Results tagged ‘ Dontrelle Willis ’

I’m back, and Alonso is back in LF

Good to be with you from the ballpark again…

Reds lineup vs. Nationals

Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Bruce 9
Hernandez 2
Alonso 7
Frazier 5
Leake 1

*Interesting that Yonder Alonso is back in LF today. While I was out, it seemed from my reading as if the Reds had scrapped the idea that he could play there in the Majors. His last game there was Aug. 6 at Chicago.

*An MRI taken on LHP Dontrelle Willis’ left forearm came back normal. He is expected to make his start on Saturday at PIT as scheduled.

*If you were asleep late last night, here is my story on two last minute signings of top Draft pick Robert Stephenson and LHP/hoops prospect Amir Garrett.

*Homer Bailey, Logan Ondrusek and Dave Sappelt visited troops at the National Naval Medical Center.

*Today is Ryan Hanigan’s 31st birthday.

A lost series in Houston, really?

Dropping two of three to the team with the worst record in baseball? In the voice of Wallace Shawn’s character Vizzini in “The Princess Bride” …. inconceivable!

I remember walking to Minute Maid Park Monday seeing a crane remove a huge Hunter Pence banner outside the stadium. The Astros were reeling from losing two stars in deadline trades and having to start young players — some straight from Double-A. Not winning this series seemed like something that wouldn’t happen to the Reds, or even couldn’t.

Happen it did as the 5-4 loss on Wednesday meant the Reds dropped two of three in the series to fall 7 1/2 games out of first place.

“It’s another tough loss,” pitcher Dontrelle Willis said. “We’re going to continue to work hard and continue to battle but this one hurt tonight.”

Notes:

*It was Willis’ seventh inning homer that gave the Reds a 3-2 lead. It was Willis’ ninth career homer and his first since 8/29/07 vs. ATL while playing for the Marlins.

*Nick Masset was charged with his first blown save since April 13, and it was a doozy. Masset faced five batters and couldn’t notch an out. Starting his seventh inning with a four-pitch walk was a big problem. Two bad plays on bunts compounded it.

*Many wondered why Willis didn’t stick around after the sixth with only 77 pitches. In six innings, he allowed two runs and eight hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

“He really wasn’t sharp all night,” manager Dusty Baker said. “They were hitting some balls hard off of him. We felt fortunate to get as deep in the game as we did. I don’t know if you noticed, they were hitting some balls hard off of him tonight, which they didn’t do earlier against Dontrelle. That was far enough.”

*Willis is 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA in five starts for the Reds.

*Joey Votto was 3-for-4. His Minute Maid Park hitting streak is 18 games.

*Astros starter Jordan Lyles, the youngest player in the Majors at 20 years old, earned his first big league win after beginning his career 0-6.

Quotes:

“Honestly, I really felt like I didn’t have good command. Once again, our defense and the talent we have around me picked me up today. Ramon did a good job of calling the right pitches to get me out of those jams. It was a team effort to get me out of those jams and keep us in the ballgame. That’s what they’ve been doing the whole time since I’ve been up.” — Dontrelle Willis

“We had a couple of messed up bunt plays without an out. You just can’t give away that many outs. This game isn’t made for five outs. You have to take the outs when you get them.” — Dusty Baker

Stubbs HR wins game, series

The quest for consecutive victories is over as Drew Stubbs delivered in the bottom of the ninth with leadoff, first-pitch, walkoff homer for a 4-3 Reds victory over the Braves.

Don’t look now, but the Reds are three games back from a three-way for first place in the NL Central.  St. Louis and Milwaukee both lost today and it was the Pirates that beat the Cardinals.

“We’re right where we need to be,” Stubbs said. “It’s going to be a dogfight to the end of this thing. I don’t think any team is going to run away with it.”

It’s been 31 games since the Reds won back-to-back games…June 13-15 was the last winning upon a sweep of the Dodgers.
 

Notes:

*I thought starter Dontrelle Willis pitched very well despite the no-decision. He worked into the seventh inning and had only 79 pitches after six. What killed him was the wild pitch to Julio Lugo that put a runner into scoring position before the game-tying single.

*Willis suffered a split fingernail on his index finger after striking out Martin Prado in the third. The bullpen stirred as he was looked over by the trainer and pitching coach Bryan Price but Willis was able to continue for his second quality start in three games with the Reds. He has a 3.71 ERA.

*Like Stubbs, who went to the opposite field to end the game, Brandon Phillips did likewise to get the Reds on the scoreboard in the first inning. It was Phillips’ 10th homer of the season and the first since his own walkoff shot on July 15 vs. STL.

*Stubbs now has two career walkoff homers….the last coming 8/29/09 vs. SF not long after he was first called up.

*Aroldis Chapman: 9 pitches, 8 strikes and 5 outs. His one-pitch double play on Jason Heyward saved the Reds to end the seventh. Chapman returned with a perfect eighth.

*To end the top of the second, 3B Miguel Cairo made a very nice pick on a hot grounder by Alex Gonzalez, and then turned a 5-4-3 double play. Cairo then came up in the bottom of the second and smashed a 421-foot homer to left field for a 3-0 win.

*Jonny Gomes struck out in the eighth as a pinch-hitter. He is 0-for-15 as a PH this season with 10 strikeouts.

*The Reds ended a seven-game Sunday Night Baseball losing streak, including 0-3 this season. The last Sunday night win was 8/13/00 vs. the Cubs.

Quotes:

“Stubbs is playing on both sides of the ball. It looks like he’s feeling it and getting better. He’s always been a second half player. Perhaps down the stretch here, he can play like we’ve seen.” — Dusty Baker

“I went up there just looking for a good fastball to hit over the plate. He gave it to me and I was able to put a good swing on it. The rest is history.” — Drew Stubbs

“Teddy Power is a guru. Bryan Price, this off-season, I worked a lot with him. I definitely owe a lot to a lot of people that gave me a chance in going out there, having fun and working hard. This is not for me. This is for the guys that still believe in me – not only friends and family but those guys who love the game and to teach the game. I will definitely continue to work my heart out for them.” — Dontrelle Willis

“All I can say is OMG. It feels good to finally get back-to-back wins. The way we did it, we’re used to doing that. I heard it was since June. That’s crazy. I’m just glad we got it over with and now we can just keep on going from there.” — Brandon Phillips

Jocketty: No shake up

So after all the speculation earlier this afternoon, the Reds roster is no different. General manager Walt Jocketty said that Dontrelle Willis is slated to pitch in relief tonight behind Travis Wood.

“It’s Wood day to start and I wanted to keep Wood on [his turn].  We didn’t want to deviate,” Jocketty said.

The mixed messages over Wood and Willis were good reasons to wonder if the Reds might make a change in their rotation, especially with the struggling Edinson Volquez scheduled to start Sunday.

When asked if the Reds still planning to go with Volquez, Jocketty said “yeah.”

The Reds haven’t played well heading towards the end of the first half, but the usually patient Jocketty isn’t seeking a move to shake things up.

“I don’t normally react that way,” Jocketty said. “If I make a move to do something, it’s not to shake things up. It’s to make the club better.

“I’m not going to sit here and predict what’s going to happen. I can’t. We only have a few days left before the break.”

The organization has a collection of young players at Triple-A Louisville doing well — whether it’s Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco or Yonder Alonso. Asked if they could make this club better, Jocketty declined to discuss.

“I’m not going to answer a question like that so stop asking,” Jocketty said.

Votto in a slump

Reds lineup vs. Orioles

Heisey 7
Phillips 4
Votto 3
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Gomes DH
Stubbs 8
Renteria 6
Hanigan 2
Arroyo 1

*Although he often gets that big clutch hit when the Reds really need it, Joey Votto hasn’t been his usual robust self at the plate. In his last 11 games, Votto is batting .182 (8-for-44) with 11 strikeouts and a .282 OBP. He has also gone nine games without a home run, with the last one coming June 13 at Los Angeles. Might it be time for an off day? Votto last got one on May 9 at Houston and went on a pretty strong tear after that.

***UPDATE – I asked manager Dusty Baker about resting Votto sometime soon and there are no plans to do it, especially with the tough teams ahead on the schedule — Tampa Bay, Cleveland, St. Louis and Milwaukee.

“Now is the time you dig deep and try to play through the [All-Star] break. I thought about it,” Baker said. “He’s just off. He’s not tired. They’re pitching him tough. The American League clubs are pitching him real tough. He may be frustrated but he’s not physically tired. One thing is he’s showing he’s human. Sometimes you forget that stars are human and capable of ups and downs. We’ve just been so spoiled because he has very few extended down periods. I wouldn’t mind being down and hitting .318. One thing for sure is you know he’s going to get hot again. Count on it.”

Votto, who was the ballpark early today doing extra work, said that some technical glitches in his swing have been spotted by Baker, hitting coach Brook Jacoby and even teammate Edgar Renteria noticed something.

“It’s hard for me, even watching video, to see some of the technical mistakes I’m making,” Votto said. “But luckily I have some good people surrounding me and they’ve pointed out some things that were off a little bit with my swing and causing me to miss a lot of the pitches I’ve been given lately. Over the past month, I’ve been getting plenty of pitches to hit. I haven’t been taking advantage of them. It’s a mechanical thing. It’s my fault.

“You have some many components to success. For hitting a baseball, for hitting success, those smaller adjustments can really make a big difference. I kept scratching my head wondering what the hell is going on? Why am I not driving the ball? Why am I missing certain pitches I wasn’t missing before? It helps when you’ve got good eyes on you. It takes time. This will pass. With or without their help, I’m going to get through this.”
 

*By a .001 percentage point. the Reds are in fourth place for the first time this season and behind the Pirates.

*The Reds’ first-inning ERA of 6.66 (77ip, 57er) ranks 29th in the Majors, behind only the Royals (6.81, 75.1ip, 57er)

*At Triple-A Louisville, Dontrelle Willis pitched eight innings and allowed four runs and eight hits with no walks and seven strikeouts for a 5-4 win over Toledo last night. In 12 starts, Willis is 5-2 with a 2.74 ERA, 19 walks and 61 strikeouts.

Maloney down, Fisher up

 Tough break for LHP Matt Maloney. He pitched long relief and was needed in long relief to help save the bullpen three times in a week. But he is the one that got optioned to Triple-A Louisville because he has options left and the Reds needed an extra arm. Carlos Fisher was recalled from Louisville and is on site.

Maloney made the spot start last night afte the rain delay and pitched two-plus innings with three runs and eight hits allowed. He also threw 73 pitches. Jordan Smith (three innings) and Nick Masset (two innings) were all used pretty heavily. Dusty Baker said Masset could be available for a short situation.

Fisher had a 7.71 ERA in six games for Louisville, but had four saves in four chances. He last pitched Tuesday at Columbus and saved the 4-2 Louisville victory (1.1ip, 0h, 0r, 1bb, 1k, 20 pitches). He was in Toledo last night and flew this morning to Chicago and then to Evansville before making the two hour drive to St. Louis since Lambert Airport is closed because of tornado damage.

*For those wondering, Dontrelle Willis (2-0, 0.53 ERA) last pitched five innings on Wednesday. He would not have been available this quickly. It came down to Fisher was on the 40-man roster and available to give the Reds a little length if they needed it.

*Dusty Baker is not revealing, yet, is plan for Edinson Volquez and if he might start Sunday. He only said he’d announce a decision “tomorrow.” As for current Sunday starter Sam LeCure’s availability for today, Baker said “we’ll see.”

Willis and Hermida cut

A little breaking news for you…

LHP Dontrelle Willis and OF Jeremy Hermida were re-assigned to the Minor League camp. Both came in as non-roster players.

Willis was having a decent spring but struggled in last couple of outings with throwing strikes. Overall, he had a 9.31 ERA in seven games. Hermida batted .342 with three homers.

With the Reds 40-man roster full and few (if anyone) on it to jettison, Dusty Baker hinted in recent days it’d be tough for non-roster players to crack the team and make the cut. We will see the manager shortly. Stay tuned.

The spring roster is at 28 players now. Three more cuts to go.

The 25th-man job is down to Fred Lewis and Juan Francisco. The last bullpen spots are between Jared Burton, Logan Ondrusek, Jose Arredondo and Matt Maloney.

***Update: Baker said Willis would report to Triple-A Louisville and be stretched out for starting pitching because of the sudden hit the depth has taken. Hermida was told he could look around for a big league job and if there is one, the Reds won’t stand in his way and would let him go.

“Dontrelle was real close to making it until 10 days-two weeks ago when he regressed a little bit,” Baker said. “It was tough telling Hermida because he was having a good spring.”

*Lewis is going to get checked out by the doctor because of a sore side. It’s looking like Francisco will make the team, especially if Lewis has to go on the DL. But we’ll have to wait and see on that.

Another crazy day at the yard

It’s been an amazing clip of high-scoring affairs involving the Reds. Thursday’s 15-13 loss featured a combined 34 hits.

In the last seven games, the Reds have been outscored by a 72-71 margin.It’s hard to make heads or tails of what we see out here. Looking at the spring stats coming into the day, 10 of the top 11 in team runs scored were from the Cactus League. (Reds scored 152 runs entering day). In team ERA, nine of the bottom 10 teams were also from the Cactus League (Reds were at 5.49 and ranked 27th).

The air is thin at the higher altitudes and many pitchers often have trouble with dry baseballs and gripping the ball. Mistakes that still can be outs in Florida or in regular season parks become blights on the line score.

I’m certainly not making excuses for the pitchers or taking anything away from the hitters, but I think a little context is needed.

“Another long one but if you hang something here, it’s going to fly,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said postgame. “There are some guys that played well today. We made some mistakes. It’s getting a little stagnant. You know you have some more work to do but guys are ready to go. We’re scoring a lot of runs. When you’re playing someone like the Texas Rangers, you know you’re going to give up some runs and you better score some runs. That’s what happened today.”

Now for some of the day’s highlights….

The good:

*Travis Wood’s line isn’t pretty, but he did pitch pretty good. Wood allowed seven runs (five earned) over 5 1/3 innings with no walks and five strikeouts. A two-error third inning led to Nelson Cruz’s grand slam.

“I felt good,” Wood said. “I just got in trouble that third inning there.  I ended up giving up a grand slam.  That hurts but we were able to  battle back as a team.  … I feel like I’m ready for the season.  I got stretched out pretty good.  My pitches seem to be working pretty good.  So, I’ll pitch every fifth day and get ready the other four.  I’ll go out and give it everything I’ve got.”

“We threw the ball around that one inning. You need some help from your friends,” Baker said. “That one inning he didn’t get much. He got his work in. His pitch count is where we wanted to get it.”

*Wood also hit a RBI double in the fifth inning.

*Dave Sappelt continues to push to take an outfield spot. While going 2-for-3 Sappelt smoked a two-run homer off of the center field batters’ eye. He’s batting .553 (21-for-38) this spring.

*Jonny Gomes has a four-game hitting streak (5-for-13, .385) after he hit a three-run homer to left field. It was his second homer in three games. His average is still only .171.

*Paul Janish was 2-for-3 with three RBIs

*With two outs in the sixth, Chris Heisey’s two-run triple to left field re-tied the score at 10-10.

*Francisco Cordero enjoyed another 1-2-3 inning today for his seventh-straight scoreless outing. Five of his last six have been perfect.

Not-so-good

*Scott Rolen was plunked on his left elbow by a Tommy Hunter fastball in the first inning. He was lifted for PH Juan Francisco when he couldn’t grip his bat. There was no word on his condition.

“He had stitch marks on his elbow,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I didn’t hear anything so no news is good news.”

*Bullpen candidate Jose Arredondo had another rough day. In the five-run eighth inning, Arredondo allowed five earned runs, four hits with one walk, one wild pitch and one strikeout. His spring ERA is 16.20. Because he’s still trying to find his way back from Tommy John surgery, it’s possible he could begin the year on the DL, which would help the Reds since he’s out of options.

“Arredondo is still inconsistent,” Baker said. “He’ll throw a heck of a breaking ball and hang one. He’ll throw a fastball low and away and then get one out over the plate. It shows me he’s not quite there yet.”

Other news:

*Bronson Arroyo, who has been battling the flu for over two weeks, pitched in a Minor League game on Thursday vs. a Dodgers Class A team.  Arroyo threw 87 pitches over 5 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs and six hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

*Pitching against the Indians’ Class A team, Dontrelle Willis pitched one scoreless inning with one walk and two strikeouts.

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Heisey looking good

It was another wild offensive day in the Cactus League for the Reds. This was a 9-8 victory, which has moved the spring record to 14-9-1.

The good:

The Reds collected 17 hits in the game.

*Chris Heisey went 3-for-6 with two RBIs, including a solo homer to left field in the top of the eighth. He was a double shy of hitting for the cycle. Heisey is batting .325 (13-for-40) this spring and has hit safely in 9 of his last 12 games. He seems to have all but claimed a reserve outfielder’s spot. Heisey started in center field again and despite a throwing error today, has shown that he can play all three spots.

*Todd Frazier cranked a three-run homer to left field in the  fourth inning off of Brewers starter Chris Narveson. It was his second long ball since Thursday. Frazier got off to a slow start and seems to be coming on.

*The Dave Sappelt hitting show had another strong day. Sappelt was 2-for-4, which actually lowered his average from .536 to .531.

*Dontrelle Willis pitched well in the game, despite giving up a three-run homer to George Kottaras in the bottom of the fifth. A one-out walk to Casey McGhee two batters before Kottaras hurt.

“Willis made one bad pitch on a breaking ball to George Kottaras and what got him in trouble was the walk also,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

*Aroldis Chapman pitched two scoreless innings with two walks. Chapman also batted for himself in the eighth and slapped a single the opposite way through the left side.

“I turned to him and said ‘are you ready to hit?’ He said ‘oh no.’ And he got a hit. I’m glad for him,” Baker said.

Not-so-good:

*Reds pitchers combined to allowed 11 walks. Five came via Edinson Volquez, including four in the bottom of the third. Volquez walked two runs in and was removed after 2 1/3 innings. He was charged with five earned runs.

“I had a little bit of problem with control. It’s nothing big,” Volquez said. “It’s nothing but mechanical. I was jumping from of the rubber to home plate. … My arm is good, my body, everything is fine.”

Volquez believes he’ll be ready for the Brewers again on March 31.

“I have a good idea now of what they’re looking for,” he said. “It will be a good game.”

*Playing first base in the eighth inning, Yonder Alonso had his foot stepped on accidentally by former Red Chris Dickerson as he ran out a groundball. Alonso needed a couple of moments and was looked over by trainer Paul Lessard and Baker. But he was able to continue.

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Nice days for Leake, Willis

More than a few highlights today from a 5-1 Reds win over the Indians.

*Mike Leake provided four scoreless innings and allowed three hits in a strong performance. A few of the balls that went for outs were sharply hit into the outfield. But Leake also picked up five outs on the ground, which is generally his bread and butter.

“I felt good,” Leake said. “It’s been a progression. I’m trying to slowly get back into it and get stronger.”

*Hustle award of the day for Dontrelle Willis. He ripped a liner into the right field corner. He could have easily coasted into second base but never slowed and lumbered to third base with a head first slide for a triple. More importantly, Willis worked a scoreless inning with one hit. His chances of making the team are looking better and better. It was also his first game since spraining his ankle on Saturday. He didn’t appear to have trouble.

“If he makes the team, he might be in that long relief role,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He always could hit. Him and Leake can both hit. I want Willis to get some at-bats in case in the season we leave him in there. He can still run and hit. He threw the ball well too.”

*Aroldis Chapman survived a one-run ninth where he started out with a single, a walk and a RBI single from Lou Marson. Chapman received a mound visit from Bryan Price and head trainer Paul Lessard.

“He’s OK,” Baker said. “We thought we saw him limp a little bit. He said he was fine.”

*Todd Frazier notched his first homer of spring and knocked one the opposite way to right field for the game’s first run.

*The drumbeat from fans for the Reds to have Dave Sappelt make the club will only grow louder. In his first at-bat in the seventh, Sappelt had a RBI triple to right field. This spring, Sappelt is batting .538 with a team-high tying seven RBIs. Sappelt also leads the club with 14 hits and 24 total bases this spring.

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