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.