitches/63 strikes.

“A lot of junk. A lot of off-speed pitches,” Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He pitched a great game, hat off to him. He almost finished it. We were all over the place with him on those off-speed pitches. He threw a pretty good game.”

Game 21: vs. CHC

*I’m not too surprised Corky Miller is getting a start tonight behind the plate. Devin Mesoraco has caught 35 innings in the last three days. Plus, Miller and Tony Cingrani should be familiar with one another.

Some left over notes from last night I didn’t get to:

*Shin-Soo Choo was plunked again. His 10 HBPs established a new club record for one month. It’s the most HBP for any player in a calendar month since Craig Biggio had 10 in August 1997.

*Never before Monday, since 1900, had Reds pitchers produced five straight games of at least 10 strikeouts. Well, they have now.

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Cueto begins to throw

It was a small step but a key one for injured Reds ace Johnny Cueto. On Monday, Cueto began throwing and was soft tossing from distances of up to 75 feet.

“It went good. I’m happy,” Cueto said afterwards.

Cueto, who went on the disabled list a week ago with a strained right lat muscle, is expected to throw again on Tuesday.

“I just wanted to make sure that we calmed everything down and did strengthening,” head trainer Paul Lessard said. “Now we’ll start throwing as well as an exercise program to keep him strong.”

No date has been set for having Cueto pitch off of mound.

Game 20: vs. CHC; Marshall update

*Reds left-handed reliever Sean Marshall, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 10 (retroactive to 4/8) because of tendinitis in his left shoulder, is scheduled to pitch on a rehab assignment Monday night for Triple-A Louisville, at Indianapolis. Marshall is eligible to be activated on Tuesday. My presumption is if he feels good Tuesday morning after pitching, he will be activated.

UPDATE: Dusty Baker indicated Marshall could get more than one game in his rehab assignment.

“There could be some more. Usually one is not enough,” Baker said. “You’ve got to do a day in between, then usually a back-to-back. We’ll see how he comes out of this.

“Just the fact that he went out is a positive sign.”

*The last time Joey Votto hit a homer in three-straight games was July 26-28 vs. the Mets at GABP.

Reds lineup vs. Cubs

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

Votto, Choo on-base machines

Joey Votto has two home runs and three RBIs over the last two games while going 7-for-11. His batting line is .328/.522/.516. Can we finally agree that Votto isn’t in a funk? Personally, I didn’t think he was before.

Add in that Devin Mesoraco is going to play everyday for a while because of Ryan Hanigan’s injury. The two things I’ve gotten the most questions about seemed to be settled. So, does this mean the Worrywarts Express is off of its tracks for a while? Maybe, but I suspect only temporarily.

Three stars from a 10-6 victory over the Marlins:

No. 3 star: Brandon Phillips, 1-for-3, 1 RBI — Phillips had the go-ahead run with a single to right field to get his 21st RBI of the season.

No. 2 star: Shin-Soo Choo, 2-for-2, 2 HBP, 1 BB, 2 runs scored — Here’s an amazing clip for you…Choo has reached base safely in 11 of his last 12 plate appearances (four walks, two hit-by-pitches, three singles and doubles). It’s really incredible.

“He had a great series against us,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “Obviously he’s a big pick-up for this team. You think about Bruce and Votto and those guys in the middle of that order and not wanting them to beat you, but you forget about Choo. He’s a grinder. He does a lot of different things. He’s a nice piece for those guys and we weren’t bale to hold him down.”

Through his 18 games he has played, Choo has reached safely in all 18. His nine hit-by-pitches are more than what any one team has in the NL. He’s already tied the club record for HBPs in one month. It was held solo by “Turkey” Mike Donlin in May 1903.

“There’s no art to it unless your name is Ron Hunt,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He used to get hit on purpose. Choo ain’t getting hit on purpose.”

Hunt led the league in HBP each season from 1968-74, including 50 in 1971 alone while with the Expos.

“Maybe he thinks he’s a turtle because he just turns and goes in his shell,” Baker joked of Choo.

Choo was asked to explain why it keeps happening.

“Can you ask the pitcher? I don’t know,” Choo said. “They try to throw the inside pitch. I don’t think I’m too close to home plate. I’ve talked a lot to catchers and our pitchers. Pitchers know better than to throw the outside pitch because I can go to the opposite field.”

Choo now has a .523 on-base percentage, which is best in the Majors. It’s a tick above the No. 1 star.

No. 1 star: Joey Votto, 3-for-5, HR, 2 runs scored. As noted above, Votto has a .522 OBP. His homer off of Alex Sanabia gave him homers on consecutive days for the first time since Sept. 10-11, 2011.

There will be much more on Votto in the final version of my story on MLB.com. Click here to read it once it’s up.

Notes:

*With a 10-3 record at GABP, the Reds have more home wins than any team in MLB this season. It’s their best home start since 1994.

*The Reds have struck out at least 10 batters in 4 consecutive games for the first time since May 23-27, 2008:

*The eight-run seventh inning was the Reds’ third inning of the season of at least seven runs.

Hanigan to DL

The Reds placed C Ryan Hanigan on the 15 day DL with a strained left oblique. That wasn’t the injury I expected since Hanigan has had a sore right thumb.

Corky Miller was called up from Louisville and Nick Masset was moved to 60 day DL.

UPDATE: Dusty Baker explained what happened to Hanigan and how he got hurt. It happened on Friday night.

“He did that on the pitch to [Rob] Brantly when he struck out on a high fastball that Chapman. He went up to get it,” Baker said.

For those keeping track — that’s four players on the disabled list through 18 games — Ludwick, Marshall, Cueto and Hanigan.

“We just have to keep rolling regardless of all these things happening,” Baker said. “Mesoraco is catching better and hitting better. He just has to control the running game. It’s hard to control the running game like Hanigan controlled it.”

 

Game 19: vs. MIA

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Game 18: vs. MIA

Looks like Ryan Hanigan’s thumb isn’t doing well today. Dusty Baker waited longer than usual before writing out the lineup because he wanted to see how Hanigan was feeling. Devin Mesoraco starts instead… it’s a rarity for Bronson Arroyo to not have Hanigan as a battery mate.

UPDATE — The last time Arroyo didn’t have Hanigan catching for him was Sept. 27, 2011, vs. the Mets. Mesoraco, a September call-up that year, was behind the plate.

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Reds, Chapman lose

The Three Stars from a 2-1 Reds loss to the Marlins on Friday that ended a four-game win streak:

No. 3 star: Mat Latos — 7 ip, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 105 pitches/75 strikes. Latos has four quality starts but zero decisions to go with his 2.73 ERA. He has 29 strikeouts on the season. Still, it’s been a strong month for a guy who had a 5.97 ERA in April last season for a 5.73 ERA for month lifetime.

“That was the plan, to attack down in the zone,” Latos said. “That’s one thing that I did really good today, was able keep the ball down. A big guy like Stanton, you make a mistake out over the plate and bring it up, he’ll hit it a long way.”

No. 2 star: Justin Ruggiano, MIA — Hit the game-winning homer in the ninth inning against Aroldis Chapman. It came on a 3-1 high fastball and traveled 418 feet to left center field.

“I just waited him out and got the pitch I was looking for. He’s tough, man,” Ruggiano said. “It’s hard to slow him down. I kind of had a two-strike approach the whole time. I told myself ‘don’t get beat up.’ The one thing I didn’t want to do was get beat on a high fast ball.”

No. 1 star: To Boston law enforcement, the FBI and the resident tipster that told them about the boat. Job well done tonight.
The crowd of 26,112 fans at GABP agreed. During the eighth inning, the videoboard posted the following simple message “The suspect is alive and in custody.” Cheers erupted immediately.

Notes:

*Joey Votto’s on base streak ended at 16 games to start the season. Votto was 0-for-3 with his sacrifice fly in the first inning accounting for the Reds’ lone run.

*Shin-Soo Choo had a triple in the first to extend his reach safely streak to 16 games. It was his 20th career triple.

*Reds pitchers have walked four and struck out 48 during the last five games and have a 1.40 ERA. While the winning streak is over, they have held opponents to two runs or less in each of the five games this homestand.

*Reds defense has not committed an error since April 8 at STL. The 10-game streak is the longest since 2010.

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