Reds lineup vs. Cardinals
It’s the home opener for the Cardinals. There’s a ton of buzz around the yard and the light rail to Busch Stadium was packed.
Well, we didn’t get the double perfect game everyone expected from a Johnny Cueto-Stephen Strasburg matchup on Sunday. I know I’m stretching the hype there but I’m sure more was expected. Neither pitcher was very crisp but Cueto was the winner in a 6-3 Reds victory.
Cueto: 6 ip, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 108 pitches/71 strikes. (including 30-pitch, three-run top of the 2nd)
Strasburg: 5 1/3 ip, 9 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 114 pitches/73 strikes
“I talked to Johnny Bench today before the game. Nobody can figure it out,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “What appears to be a low-scoring pitching matchup ends up [with] both sides scoring, seeming early, at will. Neither one was real sharp. Johnny wasn’t real sharp. He threw a lot of pitches in six innings, same as Strasburg. Who’s to know?”
Click here for the complete game story on MLB.com.
No. 3 star: Kurt Suzuki, WAS (3-for-4, two doubles, 3-run HR) Suzuki’s homer off of Cueto made it a 3-3 game and took away the early advantage the Reds had early as Cueto admitted to being less than 100 percent.
No. 2 star: Derrick Robinson (first Major League hit, scored go-ahead run in the seventh inning) Robinson slashed a hard single on the ground into left field, booked from first to third on a Choo single to center field. His speed came in very handy as he scored on a groundball to second base. He beat Danny Espinosa’s on-target throw to Suzuki at the plate. I don’t think any other Reds player on the roster could have scored there.
“It was a great feeling to get that first one out of the way, especially in that situation – starting a rally right there to help us get ahead and win the game,” Robinson said. He got a big cheer when his first hit was acknowledged on the video board.
No. 1 star: Jay Bruce (2-for-5, 3 RBIs) Bruce staked the Reds to 2-0 lead with a double to left field off of Strasburg and reached on an infield high bouncer to shortstop for a RBI hit.
“It was a curveball that he left up,” Bruce said of his first inning hit vs. Strasburg. “I was able to do something with it. Especially against a guy like that, you have to take what he gives you. You’re going to get a whole lot to hit. With two strikes, you just have to see the ball as deeply as you can and try to put it in play.”
*Brandon Phillips was 2-for-5 with an RBI single in the sixth. Through the first two series, Phillips is 9-for-27 (.333) with one homer and five RBIs.
*Strasburg did have one very positive moment in the game when his 89 mph changeup faded outside against Joey Votto in the second inning. It was 100 percent filthy. Votto could only muster a lunging type of swing for strike three.
*After all the wondering about Sean Marshall earlier, he debuted in the seventh inning and looked very good retiring the side in order. His 75 mph curveball struck out Bryce Harper to end the inning.
*As pointed out by Jamie Ramsey, the Reds were retired in order twice during this series.
*The pitching staff now has 62 strikeouts through six games.
*The Reds defense has gone 39 innings without committing an error.
*The Reds are off to a 4-2 start after a pair of nice series wins over the Angels and Nationals. St. Louis is next.
“We can hit. No matter who is out there, whether it’s Joe Schmo or Strasburg, we’re hitters. It’s not going to deter from what we’re supposed to do in our mindset, no matter who it is.” – Todd Frazier
One of the big questions I’ve gotten lately from fans, and a couple of scouts this morning: Is LHP Sean Marshall going on the disabled list? As of before today’s game, no.
Marshall hasn’t pitched since March 22 because of some fatigue in his left shoulder. He was thought to have been available Friday but hasn’t been seen out of the bullpen. With the way the Reds have had to use their bullpen, especially with two extra-innings games in the first five of the season, a fresh arm should be needed. J.J. Hoover has already worked three games, and took the two losses in extras.
If the Reds don’t use Marshall Sunday and put him on the DL, they could backdate the move retroactively to March 22. That would make him eligible to be activated whenever he’s ready.
One potential issue is a lack of big league-tested arms at Triple-A Louisville that are also on the 40-man roster. RHP Logan Ondrusek is currently at Double-A Pensacola working on some stuff. RHP Jose Arredondo is at Louisville but was outrighted off of the roster at the end of Spring Training. RHP Clay Hensley, one of the final camp cuts after a mostly solid spring, is also there.
UPDATE: This blog post was quickly rendered moot as Marshall entered the game for his 2013 debut in the seventh inning vs. Washington. He looked quite good while retiring the side in order and struck out third batter Bryce Harper on a 75 mph curveball.
Reds lineup vs. Nationals:
Lots and lots of home runs — six in fact and 19 hits total — gave the Reds a 15-0 rout of the Nationals. Click here for the full game story.
No. 3 star: Homer Bailey (6 ip, 2 H, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 pitches/56 strikes) Bailey said he didn’t feel all that strong but he was ultimately effective. Four of his K’s were called — two of them were 95 mph heaters that froze Ryan Zimmerman to begin the second inning and Ian Desmond to end the fourth.
“Homer wasn’t that sharp tonight but was able to get out of trouble,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
No. 2 star: Zack Cozart: (2-for-4, two home runs, career-best 5 RBIs) Not a bad to get off of the 0-for-11 schneid through the first three games. Cozart followed Todd Frazier in the second innings for back-to-back homers on the first pitch and returned in the third with a three-run shot. Then there was his sac fly in the fifth inning.
“For me personally, you don’t want to think about it – starting 0-for-11 – because it’s such a long season,” Cozart said. “But you’re going to think about it. I was just going up there trying to get a hit and ran into one. I can’t hit them as far as Fraz obviously, so I just try to get them over the wall.”
No. 1 star: For the second game in a row, I’m going with Todd Frazier (4-for-5, two homers, 4 RBIs). Frazier hit a monster 437-foot solo shot to the upper deck bleachers in the second inning for the game’s first homer. Who knew that five more in the game would follow? Frazier added a two-run shot to right field in the seven-run seventh.
“When you get into a groove hitting wise, it seems like nothing can get you out,” Frazier said. “Whatever you’re doing – swinging with one hand or do something silly, it still feels like you’re going to hit the ball hard.”
*Xavier Paul pinch-hit with two outs in the seventh and added the first grand slam of his career.
*The single-team record for homers in a game at Great American Ball Park is seven, done three times by the Reds – the most recently in 2011.
*Shin-Soo Choo was hit by a 1-2 pitch from Dan Haren in the second inning. Choo already has three HBPs through four games.
*Manny Parra made his Reds debut with two scoreless innings. He also went 1-for-2 at the plate.
*Reds pitchers had seven strikeouts in this game, bringing the season total to 43 — a franchise record through the first four games of the season.
*At Triple-A Louisville, Billy Hamilton had three steals vs. Toledo but exited the game in the fourth inning after diving back to second base on a pickoff throw. Louisville did not detail the injury but said Hamilton was day-to-day.
The Reds earned a 5-4 victory over the Angels Thursday and two of three to claim the series. My game story on MLB.com (final version coming soon) will focus mainly on the quality Reds pitching in the series (a club record 36 strikeouts).
But for this game, here are the three stars:
No. 3 star: Sam LeCure: After Alfredo Simon gave up a run in the seventh, LeCure shut the door in the eighth by striking out the side. It was big especially since Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and J.J. Hoover were not available. It nicely bridged to the ninth when Aroldis Chapman got the save while facing the tough top 4 of the Angels lineup
No. 2 star: Shin-Soo Choo: (2-for-4, HR, single). Choo was given a signed lineup card for his first home run as a Red. On Joe Blanton’s first pitch, he went to the opposite field for the sixth leadoff homer of his career that cleared the fence in left-center field.
“I think there was a good chance for the first at-bat and the leadoff hitter to see a fastball,” Choo said. “I was looking for a fastball middle-away. It was a good spot to hit it.”
No. 1 star: Todd Frazier: (2-for-3, HR, double) Starting Cincinnati’s half of the second inning, Todd Frazier sent a 1-2 Blanton pitch into the left field seats for his first homer of the season. In the fourth, Frazier just missed his second homer with a drive off of the yellow line at the top of the left-center field wall. Video replay upheld a call of a double and E8 on Mike Trout for bobbling the ball.
While playing in during the top of the third, Frazier also robbed Trout with a nice snag of a sharp groundball to third base.
“He’s one of my good buddies,” Frazier said of the fellow New Jersey resident. “We were talking and telling each other ‘have a good year.’ I said ‘keep swinging like you do. You know your capabilities.’”
For more on the Trout-Frazier connection, check out this notebook item from MLB.com Angels beat reporter Alden Gonzalez.
*Joey Votto and Jay Bruce did not enjoy good series overall, which made the solid pitching even more important. Votto was 1-for-10 in the series with Wednesday’s game-winning RBI single. Bruce was 1-for-13 with seven strikeouts and stranded 14 runners on base. Reds manager Dusty Baker said Bruce would be taking some extra swings in the cage on Friday.
“I guess you’d rather have it now. You really don’t want to have it ever,” Baker said. “He gets into one of these strikeout streaks and sometimes you don’t know what to tell him.”
It’s been noticed that LHP Sean Marshall has not been among the Reds relievers used in the first two games, including the 13-inning game on Monday. It turns out that Marshall has been what manager Dusty Baker described only as “ailing.” Marshall went into more detail Thursday morning.
“Spring Training was so long. I think I peaked a little early,” Marshall said. “I was getting a little bit of fatigue in my shoulder. It’s just precautionary. They have me doing some therapy and getting it strong again. I’m probably a day or two away. I’ll probably be ready by Friday night’s game.”
The last big league spring game Marshall pitched was on March 22.
“The guys in the bullpen have done such a good job when I couldn’t have pitched in the first two games,” Marshall said. “And we had the off day in between. It gave me enough time to finish my recovery. I threw some bullpens in between and just haven’t tried to overdo it and get setback. I’ve made good progress. I will throw today and hopefully be ready for tomorrow’s game.”
The Reds were 5-4 winners over the Angels on a RBI single in the bottom of the ninth by Joey Votto. Click here for the complete game story, which will include (once the second version is published) a breakdown on the strategy by both sides in the bottom of the ninth.
Your 3 stars:
No. 3 star: Mat Latos (6 2/3 ip, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 2 HR) Latos, he of the 2-8 record and 5.73 ERA lifetime in March/April coming in, was pretty brilliant. His best inning was the fourth when he struck of the side of Pujols, Hamilton and Trumbo. In both the fifth and sixth innings, Latos helped himself with double plays on the ground. Two elevated pitches led to a pair of homers that kept the Angels in the game.
No. 2 star: Brandon Phillips (1-for-3, 3-run HR) Phillips came close to a homer with a nice drive that was caught in the second inning. In the fourth, he got all of a C.J. Wilson 1-1 pitch and launched it well over the left field fence. His move to the cleanup spot for Ryan Ludwick is already paying off.
“When you hit fourth, you’re No. 1 goal is to drive in runners,” Phillips said. “That’s what I tried to do. I’m not worried about my batting average. I’m not worried about getting anybody over. I’m not worried about bunting. My job is to drive in runners.”
No. 1 star: Joey Votto (1-for-3, RBI single, two walks) After the Chris Heisey sac bunt in the ninth moved Shin-Soo Choo to second base, Votto hit a first-pitch breaking ball through the right side for the game winner that snapped a 4-4 tie.
Votto, who got his first hit of the season, was not expecting an intentional walk there.
“I needed to be prepared for whatever I was going to be presented with. I assumed nothing,” Votto said. “I was pitched to. I was prepared beforehand so I wasn’t stunned if they were going to pitch to me or if they were going to walk me. I want to be surprised every time I get intentionally walked. That’s what I tried to do. I think that’s the right way to play the game.”
*Reds pitchers have totaled 27 strikeouts through two games — including 10 on Wednesday.
*Had the game gone to extras, it would have been the first time since 1943 the Reds played more than nine innings in each of the first two games of a season.