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.
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.
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.”
*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.
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.
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.”
*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.
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.
*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
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.
*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.
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.”