About Me

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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Indians Sweep Reds To Win Ohio Cup Jose Ramirez Named Most Outstanding Player

Melky Cabrera hit a two-run home run off Cody Reed to give the Cleveland Indians a 4-3 win over the Reds.  The sweep of the three-game series gave the American League Central leaders a four games to two win of the annual Ohio Cup.

"The ball was carrying pretty good.  I thought the ball hit for the home run was a Great American Ball Park home run," Jim Riggleman said.

The Reds jumped on Shane Bieber, the Indians' 23-year old starting pitcher in the first inning.

Jose Peraza hit a double, leading off.  Peraza took third on a long fly to center by Joey Votto.  Eugenio Suarez, who is near the top of the league leaders with 88 RBI, struck out swinging.  Scooter Gennett singled Peraza home.  Preston Tucker followed with his first home run as a Red and fifth of the season to give the Reds' a 3-0 lead.

Robert Stephenson, who has perplexed the Reds with his inability to throw strikes, walked his second batter of the game.  Jason Kipnis took the base on balls, leading off the second inning.  Stephenson threw a wild pitch.  Kipnis scored on Greg Allen's single.  Allen stole second base.  Roberto Perez hit a fly that backed Tucker to the wall.  Allen moved up to third.  Stephenson failed to throw a strike to Bieber who walked.  After a long battle with Francisco Lindor, the Indians' shortstop grounded out to Votto as the run scored to make it 3-2.   Reds' manager Jim Riggleman saw enough when Stephenson issued his fourth walk.  Reed came into the game.  Reed retired Jose Ramirez to end the inning.

Stephenson walked four in 1 2/3 innings.  He had 60 pitches.

"The way pitched tonight was unacceptable.  It can't happen<" Stephenson said after telling reporters last week that walks are a part of his game.  "I had a real hard time getting a grip on the ball. You don't want an excuse.  I have to figure out something. I've had a problem in the past but not as bad as tonight."

"Walks are part of my game but obviously the kind of walks tonight are not the ones I want to issue," Stephenson said. "There is a time for them.  You get behind in the count on somebody and have a free base in a place where you could give up a hit or home run that could change the game."

Reed quieted the Indians.  He gave up a leadoff single in the third to Yonder Alonso but Melky Cabrera hit into a double play.  Reed  retired the next seven batters in order.

The Reds missed chances in the third and fifth.  They put two on with two out in the third.  They loaded the bases on Bieber and Oliver Perez but Dan Otero coaxed Phillip Ervin to fly out to center to end the inning.

Reed walked Alonso to start the sixth.  Cabrera's long fly reached the second row of seats in left field to put the Indians in front, 4-3.  It was Cabrera's third home run of the season.  Allen singled with one out.  The Reds sent Jared Hughes into the game to pitch to Roberto Perez.   Perez struck out on a 3-2 pitch and Barnhart threw Allen out stealing second.

"I thought it was a fly ball. I almost pointed up in the air like you do on a routine fly ball," Reed said.  "I thought Tucker was underneath it and he kept going back.  It was a tough break.  I shouldn't have walked the guy."

Riggleman called it a fence scraper.

The Reds wasted a two-out double by Peraza in the sixth.  Peraza's second double of the game came in the middle of six strike outs between Tyler Olson and Cody Allen.

Brad Hand took the mound in the ninth.  Hand, looking for his fourth save as an Indian and 25th on the season, gave up a single to Hamilton leading off the ninth.  Peraza hit his third double which bounced into the stands.  Votto hit a ground ball to Alonso, who threw Hamilton out at the plate.  Suarez, who struck out four times stepped to the plate.  Suarez swung and missed to strike out for the fifth time.  Scooter Gennett became the Reds' last hope.  Gennett drew a walk.  Curt Casali came to the plate as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded.  Michael Lorenzen ran for Votto, representing the winning run.  Casali flied out to right to end the game.

"I thought the ball Peraza hit for the ground rule double was a fly ball and it bounced out of the ballpark," Riggleman said. "That's the way it was playing and we didn't take advantage of it to score runs."

Riggleman was disappointed that Peraza didn't take third on Votto's ground out.

"Billy was going on contact because it is Billy," Riggleman said.  "If Votto hit it in a position where he could score its tied but what was supposed to happen if Billy's out, I wanted Peraza to go to third and you have Suarez up against a left-hander, where a fly ball ties the game.  If it is second and third you take the bat out of Suarez hands. I know Suarez had a rough night but I want him up there with a man on third and less than two outs."

The Reds out hit Cleveland 10-5.

Stephenson has been a disappointment to the Reds since being drafted as their first pick in the 2011 draft.  They have been harping on him to throw more strikes.

It's command of the fastball," Riggleman said.  "It is relying so much on the off speed stuff.  He's just got to do better.  Stephenson had 60 pitches.  At that pace he wasn't going to go much farther.  That's why Reed was here to pitch against this club and he did a good job."

Reed, who was drafted by Kansas City with their second pick in the second round in 2013.  He was the key acquisition in the 2015 trade for Johnny Cueto.  He is working out of the bullpen but the Reds still see him as a starter.

"Getting up quick in the second inning," Reed said. "It was the first time I've done that.  I was ready to go.  I felt good and I was filling up the strike zone."

"I face them a lot in spring training," said Reed of the Indians..  "I am used to it.  I see Kipnis up there.  I thing the first strike out I had in big league camp was Lindor.  I tried playing that back in my head."

Jose Ramirez was 0-4 on Wednesday but he finished with a .370 batting average, two doubles, five home runs and 11 RBI in the six=game series.  He was unanimously named Most Outstanding Player in the Ohio Cup Series.

Reds Hang With First Place Buzz Saw

The Reds tried to forge a tie for the 2018 Ohio Cup with a win over the Cleveland Indians tonight.

Cincinnati won two of the three games in Cleveland a month ago, including a stirring come-from-behind win in which the Reds erased a 4-0 ninth inning deficit with a seven run inning with two outs.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona asked for "OP" meaning left-hander Oliver Perez but his words were heard as "OT" meaning right-hander Daniel Otero.  Joey Votto cleared the bases with a double to give the Reds the lead.

Since then the Indians have punished the Reds.  They won the next night, 19-4.  They started the current series in Cincinnati by winning the first two games, 10-3 and 8-1 with a combination of bunching base hits and the top notch pitching of Corey Kluber, who won his 15th game of the season.

Reds manager Jim Riggleman had a message for his players after the 8-1 setback.

The Reds even with the two straight losses to the American League Central leading Indians are 15-8 in their meetings with teams in first place at the time the Reds played them.
Riggleman had to remind the team.

"I talked to the club, I just told them to remember who we are," Riggleman said.  "We've run into a Pittsburgh club right after the All-Star break and a Cleveland club right here that is really hot.  They are good clubs.  Sometimes you run into a little bit of a buzz saw. Let's not forget we're a good club.  We are getting beat around a little bit but we've beaten these good clubs.  That's got to stay in your recent memories.  We've beaten these first place clubs.  If you're playing first place clubs and they're playing at a high level it's tough."

"Last night we faced a good offense with Kluber pitching at the top of his game.  That's World Series stuff," Riggleman said.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Indians Rip Sal Romano Rip Reds

The last time Sal Romano faced the Cleveland Indians, he gave up four runs in the first two innings. This time the Indians took the game to the bank behind Corey Kluber, 8-1.

The Reds put together a seven-run rally with two out in the ninth to take Romano off the hook and turn a 4-0 shutout into a 7-4 win.

The task was even taller on Tuesday.  The Indians ripped four singles and parlayed two walks into a 4-0 lead while batting around in the first inning.  At one point Romano retired two straight batters but two singles and a sacrifice fly in the second put the Indians in control 6-0.

"We want Sal to get ground balls and he got ground balls but they all found holes," Jim Riggleman said. "There was not much we could do about it.  They were sharp hit balls.  It was good hitting but we could not turn any of them.  A foot or two the other way it would have been a double play ball.  It turned into a tough inning and 2/3."

The Reds managed a single and a walk in the third off Kluber who improved to 15-6..  Preston Tucker singled to open the third but Michael Lorenzen, who replaced Romano hit into a double play.  Billy Hamilton walked and appeared to steal second base.  Yan Gomes throw was snagged by Francisco Lindor and he got a tag down quickly but Hamilton was ruled safe by Chad Whitson.  The Indians challenged the call and Hamilton was ruled out.

The Indians scored their seventh run on a double play ground ball in the fifth inning with the bases loaded.

Jose Ramirez hit his 36th home run off a Lorenzen pitch in the sixth.

The Reds snapped the shutout in the seventh inning.  Tucker Barnhart hit a triple down the right field line with one out.  Mason Williams struck out but Preston Tucker's second single of the game drove in Barnhart.

Kluber finished with seven innings, allowing a run on five hits and two walks.  He struck out seven.

"We knew how good he is but that was really some good pitching," Riggleman said.. "Tonight Kluber pitched.  He's not a flame thrower but he really pitched.  He has a good arm but he really pitched."

Romano was 3-1 with a no decision since the end of June but this game was a step back and left him with a 7-10 record and a 5.31 ERA on the season, a raise of nearly a half a run per game.

"They did find a hole but I also fell behind every single hitter I faced.  It's unacceptable.  I was on a pretty good run.  Back to work tomorrow," Romano said.  "There is nothing that I can take from this game, there was some soft contact, a lot of singles.  You're not going to get away with that kind of stuff against a team like that over there."

Reds Players Out Of Position

Necessity is the mother of invention.

There have been blowout games in which Reds' managers have called on position player to pitch.  Last night they used a pitcher to play right field.

It was all about living to fight another day.

The Cleveland Indians scored seven runs in the sixth inning last night to turn a close game into a rout.

The Reds used three left handers out of the bullpen to get to the ninth inning which was a formality with a 10-3 score.

Brandon Dixon, the jack of all trades bench player, went to the mound to face some tough customers in the ninth inning.   Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez were licking their chops to pad their stats and above all costs avoid the embarrassment of striking out against an "amateur".

Lindor is hitting .294 with 29 home runs.  Brantley is a .300 hitter with  13 home runs.  Ramirez stepped in at .301 with 35 home runs.  Dixon's climb was uphill.

Riggleman did not want to use his best three bullpen pieces, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez and Raisel Iglesias,  in a blow out.  Better to save them for a more competitive game.  Michael Lorenzen could have pitched but would have been questionable for Tuesday.

"If the score would have gotten to 10-5, I was going to use Mike," Jim Riggleman said.

Lorenzen, who has been used to pinch hit this season, played in right field.  It was a position he played in college.  The Reds had Billy Hamilton on the bench getting a day off.

""Really, Mike in right field last night was trying to get Billy a day off.  Going through the process of getting Billy loose and doing all that in a seven-run game," Riggleman said.  "Instead of doing all that, I'd rather just give him the day off.  Mike was the logical guy to go out there.  We're not looking to do that but the situation just came up."

Dixon just trying to put the ball over the plate pitched a perfect inning, striking out a frustrated Ramirez for the last out.

"It was fun," Dixon said, who hadn't pitched since he was a freshman in high school.  "You don't want to be in that circumstance but it was fun to do.  I was just trying to throw the ball over the plate."

That was his instruction from the manager, who has had to do it four times this season with Cliff Pennington, Alex Blandino and Phillip Ervin.

"Alex did it.  Phil has done it and Dixon," Riggleman said. "There are times when Ervin or Dixon sometimes in the game, sometimes on the bench.  Some guys want to do it.  They want to try it. There are some risks. We told them to just lay it up there nice and easy and see what happens.  Don't go firing it in there and hurt  yourself.  I've had some guys in the minor leagues go out there and the next thing you know they're arguing with the umpires about the calls and I have to go out there to keep them in the game.  They're firing and the pitch counts up.  These guys have been real mature about the way they've done it."

Pennington pitched an inning on April 12 against St. Louis.  He allowed one run on one hit and two walks he struck out one.   Blandino pitched an inning against Cleveland on July 11. He gave up a hit and struck out two.  Ervin got a ground out in 1/3 an inning on August 8 against the Mets.

Combined they have pitched 3 1/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits and two walks but struck out four.

For Lorenzen it was like old time.  He played the outfield on a regular basis at Cal State Fullerton and came in to pitch in save situations.

"It felt good to play outfield.  It was fun," Lorenzen said. "It was a good time. The circumstances weren't good but my family had a blast watching that.  The season is extremely long and you're going to have games like that."

The old baseball saying goes, "the ball will find you,"  Lorenzen was wishing it would.

"Absolutely, I wanted them to hit the ball to me," said Lorenzen, who singled in the ninth inning when his turn to bat came up.  "With the three guys they had coming up, I thought I'd have to climb a wall or something.  Dixon's 60 mile an hour cutters were fantastic."

"I grew up that way, playing a position," Lorenzen said.  "It was almost more comfortable.  It had been awhile.  Well we lost that wasn't much fun but still it was fun getting to see Dixon do the thing.  We were able to show up today with a little more energy."

Hitting more this season has allowed Lorenzen to simplify things.

"When I was a hitter in college, I used to complicate things.  Here I don't have time to complicate things so I keep it simple," Lorenzen said.  "It has helped me to relax and play just like it was a summer league, have fun and play baseball."

Lorenzen, has contemplated playing the field at some point.  On Monday he found out it was about to happen in the eighth inning.

"I was going to pitch the ninth but Teddy (Power) said that I'm going into right field.  He told me to go in and get my glove," Lorenzen said.  "He said it was as good as telling someone they were going to the big leagues by my reaction."

When told the numbers of the four position players Lorenzen reacted.

"Wow, that's solid.  I will have to ask them for advice."

It wasn't fun for every one.  Tucker Barnhart did not like catching the position player.

"To be honest with you it stinks," Barnhart said.  "You never have a guy come out and pitch when you're winning.  I tell them to throw strikes because we've already been out there for quite some time playing defense so the last thing we want to do is the game to be longer.  Throw strikes and if you're going to give up hits, give them up quick.  Dixon did great.  He threw strikes.  It was perfect.  When you're a hitter you're trying to get the bat over with too."

Monday, August 13, 2018

Indians Rout Reds In Ohio Cup Showdown

The Cleveland Indians used three doubles to blow up a 2-2 tie in a seven-run sixth inning to hang the 10th loss of the season on Homer Bailey in a 10-3 rout.  They have now split the first four games with two remaining.

The Indians pummeled the Reds, 19-4 in their last meeting before the All-Star break, although the Reds took the first two games of that series.

Tucker Barnhart hit a video reviewed home run off Mike Clevinger in the second inning.  Barnhart's eighth home run was confirmed after a brief review showed in glanced off the top of the fence and went into the stands.  A fan tried to make a catch but missed the ball.

Bailey, who is 1-9 on the season coming into the game, surrendered Jose Ramirez'  35th home run the second of three two out hits in the third inning to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.

The Reds are 1-15 in Bailey's starts.  His lone win came in a five inning, 10-hit outing three months ago on May 12 against the Los Angeles.  Bailey has given up seven or more hits in 10 starts and 10 or more in five of them coming into the game against Cleveland.

The Reds loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the third but third base umpire, Chad Whitson, ruled that Mason Williams went too far on a two-strike pitch.

The Reds survived a hit, an error, a strange balk and a walk.  Bailey induced and inning ending ground out from Michael Brantley in the fourth inning.

The Reds loaded the bases again in the fourth inning with a leadoff single by Phillip Ervin and a pair of two-out walks to Jose Peraza and Joey Votto, bringing the second leading run producer in the National League, Eugenio Suarez.  Suarez was one behind the League leader Javier Baez with 88 RBI.  Clevinger escaped with a one hop comebacker that he dived to snare.

"We had our chances. Clevinger made the necessary pitches when he had to get out of trouble.  It was closer than it looked but its a loss non the less,"  Jim Riggleman said.

Scooter Gennett's 18th home run of the season off Clevinger tied the game, leading off the Red's half of the fifth inning.

Yandy Diaz hit a pinch hit double, the 10th hit off Bailey to give the Indians their second lead of the game.  Greg Allen singled with one out and stole second.  Diaz after staying alive on a foul tip, doubled to the wall in left center.  The blow ended the night for Bailey, who gave way to Amir Garrett.  The Reds walked Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley greeted Garrett with a double.  Ramirez was intentionally passed to load the bases.  Garrett struck out former Reds' number one pick Yonder Alonso with a 3-2 pitch but Melky Cabrera laced a two-run single up the middle.  Jason Kipnis doubled over the head of Williams for two more runs.  Yan Gomes beat Garrett with a solid single to left, scoring Kipnis to cap the seven-run inning.

"I thought Homer battled through a lot of adversity," Riggleman said.  "We made him throw a lot of extra pitches.  It is too bad he got charged with some extra runs there.  He threw the ball good."

Ramirez drove in his third run of the game with with a single in the seventh inning to go with his 35th home run which is second in the American League

"The last inning really got me. The ball came out of my hand bad," Bailey said. "The 3-2 counts the home run.  I had him swinging over the top of that pitch early in the at bat. How he kept the ball fair, I don't know.  It's a little short down the line but he's having a great season.  When you're having a season like that those things happen."

Andrew Miller and Oliver Perez, who was cut by the Reds this spring, pitched in relief of Clevinger.

Curt Casali hit his third home run of the season against Neil Ramirez in the eighth.

The Reds pulled a novelty move in the ninth inning.  Brandon Dixon became the fourth Reds' position player to pitch.  Michael Lorenzen a pitcher was used in right field.  Previously the Reds have used Ervin, Cliff Pennington and Alex Blandino on the mound.

Dixon struck out Jose Ramirez with a nasty slow cutter.  Ramirez bat ended up near the screen behind home plate on the missed swing.

Riggleman didn't want to use Hughes, Hernandez or Iglesias in a blow out game.

"I did not want to use them," Riggleman said.  "Lorenzen threw yesterday.  He could have thrown today but that might have made him questionable for tomorrow.  Wandy (Peralta) and Amir (Garrett) threw enough pitches that they would be available tomorrow.  I could have let Reed go two but he wouldn't have been available for tomorrow.  If it had been 10-5, I would have used Lorenzen but when it stayed 10-3, we made that decision."

Lorenzen singled in his at bat in the ninth.  Riggleman didn't think it was worth getting Billy Hamilton warmed up in a 10-3 game so Lorenzen was placed in right to finish the game.  Nothing was hit to him.

"I'd rather just give Billy the day off Riggleman said.

The Reds position players have combined for 1 1/3 innings and allowed one run on two hits, while striking out four.  They have a 2.70 ERA which would be fourth lowest on the team after Jared Hughes, David Hernandez and Raisel Iglesias.

"The last time I pitched was probably my freshman year in high school," Dixon said.  "It was fun.  They came up to me in the eighth and told me it was a possibility.  After I hit in the eighth, the told me I would pitch.  I threw as slow as I could, cutters and trying to get over the plate.  You don't want that to happen.  You don't want a big leagues game to get out of hand like that but to go in the moment.  It was a pretty cool experience.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I just wanted to throw some strikes."

Dixon wasn't facing substitutes at the tail end of a game.  He was facing Lindor, who has 29 home runs.  Brantley hitting .300 with 13 home runs and Ramirez hitting .301 with 35 home runs.

"I just tried to drop down and throw it a little slower to Ramirez," Dixon said.  "I know I had two strikes.  He swung pretty hard.  It was pretty cool."

The Reds scored runs at a very high rate until the All-Star break.  Now runs have become hard to come by.

"It's been tough to put together a lot of offense lately.  Sometimes it is hard to tell whether it's pitching or a slump.  Everybody in baseball has injuries.  Everybody goes through it but a couple guys that compliment our lineup nicely have been down."

Cody Reed Joins Mates From The House Of The Rising Guns Reds Take A Longer Look At Lefty

Cody Reed had to feel left out last week when the Reds' chose to promote Robert Stephenson to the big club last week

Sal Romano and Amir Garrett have been in Cincinnati all year but Stephenson and Reed were toiling in the Louisville Bats starting rotation.  Along with Stephenson the quartet were roommates the last two years in Goodyear, Arizona in a bachelor's pad affectionately called "The House of the Rising Guns."

Reed was up earlier this year but was not used and sent back down.  After Keury Mella, who was brought up last week to shore up an over used bullpen, was ambushed for three home runs in the ninth inning on Sunday, the Reds called Reed.

"I was parking my car ready to get on the bus for the road trip," Reed said. "They told me to make sure I didn't get on the bus.  I'm pleased to be here with all my buddies on the team and take advantage of the opportunity."

The last time they told him that he was going down the next day.

"I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever come back to stay,"  Reed said.

Reed has worked on getting ahead of hitters in the count.  It was an aspect the Reds' have harped on since Reed was acquired in the trade for Johnny Cueto at the trading deadline of 2015.

His arm has been tantalizing but he has yet to put his game together in order to be a consistent winner in the Major Leagues.

"My fastball command has been better and throwing all my stuff for strikes, making batters put the ball in play by the fourth pitch has allowed me to get through a lineup three or four times," Reed said. "My slider is my out pitch.  I've been able to throw it for strikes.  I have tried to mix it up the second or third time.  Going deep in games have helped my confidence."

Over the last 44 games of the season the Reds want to see if Reed can be part of their future.

"Cody gives us length, a solid left-handed pitcher.  He's done a nice job especially as of late.  He's a guy we have to continue to get more information," Jim Riggleman said.  "We feel he can be a significant part of this ballclub in the future.  He's young but it's not like he's 21.  It is time for him to come in here a solidify a spot on this ball club."

The Reds already have an over crowded starting rotation of six pitchers.  One more would stretch credibility.

"He's going to be in the bullpen," Riggleman said. " He was starting down there.  He could always go back to start.

Billy Hamilton is getting a rest.

"Billy is getting the day off.  I was going to give him a day off yesterday but he had some success against Godley so I played him Sunday and gave him Monday off. He's pretty worn down.   He's played a lot of baseball. The same with Peraza. I have to get him a day off."

Mysterious Bacteria Threatens Leonys Martin's Life

Leonys Martin was in the Cleveland Indians lineup on Tuesday night.  By Wendesday he was in the hospital fighting for his life.

A unidentified bacteria entered the 31-year old outfielders bloodstream and attacked his vital organs putting him in a life threatening situation.  The Indians placed him on the 10-day disabled list but Martin remains in the Cleveland Clinic.

"He is currently in stable condition and continues to get treatment," said Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti, who addressed the team first then the media after getting permission from Martin's wife, Yaimira.  "He had a bacteria infection that entered his bloodstream.  When it entered his bloodstream it produced toxins.  The toxins did damage to his internal organs.  The function of those organs were compromised. It was severe.  Thankfully he has made a lot of progress in his last 24-36 hours.  He has regained a lot of his organ functions.  He will have a long path to get back to full health and it will take him some time."

"The care that he got from the Cleveland Clinic was extraordinary," Antonetti said. "Without their Hurculean effort we may be in a different spot today."

The disease is not believed to be communicable but it is not known how the bacteria entered his system or exactly how the bacteria entered Martin's body.

Martin played the game Tuesday night and felt sick in the middle of the night.  The next morning when he woke up he still felt sick.

"We took him to the hospital and things progressed from there," Antonetti said.  "It was widespread and it was very serious."

It is unclear whether Martin will play again this year and it is not the Indians' priority.

"We haven't thought about baseball yet," Antonetti said.  "I don't know if he will play baseball this year.  Our first focus is to make sure we get him back to full health.  His wife, dad and his brother are with him now."

"He is able to communicate.  He was able to sit in a chair for a few hours yesterday," Antonetti said. "He is a better spot today than he was yesterday."

Martin began the season with the Detroit Tigers but the Indians made a deal for his services along with RHP Kyle Dowdy for the Indians' hitting prospect Willi Castro at the July 31, trade deadline.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Reds' Sweep Denied By Determined Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks used their most productive inning to upend the sweep-minded Reds in a 9-2 win, using five home runs.  Paul Goldschmidt hit two.

The Diamondbacks got the jump on the Reds in the first inning with two former St. Louis Cardinals as the instigators.  Arizona has now scored 95 runs in the first inning which is the most of any Major League team.

Jon Jay singled to open the game against Luis Castillo.  One out later David Peralta walked.  Daniel Descalso unloaded his 10th home run on the grassy knoll in center field out of Billy Hamilton's reach.  It was the 21st home run allowed by Castillo.  He joined teammates, Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano as National League leaders in home runs allowed.

Castillo had actually been making progress in deterring the long ball.  Castillo was touched for six home runs in each of the first three months of the season but allowed just two in his last six starts coming into the game.

After the home run, Castillo retired 13 in a row as the Reds offense ramped up.

"Everything in between the home runs was a pretty good performance," Jim Riggleman said.."The 0-2 to Descalso was supposed to be inside but it was out over the plate,  Goldschmidt has been swinging it well.  He had a big day."

Eugenio Suarez, who had a 10-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday, singled off Zack Godley to open the second inning.  Mason Williams followed with a single.  Tucker Barnhart struck out on a 3-2 pitch but Preston Tucker hit a one hopper to Paul Goldschmidt at first.  He wheeled and threw to Nick Ahmed for the force on Williams but Godley, covering first could not handle the relay.  The ball went out of play as Suarez scored.

Jose Peraza tripled into the right field corner with one out in the third.  Joey Votto hit a line fly to center that scored Peraza.

Godley retired seven batters in a row, starting with Votto, until Hamilton dumped a single to center in the fifth.

Jay opened the sixth with a single to break Castillo's streak.  Goldschmidt hit a towering fly that reached the second row of seats in right field for his 25th home run to give Arizona a 5-2 lead.

"I was supposed to throw inside on the 0-2 pitch but it was over the plate and he took advantage of it.  The pitch to Goldschmidt, I got it where I wanted but he's a big strong man and put a good swing on it.  I thought it was a fly ball but it kept going and going," Castillo said.."I thought overall, I pitched well.  The only mistake I made was to Descalso."

Descalso's two-out double finished Castillo.  Michael Lorenzen entered after Castillo allowed five hits in 5 2/3 innings.  He walked one and struck out seven.  Castillo was charged with five earned runs.

Dilson Herrera's two-out pinch hit single in the seventh spelled the end for Godley.  Brad Ziegler took over, facing Hamilton.  Hamilton missed on a two-strike swing.

Arizona turned double plays in the sixth and eighth innings to thwart Reds' rallies.

Eduardo Escobar hit a two-run home run off Keury Mella and Goldschmidt added his 26th.  Peralta followed with his 21st long ball as Mella gave up three in the frame.

Godley won his fifth road decision in six starts while improving to 4-1 over the Reds.

The Reds have been playing up to the schedule and still took two out of three from the leaders of the National League West Division.

"I'm not into winning the series like most people are. I'm just into winning the game, if that means you win the series, that's better yet.  That's a very good club.  To win two we feel good about being competitive with them.  Today the score 9-2 doesn't look competitive but the game was closer than the score indicates."

Fear Jose Peraza Pitch To Joey Votto

Rarely will a manager intentionally walk a batter in front of Joey Votto in fact the Reds' first baseman recently surpassed Johnny Bench as the Reds' career leader for intentional walks.

Arizona Diamondback's manager went against conventional wisdom and walked Jose Peraza with a base open and two outs in the bottom of the eighth.   Billy Hamilton had just singled to score Tucker Barnhart and stole second base.  Torey Luvullo, who won the BBWAA Manager of the Year Award last season, ordered Peraza passed with Votto in the on deck circle.

Votto proved why it was not a good idea by lining a single to left field off left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland that scored Hamilton.  Votto had a .239 batting average against left-handed hitters but has a career batting average of .295 against them.

Luvullo's decision was based more on his pitcher's strengths than Votto's 2018 deficiencies.

"It is the balance that I walk through every single time I need to make those decisions," Luvullo said. "I just felt like with T.J.'s ability to get the ball underneath the hands of a left-handed hitter, it would be a tough approach for Joey Votto."

Votto got a ball out over the plate that he was able to hit on a line to left.

"I was evaluating the matchups in my mind and rehearsing what it would look like if we executed the pitch," Luvullo said.  "I focus more on that.  Historic match up over the years, I'm not so focused on.  I know Joey Votto is hitting .230 or .228 or something like that against left-handed pitching.  I focus on that. I focus on what my imagination is telling me based on how it would play out if we executed."

"It's hard to walk somebody to get to Joey Votto.  I'm not going to lie," Luvullo said.  "I wanted T.J. to be in the best situation to be successful.  I sacrificed that to pitch to Joey Votto."

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Tucker Barnharts Pinch Double Downs D Backs

Late innings heroics by Tucker Barnhart turned a one-run deficit into a 6-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Barnhart's two out double scored two runs in what turned out to be a four-run eighth inning.

It was another pitcher's duel in the old ball yard on Saturday in the rain-delayed first act for the Josh Owens concert.

"Tucker's hit was huge," Jim Riggleman said.  "Tuck's a good hitter.  His numbers don't indicate how good a hitter he is.  We felt pretty good with him up there."

Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks and Matt Harvey, the dark knight, battled through three scoreless innings.

The spell was broken by Eduardo Escobar, a trade deadline acquisition from the Minnesota Twins, hit his first National League home run after A.J. Pollock punched a single for the second hit off Harvey, leading off the fourth frame.  It was Escobar's first National League home run.

The Reds immediately tied the game in the bottom of the inning.

Eugenio Suarez was hit by a pitch, leading off the inning.  Phillip Ervin doubled down the line with Suarez scoring from first without a slide.  Brandon Dixon hit a fly to left center and Ervin advanced to third base.  Curt Casali struck out but Harvey lined a single that Steven Souza couldn't catch in a diving attempt.

The Reds mounted a threat in the seventh inning.  Billy Hamilton singled with one out off Andrew Chafin.  Archie Bradley came out of the bullpen to face Jose Peraza, who flied to center.  Joey Votto batted for Dilson Herrera as Hamilton stole second.  The Diamondbacks walked Votto intentionally and retired Scooter Gennett on a line out to center.

David Hernandez replaced Harvey, who pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk.  Harvey struck out seven.

"Harvey got better as the game went on.  He's done that quite a bit.  He gave up some hard hit balls early and around the fourth or fifth inning he settled in. He got in a little trouble but managed his way out of trouble.  His best inning was the seventh," Jim Riggleman said.

The Diamondbacks got the lead back on the 20th home run of the season by David Peralta into the right field stands.  Paul Goldschmidt doubled but Hernandez got Pollock out on a comeback ball.  Amir Garrett was summoned to pitch to the switch hitting Escobar. Garrett retired Escobar on a fly to left.

Bradley hit Suarez with a pitch to lead off the eighth inning.  Suarez was working on 10-game hitting streak and was plunked twice.  Ervin hit a slow roller to third that sent Suarez to second. Dixon struck out.  Casali walked.  Tucker Barnhart hit for Garrett.  Barnhart hit a 3-2 pitch into the left center field gap that easily scored Suarez and Casali. 

"I've always had trouble with Archie Bradley, since the lower minors," Barnhart said. "I faced him at every stop.  He's a good pitcher and I respect the hell out of him.  He's gotten me more times than I've gotten him. I was looking for something out over the plate that I could get to the outfield for Geno to score."

"Pinch hitting is the hardest thing to do in baseball," Barnhart said.  "When you're in the game you get into a flow.  When it got that late and Mason and Joey were in the game, it was between me and Tucker.  The coaches do a great job of keeping us in the loop."

T.J. McFarland took over for Bradley.  Hamilton singled off McFarland's hand.  The ball leaked into center field allowing Barnhart to score. Peraza was walked intentionally to set up a lefty-lefty matchup with Votto.  The Reds' first baseman ruined the strategy with a single that scored Hamilton.

Raisel Iglesias pitched the ninth, earning his 23rd save in 26 attempts.

Dilson Herrera Experiments In Left Field

Dilson Herrera will make his first ever start in left field against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Herrera didn't have a proper glove so he borrowed Brandon Dixon's who is playing in place of Joey Votto, who is still partially hobbled by right knee that took a direct hit from Ryan Madson in Washington.

The Reds acquired Herrera in a trade with the New York Mets for Jay Bruce but shoulder injuries prevented the Reds from seeing what the second/third baseman can do.

"As much as we want to win games, we have to find out what these guys can do," Jim Riggleman said.  "Most infielders can catch a fly ball.  We just want them to catch fly balls and hit the cut off man with throws."

Herrera just wants a place in the lineup.  He is batting second against the Diamondback's Robbie Ray, a tough left handed pitcher.

"It is going to be my first time. I'm going to help the team and I'm happy," Herrera said.  "I don't know what is hardest.  I will try to do my best.  I'm just excited to play.  I've been watching Billy play. I'm going to try to do something like he does."

Riggleman wants to get Herrera some at bats but his at his main positions the Reds are blessed with All-Stars, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez.

"I want to get him some at bats," Riggleman said.  "It is tough to get him but with a tough lefty it gives us a chance to get another right handed batter in the lineup.  Phillip Ervin will play right field with left handed hitting, Preston Tucker and Mason Williams on the bench.   Dixon bats right-handed so it gives Votto a chance to get his knee back to 100 percent.

"As the game went on last night you could tell, Joey was having a tough time moving around," Riggleman said.  "We'll give him the day off to try to get his knee back to 100 percent."

Billy Hamilton Has Epiphany Or A Light Bulb Went On

Billy Hamilton does every thing fast.  He runs fast, he talks fast.

"Man I even eat fast," Hamilton told writers a few years ago.

The art of bunting, a tool for the fleet of foot in baseball, has eluded him in his Major League career.  Hamilton has been so concerned about running out his bunts that he either misses them or fouls them back.

Jim Riggleman asked him to squeeze with Tucker Barnhart on third base in a tight game.  The Reds had a 1-0 lead with Barnhart on third base and Anthony DeSclafani on first base with one out.  Hamilton was asked to lay down a squeeze bunt.  It required Hamilton to wait an instant longer to make sure he put the bunt down.   It was successful and pitcher Clay Buchholz threw the ball away.  DeSclafani scored on the play to give the Reds a 3-0 lead.

"Most of the time when I bunt, I try to run out of there and I pop the ball up," Hamilton said.  "On the squeeze you have to get the ball down no matter what.  On the squeeze, you have to get the ball down, no matter what or you will leave whoever is coming from third in a bind. That showed me that if I stayed in and just put the ball down, I can make things happen.  I have to practice that more trying to get the ball down and then run."

Riggleman followed up on Hamilton's comments.

"I saw what he said and I liked the word he used.  He used the word put, instead of bunt," Riggleman said.  "That's kind of the terminology I've used with Billy since the year 12 (2012).  Delino DeShields talked to him about it, Barry Larkin's talked to him about it, Joe Morgan has talked to him about it but until he did it himself last night. He put the ball down instead of bunting it while he's moving.  Maybe that is going be the best way for it to stick to him."

"When he's bunting for a hit, there's not a lot of surprise element there," Riggleman continued.  "They know he can run.  They know he may bunt.  It's going to be the quality of the bunt not the deception that is going to get him the base hit.  One of the things that I've mentioned, is when I was coaching in LA.  Dave Roberts (current Dodgers manager) was the best at bunting the ball down the first base line.  Dave could run but he couldn't run anything like Billy can.  He could put the ball right there, where the first baseman's coming, the pitcher's coming and it's a very tough play for them to make.  When Billy put the ball there last night, he realized that he wasn't really deceiving and he didn't wait a long time and he just beat it."

A player especially one with speed gets in the habit of thinking he has to do everything fast.  Do everything in a hurry but there are certain times in a game where patience is needed.

"Everything Billy does is quick twitch," Riggleman said. "This one he needs to slow down a little bit and his terminology is put it and not bunt it."

The moment led to the light switch coming on that there are times when a little hesitation is as effective as doing being fast.  It was a hard lesson to learn after being successful in carving out a big league career.  Even at this level, learning continues.

"It is tough," Hamilton said.  "I feel that is what has been messing me up my whole career. I don't realize how fast I am.  I try to bunt the ball and run at the same time and I'm fouling the ball off or not getting the ball down because I'm trying to rush it.  Tonight I stayed in there and got a bunt down. Now I know I can do that."

His postgame comments indicate that a valuable lesson has been learned.

"I read his comments and I'm glad he said it because hopefully in his pregame work, he will carry on with that," Riggleman said.  "One (successful bunt) in a game is worth 100 off a machine."

"The game speed, game situation for bunting against live Major League pitching, the timing the speed of the ball, the way it jumps off the bat is so different," Riggleman said.  "That's why it is so important to do it in a game in spring training.  But guys are trying to get their swing together, they don't want to give up an at bat to bunt.  They just have to do it.  Those game situations in spring training, if you do a few of them, you go into the season and say, 'I've got this.'  If you haven't done it all spring because you wanted to keep working on your swing,  you're not going to bunt during the season. You have to knock it out in spring training and go to the minor league fields on days you're not playing in the game and do it against professional pitching, game situations."

"You watch the Cubs play and you see (Kyle) Schwarber do it.  He takes his time.  The third baseman is playing where the shortstop is.  He puts the ball where he wants it and he's safe.  You have to do it in game situations though.  I was watching a game yesterday, I saw Bryce Harper do it and he fouled it off because he's thinking, I'm going to do this.  But he hasn't done all spring or all season. You're probably going to foul it off and say well I'm not going to do that again."

Friday, August 10, 2018

Anthony DeSclafani Exterminates Diamondbacks

Anthony DeSclafani and Clay Buchholz had their way with the hitters for five innings before the Reds broke through to scratch out a 3-0 win over the National League West Division leading Arizona Diamondbacks.

DeSclafani allowed singles to Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollack in the first five innings. Neither reached second base.

"Anthony set the tone for the entire game," Jim Riggleman said.  "That was a good old fashioned ball game.  That was a tough lineup he was facing.  They're in first place and have to come in here and win games.  Anthony was up to the task."

The Reds hitters weren't any more effective against Buchholz.

Scooter Gennett singled in the second inning but was erased on a double play.  The Reds did mount a threat in the fourth inning.  Jose Peraza opened the inning with a single off the glove of third baseman Eduardo Escobar.  One out later Eugenio Suarez singled.  After Gennett flied to left, Phillip Ervin walked to load the bases but Mason Williams grounded out.

DeSclafani retired the Diamondbacks in order in the sixth.

Peraza singled to open the sixth, his second hit.  Joey Votto singled for his 1,700th career hit.  Peraza reached third with no outs.  Suarez drove in his 88th run of the season with a long fly to left.  Gennett and Ervin struck out to end the inning.

Tucker Barnhart hit a one-out double after DeSclafani struck out two in a scoreless seventh. DeSclafani, who has a grand slam to his credit singled sharply to right to send Barnhart to third.  Billy Hamilton laid a perfect bunt for a suicide squeeze.  Barnhart scored easily.  Buchholz fielded the ball on the line and had no chance to get Hamilton but threw anyway.  The ball went down the line to the tarp behind first base.  DeSclafani scored and Hamilton reached second.

"I thought about having Billy bunt earlier in the count but thought they might pitch out," Riggleman said.  "When he got to three balls, I thought he would get a good pitch to bunt, something he could handle."

The Reds have been working with Hamilton on bunting for years.  Joe Morgan spent a lot of time with Hamilton working on the skill in spring training.  Hamilton just hasn't been a good bunter.  Tonight it seemed a light bulb went off in his head on the suicide squeeze.

"Most of the time when I bunt, I try to run out of there and I pop the ball up," Hamilton said.  "On the squeeze you have to get the ball down no matter what.  On the squeeze, you have to get the ball down, no matter what or you will leave whoever is coming from third in a bind. That showed me that if I stayed in and just put the ball down, I can make things happen.  I have to practice that more trying to get the ball down and then run."

A player especially one with speed gets in the habit of thinking he has to do everything fast.  Do everything in a hurry but there are certain times in a game where patience is needed.

"It is tough," Hamilton said.  "I feel that is what has been messing me up my whole career. I don't realize how fast I am.  I try to bunt the ball and run at the same time and I'm fouling the ball off or not getting the ball down because I'm trying to rush it.  Tonight I stayed in there and got a bunt down. Now I know I can do that."

DeSclafani enjoyed his time on the bases as well as his single.

""The hit going first to third was the most exciting part," DeSclafani said. "That was the first time I was ever a part of a play like that.  I waited for Tucker to break.  When I saw Hatcher wave me around I thought this is kind of fun, just don't miss the bags."

Peraza's fly to right put Hamilton on third.  Votto was walked intentionally.  Suarez grounded to third base.

Steven Souza opened the eighth with the Diamondback's third hit.  Jim Riggleman went to the bullpen to bring on Jared Hughes.  Ketel Marte grounded out to Votto unassisted.  Souza went to second.  Nick Ahmed singled with Souza stopping at third.  Alex Avila hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

DeSclafani pitched seven scoreless innings with three hits and no walks.  He struck out nine, while earning his sixth win.

"I had a good amount of things working today," DeSclafani said. "I stayed out of the middle of the plate for the most part.  I felt like this game was the most well put together game."

Raisel Iglesias entered in the ninth, trying to earn his 22nd save in 25 tries. He allowed a two-out double to Goldschmidt but struck out Pollock to preserve the win and shutout.


Scott Schebler Throwing The Towel

If you read the headline too fast you might think that Scott Schebler is giving up on the season but that is not the case.  Scehbler injured his right shoulder running into the wall in St. Louis a day before the All-Star break.

Part of Schebler's rehab protocal is making a throwing motion with a towel in his hand.

"Throwing a towel is part of the program,"Schebler explained. "You don't release it or anything.  It is just moving the shoulder.  I guess with the AC joint the pain is going to be over-the-head pain. That's why swinging the bat was fine.  Now, that I'm starting to do over the head exercises, there is no pain with that."

He starts a throwing program either Sunday or Monday and once he is able to throw, he will come back.

"I feel like I'm a tough guy, that it was something I could play through but know pitcher wants a guy out there that can't throw the baseball," Schebler said.

Schebler was at Louisville taking at bats as the DH.

"I was DHing and tried to play left.  I think I just rushed it.  I had one competitive throw that game. It did not go very well," Schebler said.  "I had problems sleeping on it that night.  I came in the next day and was like hey, I think its best to shut it down."

Since he has had some at bats as a DH, it won't take him long to come back once he begins to throw.

"I feel like, I was making progress then take a step back.  I threw a towel today.  That was a big step.  Everything is going well.  I start throwing Sunday or Monday.  I'm pretty excited about that."

Schebler is not the only position player with a reserved seat in the training room.

Joey Votto, who was plunked on the knee by Ryan Madson in Washington, is back in the lineup against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"We kept him off his knee the last couple days in New York and then the off day," Jim Riggleman said.  "He contacted me and he told me that he was ready to go tonight."
Newly acquired outfielder, Preston Tucker was hit on his left instep in New York.  He hasn't played the last two games.

"It was one of those that it looked like nothing really happened but it's extremely painful," Riggleman said.  "That ball bounced before it hit him.  So, it wasn't like some of the shots you see guys hit with but it got him in a bad area.  Yesterday, was the first day that he was able to run around.  He is available tonight."

Tucker is not in the lineup.  Phillip Ervin, Mason Williams and Billy Hamilton will patrol the Reds' outfield.

Tucker is feeling much better and X-rays were negative.

"It became a matter of pain tolerance," Tucker said.  "I get hit on my back foot more often than not.  Usually, it doesn't hurt.  This one just hit me in a painful spot.  I try to avoid the trainers room as much as possible.  I have had treatment on it every day.  I have been running on it.  I feel it but the pain is way down."

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Robert Stephenson Will Make Reds' Season Debut Against the Mets

The Reds will promote Robert Stephenson from Louisville to make the start against the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon.

He will be replacing Tyler Mahle in the Reds' rotation.

Stephenson 11 wins are the best in the International League.  He has a 2.87 ERA which ranks fifth, 135 strikeouts are second in the league.  Opponents are hitting just .184 which is the best in the league by 32 points.

Stephenson was the IL pitcher of the week from July23-29.  He made two starts, allowing two runs on three hits and seven walks in 14 innings.  He made five straight quality starts.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Red Rebound With Three Straight Wins To Break Even

The Reds shook off three straight losses to the red hot Pittsburgh Pirates, who were on their way to 11 straight wins to start the 10-game homestand. The Reds finished by taking three straight from the National League East leading Philadelphia Phillies in a 4-0 win.

Philadelphia starter Zach Eflin was off to a good start.  He retired the first six Reds batters until Phillip Ervin laced a double past Maikel Franco.  Curt Casalli liked the idea so much, he doubled to the left center field gap to put the Reds on the board.  Luis Castillo laid down a good sacrifice bunt.  Jose Peraza made contact as required by the situation but Castillo had to hold as shortstop Scott Kingery fielded the slow roller for the second out.  Scooter Gennett, however, produced another two-out hit for which he's become known.  Gennett blasted his 17th home run into the right field bleachers.

Castillo was less than perfect, allowing singles in each of the first four innings plus a walk.  Even though the leadoff man reached in the third and fourth.  Castillo shut down the Phillies.  Eugenio Suarez started a 5-4-3 double play in the fourth.

The Reds' right-hander retired the Phillies in order in the fifth inning.  The Reds were in need of a longer outing from its starter.

"We got what we needed and then some," Jim Riggleman said. "That's a very good lineup he's facing over there.  To throw zeroes up there for seven innings, is impressive."

Castillo has been working on his arm angle with pitching coach Danny Darwin.  The Reds have also talked to their starters about getting through opponents batting order for the third time.

"I've been working on my arm angle with the pitching coach," Castillo said through interpreter Julio Murillo. "I was working on it and focused on it today.  With my old arm angle I felt my wrist was staying behind.  I feel my arm is quicker with this arm angle."

It was important for Castillo to pitch deep into the game.

"As soon as you step across the white line you want to pitch a complete game but the manager makes the decision and I respect it," Castillo said.  "When you pitch seven innings you know its close to get out of the game.  You throw every thing you can.  You execute the game plan but the third time through the lineup you try to change the approach and start them with a different pitch.  That was the key today. I'm going to do more of it moving forward."

It saved some wear and tear on the bullpen but it was important for the young pitcher's development to get to seven innings.

"It was really nice to get that start," Riggleman said.  "We had a fairly fresh bullpen and could have covered it.  It was good to show Castillo that he could do it."

Singles by Mason Williams and Adam Duvall, leading off the sixth inning set up Ervin's sacrifice fly to increase the lead.

Ervin had a big hand in both scoring innings.

"It is always to get the opportunity and help the team win when you get the chance," said Ervin, who is getting extended time in the big leagues with Scott Schebler still out and Jesse Winker out for the season.

Castillo retired the last 11 batters he faced to finish his longest outing of the year with seven innings.  It was the longest outing by a Reds' pitcher on the home stand.  Homer Bailey pitched 6 2/3 innings on Tuesday.  He allowed four hits and a walk and struck out nine.

The Reds put Victor Arano on the ropes in the seventh.  Billy Hamilton singled for Castillo.  With one out Gennett singled to right to send Hamilton to third base.  Votto flied out to center but it wasn't deep enough for Hamilton to score.  Suarez, the NL leader in RBI, struck out looking.

David Hernandez entered for the Reds in the eighth for 34th appearance of the season. Herna.  ndez struck out three around a double by pinch hitter Cesar Hernandez.  It was the 24th time in 34 appearances Hernandez retired the first batter he faced.

Wandy Peralta pitched the ninth.  Odubel Herrera reached on an infield hit.  Rhys Hoskins flied out to center.  Nick Williams blooped a single to left.   Jim Riggleman brought in Raisel Iglesias in a save situation.  Franco singled to load the bases.  Kingery struck out on a 3-2 pitch.  Andrew Knapp went down swinging.  Iglesias earned his 21st save in 24 tries.

It was the first time the Reds have won a four-game series with the Phillies since September of 1997.

"They've got a good club," Riggleman said.  "We didn't see Nola or Arrieta but the four guys we saw all threw very well.  They have a good lineup and good pitching.  You can see why they're in first place."


On this date in 1968 Reds' pitcher George Culver pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies in the second game of a doubleheader.  The Phillies scored one run without a hit, when Dick Allen reached base on a throwing error and scored on a sacrifice fly.  The Reds won 6-1.