Results tagged ‘ Willy Taveras ’

Four-game losing streak

Suddenly, times have gotten tough for the Redlegs. A 4-3 loss extended the season-high losing streak to four games. Meanwhile the first-place Brewers have won seven in a row and pushed the Reds to 4 1/2 games out of first place.

The Reds were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They had the tying run on second and winning run on first base and both were stranded in the final inning.

Willy Taveras is on a 0-for-19 skid since his 14-game hitting streak snapped.

“He was so hot. There’s no explanation,” manager Dusty Baker said.

And no one knows when Joey Votto is coming back from his dizziness issue.

“There’s no way around it. Joey is no question, our best hitter,” Jerry Hairston Jr. said.

Johnny Cueto gave up a second-inning homer but the inning the Reds could have really done without was the three-run top of the fifth. Cueto, who gave up four earned runs and seven hits with four strikeouts, retired the side in order in the other five innings. Again, Cueto showed good command and did not walk anyone.

Other quotes:

Baker on the losing streak:

“You know it’s going to happen sooner or later. You don’t like it when you’re in the middle of it. We certainly have to bounce back tomorrow. We have no choice.”

Hairston, who flied out to end the game:

“Obviously, you want to get that big hit there. I took a pretty good pass at it, squared up and just got underneath the ball. It’s just one of those things. The last four games obviously haven’t gone our way. We have to turn the page. This team is pretty good at bouncing back so hopefully tomorrow, it will be our day.”

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Lots 'o offense

The 13-5 win at Arizona was a good one to get after Sunday’s tough one in extra innings and a long flight.

The Reds notched a season-high in runs scored, hits (18) and extra base hits (8).

Willy Taveras tied a career best with a 5-for-5 game and four runs scored. He has hit safely in 12 straight games. Taveras is batting .408 (20-for-49) during the streak.

Jerry Hairston was 2-for-4 and improved to a seven-game hit streak. He’s batting .414 (12-for-29) over that stretch. The top 2 in the order are setting a good flow all the way through.

The Reds, winners of four of their last five games, have scored five runs or more runs in eight of 11 games in May. After having a Major League low .208 on April 18, the club has raised its average to .262, which is tied for fifth best in the National League.

“We have to stay after it,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I knew these guys were going to hit because we work at it a lot. Our pitching carried us through that first month. Hopefully our hitting is here to stay and we can use both weapons – our pitching and our hitting. We have to tighten up our defense some, a lot actually. If we do that, we’ll really be rolling.”

Hairston:
“We knew that we have quality players here that could hit. Guys are starting to get their confidence. Having our pitchers continue to pitch well helps the hitters too. We just needed to score some runs – four, five and six runs and we have a chance to win a ballgame.”

Loving it on the road

The Reds enter Saturday night 8-3 on the road this season, which is their best road start since 2002 when they also were 8-3. If they win tonight or tomorrow, that will be four-straight winning road series. The club hasn’t done that since August, 2005.

The back-to-back shutouts Wednesday and Friday were the first since the Reds blanked the Dodgers twice on Aug. 7-8, 2007. There haven’t been three-straight shutouts since June 21-23, 1963.

As expected, Chris Dickerson is back in the lineup for the first time since Monday (concussion-like symptoms).

Reds lineup:

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

Dusty Baker was asked if he was tempted to keep Ryan Hanigan behind the plate since he hits whenever he plays. In his five games when starting (all with Arroyo pitching), Hanigan is batting .412 (7-for-17). Ramon Hernandez is batting .246 but has come on lately.

“What are you going to do with Ramon who is just getting his stroke together?”Baker said. “If you have a good team, I don’t think this team is used to having so many good players at as many positions. Ramon is my catcher but when Hanny plays, he does his thing and we win. That way will keep him sharp and keep Ramon strong through the rest of the season.”

In the eighth inning Friday after walking, Adam Rosales was picked off by lefty reliever John Grabow and immediately after reaching the dugout was spotted speaking with top base stealer Willy Taveras. It was Rosales who sought out Taveras for the help.

“There’s a lot to learn and a lot of new information,” Rosales said. “Stealing with lefties, I have to get better. I just went first move on that guy. Some lefties you can pick up easily but I haven’t been up here long enough and we had a steal sign. I asked Willy if it was the smart thing to do if we have a steal sign. He said it was all you can do, really.”

Dickerson, Paul Janish and Darnell McDonald were among those that got extra swings in early BP today. Janish hasn’t played since Sunday vs. the Braves.

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Hanigan, Janish in

It looks like Ramon Hernandez and Alex Gonzalez are getting a break today, which is seems like a very good idea. Ryan Hanigan and Paul Janish are in the lineup tonight, as is Darnell McDonald in right field.

Reds lineup:

Taveras, cf
Hairston, lf
Votto, 1b
Phillips, 2b
Encarnacion, 3b
Mcdonald, rf
Hanigan, c
Janish, ss
Arroyo, rhp

  • Jay Bruce is hopeful that he can return to the lineup on Tuesday at Chicago. He was planning on hitting off of a tee today and is scheduled to do some hand strength tests with strength and conditioning coordinator Matt Krause.

“That’s my goal but I can’t say definitely,” Bruce said about Tuesday. “It’s continuing to get better. I’m doing the icing stuff to get it right and get back out there.”

Cold, rainy weather in the Chicago forecast and the Cubs pitching staff aren’t optimal conditions for a return from this type of injury.

“Aches and pains and Harden, Lilly and Zambrano,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I hope so but if not, we’ll go with our other dudes. We don’t want this to be a chronic thing.”

  • With Bronson Arroyo pitching tonight, Hanigan will have caught all three of his starts. Arroyo used to have a personal catcher in David Ross, who eventually moved from a backup to a starting role. Baker said that Hanigan isn’t Arroyo’s personal catcher.

“They work good together plus Arroyo has kind of a different set of signs,” Baker said. “I don’t really like that designated catcher thing but it’s the way things have worked out. Hanny has caught everybody and Ramon has probably caught Arroyo the least by the time he got back to Spring Training.”

  • In blogs and comment sections in MLB.com stories, I’ve read a lot of complaints about Willy Taveras. Although hitting .267, he’s hit safely in six of 10 games. His on-base percentage is .410. That’s about all you can ask from a leadoff hitter.
  • From the Elias Sports Bureau:

Micah Owings has three game-winning RBIs as a pinch-hitter in his Major-League career (two in 2008).  Over the last five seasons (2005-2009), the only other pinch-hit game-winner by a man who makes his living on the mound was by Jason Jennings, for Houston on Aug. 2, 2007.

  • And don’t forget, I’m now on Twitter. Check it out.

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.

Everyone wearing No. 42

It’s Jackie Robinson Day around Major League Baseball — the 62nd anniversary of his breaking of the color barrier. Every team’s players and coaches are wearing No. 42 to honor Robinson, including the Reds and Brewers.

Jerry Hairston Jr.’s grandfather, Sam, was a Negro Leagues player and the first African American to play for the White Sox.

“It’s significant for me,” Hairston said. “It just shows it was that time period not too long ago where people of different skin color didn’t have the opportunity to play this game. We have come a long way. I’m glad Major League Baseball is recognizing it.”

Dusty Baker never got to meet Robinson but has long admired him.

“As a kid, most African Americans were Dodger fans because of Jackie Robinson, including my Dad,” Baker said. “When I transferred my junior year, there were only two blacks in the school, me and my brother. I was fighting quite a bit and my Dad would always remind me and I heard these words all the time, ‘what would Jackie do?’

“Actually, I played four sports in high school because of Bobby Bonds and Jackie Robinson. I’d go run track in what was left over after a baseball game.”

“He had quite an influence in my family.”

News you can use:

  • Laynce Nix has hit doubles in each of his last two pinch-hit appearances. His RBI double in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s win was big for insurance runs. Like many on the Reds bench, Nix doesn’t have a lot of pinch-hitting experience.

“This is something we’ve talked to our guys about. Most of our guys have never been in that role,” Baker said. “McDonald, Nix and Dickerson in particular. You talk to them extensively about how to pinch hit, how to approach pinch-hitting. I was very fortunate to have some live background experience to share.”

Baker played with pinch-hitting specialists like Manny Mota, Jay Johnstone and Lee Lacy with the Dodgers. He managed Lenny Harris with the Cubs.

“I know I can ask Dusty any questions as far as that role,” Nix said. “He’s told us he’s been around the best. We’ve had some good meetings about it and talked about it a little and it’s been real helpful.”

  • Willy Taveras entered the night with a .409 OBP and his reaching safely is helping Reds hitters as opposing pitchers get distracted with him on base. Pitchers like Manny Parra last night are slidestepping a lot and showing less control.

“They know I’m going to run and that means our guys will get a lot of fastballs. These guys drive in a lot of runs and I want to be on base when we score those runs. So far we look good.”

 

Three in a row

The Reds are above .500 for the first time in 2009 and earned their 4-3 record with a 6-1 win over the Brewers. That’s a three-game winning streak and they can leave town with a series sweep if they win tomorrow.

The key to the game was a strong pitching effort by Bronson Arroyo, who gave up one run and four hits over 6 1/3 innings. I think we can say his carpal tunnel issue is behind Arroyo. Although he had four walks, he was changing speed pretty well and Milwaukee didn’t look too comfortable against him.Jerry Hairston Jr.’s first homer of the season snapped a 1-1 tie in the third inning and was the go-ahead score.

Willy Taveras was solid at reaching the bases, doing so in three of his five plate appearances. Taveras drew two walks and singled. He also swiped two bases. His OBP thus far is .409 —  that’s more than pretty good. Taveras was on base when Hairston went deep.

In the eighth, David Weathers notched his 900th career appearance and became just the 20th pitcher in Major League history reach that plateau. Weathers faced two batters and got them both out.

Post-game quotes:

Hairston on his homer off a 2-2 changeup from Manny Parra:

“He left it up a little bit and I was able to put a good swing on it and fortunately, it barely got out.”

Arroyo:

“I can’t be any happier with the results. Going out there and still feeling a little bit uncomfortable. I haven’t been in my normal routine in a while. It’s coming around and I’m just happy to be 2-0 with no feeling like I’m totally dialed in yet.”

“My arm felt good. My hand felt good. I felt like I had at least the same fastball in the seventh inning as I had the first. Last time out, I definitely did not have that.”

Baker:

“The guys are feeling pretty good, feeling very confident and playing better baseball. We just have to keep it rolling.”

on taking out Arroyo:

“When I took him out, he said he was spent. You could tell when he scuttled those four balls in there. Our bullpen came in and did a great job.”

 

Quick turnaround.

After a nearly four-hour extravaganza Wednesday, it was naturally a 12:35 p.m start for the Reds and Mets on Thursday. I didn’t get home from work until 1am last night and getting into the driveway proved more of a challenge than usual since I was pulled over by local law enforcement right in front of my house. I guess I didn’t stop entirely at the four-way stop sign.

The officer asked me where I was going and for the first time ever in one of those situations, I could actually point to my house and say I was going right there. Fortunately, I was let off with a warning (thank you!). So as a PSA to all you drivers out there — make complete stops at stop signs, not rolling ones.

News you can use:

  • Dusty Baker ran out a somewhat different lineup today:

Taveras CF, McDonald LF, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Encarnacion 3B, Hanigan C, Janish SS, Arroyo P

  • Jerry Hairston Jr. is available but was still sore after foul two pitches off his left leg. Baker didn’t want to send Chris Dickerson to play against tough lefty Oliver Perez. That pretty much meant Taveras has to play at less than 100 percent (flu). He struggled after his pinch-hit triple last night.

“I feel OK. But the breathing part wasn’t there,” Taveras said. “When I scored the run, I had to come in because I was coughing. Today, it will be warm and that might help.”

  • Dickerson will eventually get to face lefties.

“Some, depending on who they are,” Baker said. “The one today, the league is hitting .158 off him. Some lefties are better against righties than lefties. We’ve got a long way to go and we’re going to play everybody.”

  • Alex Gonzalez got the day game off after a long night game. Ditto for Hernandez as Hanigan went behind the plate.

“Some guys played a lot in Spring Training and all of a sudden the season starts, and they lose what they had. It’s a perfect time to play them,” Baker said.

  • Baker gave some insight to file away for later about Jonny Gomes, who accepted his Triple-A assignment yesterday.

“Like I explained to Jonny, there’s going to come a time when we’re going to need you. It probably won’t be that long but especially when we start playing American League clubs. Last year, our most success was against American League clubs because Griffey and Dunn were the DH. If we started against American League clubs right now, we really don’t have a true DH against them.”

  • Also something to think about for down the road — Baker hasn’t idenitfied an emergency third catcher behind Hernandez and Hanigan.

“Ooh..I don’t know that one,” Baker said.

Joey Votto was a catcher when he was drafted but isn’t likely to strap on the gear.

“He’s in no hurry to get back there. He was in a hurry to get away from there,” Baker said.

 

Gomes to play for Louisville

When Triple-A Louisville opens it season on Thursday, outfielder Jonny Gomes will be on the roster. Gomes accepted the assignment on Wednesday instead of choosing free agency.

“He’s down there,” GM Walt Jocketty said.

It was stunning to me when Gomes was cut, but I split Florida before he really declined. Despite hitting .250, he still led the club during camp with four homers and was tied for second with 12 RBIs.

If Gomes gets hot at Triple-A, I could envision a quick return. I think the Reds bench is lacking a guy that can be a game-changer in the late-innings.

More news you can use:

SS Alex Gonzalez felt no ill effects with his left knee after going all nine innings Monday in poor conditions.

“I feel good. I don’t feel any soreness,” Gonzalez said. “Any time you play nine innings, your body feels like you got punched by somebody. I didn’t feel like my body was heavy and there wasn’t any kind of pain. I was working in Miami five days a week [in the off-season], groundballs, hitting and running. I worked all year, especially for that.”

Manager Dusty Baker hasn’t decided if he’ll play Gonzalez Thursday with a day game after a night game.

“We’ll see how he comes out today,” Baker said. “If we have a big lead, hopefully we can get him out today and get him back in tomorrow. We’re going on how he feels. We just told him he’s on the honor system and tell us the truth because we have a long way to go.” 

OF Jacque Jones was released when the club did not have a spot for him in Triple-A.

OF Willy Taveras is out of the lineup again tonight because of the flu. He could be available to pinch-run. Jerry Hairston Jr. is starting in center field and leading off while Chris Dickerson is in left field.

The Reds took their team photo today. The picture will be given away to the first 40,000 fans attending the 4/24 game vs. the Braves.

Have a favorite Reds pitcher? Vote to decide which one will be a bobblehead for a July 18 giveaway.

Opening Day news you can use

Still raining at the GABP…the tarp is on the field.

Earlier this morning, Bronson Arroyo threw a 40-pitch bullpen session and still wants to pitch on Thursday as originally scheduled. Yesterday, Manager Dusty Baker moved Arroyo back to Sunday and has Micah Owings going on Thursday.

“Trust me, everything is negotiable,” Arroyo said.

As for the session itself, no problems.

“Ask Porky [Lopez] or Dickie Pole what he thought,” Arroyo said “My arm feels great. I usually throw a little bit less but I threw a really hard one just to let them know I’m not full of it when I say my arm feels fine. I’m ready to go. They will let me know.”

Bullpen coach Juan “Porky” Lopez caught Arroyo’s throwing session.

“Bronson threw really good,” Lopez said.

UPDATE: Arroyo is starting on Thursday again. Baker changed his mind.

  • It’s never a good sign when a coach walks up to you wearing a surgical mask as a joke like Billy Hatcher did with center fielder Willy Taveras Monday morning. Taveras has the flu and isn’t playing today. Taveras hoped he could come back Wednesday after the off day Tuesday.

“I feel a lot  better today so we’ll see. It’s a hard case,” Taveras said.

  • Canadian Joey Votto has the quote of the day on today’s weather:

“We play hockey in this weather, not baseball,” Votto said.

First pitch was at 1:23 — 13 minutes behind schedule. Temperature was 37 degrees.

Here is the rotation after Monday:

Wednesday vs NYM, Volquez
Thursday vs NYM, Arroyo
Friday vs Pit, Cueto
Saturday vs Pit, Owings
Sunday vs Pit, Harang

 

 

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