Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reds Don't Stop Believing (Reds Actually Quit Believin' Some Time Ago) Reds 6-4

The Reds Rocket has been somewhat remiss in its promise to comment, usually without analysis or even reason, about the Reds play. Well, as the season winds down and I find myself in the busy season of the animal-carcass gathering business (the daylight reduces the stop time) I just haven't been able to find the 2 minutes necessary to write about the Reds mediocre play. Well, that may or may not change today. At least I'm writing about the Reds' big ol' win over them Astros last night. The win, of course follows four consecutive losses, including a sweep by the Brewers and a bullpen malfunction on Monday resulting a loss in the first game of this series.

Since I didn't commemorate Mesoraco's first career bombo with a picture of him admiring his shot, here's one. But in full disclosure, this is actually a photo of his first home run, however, we can both pretend it's from last night, even if Getty Images didn't bother to send a photographer to very relevant Reds/Astros game. He took Bud Norris' high fastball out to left in a hurry, showing some of that plus power everyone is hoping he showcases on a regular basis next season. I'm pretty sure he will. It's nice that he get a chance to take a couple of swings here in September.

Bailey, who loves pitching in Texas, was quite good again last night. He went 7 and gave up just 2 runs on a J.D. Martinez home run. He also had a career high 3 hits at the plate, bringing his average up above .290. Marty even took the time to compliment his approach at the plate, saying his hard work really shows up there. How about that? I think he still has one start to be labeled the 'most frustrating pitcher who has ever existed in the Major Leagues.' Bruce picked up three hits after abstaining for the weekend and Phillips hit his 18th homer of the year. He's really turned it on in September. He may or may not be seeing flashing dollar signs in front of his eyes. Either way, the Red are going to have a tough time explaining turning down his option ($12 million) after the season if that happens. That's a high price tag. There are rumors that Jocketty may be heading out of town, I'm not sure how reliable they are, so, that could be a decision he doesn't have to make. Maybe they'd promote Joe Morgan to run the team. I think he's probably near the top of the list.

The Reds have an afternoon game today, which I enjoy. I'm not sure about everyone else's opinion. Arroyo is trying to avoid giving up homers 199 and 200 on the year. I suppose it's nice to be in the record books anyway you can get there, even if it's for being terrible. 'Turn to page 167, that's right, worst pitcher in the major league in 2011.' Just kidding Bronson, you're at least better than Casey Coleman, Esmil Rogers, Aaron Cook and J. Happ. Those guys didn't even bother making 30 starts. Or have mono. There are lots of excuses in place.  Reds! Reds! Reds!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Know This Game Doesn't Really Matter But My Arm Hurts, Reds Win 7-2

Cueto exited early with a sore lat, likely putting an end to a very fine season. His flank started hurting in the 4th, with the training staff coming out to look him over with one out. He shooed them away, however, they returned after he popped Soriano out and decided it was time for him to hit the showers. He held the Cubs to 3 hits and no runs over his time on the mound and reduced his ERA by a bit to 2.31. Maybe he'll get back out there to accumulate 5 more innings, the amount needed to bring the ERA title back to Cincinnati for the first time in many years, but that seems unlikely.

Hernandez got the scoring going tonight with a 3-run bomb in the second. The Cubs really weren't looking for the win, giving Casey Coleman the ball. He's not very good at pitching. Francisco added a two-run double in the 3rd. He's been swinging a nice bat lately. The win tonight joins with last Mike Leake's gem last night, in his final start of the season, to give the Reds the series. Nice job everyone. The Reds will take series late in the season from teams that don't care very much all day long. All day long! Reds! Reds! Reds!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Reds Feel the Season is About 20 Games Too Long, Cubs 12-8

The Reds, despite the public opinion indicating otherwise, continue to play baseball. They put together some sporadic good play over the weekend versus the Rockies in the light air all the up in the mountains of Denver. The short bursts of good play were contrasted with larger portions of poor play, notably, poor pitching. Arroyo only last 1+ on Saturday and, though the Reds hit a ton of homers (Bruce, Heisey (2), Francisco, etc.) making for a very enjoyable game, they didn't win. That was the story last night. The D-train appears to be running out of coal or Sparx or whatever it is he runs on, as he wasn't very good last night. He didn't last 4 and the Cubs beat him around.

Fortunately, there were lots of other interesting things to watch during the game, bad pitching aside. Francisco hit a ultra-super bomb to right, landing out of the stadium and hitting a horse that was walking by. Actually, I'm not sure about the horse part, but I picture the ball hitting the horse, who then rears up, knocking off the rider and everyone laughing about the commotion. What we do know is the homer went 502 feet and is the first to leave the stadium since the Big Donkey was still roaming the pastures in left. Mesoraco also hit his first career homer and second career double. Hopefully there will be many home runs to follow. You can't face Rodrigo Lopez every day, unfortunately. Some bad news in that Chris Valaika blew up his knee and is done for a while. Doctors think the non-working knee make actually improve his range at short. Chris, we kid. As I'm sure everyone learned from the fabulous Robin Williams vehicle, laughter is, indeed, the best medicine.

The big series with the Cubs continues today without two football games conflicting the Reds viewership. Now everyone can lock in and focus on watching the Reds humiliate the Cubs, publicly, for their disrespect yesterday. That will sure be something.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reds Feed Too Much Garbage to Garbage Eating Cub Bears, Cubs 6-3

The Reds long Labor Day weekend finally concluded resulting in this post you're probably not reading. That's okay. I enjoy reading my incorrect grammar and poorly constructed sentences as much as the limited readership.

The Reds ran into the the bear buzzsaw in Chicago, losing two of three to the terrible, terrible Cubs. Tonight there was a little too much Carlos Pena. That guy can rake - about 2 out of every 10 at bats, one of which is a home run. He had his two hits of the week tonight, the big one being a three-run bomb in the 8th off Bray. Cueto came off a poor outing last time against the Cardinals to go 7 and give up 3. He left trailing but the offense picked him up, tying things at three, immediately prior to Renteria getting thrown out at the plate trying to score the fourth run of the evening. Ondrusek got hung withe loss, penalized for leaving men on base for Bray to remove, not before touching home plate.

The last few days we've gotten the opportunity to see some of the kids. Mesoraco has been getting regular at bats and Alonso has been seeing more and more time. He had three hits tonight. Valaika even got a shot at short which he hasn't done for a while and, according to the the nerds in charge of telling me about baseball, probably shouldn't ever play the 6 position. Bruce and Votto each added two hits tonight. Hernandez took over the role of having runners on base and not doing much with them. He hasn't been the problem for most of the season, so he's entitled to a turn. And the Reds likely get a draft pick based upon his 'A' free agent status following the season. That's assuming he's offered and rejects arbitration, only to sign elsewhere. It's a very complicated process reserved only for the very smart. I do not fall into that category, so will cease my explanation here.

Yesterday, I won't backtrack too far, Leake had a chance for his first career shutout but gave up a two-run, game-tying bomb to something called a LeHair. I think that translates to 'the hair', based upon my remedial knowledge of the French language. If I had to give up my first career shutout, I think a home run to The Hair would be an acceptable way to go about it. The Reds came back to win in the 14th, so everything worked out for the best. Though, again presented with the options, a meaningless win for a team eliminated from playoff contention versus first career shutout, it's probably a toss-up. At least after listening to Dusty spin it for me.

The Reds get the privilege of playing the Rockies for a couple of days, which should be worth a watch. I know I'll be tuning in. The offense has scheduled many hits and runs for the weekend. It's already on the calendar - in pen - so, expect it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Reds Continue to Practice Abstinence at the Plate, Phillies 3-0

The bats, ignoring the 9th where the Reds placed 3 runners on base denying Cliff Lee his complete game shutout, were quiet as a mouse against the Phillies this evening. Stubbs was the only member of the lineup with more than one hit and Dusty asked him to take a seat with the bases loaded in the 9th in favor of Yonder Alonso. Granted, Alonso been rakin' but, well, Dusty knows what he's doing, so I'll leave it at that.

Willis was pretty good again, albeit a little wild. He doesn't show a whole lot of interest in throwing strikes to right-handed batters. Those willing to wait him out are able to draw a walk on a semi-regular basis. He walked 5 on the night but only gave up 3 runs over 6.2. The radio guys were speculating he may be better served as a left-handed specialist going forward as the funny-handed hitters are hitting under .190 against him this year but one of them was Jim Kelch, who, as you recall, is solely responsible for the Reds underachieving this year. Utley and Howard, who both drove in runs with groundouts, were each 0 for 5 on the evening. Pence took Willis out of the park for the Phills' loan extra base hit. Arredondo and Chapman pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless relief which was nice to see, since the rest of the bullpen seems pretty gassed at this time of the season. Fortunately reinforcements arrive tomorrow with the September 1 roster expansion. Jeremy Hermida, who had a fine season at Louisville, though not nice enough to spend much time at the big league level, was designated to make room for Mesoraco's addition to the 40 man. In addition to Mesoraco, Fisher, Horst, Valaika and Francisco are apparently heading up to receive some big league treatment for a month or so. We're also going to see the return of Travis Wood and old pal Edinson Volquez. The talk is that Volquez is going to get some starts, likely in place of Leake (after Leake makes a couple more starts) and Wood is going to resume his long man bullpen routine.

Leake takes the hill against someone not named Halladay, Hamels or Lee tomorrow. He's excited about the opportunity. Vance Worley turns out to be the name of the other guy in the rotation. The Reds look forward to scoring more than 0 runs. I think that will be a step in the right direction.

Reds Look a Little Overmatched, Phillies 9-0

At least the mascots appeared to be enjoying themselves. That is a possible marketing opportunity for the Reds - more mascots. I don't think three, one of which looks and behaves like a muppet with autism, is adequate.

The Reds didn't play their best game of the year yesterday. Arroyo gave up quite a few runs and the offense generated very few, in fact none. That's not the best equation if you want to win games. I think if you asked Dusty, he'd tell you he was indifferent as long as his arm bands get plenty of air time. No, that's not what Dusty thinks. He wants to win every game and I'm sure is a little disappointed that the Reds are -1 in the win/loss category. They'll get back over .500, only to fall back under and maybe get back over again.

Last game with the Phillies this year, which will be a relief. I can think of about 5 guys I'd like the Philadelphia police to use their taser on. Placido Polanco tops the list. Willis is ready to win a game today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Knew There Was Reason Mr. Redlegs Hates Hawaiians, Phillies 3-2

The Reds played well enough last night, especially with old scourge Hamels on the hill. The Reds have never been able to figure him out, even when he was going through some struggles last year, he can always count on a good performance against Cincinnati. Last night was no different, even though Manual was nice enough to remove Hamels after 6, despite throwing only 75 or so pitches. He figured Cole had a modeling show or some other stupid shit to do. He was probably right.

Bailey matched Hamels at 1-1 until the 8th. He threw Victorino a first-pitch curve ball (which he had used to strike him out with runners on 2nd and 3rd with two out in the 5th) which the Pineapple King deposited over the right field wall. The Reds got another run to cut it to 3-2 but that's as close as they got. Bailey ended up going 8 and striking out 9. Nice performance. He was even able to pitch around Yonder Alonso getting his first start, at any professional level, at 3rd base. Alonso contributed to the sum total of 0 outs. Pretty good pitching keeping the ball away from him.

Phillips scored the Reds' first run in the 4th when Hunter Pence came down with acute vertigo and fell down while tracking his fly ball. Phill ended up at 3rd with a triple and Votto knocked him in with a grounder to second. The Phillies' matched that in the top of the 5th with a misplay by Phillips (that went as a hit) followed by a poor jump in left by Sappelt and a questionable decision to dive, leading to a tied 1-1 game. Sappelt's play prompted Marty to state 'this kid's play in left really leaves a lot to be desired.' It sure does Marty. Arroyo battles Halladay in today's titanic struggle. Reds rebound.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nationals Waste Reds' Time, Get Swept Reds 4-3

The Reds waited a while yesterday before holding the semi-annual dog/broom fight in the middle of the infield. The broom, as the Reds swept the series with the Nats, was deemed victorious.

The Reds took all of 13.5 innings to get the win yesterday, with Votto concluding things with a solo shot to left leading off the 14th. That was his second bomb of the day, giving him 26 for the year. He continues to pile up the power numbers. Bruce also went deep, intending to keep his hold on the team lead. He has 28. Alonso, however, allowed Votto to be the hero with a solo shot off Nats' closer Drew Storen in the bottom of the 9th. The game-tying bomb was necessary because Masset, and surprisingly, Chapman, favored extending the game with each giving up runs in the 8th and 9th. Dusty got tossed for the second time this year for yelling about Stubbs getting thrown out at second. That's the reason he wears those turf shoes, so he can quickly get from the dugout to the field and let the umpires know of his displeasure.

Leake picked up his 11th win of the year Saturday when the Reds won 6-3 on a bunch of singles. And, though the team again denied Willis his first win of the year, Cairo's one-hop of the wall in the 9th scored Stubbs with the winner. Of note, Willis was 3 for 3 and was hitting (prior to his pinch hitting at bat yesterday, where he struck out) .450. That's a pretty good swing for a thrower.

Reds welcome the Phillies in town this evening. I forget if they've quit trying yet or not. Probably not with the Braves hanging around somewhere in the vicinity. The Reds prefer to play team who have already given up - either due to a season of poor play or based upon a clinched playoff spot. The Reds are back to one game over .500 and only 13 back. No reason to give up hope yet, the Braves are only 25 games above even. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reds Eat Half a Fish Dinner, Win Second 3-2

That photo of Joey Jo-Jo can't be beat. Looks as if he encountered a herd of media members. 'Okay, turn on one word answer mode.' Despite his occasional cold personality, it has not infiltrated his game. Joey continued his recent tear during both games 1 and 2 against the Fish yesterday. In game one, which was attended by an amazing estimated 320 people, Votto went 2 for 3 with a walk, a bomb and two driven in. In game 2, he went 3 for 4 with a bomb and two driven in. Over the last 10, chosen because it's a nice round number, Votto went yard 5 times, scored 10, drove in 12 and raised his average 10 points (from .318 to .328). Pretty nice week and a half.

On to non-Votto related news, the bullpen meltdown led to a loss in the first game. Bailey pitched well enough but Jose Jopez shouldn't get on base much less be allowed to circle them after hitting a ball out of the park. He, Homeboy, ended up going 7, allowing three. He did get a couple of hits, including a double, which is pretty neat. Arredondo started the Marlins' rally with Bray contributing. Frazier's bomb with Stubbs on in the 9th made it close but that's where it ended, Reds with one fewer run than the Marlins, 6-5. Game 2 was better. Arroyo pitched a very strong 8 innings, allowing no runs and tossing out some premium grade salad. Cordero made it tight in the 9th, by allowing a couple of Marlins run, but eventually settled down and ended the trip prior to the hurricane arriving to wash Mr. Redleg's comically over-sized head out to sea.

The Reds return home to entertain the Nationals tomorrow. They have some big things planned, number 1 on the list is getting Dontrelle Willis his first win of the year. He really has pitched well enough to have at a win in his 8 tries but the team has been resistant. They remain Volquez supporters, not wanting to hand out wins to people until they verify loyalty. I'm in favor of acceptance of Willis, we'll see if anyone else agrees.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alonso Confident Big Night Will Lead to Free Boat Trips and Strip Club VIP Seats, Reds 8-6

Dusty was cognizant of the importance of Y. Alonso's first trip back to Miami as major leaguer, so he gave Votto a rest and let the young first baseman have the start tonight versus the Fish. Alonso took the first pitch he saw from Ricky Nolasco over the fence for his second big league homer. He added two more hits, the second of which ended up deciding the game when his liner to center drove in the seventh and eighth Reds runs of the night. He went 3 for 4, drove in 4 and pushed his small sample size average up to .448. Pretty solid numbers for the man without a position.

Cueto didn't like the mound and showed his displeasure by walking 6 over 5. He actually left trailing, which is very unusual this season. LeCure and Masset did their best to push the Marlins lead as high as they could but the Reds got to Nunez in the 9th. After Votto reappeared and drew a walk and Phillips singled, Sappelt drove in the first two runs of his big league career with a double to left. Bruce walked then Alonso had his big hit. Earlier in the night, Bruce hit his 27th bomb of the season. Lots of hits tonight, Sappelt matched Alonso's 3, Phillips, Cairo and Stubbs had 2. They even stole 3 bases (Stubbs 2 (32 on the year) and Phillips).

Pretty alright night for the Reds who won their third of four with all wins featuring 9th inning rallys. The wins should keep coming with the hurricane-required doubleheader tomorrow. Bailey first, followed by Arroyo. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reds Have Low Tolerance for Robbers on the High Seas, Reds 5-4

Reds finally decided it was time to take a road series, at the Pirates' expense. Tough break Pittsburgh. Votto had a big weekend, hitting two bombs and driving in many (my recollection is 7 - 2 Friday, 2 Saturday, and 3 Sunday. Feel free to check my math or recollection) Phillips continued to hit in the leadoff role. His average is sitting just a shade under .300 with an OBP at .340 and slugging in line with his career numbers (excepting 2007 when he hit the 30 bombs) at .430. So, he's looking like he'd like to make a substantial deposit into his purple-Audi purchasing account following the season. You can never have too many high performance automotive machines.

On both Friday and Sunday, the Reds jumped all over Joel Hanrahan who has been pretty pretty good for the majority of the season. After the 5 runs he allowed in 1 and 1/3, his ERA is all the way up to 1.76. So, that may indicate how selfish he has been towards his opposition this season. Though, I realize the error of looking at ERA only without knowing rest of the story and choose to proceed on those grounds anyway. Maybe some Pittsburghian would like to correct me. If not, I'll just assume that I'm not wrong - that he has been good. But, again, who cares about the Pirates. They are now wholly irrelevant, other than to say how bad they've been playing of late.

The pitching left a bit to be desired. Homeboy was pretty good Friday, though he did throw 96 pitches through 5 innings, but the bullpen let the Pirates back from a 6-3 deficit before the Reds pulled away for good in the 9th. Willis went 6 Saturday, also allowing 3 but Chapman allowed the deciding two runs in the 7th. At least Charlie Morton didn't through another shut out. Yesterday Leake gave up 4 over 6, which is fine but, likewise, not good enough to get a win. So, there's your lazy recap. Reds eat fish tomorrow through Thursday. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Friday, August 19, 2011

You Really Like My Mesh Pullover? Nationals 3-1

The Reds wrapped things up in Washington last night with a very forgettable performance. Arroyo wasn't all that bad, but not all that great either. He gave up 3 over 6. Two of the 3 came on a bases loaded single by everyone's favorite derelict impersonator, Jonny Gomes. Gomes also made a pretty nice catch to rob Votto. I'll remember that Jonny. Ryan Hanigan will at least remember yesterday's game, he had 4 hits in 4 at bats and threw a runner out who was attempting to steal. Nice job Ryan - way to not phone it in.

Reds soldier on to Pittsburgh to help the Pirates wind down their season. Both teams have a bet to see which of their fan bases care less about them at this point in the season. I suspect people in Pittsburgh, contrasted with Cincinnati, have little interest in the fading Pirates but this is new territory for a lot of them. Only a few games under .500 this late in the season? This has to be something near a success. Anyway, the Reds will rip that feeling of accomplishment right out of them with a savage and total beating of them all weekend long. Sorry Pittsburgh.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

At Least Cueto Pitches Every Fifth Day, Reds Win 2-1

And it's also fortunate that he is very photogenic because he is oftentimes the only character worthy of me having a possible copyright infringement case brought against me. The picture to the right captures him one pitch into the 9th inning last night. That one pitch was deposited over the fence by Ryan Zimmerman prompting the old slow walk from Dusty. Good thing he has on those turf shoes or that walk would be pretty miserable. It's hard to tell from his expression whether Cueto agreed or disagreed with the decision. I'd say after about 4 batters with Coco he would have voted disagree. But, as you already know, the three outs eventually came and the 2 runs scored by the offense held up.

The offense was quiet last night, Votto went deep early and Hernandez drove in Bruce with a groundout in the 8th. They had a couple opportunities but didn't want to embarrass anyone. That's what Dusty preaches, these guys are your peers. 'Jay Bruce, sure you're up there with the bases loaded and Ross Detwiler on the mound, who is terrible, but let's give the kid a break out there.' And he did, Bruce k'd on three pitches, looking like he's never held a bat before. That's the important thing to remember, especially when you're looking at a double-digit deficit in late August and half your team is on the DL, there are more important things than baseball. Dusty understands that and does his best to impart such knowledge to those under his reign. He's a big picture guy. I, however, am a little picture guy and am quite pleased with the win last night in spite of everything else operating against the Reds. Arroyo begins an extended stretch of dominance this evening. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reds Have a Little Trouble with the Fielding Portion of Their Brains, Nats 6-4

Any time the staff sees Alonso penciled into the starting lineup out in left, they have to prepare for the worst, because he brings it on a semi-regular basis. I couldn't locate a picture of him floundering around in left, only at first, so, this isn't really representative of the point I'm trying to make. Next time I'll find a picture of a flounder or school of flounder since they are, presumably, the best at floundering. Anyway, enough with the complaints about his terrible outfield defense, he's hitting .435 and, at least in the limited amounts I've seen, isn't barf-inducing at first. So, there's a chance he can acquire some skill out there. And last night it wasn't just him, Bruce took a bad step in the first (by the way have you seen his defensive WAR this year? He is, according to the nerds with their computers, costing the Reds, over the course of the season, one win more than a replacement level player) and the ball got over his head leading to the Reds' 2-0 lead quickly being erased. So, the problems appear to be spreading.

Leake wasn't quite as strong last night as we've seen him for the majority of the season. Maybe it was due to the Wang v. Leake match-up. He likes being the only one dick or urine jokes can be made about. He ended up going 6 but giving up 6 (5 earned). Votto's error cost him a run. On to the increasing injury front, Renteria shredded his groin and will probably need to take a couple days off. I'm not sure who gets the call if he can't go. Janish probably can't play every inning for the rest of the year. Valaika, I guess, though he's proven he has a little trouble with the bat in addition to a little trouble at the shortstop position. I know Frazier played some short at the lower levels but that was several years ago. Maybe everyone finally gets to see B. Phill show what he can do. Or, Maybe Renteria has a very strong groin and will be back in there tomorrow. I'm pretty sure my groin would be ready to go.

Cueto gets another chance to pile up some innings so the ERA leaders board will reflect his fine season. He's remained solid and no reason to expect anything less from a suspect Nationals lineup. I'm pretty sure they turn things around tonight. Ross Detwiler is brutal.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Apologies To the Many Disappointed Chimps

For those of you who have noticed my absence, my apologies. Fortunately, there are few on that list. The Reds Rocket had some travel come up, Las Cruces, New Mexico followed by Vancouver, B.C. All in the name of the spreading the good word regarding the Reds. Everyone seemed very receptive, especially the polite hipsters in Vancouver. Sure, they're wearing tight jeans but they like hearing about Jay Bruce's recent hot streak.

Since signing off for the past week, the Reds turned in some better play. They took the last two from the Rocks and two of three from the Padres. Nationals up next, so expect some continued fine play. Bruce has been red hot, as everyone has come to expect. Every other month he simply scorches the ball. 10 for his last 17 with 4 bombs. He likes to get all of his production done in a very short period of time, then he can relax the rest of the season.

Some bad news yesterday as the D. Train was pulled out of service after a short outing with some forearm soreness. He plans to make his next start, though, at least as far as I know, he's not a doctor. He does have a naturopathic degree but we all know that's just a degree in baloney. He'll apply some herbs and focus on forcing the soreness out of muscles. Travis Wood, who made a welcome reappearance from AAA, threw an inning of relief yesterday, in his new role. He is probably in line to get the next start, if Dontrelle's high leg kick can't make it.

Three other points, before I sign off: Cozart underwent Tommy John, which isn't great. I guess we'll see him in in 12-18 months. Tough break as he was showing a little bit at the big league level. Would have been nice to see what he did once the league opened a chapter about him. Secondly, the Reds signed their top pick Robert Stephenson. We'll refer to him as Mr. Stephenson and make him a celebratory martini. He made the right decision, I suspect the $2 million signing bonus made it a little easier. Finally, and not necessarily significant, Arroyo passed through waivers. I'm sure there are other Reds who are remaining secret, but waiver period deals are always interesting to watch. With the new deal he inked in the off-season, little chance he's going anywhere. His yearlong struggles may also impact the market.

So, there you go. Nothing new and no real excuse for my absence. I'll talk with you tomorrow.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bill Bray's Goatee Says Reds Lose, Rockies 10-7

As I alluded to yesterday, the guys at the tail end of the bullpen look as if they may be a little on the tired side. Taking the 30 seconds necessary to quantify that statement, adding today's performances, Bray has pitched in 60 games (totaling 38 innings), Masset 59 games (55 innings) and Ondrusek 56 (with 51 innings pitched). Coco's made an appearance in 46 games, Chapman 35 and Arredondo 32. Crosschecking that against the league leaders and workload of other bullpens seems like too much work for someone this lazy, so, I'll just conclusively state that that seems like a lot of games and innings. I'll wait for someone more dedicated and/or intelligent to present the correlation between heavy inning loads and poor performance. But, based upon the last week or so, sure seems like there's a pattern.

The Reds showed plenty of offense upon their return home but if you're going to give up 10 runs, that's a tough spread to cover. The featured offensive players include Jay Bruce, who may be recalling how to swing the bat, going deep and driving in 4, Stubbs who also went yard and B. Phill, bad ankle and all, coming off the bench and depositing a pitch over the wall. Votto did his part, drawing 3 walks in 4 at bats. However, Bailey, sticking with his recent pattern of being terrible after a good start, was terrible. He only lasted 3, giving up 5, four of which came on two Seth Smith bombs. The bullpen asked just one thing of him prior to the game, that he refill the toilet paper in the plush Reds clubhouse bathroom after using the last of it. He did that but didn't live up to his implied bargain with the rest of the staff, to pitch effectively late in the game. The bullpen is very passive aggressive.

After Homeboy quickly showered and peeled out of the parking lot, LeCure was ineffective, Bray was ineffective and Masset was ineffective. For the first time I remember saying this, Arredondo was the lone effective reliever. He went 2 and gave up 0 runs, which is an improvement over what the rest of the jabronies had to offer. LeCure made the 6-5 Reds lead vanish. Poof! Then Bray volunteered to break the 7-7 tie. The Reds don't have time for any more extra inning games. At least until September when a flurry of moves results in 15 more relievers getting the call up to the big club. That should help things out.

The Reds have three more chances to play well against Colorado. I think they will take advantage of all three. No reason, based upon their recent performance, not to believe that.

Reds Show Heart, Win Sunday, Reds Rocket Ignores 2 Preceding Games Reds 8-7

The Reds continued their struggle against bad teams, losing two of three in Chicago. Ignoring the two of the three, I'll focus upon yesterday's very impressive victory over the Cubs.

Impressive may not be the right word, how about the phrase, borderline unwatchable. After looking pretty good for 5, reflected by the 6-2 Reds lead on the scoreboard, Arroyo gave up a two-run bomb to Blake DeWitt in the bottom of the 6th to cut the lead in half. The bottom of the 7th was a mess. Ondrusek continued to pitch Dusty on the idea that he is overworked and needs a few days off by giving up two hits and hitting Reed Johnson in his 1/3 of an inning. Bray got an out but Masset is currently on the Ondrusek schedule. He, Masset, gave up a ground rule double to Marlon Byrd and then brought in the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. Masset, along with Bray and Ondrusek, has thrown a lot of innings this year. But that's part of the Dusty plan to build arm strength. These guys will be better off in the long run or, in need of some replacement ligaments in their shoulders and elbows. The weak aren't rewarded.

Fortunately for the Reds, Marlon Byrd is very clumsy. He fell down, like someone put a banana peel in center field, trying to catch Votto popup. The miscue, if you can call it that, it's really an error on his spikes, put Votto at 2nd. He was later driven in by Frazier, pictured for the first time on the Reds Rocket above. Frazier was, in turn, knocked in by Hanigan. There you have it, Reds win 8-7. Chapman and Coco were both pretty dynamite.

In addition to some poor play, Saturday (which I said I wasn't going to mention) also was notable for the injury to B. Phill. He's got a bum ankle which prevents him from accelerating his car up to 140 mph with his mom in the passenger seat. It also will prevent him from playing in a couple of games. For the already banged-up lineup, that doesn't help. Janish gets the start at 2nd today, yesterday it was Old Man Cairo. Speaking of injuries, Heisey's sore thorax brought a Dave Sappelt to the line-up. He had a nice last season between a few levels and was raking at AAA before injuring some part of his body. That's not to say he's been bad upon return, just not hitting .340. Anyway, he finally got his call, which is nice to see. He had a hit yesterday and made a nice catch in left. So, now you have two kids in left, Alonso and Sappelt. Alonso, though appearing to have no idea what to do with his glove out there, has been swinging a nice bat. He hit his first career bomb on Saturday (which, again, I said I wasn't going to discuss).

So, the long nightmare trip to Houston and Chicago is finally over. Those teams sure are talented and well-coached. They get to face another team in the same mold, the Colorado Rockies who have resigned themselves to being a little better next year. However, this is about the time they get unbelievably hot every year. That can probably wait until after the get out of town. Not much else from this end. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What Now? Reds lose to Astros

The photo pictured to the right shows the climax of the Reds series in Houston. Willis' homer, which was pretty sweet, gave the Reds a 3-2 lead heading into the 7th. After hitting the bomb, Willis was removed and Masset announced that the Reds are not above playing down to any team. Nicky boy promptly put a couple runners on and surrendered a two-run double one of the Astros whose names are all unfamiliar to me. J.D. something. Or maybe it was T.J. Who can keep these things straight. The Reds added a run in the 9th but by that time were down two, so it didn't really help things.

The team moves on two Chicago where the expectation of a sweep over a bad team may not be quite as automatic as we all would like. The Cubs are pretty bad but not as bad as Houston and Cincinnati lost two of three in Houston. I'm still waiting for that 10-game winning streak but everything seems to point to it not coming along. Fortunately, the Reds like to keep things loose and unpredictable. I think they've got a couple quality wins up their collective sleeve.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Reds Domination of the Astros Is Demonstrative of the High Quality of the Team, Reds 5-1

The Reds decided not to be so easy on the Astros yesterday. They didn't do a whole lot with the bats other than the 5th inning but that proved to be enough. After Heisey and Hernandez hit back-to-back double to produce the first run, Wandy threw 15 pitches to Homer Bailey before walking him, then walked Stubbs and capped everything off with a Renteria grand slam. Looks like I'll have to cut old man Renteria some slack for a couple of days on account of him providing the margin of victory. At least he didn't make any errors yesterday and I haven't heard him complaining in a while about $2.5 million being disrespectful to him. That's certainly an improvement. Maybe he's done a little growing up.

Bailey was awfully good, especially when contrasted with his last start. He dropped his ERA down to a more respectable 4.30. But, again, this lineup the Astros are putting out on the field is not intended to be competitive. So, it's good that he was able to go 8 and generally dominate against a bunch of former players and AAA All-Stars. It's Major League Baseball's version of the Harlem Globetrotters. Sure they're pretty good and have the unique abilities (Brian Bogusevic can fit 7 baseballs in his mouth) but you know last year's Timberwolves would beat them by 75 points. I think fans are just showing up hoping that one of them will get decapitated or start a brawl.

Reds finish things up today with Willis picking up his first Reds win. He's pretty excited about it. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reds Reject Astros Many Offers to Allow Them To Win Game, A-holes 4-3

The Reds went 3 for 17 yesterday with runners in scoring position, which isn't an ideal performance. They actually had runners at 3rd with fewer than 2 outs three times. They scored one of those three times but it was when Bruce grounded into a double play with no outs. All of it led up to Ondrusek looking very sad, and a little bit homeless about the face area, on the mound as the terrible Astros team celebrated at home plate.

The winning run was preceded by two singles (one on a hit and run) by the Astros and then a walk to load the bases. When some guy name Jose Altuve, who I think works in the marketing department but had to put on a uniform when Houston ran out of players, lined a ball up the middle, Phillips dove, knocked it down and threw home. Hanigan, who's apparently not used to stretching his leg and catching the ball at the same time, dropped the throw and the game finally ended.

Of positive note, Arroyo showed that he can get people out, assuming those people are named: Luis Durango, Jose Altuve, (three-hole hitter) Jason Bourgeois, the walking corpse of Carlos Lee, J.D. Martinez, Clint Barmes, Jimmy Paredes and Humberto Quintero. Bronson went 8 and actually allowed three runs to these clowns. Still, that should have been sufficient to send the Reds on their way but turned out it wasn't. I suppose Dusty had some words of encouragement after the game for everyone. Homer hits the mound today with the goal of being less awful than he was last time. I think he can do it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Everybody Loves Hugs, Reds Sweep 9-0

The Reds, as predicted by me and everyone else in the know, swept the Giants, looking generally awesome against everyone not named Cain and Lincecum in the Giants' rotation. Not that they wouldn't have hammered those guys too, given the opportunity.

Friday night, the team, fresh off the previously discussed Mets' sweep, slowly returned a 3-1 lead to the the Giants and headed to extras. The return of the lead defrauded Willis of another possible win in a game where he pitched well. As he's been doing during every start. In extras, they had runners at 1st and 3rd with no outs and couldn't get a run in. Which is not unexpected, however, in the 13th, Arredondo did his non-cancer imitation picked up his first career hit, then Renteria walked everyone off with liner off the chalk down the line. Big party at Renteria's house afterward.

Saturday, the Reds jumped all over Bumgarner, scoring 5 in the first and sending 11 men to the plate. They didn't do much of anything after that (5 hits in the 1st, 7 for the game) but Leake cruised, giving up a homer to the Fat Ass Panda and another run courtesy of two errors in one inning by Renteria. Everyone seemed to be pretty pleased with themselves again. As they were entitled to be. And yesterday, Zito Giants? Get serious. He's no match for the powerful and rejuvenated Reds offense. Cueto gave all the lazy asses down in the bullpen a break and kept the ball for the full 9. With his performance, he finally qualified, innings wise (based on his smile and sparkling personality, he was qualified long ago), for the NL leaderboard in ERA. He's a half run ahead of the second place contestant (Ryan Vogelsong, with whom the Reds were not impressed Friday) with an average of 1.72. Sunday was his third complete game of the season, though it was the first one in which he got the win or had to actually pitch 9 innings. Votto hit another bomb in the 7th, Stubbs had 4 hits, which is a career high, Frazier hit his first career bomb and nearly everyone else in the lineup contributed to the offense. Phillip chewed off his figurative arm to work himself out from under the slump rock he was trapped for a week or so. He is working on a 10-day hitting streak and his average is re-approaching .290, which is a nice range for him. Bruce has cooled out on the strikeouts and Alonso seems to have at least an idea what to do with big league pitching, going 3 for 4 to start the year with Cincinnati.

No trades, with the exception of Gomes, and, though there is still plenty of time and expensive players to get through waivers, Jocketty seems to like the club. August is a good month for the Reds, schedule-wise. They head to Houston tonight, then Chicago. There are 6 wins. Then they're home for 7 against the Rockies (4) and Padres. Then they hit the road to play Washington, Pittsburgh and Florida. I count about 17 wins before they even come home to finish out the month. The rest of the Central has long known about the Reds tsunami forecast. They're ready to concede the division. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reds, Strategically, Allow Mets to Sweep, 10-9

Sweeps at home are always tough to take. Four game sweeps at home to an, arguably, inferior team who traded its All-Star right fielder after game two of the series which preceded even greater offensive production make Dusty want throw his wristbands into the garbage disposal. But the series just reminded me that I still need to buy one of those collectable Dusty Baker toothpick holders that were a big hit earlier in the season. Because, after lulling the National League to sleep with the feigned poor play, the Reds are finally ready to make their move. The -6 in the win/loss column will soon be remedied and the 6.5 games they trail in the Central leaderboard just isn't going to hold up.

Yesterday, the Metropolitans beat up Arroyo who was still having some trouble, based upon him checking the radar gun after every fastball, getting his heater into the range that he wants. He was consistently at 86-87 yesterday when he usually sits in the 88-90 range. At least per my recollection. Cowboy was making a big point about it and y'all know that Brantley speaks nothing but the truth and ice cream. He does talk about ice cream a lot. Today they hammered Bailey, putting up 9 over 4 innings. The offense which showed little heart yesterday put together a nicer performance today piling up 9 runs. Though the run pile was not quite as tall as the Mets'.

The problem, as I've stated before, is clearly substitute radio play-by-play man Jim Kelch. Other than Votto, who plans to hit a bomb everyday for the rest of the season, the rest of the team struggles with Kelch's slow delivery and overly verbose style. I'm sure he's a perfectly nice guy, who put in his time at Louisville before getting the call last year, but he's killing the team. And, unfortunately, that's what it comes down to in this business - results. And Jim Kelch simply isn't producing. Maybe they can throw him in on the forthcoming deal for Willie Bloomquist.

Giants roll into town tomorrow with Ryan Vogelsong attempting to get some outs. He's going to have some trouble in that department. The three-game sweep will even the homestand at 5-5 and then the train will be back on track. Willis wears the striped overalls and conductor hat tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reds Celebrate Gomes' Departure with Awful Defense, Mets 8-6

Just prior to the start of yesterday's game, the Reds said goodbye to adopted son Jonny Gomes. Gomes was shipped to Washington for a carton of cigarettes and a low minors reliever. There was maybe a minor league outfielder in there too. In a corresponding move, Cincinnati called up Yonder Alonso to, conceivably, play a little left field in Gomes' stead. Heisey's a little banged up after attacked Drew Stubbs while chasing a fly ball on Sunday against the Braves, so, there's a change Alonso gets a little time in the next couple of days. He looked pretty inept in left when I saw him in Spring Training but that could have been from my small sample size and I guess he's had half a season to work on it.

The Reds defense suffered from a systematic breakdown last night. Starting chronologically - Votto made an error in the 1st; Bruce failed to catch a catchable fly ball to right, resulting in a run in the first - officially scored a hit; Phillips led the 3rd off with an error on a Reyes grounder, Reyes scored; Cairo failed to field a potential double play ball in the 3rd (to which Brantley stated 'Cueto was hotter than a match head); after the Reds came all the way back to take a 5-4 lead in the 5th (courtesy of a Renteria two-run double and Votto's 14th bomb of the year to left) Cairo erred on a force attempt with a runner on first, allowing runners on 2nd and 3rd, both scored. There may have been more, but I'm tired of writing about them. And, I think the Reds' poor defense yesterday gave me a cold. The Reds Rocket will require Halls cough drops with no less than three type of menthylyptis. All of Cueto's six runs allowed were of the unearned variety, so he actually lowered his ERA. Good for him. Masset turned in a second straight (I guess third, as he pitched to just one batter on Saturday and couldn't get him out) subpar performance. He padded the Mets lead by allowed 2 runs in .2 innings. Not great.

The team takes a third try at the Mets today, hopefully with better results. Good luck to Jonny Gomes in Washington. He can say hello to former Reds loyalist Laynce Nix. They both have non-traditionally spelled first names. They have a deep bond.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Reds Two-Game Winning Streak Had to End Sometime, Mets 4-2

After going a month and a half without winning two consecutive games, the Reds finally did it against Atlanta, which exhausted them. The Mets hid in the tall grass only to spring out in the 7th. After Phillips finally put the Reds on the board against R.A. Dickey in the bottom of the 6th with a Cairo-scoring double, Leake got Dickey in the 7th but then allowed back-to-back single to Reyes and Reds turncoat, Justin Turner. That was the end of Leake's night, which went quite well. He got into the 7th and, though he left two guys on base, the presumption is the bullpen, where stranding baserunners is part of their job description, would leave those runners on base. They didn't. Bray allowed a sacrifice fly to Beltran, which is probably okay. The game was tied and now there are two outs. Ondrusek, however, was tired of the boring nature of the game, gave up a single to David Wright and then doubles to both Dan Murphy and Jason Bay. That made it 4-1 and, as we know, 4 runs on most days is entirely too many for the offense to fight back against. They added 1 in the bottom of the7th and loaded the bases against Isringhausen in the 9th but B. Phill k'd to end it.

Votto got a deserved day on the bench yesterday. He's out there everyday and probably needs a break to get his head straight. Though, I'm sure he wasn't sleeping in an easy chair in the clubhouse, he probably took a full 3 hours of extra batting cage time. I believe it's the first time the Reds have seen a knuckleball this year, so, you'll see I have lots of excuses for the loss and reasons to believe it is an outlier in the Reds steady assent to the top of the Central. Cueto pitches today against Jon Neise. I have a vague recollection of the Reds struggling against Neise, whose stuff is far from overwhelming. Hopefully that vague recollection turns out to be inaccurate or, if accurate, the Reds have been practicing against soft-tossing lefties and are ready rake. Either way, Reds win today.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reds Cheat Braves Out of a Series (Mr. Redlegs also gives them small pox), Reds 4-3

Pretty exciting conclusion to the Reds/Braves season series this evening on the Worldwide Leader. Getty Images really does a nice job capturing photographic evidence of Reds' game winners (for the Reds Rocket to use, fairly under U.S. copyright law, of course). I guess that's what happens the year after winning a division, people care a little about your team.

Friday, after a tough series in Pittsburgh, the bats finally showed some signs of at least thinking about being productive. They scored 4 on one of the NL's most effective first half pitchers, Jair Jurrjens. All came via the home run, Cozart's solo shot, Lewis' two-run variety in 6th which was followed by Stubbs' 12th. The 4-3 lead, however, evaporated and Masset quickly untied the game in the 9th with a two-run bomb allowed to Uggla.

Saturday and Sunday concluded properly. After Bailey labored through 6 (though his line didn't look all that bad, 6 with just the 2 allowed with 5 hits and 3 walks, it sure seemed like there were more than 8 people on base and Bailey operating in molasses mode didn't do anything to counter that feeling) the offense scored 3 for him in the 6th and then more runs than the entire Pittsburgh series (7) in the 7th. Phill had a couple of run-scoring doubles. Renteria, who replaced Cozart, whose elbow bent a direction it shouldn't bend when attempting to field a throw from Votto which sliced the into the runner) had a couple of hits and three driven in and Todd Frazier, who is acting as Rolen's replacement during his second tenure on the DL, had a bases loaded-bases clearing double. Bailey got the W and everyone, other than Braves' starter Derek Lowe whose stat line the loss was hung on, went home happy. Today, Willis turned in another effective start, going 6.1 and allowing only 3 runs. Phill hit a two-run bomb in the 1st, Cairo a solo shot in the 2nd and Stubbs, a walk-off shot off Scott Linebrink in the 9th. The offense, otherwise, did little. But if you're going to hit three runs every game, that should be sufficient. Coco, who appeared to anger the natives by allowing a lead-off single (A. Gonzalez) and going 2-0 on Eric Hinske, settled in and appeared to endear himself to the locals by coming back to strike out Hinske, not to mention old nemesis Brooks Conrad (Conrad, not to tell everyone something they already know, which I'm going to do anyway, hit the walk off grand slam last year that glanced off Nix's glove and put the finishing touches on a 8-0 blown lead). Chapman had a nice series, he induces a double play tonight in the 7th and looked strong in the 8th. He is looking like he will be a real asset down the stretch.

Things continue tomorrow with the Mets and R.A. Dickey. Not only do the Reds love the sir name Dickey but they rip knuckle balls all day long. Should be a equally fulfilling series from the Reds' perspective, beating on a good team at home to energize the media and local fan base. Big things are starting. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pirates Look Much More Like the Pirates, Reds 3-1

Featured in picture form is Pirates' shortstop Chase d'Arnaud, who was nice enough to give the Reds a couple of free runs. Leading off the game, Monsieur d'Arnaud fielded Heisey's grounder to short and opted to award him second base, as opposed to recording the out, by throwing wildly. Dusty, as Dustys are wont to do, bunted Heisey to 3rd and Votto drove him in with a sacrifice fly to left. In the 5th, after both the Reds and Pirates had added a run, Monsieur d'Arnaud thought that Johnny Cueto might enjoy running the bases. So, he booted his grounded. Heisey and Renteria singled, bringing home the third and final run of the game.

Lost in d'Arnaud's gross incompetence is the fine game thrown by Johnny Cueto. I'm going to have to stop mentioning it because just about every game this season from Cueto has thrown very well. His ERA crept down a little more to 1.98 and he picked up his sixth win of the year. The bullpen was good, Bray, Ondrusek, Chapman and Cordero, all did their jobs. The offense featured a two hit/two walk day by Bruce. Phillips got a day off to think about how bad he's been with the bat lately. Rolen reemerged from his hyperbaric chamber, it was treating his inflammatory bowel disease, to hit the ball hard four times, though only one resulted in a base hit. That's a sign of improvement. Some hits from the third base position would seem to help out the offense.

Team gets the day off today before starting a 10 game homestand. That should be pretty sweet. Braves are rumored to be interested in Jonny Gomes' haircut, so they get a first hand opportunity to check him out. The Reds Rocket, despite Gomes unpredictability, would be sad to see him go. But, that's the nature of the business, regardless of how nice you look in a sombrero. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jay Bruce Learns the Importance of Putting the Ball in Play, Pirates 1-0

Or maybe he didn't, who knows. But with the bases loaded and only one out in the 7th, Bruce was summoned from the bench on his day off. He was probably working on his tan in the clubhouse tanning bed or thinking about the many products he'd like to purchase with his off-season extension. Those are both very important pursuits. The Pirates removed the starter, James McDonald, who was for some reason, pretty good, and brought in Joe Beimel. Beimel is what is termed a 'lefty specialist', though his numbers are far from special. He was allowing over a hit an inning and has already surrendered three bombs (presumably all to lefties) in 19 innings. Jay did not put the ball in play, opting instead, for a strike out leaving everyone where they were. Of course this all would be moot if Stubbs had done something other than ground to 1st to register the 3rd out but he didn't. I wasn't listening to the game at the time but am sure that Marty was reaffirming his hatred for every member of the 2011 Cincinnati Reds.

Leake, as is starting to become the norm with the starters, was good. He went 6 allowing just 2 hits and the lone run. He even picked up one of the four hits that McDonald allowed. The offense helped him out a couple of times earlier in the season, so I don't feel too bad for him having to eat the loss on account of the bats adding 9 more innings to the current 18 innings scoreless drought against the Pirates. Very few other highlights. Phillips is 1 for his last 22. That's noteworthy, though not really a highlight

Cueto takes the hill today and the Reds take the final game of the series. They have got things figured out and are ready to generate some runs. Lots of them. I read on the rumor page Jocketty is allegedly targeting both Coco Crisp and Chone Figgins. Presumably they have big homes with nice swimming pools for the team to host post-game parties, because I don't see any reason, baseball-wise, to acquire either. I think the current leadoff guys can get on base 30% of the time just fine. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reds Continued with Conspiracy to Inflate Spirits of City of Pittsburgh, Pirates 2-0

The Reds continued to abstain from meaningful offensive production against Charlie Morton. As you likely recall, the last time Cincinnati faced Morton, he threw his first career shut out. Yesterday, though they had a runner at third with no outs and later loaded the bases with two outs in the 1st, they didn't score any runs. Not only in the 1st but for the entire game. I will reiterate, I like Charlie Morton with the 8+ ERA from last year a lot better than this joker with the sub 4.00. He didn't think he was better then everyone else. In fact, he knew he wasn't better than anyone else. And I liked him just fine the way he was.

There were a couple of delays, due to some bad weather, which sapped the D-Train's fuel supply. He only last 4.2 innings but threw pretty well. He gave up the two runs which ended up being the difference but he was counting on a little more production from the National League's leading run scoring offense. And they let him down. You can tell from his picture how disappointed he was in everyone, especially Miguel Cairo. Maybe next time Dontrelle.

So, with the loss (and Pirates' win), the Pirates are in lone possession of 1st place in the Central. Pretty wild. Though, the fans are right to be suspicious as they have a plan to lose 35 in a row all cooked up. That will return everything from the bizarro world where the Pirates are good at baseball. Leake and his teammates have something big planned today. Look out for it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reds Like a Stepping Razor - Dangerous - Reds 3-1

Nice weekend series with the Cardinals to start the second half. After blowing a couple of leads late on Friday, the Phillips showed the thinking behind the suspect late inning pitching - to energize the fan base. Down one with two outs in the 9th, B. Phill deposited a pitch over the left center field wall allowing the Reds to win in walk off fashion. That's one of my favorite fashions. He did a pirouette after hitting first and later said that he considered taking his bat on a tour of the bases with him, like Pedro Serrano, now known as the guy who does the heartwarming insurance commercials for State Farm. I guess I really am in good hands. He left the bat at the plate and, as you can see in the photo above, the crowd, which was another sell out, seems pleased with his actions. Nice win.

Preceding Phills' big hit were a couple of bombs from Heisey out of the lead off spot, which gives him 12 for the year. That trails only Votto (13) and Bruce (21) for the team lead in the same amount of at bats as Ryan Hanigan (175). That's some pretty solid power, especially when you combine his 12 with Gomes' 11, from the left field position (remembering, of course, that Heisey plays a fair amount of center). Cueto pitched well until the 7th. Phillips' error didn't really help anything but if you're going to make an error, at least make sure everyone forgets all about it. Chapman, facing Pujols in the 8th due to Masset and Ondrusek joint inability to ever get him out, added his name to the list of people who can't get the best hitter in baseball out when he gave up a two-run bomb which gave the Cardinals the lead heading into the 9th. But, the conclusion is sufficiently briefed above, so I'll end the recap there.

Saturday was less significant because the Cardinals won. Arroyo fooled everyone again by pitching well up until total implosion. Though, I guess 3 runs isn't implosion, it provided the margin, since the Reds weren't scoring any runs that day. He usually make the play on Jon Jay's bunt, which wouldn't have put runners at first and third for Pujols to hit a three-run bomb, but he didn't make the play and the Reds just put people on base against Carpenter, not interested in bringing anyone to the plate. So, they lost. But yesterday was much more positive. Bailey was excellent, going 7.1 and allowing just 3 hits and threw less than 90 pitches. He was quite good. Bray, Masset and even Coco were effective in closing things out and preserving the 3-1 win. Though, I think my, and probably Cordero's stress level halved following Cozart's first big league homer. He's worked out pretty well so far. Janish-Yanish, on the other hand, is 1 for 22 at Louisville. Not ideal for those interested in returning to the majors.

Two out of three versus the Cardinals is a positive way to start the second half of the season. The trip to Pittsburgh beginning today will also be telling. Willis makes his second Reds start which, undoubtedly, will go as well as his first. So, you can chalk tonight up in the win column as well as Tuesday and Wednesday. After the Pirates, they come home to play the Braves, Mets and Giants. Easy pickins'. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reds Rocket All-Star Game

The Reds Rocket, as the big, meaningless exhibition game was held locally, was fortunate enough to be brought along to provide transportation to parties with greater financial wherewithal. After the three hour introduction, the game turned out to be very watchable. There were lots of Reds on the field, all, of course, doing very little to help the National League win the game. Actually, that may not be entirely accurate. Sure, Rolen, Votto, Phillips and Bruce were a combined 0 for 8 with 4 strikeouts (Bruce added an error, however, the only error was forgetting that Miguel Montero had entered to the game to play catcher) but they flashed a little leather. Phillips handled a couple of tricky hops in the late innings, Joey Blue Shoes hit the ground to field a roller and Rolen made a nice play in the hole before exiting in favor of the guy who used to be Pablo Sandoval. If he's not 5'11" and 300+ pounds he has no spot on my field. 

Rolen got the start due to the dearth of eligible National League third base candidates and looked more overmatched then I remember him ever looking. He led the field in bad swings on breaking pitches. I counted three in two at bats. Not bad. At least he's doing something memorable out there. But none of that really matters as the team for which they played won, ensuring the Reds home field for their inevitable World Series trip. I opted not to join the rest of the crowd and boo Fielder for his decision to leave Justin Upton, who was universally despised locally no more than 2 months ago. I'm sure as the summer wears on and the Diamondbacks start losing in bunches they'll remember their hatred for, possibly, the only interesting player on the field. They can always travel to Milwaukee and throw water on his family. First class all the way.

The team gets one more day off tomorrow before starting all over again with the Cardinals on Friday. Last time St. Louis visited Cincinnati, they left a broken and defeated team. Nothing suggesting that won't happen this time, other than the general poor play of the Reds heading into the break. But, now they've got their heads screwed back around facing forward and are ready to make up that four game deficit in the Central standings. Coco's going to do his best to not harm the team, at least for the next month or so, and Cueto gets the start Friday. He had a very fine first half and the month break at the beginning should serve him well as the season wears on. On a related note, I read on a baseball gossip site that there is some talk of the Reds inquiring on Usbaldo Jimenez, which, despite the 3 mph drop in his fastball this season, is an interesting idea. Jocketty even said publicly that he's checking around to see what can be had to increase the chances of reaching the post season. Maybe Jim Edmonds is available again to come to town, not play, then trash Cincinnati and the organization in the news. I like that idea. Three analysts and Kevin Millar agree that the Reds are numero uno. Can't argue with those numbers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Futures Game

Yesterday the Reds Rocket had the good fortunate of attending the Futures Game at Chase field. You will see from my professional quality photo that I was able to capture both Reds players in one photograph, which may or may not have been on accident. Mesoraco started at catcher for the American team and Alonso at first for the evil foreign empire. 

Alonso hit in the three hole, which is probably in that rookie contract he signed with the Reds and got four at bats. He walked twice and recorded a couple of outs. Mesoraco singled and volunteered to take one for the team in an exhibition game. That takes a lot of dedication. There were a lot of interesting non-Reds players and action but I won't bore you with that as I'm sure you don't care. So, I'll attach one of the other photos I took - the mascots' planned revolution and resulting bloodbath was overcome by their desire to shake it to a song I couldn't place blaring in the sound system. Also, Bernie Williams played the anthem on the guitar. He made some jazz guitar 'feeling the music' faces but kept the amp at 9.5, instead of 11. For those of you who were unable to attend, I am sorry for your misfortune. Next year maybe.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Coco's Long Weekend, Brewers 4-3

The Reds didn't play bad ball against the Ryan Braun-less Brewers over the weekend but will still head into the break two games under .500 and fourth place in the Central. Responsibility for Friday and Sunday's losses can, at least partially, be attributed to the work of Reds closer extraordinaire, Francisco Cordero. Sure, there were a multitude of other happenings which impact the final outcome of a game i.e. Jay Bruce attempting to stretch a double into a triple today in the 3rd inning with no one out, but your closer, who is occupying a large percentage of the team payroll, should, ideally, be able to get three outs. You'll notice from the picture of him cursing his three-headed donkey god that lives just above the cloudline, he was unable to get the job done.

Friday, Leake wasn't his usual reliable self and left to steal shit out of everyone's locker after only 5 and a third. Fortunately, the middle relief was sound allowing the team to come back from a 5-4 deficit when Leake slunk into the locker room to a 7-5 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th. Stubbs picked up 3 hits, Votto had 2 and Bruce hit his 20th bomb of the year to highlight the offense. But Coco's line looked a little like this: 2/3rds of an inning pitched, 3 hits, 2 walks, no strike outs and 3 runs allowed. Brewers have a fun tie celebrating at home plate and walk off with a 8-7. But, as stated earlier, there were plenty of opportunities to prevent runs from scoring earlier in the game or to add additional runs. So, as fun as it is to pile on the closer, it's really not all his fault. Maybe mostly his fault.

Saturday, things were better. At least in the 10th inning. After Cueto was relatively solid, though below the heightened expectations he's produced (6.1 IP, 6 hits, 3 ER and 4 walks), the bullpen was again quite good. Sure, Coco got in at the end and gave up a run but that was after the Reds laid 5 on Marco Estrada in the top of the 10th. Bruce hit his 21st to start the scoring, then they knocked out about 10 straight hits. Cozart had a couple of hits in 5 at bats and Hernandez, who is swinging a nice bat, went deep earlier in the game. He had two hits, Bruce and Votto had 3, to show him up. Joey's average is back up to .325. That's a solid number going into the All-Star Game. Even if Fielder didn't invite him to the Home Run Derby party .

Today, we saw the return of Dontelle Willis. After 2 innings of shaky control, he figured it out. Went 6 allowing just 2 runs in line to pick up his first win in that fancy Red uniform. Chapman pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief. As prefaced above, Coco had some more problems. After he got Yuniskey Betancourt to start the inning (who every pitcher should get, every time he's at the plate) Nyjer Morgan walked and stole second base. Coco walked the very dangerous George Kottaras, the Mark Kotsay, Coco's nemesis, hammered one off Cordero's glove, scoring Morgan. After hitting Rickie Weeks, a move of which I actually approve (though it did move runners from 1st and 2nd to 2nd and 3rd, and I guess first, with Weeks on) Craig Counsel, who was 0 for 28 at the time, muscled a sac fly to end the game. Tough loss but Coco showed an appropriate level of contrition. He's been pretty good this season but if he keeps giving wins away, I'll turn on him like Benedict Arnold. A couple more is all that he gets.

So, everyone, with the exception of Bruce, Votto and Phill, gets a couple of days to relax and chill out (on their boats maybe?). Dusty is going to catch up on some yard work that his wife has been all over him about. 'I told you I'd get to the that patch of weeds in two weeks, woman. Dusty Baker's a straight shooter. When he says he'll weed, he'll weed in due time.' I'll see if I can get a hold of the video. See you all in a couple days.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rickie Weeks Needs to Cooool Out, Brewers 5-4

We saw some more changes before the game yesterday - the starting shortstop (Janish-Yanish) and opening day starter (Volquez) both received complimentary trips to Louisville. Good for those guys. Volquez needs to learn something about pitch location and Janish just wasn't very good for about the last two months. His offense was predictably missing but he was struggling a bit with the glove too. Dusty thought a walk-about in Louisville would clear things out. Zack Cozart is your new Cincinnati Reds shortstop. My recollection from the nerds at Baseball Prospectus is they like his power, speed, and defense but predict very little in the form of average. Numbers from Louisville include a .310\.357\.467 slash line, 7 bombs and 9 bags. At the least, that's better than Janish and Renteria's combined .138/.142/.102 line with a combined 1 homer and 40 errors. He made a nice play on Corey Hart last night deep in the hole with a couple of guys on base and showed a little bit of speed scoring on Hernandez's single. So, I think he'll work out okay.

The new fifth starter is a bit of mystery. It appears as if the D-Train is going to be rolling into Cincinnati to give the big leagues a try again. He wasn't real interested in being a major league player last year, so we'll see about his interest level this year. He has good numbers in AAA, for whatever that's worth. I recall him swinging the bat well, so that, in addition to his big ol' leg kick, make the experiment worthwhile, even if he's throwing every third pitch into the Rick Ankiel portion of the backstop netting.

Onto the game from last night, Bailey had another bad inning including a three-run homer by Weeks who just dismantles Cincinnati. His bomb followed a walk to the pitcher, Narvesson. The same Narvesson who doubled to deep left center earlier in the game. Bailey was right to work around him. So, that's two subpar starts for Homeboy out of the last three. He seems to have a little trouble with pitch location as well. I think he and Volquez are on the same training regiment. Hang around for four days then go out to the mound and take forever to get on the rubber and throw a pitch. I like the term deliberate in the baseball context to mean slow as molasses. Those two boys are both deliberators.

Offense was okay last night. Bruce seems to be swinging the bat a little better which really helps the lineup, especially when Votto appears to have returned to normal and Phillips is ripping it, hitting right at .300. If only Ramon Hernandez, who has been solid against just about everyone this year, could face Axford every at bat, he'd have 200 home runs. He hit his second bomb off Axford this season to bring the score to within one. No one was terribly interested in driving in that tying run. They played 13 the night before and just wanted to get back to the hotel to watch Operation Dumbo Drop on HBO. They'll try a little harder tonight.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reds Refuse Entrapment of a Boring Existence, Reds 9-8

For all of you, which certainly doesn't include any member of the Reds Rocket, who thought that there was no way the Reds were going to win after blowing an 8-0 lead in the 9th to head to extra innings with the Cardinals last night, well, you learned a valuable lesson. The Reds are very wily and envision a depleted Cardinals pen screwing things up in St. Louis leading into the All-Star Break. Actually, I, perhaps, would have preferred that Coco close the door in the 9th as opposed to giving up the game-tying homer to Jon Jay. I like free, additional baseball as much as the next guy but it's tough on the nerves.

For as exciting as things concluded, the Reds were pretty impressive for the first 5 or so innings. Things started off with Heisey taking the first pitch he saw from Jake Westbrook over the fence in right. Phill, back in the fourth spot in the order (maybe he's been there for a while, who pays attention to these things), triple home two on a hard hit ball to right. Which as I predicted, which I need to point out because I am so infrequently right about anything, Berkman took forever to retrieve and return to the infield. Didn't he used to play center field in Houston? He, Berkman, looks like he's never played a position other than DH in his entire career. Bruce hit a two-run bomb to close the scoring in the first and give the Reds a 5-0 lead. They added 3 more on Fred Lewis and Rolen homers (Rolen's was of the two-run genus). So, bottom of the 6th, up 8-0 and Arroyo has faced one over the minimum. Cardinals added two in the 6th, then 5 in the 7th. Arroyo only got one out and the normally reliable Bill Bray didn't do him any favors. Ondrusek, after giving up a hit to Pujols to bring the score to 8-7, got Holiday. Masset was good in the 8th, then Coco decided it had been too long since we had an extra innings game to enjoy. That homer coming a couple of days after he did some minor complaining about being left off the All-Star roster. Bad timing. Or good timing if you want to look like a dick.

But Hernandez, pictured above, saved the day with a two-out double in the 13th to close things down. Arredondo was surprisingly un-terrible last night and got the win. Chapman, whose brain looks to be functioning properly agains (he just needed to talk to Dontrelle Willis in AAA to straighten things out) looked pretty dominant in securing his first career save. He struck out a couple and exploded the message boards with talk of replacing the expensive, temporarily ineffective Coco with the Cuban missile. Message boards are notorious for rational, well-reasoned discussion.

Team starts over today at .500 in Milwaukee. Brewers just lost 2 of 3 to the Diamondbacks and scored a total of 0 runs over 7 innings against Josh Collmenter yesterday. He's like Arroyo, without the stuff. Brewers are ready to take their medicine for four days. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

8-1 is Not a Score that Inspires Confidence, Cardinal Win and are A-holes

Reds didn't look great yesterday, not doing much with the bats and Volquez came down with a case of occasional-bad-pitch-location-itis. Fortunately, it's not terribly contagious but unpredictable. The disorder popped up on three pitches, two to Holiday (one with two men on base) and another to Berkman. That more or less summed up his start. He was relatively effective otherwise, minus the 5 runs allowed on home runs. So, maybe maybe that subtracts the 'relatively' modifier.

As eluded to, the offense was pretty bad again. Jaime Garcia is an above-average starter, however, if that makes you feel any better. It does me. I'm happy to rationalize any defeat. Marty is pretty confident Bruce is going to be batting .240 by the time the All Star Game rolls around. I'm not sure he'll dip that low but, to do my best Tim McCarver, as good as he was in May that's as bad as he is doing now. They'll need to put together a couple of hits today with Pujols supposedly making his return. If I'm Arroyo, I buzz his right in on the hands with some of that 85 mph cheese in his first at bat. The positive with Pujols return is that Berkman returns to right field where he is a major liability. You may recall him flailing his arms in a vain attempt to show effort during the Reds last series with the Cardinals.

Reds plan to get that 1 win tonight to push them back to .500. For all the doom talk, to only be one game below .500 with no one pulling away in the division (the Pirates are now in second place which is pretty unbelievable) is not too bad. Dusty is very wise and has the rest of the season charted out on his wrist bands. You just wait, unseen, hypothetical reader.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Reds Fall to Scourge Carpenter, Cardinals 1-0

After an underwhelming weekend series at home against the Indians, Reds opened up with the Cardinals today with not a lot of offense, symbolized by the chimp operating the plunger, to the right. Though, that ape's Evel Knievel jumpsuit certainly does not symbolize inadequacy. That thing is solid.

Cueto went the full game, 8 innings in this instance for the second time this year, allowing only a pinch-single in the 8th which brought in the only run of the game. He struck out 0 over the 8 full innings, which, is something considering he was throwing in the mid-90's and dominating. There was some good defense behind him, a good throw and a good catch by Ray Jay Bruce. Speaking of Ray Jay, his opponents in the NL determined that he, along with B. Phill and Votto, were deserving of a trip to Arizona to take part in the All-Star Game. Congratulations to all those guys. Though Bruce has been struggling with the bat a bit, the Reds Rocket feels he was deserving of the major award. And my opinion is what counts, especially when it comes to home town bias. In fact, there probably should be a few more Reds enjoying the 115 degree temperatures next week. But the 15 hot dogs I ate today mandate me keeping this post short so that I can roll around in discomfort while I try and fall asleep. I need to be my best at the cracker factory bright and early tomorrow morning.

The Reds get two more versus the Cards, Volquez tomorrow, followed by 4 with the Brewers before they call an end to the first half of the season. A win today would have been pretty alright but they'll just have to win the next 6 to go into the break in the first spot. No big deal. Or, if they don't, they'll just dominate the second half, which is also no big deal. Some talk of Arroyo's back, which must have been acting up against the Indians when he got lit up on Saturday, pushing him towards the disabled list. The talk, coming from reasonably reliable Mark Sheldon, implies that the D-Train may be on his way up to take Bronson's spot in the rotation. His, D-Train's, agent was popping off that he's ready to go. So, maybe he is. I'm sure he has no ulterior motives for making such a statement. Lots of options in the rotation, through it hasn't really been a problem spot lately. I'd be interested in someone getting a couple of hits, followed immediately by another guy in the lineup getting a couple of hits. Then doing that on a semi-regular basis. We'll see what happens. Reds turn it around tomorrow.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hanigan's Back Hurts a Little Less After Yesterday, Reds 4-3

The Reds finally decided winning an inter-league series was worth their time, taking 2 of 3 from a pretty good squad down there in Florida. They beat James Shields yesterday for, those of you who pay little attention to the AL, like me, has been pitching pretty well. He had completed his three starts, prior to yesterday, allowing only a single run over the 27 innings. But the potent Reds offense got to him twice with two outs. The first was Hanigan's big knock. After Bruce and Gomes k'd, which Bruce has been doing with some regularity lately, Hanigan took one over the fence in left for a 3-0 lead. It was Hanigan's first bomb since way back against Milwaukee when he hit two. He must have gotten a massage before the game. Probably from Renteria. That guy's hands are like velvet. Prior to yesterday, it appeared as if the condition of his condition was going to land him on the DL. Glad to see that it didn't. The second two-out hit was Fredo Lewis. He didn't strike it particularly well but it got into left and provided the Reds

Volquez made a nice start as well. For the most part he kept the Rays off base. Of course, Longoria's double followed a walk which fits into the equation. He later gave up a bomb to Upton to keep things close but Ondrusek was quite a bit better yesterday. Bray, who is consistently good, was good. And Coco shut the door with only allowing the one base runner. I realize the numbers are somewhat deceiving, especially because everyone still remembers the grand slam Ondrusek gave up to Matt Kemp where he was only charged with one run, but all three guys have ERA under 2. With Masset throwing well and Chapman apparently headed in the right direction - pretty solid pen. Now if Arredondo could find his way to some lower leverage situations, maybe only coming in when up  by 7 or down by 3.

The team takes one off today before starting up at home against the Savages tomorrow. Arroyo v. Masterson, the match-up for which you've been waiting. Reds! Reds! Reds!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reds Get Barbed Spike of the Devil Ray Right in the Heart, Rays 4-3

Disappointing loss for the Reds last night in that they actually played pretty well. Their losses more often than not are characterized one frustrating facet of the game - no offense or terrible starting pitching, for example. But last night, Price was pretty good but the Reds got to him. Stubbs tripled in the 7th, after looking completely over matched in his first two at bats to start the score. Renteria knocked in Stubbs for the go-ahead putting the Reds up 2-1. In the 8th, after allowing just 2 hits up until that point, Cueto allowed a couple of runner on and left after recording two outs. Bray, featured to the right, was summoned to face Damon. Damon, who'd homered earlier in the game, placed a blooper just about as perfectly as you can place one behind short in front of Heisey in left. Heisey dove and knocked the ball towards right field, allowing Fuld to score from 1st.

Fortunately, or unfortunately as it turned out, Bruce was ready to hit his second homer of the month. He took Farnworth over the centerfield wall to tie the game at 3. Ondrusek, however, quickly untied it when Eva Longoria hit his second pitch of the evening over the left field wall. All 10,000 fans were very excited, excepting the 4,000 or so Reds fans in attendance who feel like they've been mistreated when the Reds left Florida for Arizona.

Third game of the series today with the Rays today. Volquez hits the hill against James Shields, who has also been pretty good. Yet, while I'm talking about pitching, neither Price nor Shields has been as good as Cueto who I don't think I properly commended for his performance last night. His line looks less great than it actually was. He gave the team, essentially, 8 innings of fine pitching last night against one of the better arms in the game. Johnny Damon is just an asshole. Reds rebound today.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Finally An Opportunity to Use the Jonny Gomes in a Sombrero Stock Footage, Reds 5-0

I suppose I can use it whenever I want but since he's wearing a Devil Rays jersey, it seemed most appropriate to post it when the Reds play the Rays. Preferably when Gomes does something positive. So, the stars finally aligned. Reds looked good in Tampa and Gomes hit a bomb off the catwalk. everything is right in the world.

The key to the victory, well I guess who's to say what the actually, lone "key" was, but I posit to you a couple of runs in the 1st inning made a big difference. Fredo Lewis got an opportunity to dance in the first position and got on three times. That's not too bad and means we'll probably see him doing the same for the next several games. Though, I guess Price is on the hill tonight, so maybe that means Heisey plays left. I'm not real sure how Lewis hits Price but I assume that most lefting (at I suppose righties) fare poorly. Anyway, back to last night, after Lewis got on, Phillips drove him in with a double. Then Ray Jay decided to pick up his second hit of the month and knocked in run number two with a roller through the right side. Then they added on more runs, helped by the Rays' inability to play capable defense or run the bases in a normal manner. Gomes' homer didn't require help from anyone other than Rays' starter Jeremy Hellickson. That was a rocket shot.

Leake was also solid. He threw a lot of pitches limiting him to 6 innings, but those 6 were pretty alright. No runs allowed, a couple of strike outs and win number 7. Which I believe ties him with Arroyo. The two softest tossing starters are also the biggest winners. And probably the most fun at that beach party you're planning later this month. Remember, Arroyo has a boat and Leake has access to many things which may or may not belong to him. Some of the coolest people I knew in my youth were the best at stealing things. Keep that in mind. Reds are not scared by David Price and his "strong peripherals." Count on win 2 in the series tonight. Reds! Reds! Reds!