April 2013

Game 17: vs MIA

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Win streak at 4

If there is ever a week that underscores why getting too depressed over a Reds losing streak or too giddy from a win streak — it’s this one. The team returned home from Pittsburgh in the pits after losing five in a row.

Through four games on the 10-game homestand, they’ve won four-straight. And Thursday’s 11-1 win over the Marlins gave them 22 runs in two games.

“It’s crazy how baseball is,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We go through little ruts on the road. We started off so hot. On the road, we don’t do anything. Then we come back and it’s just crazy. And we’re only 15-16 games in. It’s already been a cycle of good and bad. It’s just a matter of keeping that even keel and understanding you can do that if you concentrate.”

The Reds were fortunate to get the Phillies when they were struggling and the Marlins are now 3-13. But they are taking advantage of what’s in front of them, which is mandatory during stretches like this.

Click here for the game story on MLB.com.

Three stars:

No. 3 star: Shin-Soo Choo, 2-for-4, two runs, one RBI — Choo had the first hit off of Jose Fernandez, a two-out single in the third inning. Choo scored on a wild pitch to Joey Votto and added a RBI double to left field in the four-run fouth. He has reached safely in all 15 games he’s played.

No. 2 star: Todd Frazier, 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBIs — Frazier pounded a 421-foot home run to center field in the sixth to help turn the game into a rout. He leads the club with five homers.

No. 1 star: Tony Cingrani, 5 ip, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 102 pitches/65 strikes. Not bad for a first big league start. Did Cingrani run up his pitch count early and not locate all that well at times? Sure. But he also made pitches when he had to. Miami was 0-for-8 RISP against him.

“He was as good as advertised,” shortstop Zack Cozart said. “We’ve seen him pitch before. He has that fastball. It seems like they never get a good swing on it. They know it’s coming and they can’t really do anything with it. When you have a good fastball, you’re going to be successful. He pitched well.”

Notes:

*Cozart has a four-game hitting streak after his 2-for-4, two RBI game.

*During the homestand, Reds pitchers have a 1.25 ERA. (5 ER, 36 innings). Opponents are batting .157 in the four games.

Game 16: vs. MIA

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Sweep of Phils no easy feat

Following a five-game losing streak, the Reds notched an impressive three-game sweep of the Phillies. The suspended game was completed in nine minutes for a 1-0 win, following by a full-on rout in an 11-2 win in the finale. Click here for the full game story on MLB.com.

Your Three Stars of the night:

No. 3 star: Jay Bruce: 2-for-4, two RBIs. Bruce gets extra credit for also having the bases-loaded RBI single for the walk-off win in the conclusion of the suspended game.

“You ride the ups and minimize the downs, as an individual and as a team. We do a good job of that,” Bruce said. “Mike pitched a great game. It was nice to see that out of him.”

No. 2 star: Zack Cozart: 3-for-5, double, HR, two RBIs. Cozart just missed a homer in the bottom of the first inning with a double off of the top of the wall (upheld by replay). In the fifth, his two-run homer to left field went 422-feet and in the upper deck of the left field bleachers.

No. 1 star: Mike Leake: 7 ip, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 7 K, 81 pitches/58 strikes. Also, 3-for-4 with his first career triple and three runs scored. He is the first Reds pitcher to score at least 3 runs in a game since Danny Jackson scored 4 runs on 9/4/88 vs Cubs.

“I needed the good performance rather than the hits, but it definitely helped,” Leake said.

Notes:

*How tough have the Phillies been on the Reds? This tough: the last series sweep they earned from the Phillies was in 1996, when they swept a pair of four-game series in Cincinnati and Philadelphia. The last three-game series sweep was in 1995. The Reds haven’t won ANY series from the Phillies since taking two of three at GABP June 28-30, 2010.

*The Reds starters — Arroyo, Bailey and Leake allowed two runs over 23 innings. Leake/Bailey had a combined 15 scoreless.

*The last triple by a Reds pitcher was by Dontrelle Willis on 8/9/11 vs. Colorado.

*Todd Frazier has four homers this season, as his drive to right field started the five-run second inning. It was his first homer since April 5 vs. the Nationals.

*Devin Mesoraco was 2-for-4 with two doubles — the first time he’s had two doubles in a game in the Majors.

*Derrick Robinson notched his first RBI in the second inning with a single to right field that scored Leake.

Game 15: vs PHI

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Cingrani for Thursday

The Reds made official that LHP Tony Cingrani will be called up from Triple-A Louisville to start on Thursday vs. the Marlins in Johnny Cueto’s spot. A corresponding 25-man roster move to make room for Cingrani likely won’t be announced until either after Wednesday’s nights game vs. the Phillies, or Thursday morning.

Cingrani was dominant in his three 2013 starts for Louisville: 1-0, 0.00 ERA with 14 1/3 ip, 3 H, 2 BB, 26 K, 1 HBP. His last start on Sunday was cut short after two innings/45 pitches once Cueto was injured and he might be needed. His first start of the year, vs. Toledo, had six hitless innings with 14 strikeouts.

This will be Cingrani’s first big league start but there were three big league relief appearances last season as a September call-up, including one vs. the Marlins on Sept. 15. He pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings with a walk and three strikeouts.

Play suspended in 9th inning

One of the numerous things I enjoy about my job covering baseball is you often see something you’ve never seen before. For me, it was seeing a scoreless game suspended in the ninth inning and having it set to resume the following day.

That’s where the Reds and Phillies stood on Tuesday: 0-0 tie heading into the bottom of the ninth with Zack Cozart, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips due to bat when play resumes Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. After that, the series finale will begin no earlier than 7:10.

“It’s strange to have the first at-bat at home,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

No three stars tonight but Homer Bailey would be deserving of the No. 1 star. He had no-hitter quality stuff, even if he allowed only two singles over eight innings with no walks and 10 strikeouts. Unfortunately for Bailey, he ran into Kyle Kendrick, who was strong for seven scoreless.

“We felt pretty good today,” Bailey said. “This weather was kind of muggy, you could sweat a lot. Hanigan did a great job back there. We were on the same page all night.

“A lot of respect to Kyle Kendrick. He threw the hell out of the ball. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes, especially with a 0-0 game. You have to go out there and stay sharp. It makes it a little easier to stay focused.”

Game suspension info from the Reds:

“The conclusion of tonight’s game has been postponed because of continued inclement weather. Fans with tickets to tonight’s game will need to exchange them for tomorrow night’s game only, location subject to availability. Fans who exchange their tickets can watch both the conclusion of tonight’s game, which will begin at 5:30 p.m., and tomorrow’s regularly scheduled game, which will not begin before 7:10 p.m.. Gates will open at 4:30. Tomorrow’s game is not an extension of tonight’s Bark in the Park event, and pets will not be admitted.”

No Chapman in 8th

One of the frequently asked questions, especially when situations come up like  Bronson Arroyo giving up a game-tying two out home run to Phillies pinch-hitter Chase Utley in the eighth inning on Monday, is why didn’t Dusty Baker take out the pitcher?

“Bronson is not that easy to know when to take out,” Baker said on Tuesday. “Sometimes he’ll give it up, sometimes he won’t. If you leave him in there and he gives it up, it’s ‘why didn’t you take him out?’ Then if you take him out and the next guy gives it up, it’s ‘why didn’t you leave him in there?’

“He only had 80-some pitches. We were playing at home and [Utley] was pinch-hitting. He’s a great hitter but all he could do was tie up the game. It would be different if he had a chance to win the game because we had the last at-bat. All of that comes into play.”

The Reds don’t currently have left-hander Sean Marshall for eighth-inning situations. They do have lefty Manny Parra. Of course, there is also lefty closer Aroldis Chapman. If he needs to get a lefty out in the eighth, especially during this series, Baker would most consider Sam LeCure.

While Baker admitted he’s mulled over using Chapman for four-out saves, it’s not something he plans to do this early in the season.

“Parra, they’ve had good success off of Parra – [Utley] and Howard. Real good success,” Baker said. “When do you warm [Chapman] up? Do you warm him up at the start of the eighth? That’s what you’d have to do to have him ready at the end the eighth. It’s easy to have somebody loose but you’re going to tire your bullpen out before they even get in the game. It’s easy afterwards.”

The manager is aware there is plenty of second-guessing of his in-game maneuvers.

“I was thinking about that. I wish somebody would tell me before Bronson gives it up,” Baker said.

Game 14: vs. PHI

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Losing streak snapped

Notes from a 4-2 Reds win over the Phillies that snapped a five-game losing streak:

*What a duel for Bronson Arroyo and Cliff Lee. Both pitchers exchanged zeroes over the first six innings. Click here for the full game story.

*Not a bad thing when a guy named Robinson (Derrick) scores the go-ahead run on Jackie Robinson Day. Brandon Phillips had the big bases-loaded, two-run single for the win in the eighth.

*Jay Bruce had a terrific 10-pitch plate appearance vs. Lee in the seventh. Not only was he down 0-2, he worked his way back and survived a near strikeout on a 1-2 check swing and fouled off a total of six pitches. There was a wild pitch that scored the game’s first run on a 2-2 pitch. On the 10th pitch, it was low and away and Bruce walked. It snapped a 169-batter streak without a walk for Lee, who gave up his last bases-on-balls on Sept. 17.

“He battled right there,” Lee said. “I made him a lot of really good pitches that he fouled off. He kept fighting and ended up working a walk. It was a good at-bat by him. I was ahead and he battled his way back into the count and drew a walk.”

*Defense was sensational in the earlier innings. In the top of the first inning, Phillips made a slick diving stop to his left on Jimmy Rollins’ sharp grounder and notched the inning’s second out. In the bottom of the second, Phillies center fielder Ben Revere had the play of the night with an over-the-shoulder diving catch at the warning track to rob Todd Frazier. Bruce, running on the play from first base, was easily thrown out for the double play. To start the bottom of the third, Revere made a long run for a nice catch and crash into the fence to take a hit away from Ryan Hanigan. To end the top of the fifth, 3B Todd Frazier backhanded a grounder from Erik Kratz and turned a 5-4-3 double play.

*Arroyo, who was part of the Red Sox from 2003-05 and was a fan favorite in Boston, had some thoughts on the tragedy earlier in the day.

“It’s right downtown where people love to congregate and have a good time,” Arroyo said. “There are a lot of bars in that area. I’m sure it’s going to leave a stain on the Back Bay for a while, which is definitely not pleasant.

“This is going to change the landscape of Marathon Monday in Boston, which is a huge deal which is just sad….A lot of guys on the team would run down there [near the finish] because Curt Schilling’s wife was running in it and Mike Timlin’s wife was in the race. It’s an event in Boston and close to home for everybody. It’s definitely sad.”

*For more on what others around baseball thought about the tragedy in Boston, click here.

*As for me, I try to keep things to only baseball on this blog partly because you don’t need another place to feel the stresses of the non-baseball world. But, I want to offer condolences to all of those directly affected by the bombings at the Boston Marathon. I’m heartbroken for everyone there. I just can’t believe the world sometimes.

Three stars…but only one that matters most tonight:

No. 1 star: Boston’s first responders. I saw some disturbing images today but it was incredibly moving to see police, paramedics and volunteers rushing towards the blast scene mere moments after the explosions. It was the true definition of bravery.

*The Reds issued this statement:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and friends affected by this afternoon’s events in Boston. While we won’t comment specifically on security procedures at Great American Ball Park, we can assure our fans that their safety always has been and always will be the number one priority of our staff and local law enforcement agencies. We encourage all of our employees and fans to continue to focus on their surroundings and to notify our security staff if they feel the need to do so.”

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