Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’

Nice night for naught for Volquez

 As good as Edinson Volquez pitched, he deserved a better outcome. But one fastball that missed location to Yadier Molina became a three-run home run in a 3-0 loss. Not helping was Cardinals starter Jake Westrbook with his 9.82 ERA shutting the Reds lineup down.

Volquez had a nice fastball working and a nice changeup. He was hitting 97 mph. He even got through the first inning for the first time this season without allowing a run.

“I think he took a pretty good swing on that ball,” Volquez said of Molina’s homer. “He’s real aggressive with runners on base, especially deep in the game. He’s always hitting the ball the other way and I think he was looking for that pitch inside. He took a very good swing.”


*Molina appeared to enjoy his homer an awful lot, with a raised fist in the air after it cleared the fence and a curtain call after returning to the dugout. Some wondered if it might bring retribution later on. Sure enough in the eighth, Aroldis Chapman came in very tight at the midsection with a fastball. Molina looked Chapman’s way and both benches were warned. I asked Dusty Baker later if there was some displeasure at Molina’s homer celebration, but he said no. Also Chapman threw inside at Molina with two runners on. If he hit Molina, it would’ve loaded the bases and likely could have helped blow a still close game open.

“Every time you hit a home run, what do you want? You want to be mad? Or sad?” Molina said. “No. you’ve got enjoy it, man, especially me. I don’t hit a bunch of home runs. Every time I get an opportunity to enjoy it, that’s the way you have to play this game — fun.  [Volquez] is a great pitcher. He was throwing hard. The breaking ball was good. He was pretty good today.”

*Joey Votto continues to be a base-reaching machine despite the lack of quality of pitches he sees. Votto walked twice (once intentionally) and hit a ninth-inning double. He has reached  in all 22 games played this season.

*Jonny Gomes has struggled hitting clean up behind Votto with Scott Rolen out. Gomes was 0-for-3 with a walk and all three outs came with runners in scoring position. The Reds were 0-for-5 overall RISP. Since moving into the fourth spot, Gomes is 1-for-12. Baker did not say if he was considering a lineup change.

*Nick Masset had another nice relief outing with a perfect 1 1/3 innings. He’s had four-straight scoreless appearances since the two bad games at San Diego.

*Chapman has not allowed an earned run in 10 appearances, 9 2/3 innings.


“He threw the ball better than he has in a couple of years – under control, throwing strikes, and excellent changeup, a good breaking ball. I thought we were going to get out of that one inning. He popped up a couple of guys.” — Dusty Baker on Volquez

“Good stuff, man. He was having his live fastball that he’s had in the past and keeping that changeup down really good man. He threw me a 3-2, really, really nasty changeup. He was mixing his pitches. I guess he made one mistake and Yadi took advantage. Besides that he was keeping everybody off-balance and was pitching in and out and mixed his pitches pretty well. he always had that stuff, and the main thing is if he can stay healthy, he’s going to be one of the good ones in the game.” Albert Pujols on Volquez

“I just made a mistake, wrong pitch to him. I know he’s really aggressive with runners on base. I just threw the wrong pitch. That was my call too. Ryan wanted a different pitch. I made a mistake. He wanted a changeup because we got him out the AB before with breaking ball, changeup and a fastball/two-seamer to strike out in his last at-bat. He was looking straight fastball.” — Edinson Volquez on the Molina at-bat.

Who is your NL MVP?

The outcome of the National League MVP vote will be revealed at 2 p.m. ET. The Reds’ Joey Votto remains the favorite and nothing I’ve read in the last few weeks has me to think the winner will be otherwise.

Unfortunately, most of the reporters aren’t allowed membership by the Baseball Writers Assocation of America because of BBWAA rules and thus, are not allowed to vote for their BBWAA-sanctioned awards. So I do not have a vote. Meanwhile, there are BBWAA members that don’t cover as many (or any) games as us that do get to vote. Go figure.

If I did have a vote — I’d go with Votto first, Albert Pujols second and Carlos Gonzalez third. If I’m not mistaken, the voters can select up to 10 players for their ballots.

Here is my story from Friday where I make the case for Votto:

My St. Louis colleague, Matthew Leach, made the case for Pujols

And’s Brian McTaggart did an overview on Votto, Pujols and Gonzalez.

If you had a vote — and could be objective — how would you fill out your ballot?

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Postgame: Reds in good shape

The postgame blog entry is coming to you from Lambert Airport because I had to make a fast getaway from the yard. I have a flight to Denver to catch.

*The bad news is the Reds lost two out of three. Considering the Cardinals starting pitching they faced, that’s not a bad outcome. Getting swept, thumped or both would have been the true debacle.

*The Reds have a seven-game lead in the NL Central over the Cardinals with 26 games left. St. Louis, in the midst of a stretch of 31-straight games to end the year, has the tougher schedule down the stretch and have played terrible lately. Is the division locked up? Not quite, but the Reds are in about as good of position as they could want. Give the Reds credit for not acting like they already playoff-bound.

*Fortunately for Cincinnati, Albert Pujols did not come to life during the series. He’s in a 1-for-23 skid, and was 1-for-10 in the series. He still figured prominently in the decisive moment.

*Homer Bailey intentionally walked Pujols to face Matt Holliday. I have no problem with that move and Baker’s rationale was spot on.

“It’s kind of a situation where you pick your poison,” Baker said. “The longer Albert goes without a hit, the more likely he’s about to get a hit.”

Later after the game, Baker also said this:

“Is he going to remain cold or is he due? And that’s the question. I chose the fact that he was due. We had the same situation here the last time. We chose to pitch to Albert with first base open and got burned.”

Bailey had a shot at Holliday since he had him in a 1-2 count. But Holliday got two foul tips. Then Bailey shook off Ryan Hanigan — twice. Holliday received a 96 mph fastball that tailed back over the plate.

Ballgame. Three-run homer for Holliday. 4-2 win for the Cardinals.

“It’s part of the learning process. You have to trust your catcher to direct you through the ballgame,” Baker said.

*Until the sixth, Bailey was enjoying one of the finest outings I’ve ever seen him have. Very efficient, he had 37 pitches through four innings. He threw a seven-pitch first inning, a six-pitch third and a nine-pitch fourth. He had two hits allowed through his first five innings.

More quotes —

“I wanted it black or off and didn’t get it black or off. I just kind of missed my spot there…
It wasn’t for a strike. It was to get off the plate but it didn’t get off the plate.” — Homer Bailey on the fateful pitch to Holliday.

“We came in and took one and that’s huge for us. You like where we stand. The way we’ve played as of late, even though we came in and lost two of three, I think we’re in a good position. Everybody is feeling good about themselves. It should be an interesting run down the stretch.” — Drew Stubbs

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Friday vs. Cardinals

Friday lineup vs STL

Cabrera 6
Phillips 4
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Gomes 7
Bruce 9
Stubbs 8
Hanigan 2
Harang 1

*For those who are curious, this is Albert Pujols’ split vs. the Reds this season:

.409/.519/.773 with two home runs, nine RBIs, five walks (incl. two intentional), five strikeouts.

A writer in St. Louis during the last series pointed out that Dusty Baker managed teams have intentionally walked Pujols 20 times over his career.

Question of the day: When is it OK for the Reds to pitch to Pujols this weekend (besides when there is no one on)?

*Asked about the importance of the series with the Cardinals, Baker did not play the ‘it’s early’ card.

“It’s never too early when you’re facing somebody in your division, especially a perennial-type foe that’s usually near the top somewhere. You figure it’s three less games you’re going to play them at some point in time whether you’re trying to pad the lead or cut the lead.

“This is a good test for us. It’s a good test for our young players to be in a pressure situation.  It’s an invaluable learning experience to be in a pennant race.”

Some numbers:

The Reds lead the NL with a .988 fielding percentage and come into Friday without an error in eight games. They haven’t gone at least nine games without an error since 1997. Of course, fielding percentage can be a little misleading because it’s only about balls gotten to.

Over the last seven days, the Reds lead the Majors with a .318 team average, ahead of the Twins .299 and the Phillies and Nationals — which were batting .298.

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The Great Pujols debate

Dusty Baker had a rationale for letting Homer Bailey pitch to Albert Pujols in the seventh inning on Saturday. It’s coming but first a set up of the situation:

A 1-1 game, Skip Schumaker on second base with a stolen base with first base open and two outs. Matt Holliday on deck. Pujols was 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a first-inning intentional walk.

Bailey had a 1-2 count before throwing two more balls. On Bailey’s 3-2 pitch — and career-high pitch No. 121 of the day — Pujols ripped a RBI double to put St. Louis ahead.

“He was supposed to throw him something to fish and it got over the heart of the plate,” Baker said. “The kid had 120 pitches. If I walk out there, the kid right then has no chance if I go to somebody in my bullpen. We were operating short in the bullpen. I wanted to give the kid a chance to win the game because he pitched his butt off. He pitched great.”

St. Louis added another run in the inning. The Reds came back and tied it in the eighth before losing, 6-3.

“If it had been the eighth or ninth, it would have been no problem,” Baker said about the idea of giving Pujols the intentional pass. “In the seventh,  I said ‘ok we’ve got two more innings to come back.'”

On Twitter, a few people questioned Baker’s decision to pitch to Pujols. Anyone else want to chime in with their two cents. What would you do there?

Me? I would have intentionally walked Pujols there and let a fresh Carlos Fisher take his chances against Matt Holliday. I get Baker’s rationale though for wanting to get his guy the win. 

Of course, are we even having the discussion if Pujols’ liner was caught or if Bailey made that last pitch for strike three?

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Friday – Reds vs Cubs

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Cabrera 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes 7
Hernandez 2
Bailey 1

*Bronson Arroyo, who was drilled in the leg by a Colby Rasmus line drive on Thursday, was doing much better Friday.

“Drugs are good. I walked out of here yesterday and could barely walk,” Arroyo said. “And about four hours later, the anti-inflammatories hit hard. I was feeling pretty good. It’s 80 percent already. I feel pretty good. It’s 80 percent already. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was going to be hobbling in here today.”

Arroyo has never missed a start because of injury and didn’t think his next start on Tuesday would be affected.

“Oh I’m fine. I could pitch today if I had to,” he said.

*Someone tried to be funny by leaving Arroyo a “commemorative” ball for his 1,000th career strikeout, which came vs. Albert Pujols. Arroyo’s named was spelled with one ‘R’ and Pujols’ name was spelled “Alberto Poojols.”

*It likely happened a few times last season but someone pointed out that the Reds will have three first-round Draft picks in tonight’s lineup — Drew Stubbs (2006), Jay Bruce (2005) and Homer Bailey (2004). When Mike Leake (2009) is added to the team Sunday, there will be four of the Reds’ first-rounders on the 25-man roster.

*For those looking to see Aroldis Chapman’s Triple-A Louisville on Sunday at Toledo, the game will be streamed live on First-pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.

*Saw on MLBTraderumors that former Red Ryan Freel signed with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League. After Freel bounced through four big league organizations last season, this does not surprise me at all.

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Baker: No broken spirits

Before Sunday’s game, a reporter asked Dusty Baker about the bullpen and how it’s done vs. Albert Pujols in the series. Of course on Friday, Pujols whacked a grand slam off of David Weathers but grounded out vs. Nick Masset on Saturday.

Here is a fantastic quote:

“It’s not us against Albert,” Baker said. “It’s us against the Cardinals. Albert happens to be the grand Cardinal. He is the grand of a lot of stuff.”

Back to the Reds, this will be a pretty big week as they roll into the All-Star break with a six-game road trip to Philadelphia and New York.

“This is going to be some good baseball before the break,” Baker said. “We have the hard-hitting Phillies and the Mets. The Cardinals have the Brewers and the Cubs. Things can change rather quickly.”

After St. Louis, the Brewers will host the best team in baseball, the Dodgers, heading into the break.

None of the six NL Central teams can technically considered out of the race. Even the last-place Pirates, despite their rash of trades, are still only six games out of first.

The Reds entered Sunday 40-39 and two games out.

“There are no broken spirits yet,” Baker said. “Usually by the All-Star break, there are some broken spirits. The spirits are still alive. It makes for good baseball.”

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Yes Phillips, No Votto

It appears the only Joey Votto that will be seen in great amounts is the bobblehead version being distributed tonight. The real Votto is missing his third-straight game because of the flu. As expected, fellow flu victim Brandon Phillips is back in the lineup.

Reds lineup:

Taveras CF
Hairston SS
Bruce RF
Phillips 2B
Nix LF
Hernandez 1B
Rosales 3B
Hanigan C
Harang P

I briefly talked to Votto, who still feels lousy but better than he had been doing. He was about to take groundballs and do some light hitting to see how he felt. Obviously, he doesn’t like missing time but wasn’t down in the dumps about it. After all, the makeshift lineup the Reds used went 2-0.

“You know what? It would bother me a whole lot more if we hadn’t won,” Votto said. “Then it could have been a what-if situation. But we won. I’m part of the team. My job is to help the team win. If I’m not part of the lineup and we still win, that’s all that matters.”

Votto could return Sunday, but definitely should be back on Monday for the road trip opener at Arizona.

Incidentally, Votto and Brandon Phillips both shot a television commerical together on Thursday — the day they became ill. Votto apparently had been sick longer than it was known and infected Phillips. The Reds were able to treat Phillips early enough that he could return sooner.

Alex Gonzalez took groundballs and swung the bat a little. He was deemed “better” by manager Dusty Baker but a decision on whether or not to DL Gonzalez could come soon.

A reporter brought up Albert Pujols going 0-for-4 for St. Louis last night and Baker made this potentially foreshadowing quote:

“When he goes 0-fer, it means something bad is about to happen pretty soon,” Baker said.

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