Results tagged ‘ Roy Oswalt ’

Nix activated, Phillips' feat

The Reds activated OF Laynce Nix from the disabled list on Tuesday. Nix had been out since Aug. 31 because of a bulging disc in his neck.

In 106 games entering the day, Nix was batting .251 with 13 homes, 25 doubles and 37 RBIs.

“I got a couple of epidural shots – some darts in my neck — and just some downtime so it could calm down,” Nix said. “The shots dissipated the inflammation.”

Nix didn’t expect the neck issue to be a lingering one.

“I just have to maintain it. It will be fine,” he said.

It’s way late in the season and too late to contend, but Reds are slowly getting healthy. Jay Bruce returned from the DL on Monday. Both Nix and Bruce got the start against Reds destroyer Roy Oswalt on Tuesday 

“Those guys both give us the best chance to beat Oswalt,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You just hope there’s not too much rust on them.

“I’m still going to have to watch them some. We still don’t know what kind of baseball shape they’re in. they’ve been working out but you just don’t want them to get fatigued, especially late in the game. I might have to see how they do today and maybe give them tomorrow off. They probably won’t like it.”

Reds lineup:

Stubbs 8
Janish 6
Votto 3
Phillips 4
Rolen 5
Bruce 9
Nix 7
Miller 2
Wells 1

When 2B Brandon Phillips hit his 20th home run of the season in the eighth inning of Monday’s win. He also has 26 doubles and 24 steals. Phillips and Florida’s Hanley Ramirez are the only players in the Majors to produce at least 20 homers, 20 doubles and 20 steals in each of the last three seasons. (courtesy Elias Sports Bureau).

“One of my goals is to get 20-20 every year,” Phillips said. “There aren’t many players that do that at any other position, especially second base. You set your goals for yourself and you have things you can shoot for. I would have done it earlier if I was healthier. I’m just glad it finally happened and it’s over with. I achieved one of my goals.”

Phillips, who came in batting .276 with 88 RBIs is now shooting for 100 RBIs. Baker encouraged him to reach that goal earlier this season.

“I didn’t have it as a goal at the beginning. I had to add it on there,” Phillips said. “I’m close. It’d be a nice thing if it happens. It’d be a blessing to get 100 RBIs because I’ve never done it before. I already did the 30-30 thing. Junior pushed me to that because I didn’t really think I could do that. I know I can do it again. Maybe one day I can do 40-40, you never know.”

Phillips is the only Reds player to ever do 20 doubles, 20 homers and 20 steals in three consecutive seasons. Only four players in team history have done it over any three seasons — Vada Pinson, Joe Morgan, Eric Davis and Phillips.

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What else can be said about Joey Votto right now? Another homer while fighting the dizziness and inner ear infection. He was 0-for-3 vs. Roy Oswalt with two Ks but slugged a 1-0 fastball in the seventh from Tim Byrdak into the first row of left field seats for the game-winning two-run homer in a 6-4 Reds win.

“The coaching staff and the training staff probably has been the important part,” Votto said of his ability to play through his issues. “All the doctors that they’ve used have been perfect for me. I definitely couldn’t have done it without their help. Today was probably the first game that I felt pretty good. I have to do it again tomorrow.”

Votto is batting .364 and came in leading the NL in hitting.

“It’s amazing what he’s doing and what he might do,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I’m just glad we’ve got him.”

Strange days at GABP

This has been one goofy home stand, for sure.

There was the 12-5 blowout vs. Philly on Thursday where the Reds narrowed a 6-0 deficit to 6-5 in before giving up seven more runs. There were Joey Votto’s two homers on Saturday vs. Cleveland that were canceled out by Homer Bailey’s wildness and that was a nearly four-hour game. There were extra innings on Sunday, with the weird obstruction call on Adam Rosales in the seventh that tied the game and put the kibosh on a potential victory for Johnny Cueto.
Then there was the two-hour, three minute rain delay with two outs in the Houston fourth inning on Monday. Starter Aaron Harang waited long enough to get one out to qualify for a victory.

Somehow through it all, the Reds have won three of their last four.

Roy Oswalt is on the mound for the Astros on Tuesday. In case you haven’t seen this stat paraded around endlessly, Oswalt is 23-1 lifetime vs. them. He hasn’t taken the loss vs. Cincinnati since April 28, 2006. Against them in 2009, he has two no-decisions but a 0.69 ERA. Strangely, Oswalt is only 1-2 through 10 games this season.

Votto is back in the lineup today. How long can the Reds go with Votto and Brandon Phillips either out or at less than 100 percent?

If Votto is still bothered by the dizziness and hit two homers like he did Saturday, what will he do when the inner ear infection is finally behind him for good?

Are you worried about Jay Bruce, who enters today in a 0-for-13 funk? I wrote about Bruce on May 20 and how he was trying to be more patient at the plate. But he still keeps swinging at bad pitches (36 Ks in 158 ABs).

Reds lineup:

Dickerson CF
Hairston 2B
Votto 1B
Hernandez C
Bruce RF
Nix LF
Gonzalez SS
Rosales 3B
Owings P

In a shameless plug for myself, check out this article about Micah Owings and other NL pitchers that are very good hitters.

Additional news from the clubhouse:

  • Phillips hit some balls off the tee again today and also hit some underhand tosses. So far, so good. All signs are pointing to a return to the lineup on Friday at Milwaukee. There was a chance he could pinch-hit the next two games.

“He felt pretty good,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He’s having a little trouble throwing. He let it hang out pretty good they told me. He only felt it on a couple of swings.”

If and when Phillips does come back, he won’t be given any limitations.

“The doctor said he can’t do any more damage to it unless something insane happens,” Baker said. “Which is out of your control anyway.”

“It feels the same but the pills are working,” Phillips said. “I don’t know what I’m taking but they’re working.”

  • This is how Baker is handling the unpredictable nature of Votto’s dizziness and inner ear infection:

“He’s getting better but it’s still a day-to-day thing,” Baker said. “I check with him, check with the trainers. We’re doing the honor system thing.”

  • Harang feels OK the day after his unusual five-inning win on Monday.

“I think there have been times I’ve been more sore after a regular start than that one.”

  • Edinson Volquez has another bullpen session scheduled for Wednesday. Volquez threw “nice and easy” in the bullpen Monday and played catch on the field Tuesday.
  • RHP Nick Masset was activated from the 15-day DL as expected. To make room on the 25-man roster, C/IF Wilkin Castillo was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.
  • CF Willy Taveras was just given the day off. Taveras has struggled some since his 14-game hitting streak ended in San Diego.

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No beating Oswalt, again

A great effort by Johnny Cueto was for naught as far as the Reds dropped a 4-1 game to the Astros. On the heels of his seven scoreless at Chicago last week, Cueto allowed one run and seven hits over seven innings. Last time, he had zero walks. This time, one walk. You have to be encouraged by his improved command and aggressiveness.

At least Cueto didn’t get a losing decision but too bad for him that the Reds were predictably neutralized by Roy Oswalt much of the time. They also hurt themselves with three double plays induced by Oswalt, including one by Brandon Phillips for a 6-4-3 GIDP with two on and one out in the fourth.

A nice two-out rally came in the sixth. Laynce Nix hit his fourth double of the season. Joey Votto (who else?) was clutch with a RBI single that tied the game at 1-1. The bases were later left loaded when Edwin Encarnacion tapped a ball that spun in front of the plate and was tagged out.

Francisco Cordero was brought out in a non-save situation in the top of the ninth to hold the game so the Reds could rally in the bottom half. Cordero gave up three-straight hits to open the inning, including Hunter Pence’s two-run double off the wall. Pence’s hit came on a 0-2 pitch.

Chris Dickerson came out after the fifth inning. In the bottom of the fourth, he had a head-to-head collision with Miguel Tejada while trying to break up a double play at second base. Dickerson has concussion-like symptoms and will be tested again Tuesday before being cleared to return.

The Reds might have used up all the capital they gained from the 7-3 road trip. After three crowds near or more than 30,000 over the weekend vs. Atlanta, Monday’s attendance was 12,365. It was 81 degrees at first pitch and a perfect night for baseball — so weather was no excuse.

Dickerson quotes:

“Everything was real spotty. It was like going from HD to regular television. Nothing is sharp and I was out there and couldn’t see the hitter’s face. The ball was splitting and coming apart almost. Looking out in the stands, everybody kind of meshed together. I knew that was definitely going in the wrong direction.”

I’m doing alright. My vision is coming back a little bit. Right now, I feel a little drowsy. I just want to sleep. It’s not as hard to focus, which is a good sign. I just had to answer simple questions like ‘what happened yesterday?’ It almost took me a while to answer but I got it.”

Cordero quotes:

“You’re going to have days like that. The thing I’m not happy about is because of the way Cueto pitched. He gave our team a chance to win a ballgame. That’s why I’m a little upset with myself. I should have made better decisions and better pitches. Cueto was unbelievable.”

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Turned on a dime

The Reds seemed headed to what would have been the most painful loss of the year — a 1-0 defeat to Roy Oswalt because of a bases-loaded walk from Johnny Cueto in the fifth. That all changed in the top of the ninth when Ramon Hernandez hit a 1-2 Jose Valverde fastball into the first row of right field seats for a 2-1 Reds win.

Some quotes:

Dusty Baker on Cueto — who was strong early but walked six in 4 2/3 innings. His walk to Oswalt with two outs and no one on started the Astros rally.

“Cueto was matching him and pitching better but lost it with some near strikes in the fourth and fifth innings.”

“That was huge. That was real big. That’s prime evidence how walks will hurt you. It hurt us with Cueto and it hit hurt them walking Edwin.”

Baker again:

“That would have been a real tough loss, especially since they really didn’t deserve to win it. But they were winning. Especially when you walk in the only run and it’s 1-0 against a tough Roy Oswalt.”

Ramon Hernandez:

“I was lucky that ball got out. I was just trying to have a good at-bat and trying to get a single so I could get the inning going.”

“When I hit it, I just took off running just in case it hit the wall. We were losing 1-0 so I wasn’t sure.”

Mike Lincoln on the bullpen which pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings:

“Each guy came in and did his job. That’s what we have to do down there. The bullpen is pretty tight. We have a really good group of guys down there and it feels like we could put any guy in any situation.”

Taking on Oswalt

Roy Oswalt enters Friday 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA this season. He is 23-1 all time vs. the Reds. Here is the lineup Oswalt will be facing:

Taveras, cf
Dickerson, lf
Votto, 1b
Phillips, 2b
Bruce, rf
Encarnacion, 3b
Hernandez, c
Gonzalez, ss
Cueto, rhp

News you can use:

  • Dusty Baker got a scouting report on IF Drew Sutton, who came over Thursday in the Jeff Keppinger trade.

“I talked to some guys over with the Astros,” Baker said. “They told me they liked him. They said he was a good player. He can run. They said he can play second base, first base and they believe he can play the outfield too because of his speed and instincts.”

  • Keppinger wasn’t in Friday’s Astros lineup and is one of several Houston players bothered by a sore back. He came into the day hitting .467 with a six-game hitting streak. Knowing a little more about Sutton as the “player to be named later”, how do you feel about the return from this deal?
  • Baker was asked about the Reds facing Oswalt.

“We’ll get him,” Baker said. “The law of averages is definitely on our side…been on our side for a long time.”

The last time the Reds beat Oswalt was April 28, 2006.

  • After his last outing at Milwaukee on Wednesday where he gave up four sixth-inning runs, plus one charged to Micah Owings, reliever Jared Burton was pretty down and sounded like someone who had been struggling for a while despite some good numbers. On Friday, Burton clarified a little but said he hasn’t felt like himself on the mound, yet.

“For some reason, my command has been suffering a little bit,” Burton said. “I find myself feeling for my pitches. Me personally, I’m not a feel pitcher. I like to rely on my intensity and things like that. It’s what gives me that good finish on my pitches, that late movement.

“My velocity isn’t where it will be in another month.”

  • In the clubhouse, some players were watching the Cardinals-Cubs afternoon game. Reliever Chris Perez was pitching for St. Louis. Edinson Volquez remembered seeing Perez routinely throw 100-101 mph when they were in Double-A.

When asked, Volquez said his top speed in the Minors was 100 mph. I asked how he felt when he threw it.

“I got dizzy,” Volquez said with a laugh. “Then I tried to throw 100 again, and it was 94 mph.”

  • Some Minor League news from Jamie Ramsey of the Reds:

In last night’s Triple-A Louisville loss to Indianapolis, Adam Rosales was 2-for-4 and hit his third homer of the season. Jonny Gomes reached base three times with a single and two walks.

Rosales is batting .375 (9-for-24) through seven games. Gomes is batting .217 (5-for-23). 

Off day musings

Greetings from downtown Houston where I’m getting my bearings after landing on my flight from Milwaukee. Since I’m supposed to be “off” today, I will pose a few questions to you and hope you respond. Go ahead and sign in so you can comment. I know it’s an extra step but it really doesn’t hurt, trust me.

The Reds are 4-4 after eight games. Are you happy with that?

What’s your biggest surprise and disappointment?

Has anything you’ve seen encouraged or discouraged you about the bulk of the season ahead?

I know that’s a lot to ask for when only eight games have been played.

Some early trends:

The Reds offense is ranked 16th out of 16 NL teams with a .222 team average.

The Reds are fourth in walks with 40 and eighth in team OBP with .333. They are 12th in runs scored.

Joey Votto is hitting very well (.387, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .457 OBP) and Willy Taveras has done a good job of getting on base (.462 OBP) and creating some havoc. Edwin Encarnacion (eight walks) and Brandon Phillips (seven walks) are getting on base a lot. Jay Bruce and Alex Gonzalez haven’t looked good at the plate.

The focus of my off-day story is pitching, namely the rotation. Although counted on to be the biggest strength of the team, it has yet to get into a groove. There have been just two quality starts. It has pitched five innings or fewer four times and into the seventh twice. It came into Thursday ranked 10th out of 16 National League teams with a 4.82 ERA, eighth with 46 2/3 innings pitched and ninth in strikeouts with 37. The staff’s overall ERA is 5.32, also ranked 10th.

Only Aaron Harang has had two decent outings and Bronson Arroyo has had one. Edinson Volquez hasn’t looked good and Johnny Cueto and Micah Owings have had one uneven outing each.

Lastly, the Reds are facing Astros main nemesis Roy Oswalt on Friday. I would love to be a fly on the wall during the coaching staff’s meeting with the advance scout about to handle Oswalt. In 28 games vs. the Reds, including 26 starts, Oswalt is 23-1 with a 2.47 ERA lifetime and was 4-0 last season. How do you like the Reds’ chances with Cueto?

Discuss, please.

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