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.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

UC and NBA Great Jack Twyman Dies at 78

Jack Twyman died in Cincinnati Wednesday night at 78 of complications from blood cancer.

He was a sharp-shooting All-American at the University of Cincinnati after failing to make his high school team in Pittsburgh three years in a row.  He finished at UC as its all-time leading scorer with 1,598 points.  He is still ranked in the top 10 and his points were from outside shots before the three-point line was ever considered.

Twyman is still second on the all-time rebounding list with 1,242 and these were in the days when freshmen weren't eligible.

The Rochester Royals drafted him two seasons before they moved to Cincinnati.  He went on to be an NBA  All-Star six times.

As great as these achievements are the best of the man came from his humanity.

His teammate and fellow Pittsburgh native, Maurice Stokes, was undercut in a game during the 1958 NBA game.  Days later he suffered a stroke which made him a paraplegic.  Twyman became the legal guardian of Stokes so that he could get the medical attention Stokes needed.  Stokes died in 1970.  Twyman organized an exhibiton game to raise funds for Stokes medical bills.

Below is an excellent article by Bill Koch of the Cincinnati Enquirer


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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Aroldis Chapman is Robbed in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that the room of Aroldis Chapman, lefthanded relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, was robbed Tuesday night.

A 26-year old woman was found bound by cloth napkins in Chapman's room at the Omni William Penn Hotel.

A man claiming to work in maintenance at the hotel was allowed in by the woman.  He told the unidentified woman that he was there to fix the toilet.  Instead he tied the woman up and took jewelry, clothing, a computer, credit cards and ID cards.

The Reds issued this statement:

"We are aware of the hotel room robbery of one of our players and are working with law enforcement agencies.  Because it is an active investigation, we have no other comment at this time."

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Thirdbaseman Todd Frazier Gets a Save

Todd Frazier has had a surreal week.

On Sunday he lost control of his bat and still hit a home run.  On Tuesday it appeared that karma had paid him forward.

Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reported that Frazier and teammate Ryan Ludwick were having dinner in a downtown Pittsburgh restaurant when a man started choking on an over sized bite of his stake.

Frazier the closest to the man chased two women that were trying to help and performed the Heimlich Maneuver which he learned in high school in Toms River, NJ

"It was surreal," Frazier told Jeff Piecoro of  Fox Sports Ohio on the Reds postgame show on Tuesday.

Frazier had two hits, a double and triple and drove in two runs.

Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce Lead Reds Over Pirates

Two Texans Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce were selected by the Reds in the first round of the draft in back-to-back years.

Homer Bailey has gotten "progressively better" according to Dusty Baker.   Bailey threw a complete game in the Reds 8-1 win over Pittsburgh to even the series.  He has turned in eight quality starts in his 10 starts and now boasts a record of 4-3.

Bailey and rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco have been learning to work together.  Bailey's ERA is down to 3.73.

Jay Bruce put the Reds on the board with an RBI double in the second inning. He scored on Todd Frazier's double.

Bruce was struggling last week when Dusty Baker decided the young right fielder needed a day of rest, mental more that physical.  Baker told Bruce to relax and not hit in the cage, just have fun.

The prescription worked.  Since the day off Bruce has six hits in 14 at bats.  He has two doubles and a home run.

Frazier a double, triple and a pair of  RBI.

Brandon Phillips is heating up too with a pair of hits and is heating up.

On Monday Bronson Arroyo couldn't close out an inning.  He gave up four runs in four innings and all of the Runs scored with two outs.  The Reds could do nothing with James McDonald, who held them scoreless through eight innings .  Chris Heisey drove in Joey Votto in the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh bullpen.

Alfredo Simon was an unsung hero, throwing three scoreless innings to spare the rest of the bullpen and allow the Reds offense an opportunity to come back.  Simon's ERA dropped to 1.74.  In his last five appearances he has allowed just one earned run in 10 innings.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Reds Outslug Rockies to Take Six of Seven Games at Home

Jay Bruce was not yet alive when Jamie Moyer made his major league debut on June 16, 1986 but he hit one of the four home runs that Reds hit off the 49-year old lefthander.

Brandon Phillips hit a three-run home run.  Joey Votto hit his eighth and Todd Frazier one-handed his fifth in a barrage that carried the team to a 7-5 win to take the series 2-1.  The Reds won five of the six games on the home stand and sit 1 1/2 games above the second place St. Louis Cardinals.

Mat Latos pitched 7 1/3 innings of five hit baseball but all five were solo home runs.  As long-time Reds broadcaster Joe Nuxhall once said, "Most of the time when a team hits a solo home run, they only score one run."

The key was that Latos didn't walk anyone in posting his fourth straight win.

"I didn't walk anybody?" Latos said.  "That makes me feel a little better as a pitcher its a bummer to let a team go yard five times.  I was in attack mode.  I was just throwing strikes. It's always good when you throw strikes but I don't make excuses.  If I get those pitches down, they don't leave the ballpark.  Maybe they're ground outs."

Colorado manager Jim Tracy blamed the weather as he praised his team for fighting back after falling behind 7-2 after four innings.

"In 90 plus heat the ball really flies out especially in this ballpark," Tracy said.  "Evidence of that is the home run Frazier hit.  It looked like he had a hand and a half on the bat but he hit it out.  But it went over the fence, there's nothing you can do about it.  It's that simple."

Moyer admitted he missed his spot a couple of times.

"On Bruce I did.  The pitch to Phillips was up a little bit.  I don't think the pitch to Votto was a strike.  Frazier's was an interesting swing."

"I felt the bat slipping out of my hands," Frazier said.  "I looked at it in slow motion and it looks like my bottom hand is off the bat.  At first I thought it was a pop out to shortstop, then I took a couple of steps and said 'oh, that's a pretty interesting way to hit a home run.'"

The teams combined for nine home runs a record for 10-year old Great American Ball Park.  The Reds and its opponents combined for 29 home runs - a high for home stands of seven games or fewer.

For Bruce it was his first home run since May 8 at Milwaukee.  Phillips hit three home runs on the homestand.  Votto has hit seven home runs in his last 27 games.  Zack Cozart extended his hitting streak to seven games with a fourth inning double that scored Ryan Hanigan with the only run that did not score via the home run.

Mat Latos is the first pitcher in Reds history and the 11th in MLB history to be the winning pitcher while giving up five home runs.  Bronson Arroyo was the last Reds pitcher to allow five runs and win.  He did that last June at Baltimore.

Aroldis Chapman earned his third save.  He entered with runners on first and third in the eighth. Chapman struck out Carlos Gonzalez, who had his seventh career multi-home run game and the third of the season.

Chapman walked Jason Giambi to open the ninth but got Michael Cuddyer, who launched a 448 foot blast off the batter's eye in center field, to line to Phillips.  He then ended Jordan Pacheco's 11 game hitting streak by inducing a 6-4-3 double play.

The "Cuban Missle" has pitched 26 innings without allowing an earned run.  He has 44 strikeouts.

Edited by ML Schirmer
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Ken Griffey Jr. Visits The Reds Clubhouse

Future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey Jr visited the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse this morning. He and his sons Trey and Tevin were in the clubhouse on the way to his daughter Taryn's basketball tournament in Mason.

Griffey is in good shape albeit a few pounds heavier.

Trey is two inches taller.  He graduates from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando on June 2, then gets on a plane to Tucson, Arizona where he has a scholarship to play wide receiver for the University of Arizona.

"You should see the training table," Griffey Jr. said.  "It made me want to enroll as a student."

Griffey Jr is a special consultant to the Seattle Mariners while the Reds still owe him money on his contract signed in 2000 a large portion of which was deferred.

Griffey retired in May 2010 after a return to the Mariners.

"Their Double A team is loaded," Griffey said.  "They have three pitchers that throw 97 plus."

OVC Represented on Rockie's Roster

Sam Reynolds told Eastern Kentucky recruiter Larry Marmie that he wanted to play baseball.  The Colonels defensive coordinator strongly preferred the Brownsville, Ohio native concentrate on football.

Reynolds decided to play NCAA Division III football and baseball at Marietta College.  His teammate was Jim Tracy.  When Reynolds finished his athletic days, he moved to the Chicago area to raise his family.

His son Matt was a good enough lefthanded pitcher to get a scholarship to Austin Peay a member of the Ohio Valley Conference along with Eastern Kentucky.  Matt Reynolds was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 20th round of the 2007 draft.  A year later Colorado chose Eastern Kentucky's Christian Friedrich with its first round pick (25th overall).

The pair of lefthanders now have lockers next to each other in the Colorado clubhouse at Great American Ball Park.

Tracy became aware of the ties to Reynolds when Matt was invited to his first major league camp in 2009.

"Matt came up to me and asked me if I remembered Sam Reynolds from Marietta," said Tracy, who remembers everyone's name.  "I said oh my god your Sam's son. Sam Reynolds and I don't have to tell him this but he should be really, really proud of his son.  His son in my opinion is just like his dad was when I went to school with him, a class act.  That's how you describe the Reynolds, class acts."

Matt is one of the two lefthanders out of the Rockies bullpen that has had to pick up the slack for a starting rotation that has not given the Rockies a lot of innings to date.

Reynolds is 3-0 out of the bullpen with a 4.26 ERA that mushroomed on Saturday when Ryan Ludwick touched him for a three-run home run.  Two of the runs charged to Reynolds.

"Up to this point his son Matt has done a terrific job for our ballclub," Tracy said.  "We stretched him out further at times than we really wanted to and he's responded to it extremely well.  He's done a really, really nice job."

Friedrich and Reynolds were talking about the OVC baseball tournament.

Eastern was the number two seed and lost to Eastern Illinois on Thursday and was eliminated by Jacksonville State on Friday.  Austin Peay was the top seed but lost to Southeast Missouri on Friday but fought back through the loser's bracket by defeating Jacksonville State on Friday and Southeast Missouri on Saturday.  Saturday afternoon the Governors beat Eastern Illinois to set up the Championship Game on Sunday.

Both Reds Leftfielders Bail Out Mike Leake and the Reds

Chris Heisey hit his first home run of the season with two on in the first inning of the Reds 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies.

Ryan Ludwick finished them off  with a three-run, pinch-hit home run in the seventh innings.

The Reds signed Ludwick to compliment incumbent  Heisey, who excelled as the Reds fourth outfielder.  The Reds felt the presence of a veteran like Ludwick could help Heisey develop by matching up better with pitchers that would get Heisey out.

Heisey appears to be taking over as the everyday leftfielder.  He has hit .414 while starting 14 of the last 16 games and has made some highlight-reel catches in the field.

Heisey has 21 starts in left and three each in center and right for a total of 27.  Ludwick, who has  24 starts, has come up with some huge hits for the Reds. Ludwick has 21 RBI on 21 hits and is hitting .212 on the year.  Heisey has 10 RBI on 30 hits but has beefed up his average to .268.

"Colorado can hit," manager Dusty Baker said.  "You have to outscore them and we did."

Mike Leake lasted 3 2/3 innings and was threatening to give up the lead that was handed to him with an error aided four-run first inning against Colorado starter, Jeremy Guthrie.  The Rockies crossed the plate twice in the fourth after struggling Jay Bruce drove home a run.  The Rockies were within 5-3 before Baker uses his bullpen which has been excellent all season.

"I couldn't get the ball down," Leake said

J.J. Hoover picked up his first major league win with 1 1/3 innings, closing out the fourth with the tying run at the plate and had a clean fifth inning.

Sam LeCure pitched two scoreless innings, Logan Ondrusek and Sean Marshall pitched one each.

"All the guys are just trying to go out and keep the team in the game," Hoover said.

Four of the first five Rockies got hits and the one that didn't, Carlos Gonzalez hit a sizzling ground ball to Brandon Phillips who started the first of three double plays to escape the inning with just one run.  Marco Scutaro tripled to leadoff the game and Tyler Colvin, who had four home runs off Leake, singled Scutaro home.

The Reds got the run back and then some.  Thirdbaseman Jordan Pacheco threw away Cozart's ground ball to start the bottom of the first. Phillips doubled off Pacheco's glove with two outs.  Guthrie walked Bruce and Heisey hit his first home run of the season.

"I told my wife Lisa that I had to hit the first one to get it off my back," Heisey said.  "I hit a couple that could have gone out but they were either into the wind or to the wrong part of the ballpark."

"We didn't get off to a very good start," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said.  "We would have liked to get Guthrie jump started but having said that we didn't pitch very well.  If we don't throw the ball away we get out of that inning with a zero and we could see what would have happened from there."

Pacheco tried valiantly to make up for his error.  He had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, including a double off Leake that started the two-run fourth.

Devin Mesoraco hit his second home run this week to put the Reds up by three runs again.  Drew Stubbs and Joey Votto (two doubles) opened the seventh with walks off Esmil Rogers.  Phillips lined a single to center after the runners moved up on a wild pitch.  Michael Cuddyer short hopped the ball to keep Votto at third.

Lefthander Matt Reynolds came in to face Bruce, who lifted a fly ball to Cuddyer, who threw Votto out at the plate but Reynolds walked Heisey.  Ludwick pinch hit for LeCure and finished off the Rockies.

The Reds increased its lead in the NL Central to 1 1/2 games because the Philadelphia Phillies shut out the St. Louis Cardinals.

Friday, May 25, 2012

EKU's Christian Friedrich Out Duels Johnny Cueto

The was double trouble at Great American Ball Park.  The Colorado Rockies knocked five doubles and Todd Helton added his fifth home run of the season.  Eastern Kentucky University product Christian Friedrich survived a rocky fifth to hang a 6-3 loss on the Reds to break Cincinnati's six-game winning streak.

Johnny Cueto simply didn't have it.  Rockies batsmen tagged him for four doubles among the 11 hits he allowed and all five runs.

Willin Rosario hit a one-out double in the third.  He advanced to third on Friedrich's first major league hit.  Eric Young Jr delivered Rosario with a single.

"I was 0 for.  I haven't had a hit since I signed.  The last hit I had was probably in high school.  Cueto must have looked at me and said, 'this kid's not going to do anything.'  I looked at the coach and he said hit. (there was a runner on second and one out).  I couldn't believe it."

The Reds hit Friedrich hard in the fourth to tie the game. Joey Votto singled, one of his four hits.  Brandon Phillips followed with a single.  Chris Heisey drilled a fastball but it was right at shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  Ryan Ludwick doubled Votto home.  Todd Frazier tied the game with a double.

"I have a lot to improve on," Friedrich said.  "I was leaky a little bit.  (Bob Apodaca) Dac came out and told me to get back over the rubber.  The bullpen did a great job for us."

Friedrich finished the inning and the next to qualify for the win.

Cueto gave up a leadoff double to Carlos Gonzalez in the top of the fifth.  Tulowitzki and Helton singled for one run.  After Tyler Colvin hit into a double play, Jordan Pacheco doubled to put the Rockies up 5-3 and end Cueto's evening.  His ERA ballooned to 2.53.

"Johnny didn't have his breaking ball tonight.  He was flying open," Dusty Baker said.  "The two out hit eluded us and they got a couple.  You get greedy and want to win them all but when you break a winning streak, you go out the next day and try to start another."

Former Red Matt Belisle struck out Phillips with the tying run on second in the seventh inning to preserve the lead.

"Matt is a warrior," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said.  "Look what he's done for us in Miami and tonight.  He had to get not only Phillips but he had to get the intervening outs.  He had to get four outs for us."

Colorado scored and insurance run off Jose Arredondo in the ninth inning.

Rafael Betancourt earned his eighth save in nine attempts.

Friedrich became the 10th Eastern Kentucky baseball player in the major leagues on May 9. The list of Colonels to play in the major leagues include Hall of Famer Earl Combs, a member of the fabled 1927 New York Yankees.  The others are: Josh Anderson, Win Ballou, Brandon Berger, Scott Earl, Steve Engel, Clyde Hatter, Bobby Moore and Gene Walter.

"I looked up in the stands and saw eight of my teammates from Eastern in the stands," Friedrich said.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Devin Mesoraco Grand in Reds Sweeping Win

Devin Mesoraco took the grand tour with a full compliment of his mates on the base paths.  His first major league grand slam erased a 2-1 deficit and made Homer Bailey the winning pitcher despite being lifted one batter later for a pinch hitter in the Reds 6-3 win over Atlanta.

The Reds swept the series and recorded its sixth consecutive win.  The last time the Reds swept the Braves in Cincinnati was the beginning of the 1980 season and it came in the first four games of that campaign in which the Reds started the season 8-0 (according to Mark Schmetzer who looked it up on retrosheet.com).

Bailey continued his run of good starts.  He finished with six innings, allowing two runs on four hits.  It was his third quality start in a row and evened his record to 3-3.  In nine starts he has turned in seven quality starts.  His ERA stands at 4.19.

"Quality starts don't mean anything to me," Bailey said.  "If I have a quality start and we lose, it's means nothing.  It is expected of us.  We expect it of ourselves."

Bailey was pitching scoreless baseball with two outs in the fifth when opposing pitcher, Randall Delgado singled.  Michael Bourn followed with his third home run of the series and fourth of the year to put the Braves on top 2-1.

Wednesday's hero, Todd Frazier, singled in his first at bat after the game winning home run.  He doubled to drive home Chris Heisey, who had two singles in the fourth.

Delgado started to fade in the Reds sixth.

Brandon Phillips walked to open the inning and advanced on a wild pitch. Jay Bruce lined to first. Heisey singled but Phillips was held at third by coach Mark Berry.  Frazier worked a walk forcing the Braves to go to the bullpen for Kris Medlen.  Medlen missed low with two pitches to Mesoraco.  The rookie catcher didn't miss the first strike he saw, hitting a towering drive to left to put the Reds up 5-2.

"He hit is straight.  He didn't hook it.  It was a good swing. That was how Hank (Aaron) used to hit them," Dusty Baker.

When Mesoraco was promoted to Louisville two years ago, he hit a walk off grand slam in his first game.  The next day in his first at bat, he hit another.

"I thought it was going to go foul to be honest with you.  That's why a stood at the plate a little longer," Mesoraco said.  "I was hoping it would stay fair."

Bruce and Joey Votto have been struggling a little but the young Reds have picked them up in this six game winning streak.

"Our young guys are coming through," Baker said.  "I'm giving out a lot of lineup cards for guys first. It's what you like it builds their confidence.  They worked hard to get here.  You fulfill a lifelong dream.  We hope they get better and better."

Sam LeCure, the forgotten man in the Reds bullpen, surrendered a solo home run to former mate, Juan Francisco, his second home run of the series.

Drew Stubbs hit one out against Johnny Venters leading off the seventh.  It was his second hit of the game, lifting his average to an even .250.

Sean Marshall pitched a scoreless inning.

Logan Ondrusek gave up two singles but earned his second save by getting Francisco to hit into a 3-6-1 double play.

"It was a big play.  They had a lot of big guys coming up.  If Ondrusek got into trouble, we would have had to go to an even younger guy, J.J. Hoover.  They had some guys coming up too.  Chipper Jones was on deck, they had Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann over there too," Baker said.

The Reds hit 10 home runs in this series.  The Braves hit six.  Thirteen of the home runs were solo shots.

"Home runs come in bunches.  Maybe the guys are getting their timing and their strokes back," Baker said. "I can't ever remember being on a team that beat the Braves four straight times.  It's tough to do against anybody and it came against a good team."

Dusty Baker Said Chipper Jones and Dave Concepcion Belong in the Hall of Fame

Dusty Baker was asked this afternoon if Chipper Jones should be voted into the Hall of Fame.

A surprised Baker stared at the reporter and said," Come on man, is that a tweeter question?"

The Reds honored Jones in a pre-game ceremony by giving him the third base that has been used the entire series.  General manager Walt Jocketty and Reds injured thirdbaseman, Scott Rolen presented Jones, who has been reduced to pinch hitting with a contusion on his left ankle, with the base.

"It is very cool, unique and classy," Jones said earlier this week.

Baker was shocked there is a question about the baseball Hall of Fame, concerning Jones. Baseball Writers of America members with 10 or more years seniority are eligible to vote.  Some newspapers citing conflict of interests are now prohibiting its reporters from voting.  Dave O'Brian of the Atlanta Constitution is one of them.

"What does he have 460 something (459 to date)?" Baker asked.  "A lot of guys in there have less than that. How many RBI does he have 1,500 (1,585)?  How many runs scored, same amount? (very close 1,580). What's his average .304? (it was .304 coming into this season).  This is in the steroid era from a guy who never used them.  That should count for something.  He's been on a number of winning teams.  He fits all the criteria, right, winning teams, MVP, batting champion.  Those are all the other guys in the Hall have and some less. He's switch hitter and a thirdbaseman which is probably the position with the fewest hall of famers."

Jones played his entire career with one team like Barry Larkin and Dave Concepcion.  Larkin will be inducted in July but Concepcion has not been elected after 15 years on the ballot.

Should Concepcion be in the Hall of Fame?

"Yes I do,": Baker said.  "He was a bad boy man.  He was just overshadowed on a great team.  If you take him off that team, that team as good as it was wouldn't have been great.  He was a shortstop and that's a bunch of work.  Then when he learned to hit, he was even more dangerous.  When he came up, he couldn't hit too well. (Concepcion hit .260 his rookie year but .205 and .209 in 71 and 72).  That's my boy.  He got overshadowed later on by Ozzie (Smith).  There were some bad boys at shortstop then, Ozzie, (Gary) Templeton, Larry Bowa.  They had some shortstops in this league. Other than Ozzie all that people see is offense alone."

Offense is all people see now.

"They say guys are ready for the big leagues because he can hit.  If you want to be on a winning team, you can't drive in one and let in two, whether you let them in directly or indirectly (plays that should be outs that go as hits)," Baker said.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Out Goes Frazier Todd Frazier Flies One to the Moon in Reds 5th Straight Win.

The Frank Sinatra tune, "Fly Me to the Moon" was still echoing off the hills in Kentucky when Todd Frazier set off the double fireworks for a home run and a 2-1 win.

The Reds Bronson Arroyo and Braves Tommy Hanson dueled in the twilight for six innings prior to the game winning blast, all be it a modest 355 ft., flight to the first row just beyond the reach of Jason Heyward.

Dan Uggla hit a long legitimate home run off Arroyo, who was grateful that Brian McCann was sick and Chipper Jones has a golf ball sized contusion on his left ankle.

"Not having Chipper and McCann in the lineup gave me a little breathing room," Arroyo said.  "The defense we've been playing is huge.  Every day we make a play that may not make the highlight reels but keep us in the game."

Tonight it was Brandon Phillips that knocked down a bid for an RBI single by Michael Bourn after the Braves, who have had problems scoring runs lately made a bid to take the lead.  Arroyo got David Ross to fly out, then struck out Juan Francisco but rookie Tyler Pastornicky doubled down the leftfield line.

Atlanta manager, Freddie Gonzalez went to Chipper Jones to hit for Hanson, who escaped a bases loaded one out jam in the sixth by getting Jay Bruce to hit into a force play that tied the game.. Jones is making his final tour of the league but has a huge debilitating bruise on his left ankle.  Jones has a form fitting guard over the spot.  The fear is if he fouls a pitch off the ankle he would be disabled.

"Tommy did a great job of minimizing the damage," Gonzalez said.  "We were going to run him back out there but with a runner in scoring position, you have to take a shot."

Jose Arredondo walked Jones but Phillips stopped Bourns hard grounder, lost the ball and stumbled but managed to get an off balance flip to Zack Cozart to nip pinch runner, Tim Hudson.

The Reds threatened again in the eighth against Johnny Venters.  Chris Heisey singled to center.  He moved up on a wild pitch.  Joey Votto smashed one off Venters between his calf and knee.  He threw out Votto for the first out.  The Braves walked Brandon Phillips, who hit two home runs Tuesday night to face Bruce, who is two for his last 26.  They replaced lefty Venters with lefty Eric O'Flaherty.

"Leaving Venters in to get Bruce after he got smoked was too much to ask," Gonzalez said.

O'Flaherty induced a double play ground ball out of Bruce.

Aroldis Chapman fanned two as he continued his string of 24 1/3 innings in which he has given up one unearned run.  He has struckout at least one batter in his last 25 appearances and all 20 this year.  He has racked up 43 strikeouts and picked up his fourth win.

Christhian Martinez struck out pinch hitter Mike Costanzo on a strikeout.

Frazier hit a 1-0 cut fastball for his fourth home run and first walk off long ball.

"It was special the way I've been going lately," Frazier said of his lack of production the last few games.  He took Tuesday night off and worked with hitting coach, Brook Jacoby on keeping more weight on his back foot.

"We watched some tape yesterday.  I can't say it was why I hit the home run tonight.  I knew I got  a lot of it but didn't think I got it all," Frazier said.

Honestly the ball would have been an easy out in Turner Field but landed in the front row of the bleachers at Great American Ball Park.

"It was one of those things," Gonzalez said.  "It wouldn't have been a lazy fly ball out at Turner Field but it probably would have been an out.  It's like we talked about this afternoon, they don't move the fences back when we're up."

Dusty Baker's Tips Pays Off For Zack Cozart and Others

Forty-five years as a player, coach and manager in baseball as well as being the son of a high school teacher, Dusty Baker knows the value of learning.

From experience and a keen eye for the nuances and details of the game, he noticed that Zack Cozart was frustrated.  He found a small flaw in Cozart's swing and suggested a slight adjustment.

When asked this afternoon, Cozart told writers that Baker's tip has paid off in his last few games.  Cozart suffered through an eight-game, 3-for-36 slump which dropped his batting average from .270 to .230.

Baker saw something and gave Cozart a day off but worked with him in the cage.  Cozart put the tip into practice and has since had four hits in his last 11 at bats, including two home runs.

"Everybody is going to go through slumps.  It's a matter of how quick you kick your way out of it," Cozart said.  "The day off helped me mentally more that physically.  And Dusty talked to me about some things he saw."

Dusty was surprised that the writers found out about it.

"Who told you that? How do you know about this?" Baker asked.

When told that it came from Cozart, he looked surprised.

"He credited me with helping him?  He didn't have to do that but we're all here to help," Baker said.

"Sometimes you get out of synch. Usually it's a minor thing that gets you back in synch.  Sometimes it's so minute, you can't see it," Baker said.

"He was starting his swing a little too late," Baker said.  "If you watch, you see certain things. And you hope whatever you saw can get the guy back under way.  It is very discouraging to make outs, especially if you are getting pitches you can hit and making outs.  I could see the frustration in his face."

I was watching batting practice in Goodyear, AZ this March.  I was quietly standing next to Dusty as we were watching, Donald Lutz, who is playing for Ken Griffey Sr. in Bakersfield.  Dusty called Lutz out of the cage and told him to "stay in the box"   He meant that Lutz in his stance should keep hits abs tight and his knees bent until he is ready to uncoil to take his swing.  Lutz was standing straight up then taking his swing.

I was playing softball in my co-ed league Tuesday when I realized that is what I was doing.  I concentrated on staying in my stance until the last minute, otherwise I was swinging at the pitch with only my arms to supply power.

The result was a double on the hardest ball I've hit in three years. It was scalded.  I couldn't wait to tell Dusty this afternoon.  "And Lutz is killing the ball."

Lutz is hitting .302 at Bakersfield with 12 home runs and 15 doubles in 45 games.  He has driven in 38 runs.

"The next time you hope the player can make adjustments on his own or get back in synch sooner. Part of being a pro is figuring these things out.  When you get really good at it you can make adjustments at bat to at bat or even pitch to pitch," Baker said.

Baker laughed and said, "Get down on that," as he gave me a fist bump.

Those Who Wanted Brook Jacoby Fired Read This

Brandon Phillips hit two home runs and drove in three runs. He was helped by the Cincinnati Reds hitting coach Brook Jacoby, who has been a scapegoat of some vocal fans.

PHILLIPS HADN’T homered since April 24, 27 games ago, and said he had chats with hitting coach Brook Jacoby and with Atlanta superstar Chipper Jones before the game. “I came in early and sat down with Jacoby and said I feel like I’ve got my legs back and he told me, ‘Come and look at this video,’” said Phillips. He checked video from last year to this year and discovered he was standing more straight-up this year and Jacoby told me, ‘Just go out and lower your stance and see what happens.’” What happened? Two home runs in his first two at-bats.

The italicized section above was taken from Hal McCoy's blog in the Dayton Dailey News.

The sports talk host on the Reds' flagship station wanted Jacoby fired for of all reasons the fans wanted the Reds to do something,  so the Reds should throw the fans a bone. If that reasoning isn't the dumbest thing ever uttered it is most assuredly in the top 10.

Fans and talk show pseudo experts continually show a lack of patience and over react.  While it is nice that fans care and wear their hearts on their sleeve, there is an old adage, "If a manager or coach listens to the fans, they will soon be joining them."

 A coach can not hit for a player.  He can only be an objective eye and look for things players can't see for themselves.  Baseball is all about fundamentals and technique.  One nearly imperceptible change can cause a slump.  If a team is hitting no one credits the coach.  Then why blame the coach when a player slumps?

 The Reds do strike out a lot and  Dusty Baker and his staff would like to cut down on them, as the players do. It is a good bet that these players struck out at a high rate since they started playing baseball.

The Reds are a young team that is still a work in progress, yet they show signs of coming together. As they gain experience and see more major league pitches, strikeouts will decrease.

 Having coaches that know them well is important.  It is idiotic to change that trusted opinion just for the sake of "doing something".

 There is one reason and one reason only that you fire a hitting coach or a pitching coach for that matter.  If the manager or a large group of players lose confidence in a coaches opinion.

The Reds are blessed with two guys that know hitting.  Dusty Baker was a hitting coach for San Francisco for several seasons before he became a manager. He also spends hours behind the batting cage to offer tips.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chapman's Fastball Is Not the Only Thing He Does Fast

Chapman's mug shot
Aroldis Chapman throws a baseball over 100 MPH at times.  His yellow Lamborghini bears the license plate number 105 mph.

Grove City, Ohio police stopped the fire ball throwing lefthander for speeding this afternoo in his 1999 Mercedes 563 with Florida plates MPH 104.

Chapman was stopped driving 93 miles an hour in a 65 mph zone northbound on I-71 at mile marker 99.at 12:42 a.m. Monday morning.

His license was suspended in Kentucky.

The Reds had just returned from New York around 8 p.m.  He posted a 10% bond and was released.  Chapman whose given name is Albertin Aroldis, is required to appear in court on June 6.

Baker used Jose Arredondo as his closer Tuesday night.

"His people are handling it," Dusty Baker said after a lengthy postgame meeting with the pitcher. Chapman made good time leaving the meeting.  He successfully outran the media.

Leake Pitches and Hits Reds to 22nd Win

Mike Leake controlled a good-hitting Atlanta Braves team and clubbed his first major league home run in a 4-1 win that put the Reds three games over .500 for the first time this season.

Leake allowed just two hits and a run. Juan Francisco, traded to Atlanta this spring, poked a pitch into the Brave bullpen after Drew Stubbs homered for the Reds in the first.

"It pissed me off that it was him of all people," Leake said.

It was the second quality start in a row for Leake, who was credited with his first win of the season.  Leake has been solid in three of his last four starts. He took himself out after the eighth inning.  "My back was tightening up a little bit."

"I was going after hitters and not worrying about who is in the box," Leake said.  During his personnel five-game losing streak, he believed that he was trying to be too fine.

"I'm heading down the right track now," Leake said.

"Leake was aggressive and had command," Dusty Baker said.  "He was studying tirelessly with (pitching coach) Bryna Price to find out what was wrong.  I'm glad for him.  He finally got on the board."

Mike Minor had the gopher ball stuck in his glove all night and it emerged with a vengeance in the Reds' fourth inning.  The Atlanta starter gave up Leake's first major league home run.  Zack Cozart followed with his fourth of the season and Stubbs stopped the show with his second of the game and fifth of the season.

"It's pretty special to be part of three in a row," Stubbs said.  "It really felt good.  It is the best I've felt in a month."

Three home runs in a span of nine pitches.  Leake and Cozart's landed so close together that Caleb Lloyd a 2010 graduate of Northwest High School caught both of them.

Was it contagious or luck?

"A little bit of both," Stubbs said.

"You don't expect to be part of back-to-back as a leadoff hitter unless you hit the first one," Cozart said.

"It was nice to hit one but it was going to happen sooner or later," said Leake, who hit two home runs at Arizona State in his sophomore year.

Minor ended with a weird line, 6 innings, 5 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, four walks, four strikeouts and 4 home runs.

Dusty Baker sent Mike Costanzo to hit for Leake in the eighth and brought on Jose Arredondo to attempt his second save.

Martin Prado was robbed by Stubbs with a sliding catch in centerfield.  Arredondo struck out pinch hitter Eric Hinske.  Then Arredondo needed to be saved.  He walked Dan Uggla and Brian McCann.

Baker yanked him to bring former closer Sean Marshall to get lefty Jason Heyward.  This time Marshall picked his teammate up after he was twice picked up in save situations.  Heyward skyed out to Jay Bruce in right for his eighth save.

A thank you to Mary Lou Schirmer, who caught some of my mistakes and was kind enough to tell me. If anyone is looking for a professional proof reader, call me at 513-240-3120 and I will put you in touch with her.

Chipper Jones Injured on His Farewell Tour

Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones is making his last tour of the National League that he has competed in for the last 19 years.  He like the Reds Barry Larkin will retire at the end of the season after playing his entire career with one team.

His Atlanta Braves are in Cincinnati for a four-game series.  In 122 games against the Reds, Jones has hit .297 with 21 home runs and 81 RBI.

The Reds plan to honor Jones on Thursday and he hopes to be playing by then.  He has a golf ball sized bruise on his left ankle suffered on Friday.

"I'm a day or two away from coming back," Jones said. "My range of motion isn't good enough to play right now.  I have a golf ball sized bruise and if I foul a ball off it, you might as well dig a hole and bury me."

His manager Freddie Gonzalez is hoping he will be ready by then.

"I am hopeful that he can take some ground balls and play," Gonzalez said.  Juan Francisco will take Jones spot at thirdbase and in the lineup. "We got Juan to give Jones a rest and he's done well.  You never want to play because of an injury but that's one reason we got him."

The Reds will give Jones thirdbase on Thursday after it is used all series.

The Base the Reds will give to Jones.  Ron Millenor FSOH 
"That's very cool, unique and classy," Jones said.  "That will go somewhere special in the Man Cave. I'd like to get out there and round it. "

After hearing respectful boos on the road during his career, it is an unexpected but welcome honor.

"You hear a lot of hatred when you're playing on the road but it is just fans trying to support their team.  They think that if they can get you out of the game a little bit, will help their team.  You learn to tune it out when you get out there between the lines.  If you let them get in your head, you won't last long."

"It is very cool that I'm getting the attention I'm getting now," Jones said.

The Reds fans haven't been as bad as some but there was one ugly incident that stood out to Jones.

"There have always been a lot of Braves fans in the stands when we came to Cincinnati," Jones said.  "There was one time, I was standing in left field and someone threw a beer bottle at me.  I won't let one idiot be an example of the fans here. There are one or two of those type people everywhere.  There are some great fans in Cincinnati."

Jones came to the major leagues as a shortstop.

"Barry Larkin was one of three shortstops that I tried to take something from as an example," Jones said. "Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith and Barry Larkin.  I hope Barry is here this week."

Larkin will enter the Hall of Fame this summer and Jones will likely join him when he is eligible in five years.

"I was in my first all-star game in Philadelphia.  I was taking infield at thirdbase but I saw Barry and Ozzie taking ground balls at shortstop.  I couldn't pass that up.  I went over to get a closer look.  Ozzie was fielding ground balls and throwing to secondbase without even looking.  We were having a conversation and he fielded grounders with ease.  I looked at Barry and he said, 'don't look at me. I can't do that,'"

For the record, I don't understand the concept of the "First Ballot" Hall of Fame vote.  A player either belongs in the Hall of Fame or he doesn't.  Why some writers choose to add another level to the Hall of Fame by withholding their vote one year is beyond me.

I asked the five writers that are eligible to vote if Jones deserves the honor.  All five said they would vote for him in five years.  Dave O'Brian of the Atlanta Constitution is prohibited by his employer from voting.  Everyone he has asked said that Jones would get a vote in his first year of eligibility.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Reds Take Yankees to Complete Winning Road Trip

The hand wringing can stop.  The second guessing can stop.  There is a long way to go but the Reds just put together a challenging winning road trip with a 5-2 win over the New York Yankees and in the process may have found a new closer.

Johnny Cueto shook off his first bad outing of the season in Atlanta on Tuesday and humbled the Yankees in their home park. The only bump in the road was crossed in the bottom of the sixth.  Robinson Cano doubled and one out later the red-hot Raul Ibanez hit a home run to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

Ryan Ludwick, who missed the first two games of the series, hit a home run off Yankee starter and ace C.C. Sabathia.  Ludwick was hitting .183 and appeared to fall behind leftfield teammate and rival, Chris Heisey, who has started to hit.  Ryan Hanigan followed with a home run one out later.  Zack Cozart batting ninth singled off Sabathia's shin.  Heisey struck out but Drew Stubbs didn't.  Stubbs walked and Sabathia had to bear down.  Joey Votto went 0-for-3 but walked for the second time on a 3-2 pitch.  Brandon Phillips got into a quick 1-2 hole but coaxed a walk on a 3-2 pitch.

Cueto had no trouble in the seventh and the Yankees succumbed in order.

Ludwick opened the eighth with a single.  Hanigan walked with one out but the threat fizzled.

Curtis Granderson singled to open the eighth.  Dusty Baker tapped into the best bullpen, statistically, in the National League.  Sean Marshall, who had been used in the closer's role, was used as a lefty, lefty matchup specialist.  Marshall struck out Robinson Cano swinging.  Baker called on Logan Ondrusek with a runner on  first.  It was the 19th base runner that Ondrusek inherited this season.  Alex Rodriguez hit a long fly to left that appeared to be a home run off the bat but the wind kept it in the park.  Heisey, who had a couple nice running catches, squeezed it for the out.  Ibanez then popped to short.  Ondrusek has now stranded 18 of the 19 inherited runners.

The Reds are at the bottom of the major leagues in hitting with runners in scoring position. Phillips and Jay Bruce singled with two outs and Ludwick delivered them with a double to give the Reds a 5-2 lead.

For the first time this season Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth.  He had pitched in three of the last four games.  The concern about Chapman as the closer is his ability to pitch in back-to-back games that is required of a closer.

The Reds will soon find out.  Chapman slammed the door striking out Andruw Jones to nail down his first save of the season and second of his career.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Reds Bullpen Rebounds To Give Reds a Split With Yankees

Logan Ondrusek and Aroldis Chapman rebounded to help preserve Homer Bailey's 6-5 win over the New York Yankees to even the series and the road trip.

Bailey turned in his second straight quality start and sixth in his eight starts for the season.

Joey Votto hit a three-run home run off Yankee starter, Ivan Nova to give the Reds a 5-2 lead. Brandon Phillips and Chris Heisey drove in runs.  Mike Costanzo, the designated hitter, earned his first major league hit and drove in what proved to be the winning run with a sacrifice fly.

Bailey contained the Yankee offense.  He allowed solo home runs to Russel Martin and Jayson Nix, the younger brother of former Red Laynce Nix.  Raul Ibanez singled home a run.

Bailey left with one out in the seventh and runners on first and second.  Ondrusek, who gave up five runs to the Mets on Thursday, stranded the Yankee runners, giving him 17 stranded runners of the 18 he has inherited this season.  Chapman nicked for an unearned run against the Mets, was charged with his first blown save on Thursday.  The run was unearned so his ERA remains a perfect zero but it was the only run that has scored against him.

This time he blew the heart of the Yankees order away in the eighth and turned the three-run lead over to Sean Marshall.

That is when the drama started.  Marshall was rescued by Ondrusek last Wednesday in Pittsburgh. This time he needed help from Arredondo.

Ibanez started the inning with a double.  Nick Swisher singled him home.  Marshall caught Martin staring at a third strike curve ball but former Atlanta all-star Andruw Jones singled Swisher to third bringing the tying run to the plate.  Nix singled Swisher home.  That brought Derek Jeter to the plate as the winning run.

Dusty Baker brought in Arredondo, who got the last out in Friday's game.  He got Jeter to ground to Wilson Valdez at third.  Jeter hustled his 37-year old body down the line and beat the relay by an eye lash. Arredondo got Curtis Granderson to hit a weak ground ball to Votto and earned his first major league save.

Friday night Andy Pettite shut out the Reds 4-0 but Bronson Arroyo saved the bullpen that is in the middle of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days.

Arroyo allowed a run on a ground out in the fourth inning but matched Pettite zero-for-zero until there were two outs in the eighth.  Robinson Cano hit a hanging breaking ball out.  Alex Rodriguez singled and Ibanez lined a home run to right.  Arredondo got the last out.

Statistically, Arroyo will not get credit for a quality start but saving wear and tear on the bullpen could help the Reds win a couple games in this streak.

Johnny Cueto faces the Yankees and C.C. Sabathia on Sunday before the Reds return home.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Time to Change the Reds Batting Order

Listening to a discussion on radio yesterday about how Dusty Baker (45 years in the game, 3 MOY awards, 1,500) wins should change the batting order.  Lance McCallister (0 years in the game, 0 MOY awards, and 0 wins as a major league manager, is wasting away behind a microphone.

McCallister believes that Zack Cozart is struggling because the strain of hitting leadoff is too much for him.  A conclusion that he has come to NOT by showing up in the clubhouse, or watching him all spring, or going over reports from Reds player development personnel but directly out of the Bill James book, written by a security guard with way too much time on his hands.

Cozart is indeed struggling, would he be struggling the same in the two hole, three hole, eight hole? Well yeah.  Hitting a baseball is hard.  Hitting it at the major league level is infinitely harder.  Add to the fact that Cozart has been generally a slow starter even in the minor leagues.  I had a conversation with Yonder Alonso, who came up through the minors with Cozart.  "Tell him to keep at it," Alonso said.  "He starts out slow and then just takes off."  Since we are just 37 games into the season, seven more than were played in spring training and less than 25% through the season.  The year is still young and Cozart will adjust.

In the major leagues any weakness a hitter has will be exposed by major league pitching, reading major league scouting reports, rather than listening to radio blather.

Assuming the position in the batting order is the cause and effect for Cozart's woes, then try this one.

Dusty Baker likes to break up the two lefthanders in the lineup, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.  Why?  He knows how the game works.  In the late innings the opposing manager has to pick his poison.  Does he spend his lone lefty on Votto and leave him in to face Phillips, the best cleanup option right now?  That leaves Bruce to hit off the righthander or at the very least the second best lefty.

McAllister insists Bruce should bat behind Votto to keep him from being walked.  That won't happen.  Votto is going to be pitched around whether Bruce is batting behind him or Phillips is batting behind him  Why make it easy on the opposing manager?  With Bruce batting behind Votto, now the manager can leave the righty in to pitch around Votto, then bring his best lefty in to face Bruce.

Bruce is on a pace to hit 40 home runs.  First of all projecting numbers based on less than 25% of the season is ridiculous but if McCallister believes that the spot in the batting order has that much influence on your statistics, then it would be foolish to change Bruce's spot in the lineup.

And making even less sense is McCallister insisting they fire Brook Jacoby.  Did he sleep walk through the last few seasons?  The Reds have been at the top of the National League in runs scored.  Why on earth would you fire the hitting coach?  He says that it would throw a bone to the fans.  Tell me when the last time you bought a ticket or chose not to buy at ticket based on who the hitting coach was.

Coaches don't swing the bat.  Coaches only make suggestions or lend a second set of eyes to a players swing.  It is 100 % up to the player to make adjustments and put them into practice.  The only way a hitting coach should be fired is if the players themselves lose confidence in the coach.  That is not the case with Jacoby.  It was the case with Jim Lefebvre a few years ago but is not the case now.

Let Dusty manage the team.  Let Jacoby do his job.  Let McCallister apply for a major league managers job if that's what he thinks he is capable of doing.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rare Bullpen Meltdown Causes Reds to Split With Mets

The tale of two bullpens reversed course over the two game series between the Cincinnati Reds and New York  Mets.

On Wednesday the Reds bullpen shut down the Mets while the Mets bullpen, using three different pitchers allowed the Reds a four-run eighth inning.  Todd Frazier's second home run of the game broke the game open.

Less than 24 hours later the Reds bullpen super duo of Aroldis Chapman and Logan Ondrusek allowed six runs in the seventh and eighth and the Mets rode a home run by light hitting Ronnie Cedeno to a 9-4 win over the Reds.

No one had scored off Chapman when he took the mound in the seventh, facing the heart of the Mets order.    He walked David Wright to open the inning.  Lucas Duda hit a liner to center for the seventh hit that Chapman allowed this season.  David Murphy blooped one to center, Drew Stubbs failed to make the catch and was charged with an error, loading the bases with no one out.  Justin Turner hit a sacrifice fly to right that scored Duda and theunearned run tied the score 4-4.

The Reds built a four-run lead on Joey Votto's sixth home run of the year off R.A Dickey, the knuckleballer.  An inning later the Reds scored three runs.  Ryan Ludwick was hit by a pitch.  Todd Frazier walked.  Ryan Hanigan doubled to center, scoring Ludwick.  Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos, who pitched five innings and allowed two runs, hit a sacrifice fly to right.  Hanigan scored when a knuckleball eluded rookie catcher, Mike Nickeas.

Ondrusek had a string of 15 1/3 season opening scoreless innings snapped in the eighth.  He struck out Andres Torres to start the inning but Rob Johnson laid down a perfect bunt for a hit.  The National League's leading hitter took a close two strike pitch for a ball, then smashed a double to left center.  Duda flied out for the second out.  The Reds walked Daniel Murphy intentionally.  Turner spoiled the strategy with a run scoring single.  It was then that Cedeno broke the game open with a three-run home run.

Ondrusek's ERA went from zero to 2.76 in one bad inning.

The Reds move to the Bronx for three against the Yankees this weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reds Get Rare Extended Stay In New York

The Cincinnati Reds will have a rare road trip in which they stay in one city, one hotel for five days an play two different teams.

The Reds open a two-game series against the New York Mets on Wednesday.  They stay put and travel to New Yankee Stadium to play the New York Yankees in the Bronx.

When the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers were both playing baseball in New York City, the Giants at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan and the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, the Reds would have a trip like that.  The Giants have since moved to San Francisco and the Dodgers to Los Angeles.  The Mets became the National League entry in 1962.  Interleague play started in 1998.  The Reds have never had an extended stay in any city until now.

Not only are the Mets and Yankess both playing winning baseball, the city itself presents problems off the field for visitors.

"I've never done anything like this," said Dusty Baker, who has been in the major leagues for 45 years and counting.  "First it's hard to sleep.  Doors slam at all hours of the day in the hotel.  People come in at all hours four or five in the morning.  You hear horns, cabs and sirens all day and night."

The Reds stay in Manhattan near Grand Central Station while in the city.  The Mets play in the burrough of Queens the Yankees to the north in the Bronx.  There are 10 million people crammed into the city.  Manhattan is 13 miles long North to South and at its widest point it is just three miles east to west.  The outer burroughs, Queens, the Bronx (the only burrough on the mainland), Brooklyn and Staten Island are a bit larger.

"Second, when you leave you count your money and think someone broke into your room and stole some because you end up light," Baker said.  "Seriously, you're on the 17th floor and you're checking the windows because you think you have a couple hundred more dollars than you have."

Things are unbelievably expensive in New York.

"A drink at the bar costs you $20.  The first time I was there, I got a cheesburger and fries through room service and it was $28.  I ate it slow and tried to enjoy every bite."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Atlanta Solves Johnny Cueto to Split the Series

A walk along the Chatahoochie River this morning was a wonder like Johnny Cueto's 1.12 ERA coming into the finale of the brief two-game series at Turner Field.  Unlike the timeless beauty of the Chatahoochie National Park, Cueto's ERA eroded at the home of the Braves in a 6-2 loss.

Cueto just didn't have it.  Brian McCann hit a solo home run in the second inning to start the parade for Atlanta.  The Braves bunched five hits in the third to essentially put the game away.

Jack Wilson singled to start the Braves ambush.  Atlanta starter, Tim Hudson, tried to bunt Wilson along but Cueto's aggressive throw to shortstop Zack Cozart.  Then the Braves picked on the Reds righthander.  Michael Bourn, who leads the National League in hits with 55, had the first of his three hits.  Pesky Martin Prado singled Hudson home.  Future Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones, singled Bourn home.  Dan Uggla delivered Prado with a sacrifice fly.  McCann walked.  Jason Heyward doubled to score Jones before Cueto recorded the third out.

The Reds threatened once in the second inning.  Jay Bruce walked. Chris Heisey dribbled a slow roller to third with Bruce running on the pitch.  Jones charged hard and Bruce tried to take advantage, heading to third but the veteran Wilson was waiting with the throw.  It was a good risk but Wilson was alert and caused the Reds promise of a big inning to fade.

Bourn singled in the fourth. Cueto's wild pickoff throw put him in scoring position.  Prado singled to left and Heisey bobbled the ball. Bourn scored easily.  There is irony in Bourn doing most of the damage.  The Reds general manager, Walt Jocketty, tried to pry him from Houston last season but the Astros front office avoid trading within the division.  Now the rebuilding Astros are switching to the American League next season.

Cueto was relieved after four innings, his shortest outing of the year as he fell to 4-1 and watched his ERA rise to a still top-of-the-league 1.89.

The amazing Reds bullpen added to its accolades with four scoreless innings, two by Alfredo Simon (2.30), one by J.J. Hoover (1.08) and one by Jose Arredondo (2.55).  The bullpen has a sterling 2.34 collective ERA in 107 1/3 innings.

Offensively, the Reds showed signs of life.  The had 11 hits just one short of Atlanta but Hudson managed to scatter the hits. Heisey had the infield hit in the second.  Brandon Phillips and Heisey singled in the fourth.  Miguel Cairo had a pinch single in the fifth.  Bruce doubled with two outs in the sixth. 

Todd Frazier singled to open the seventh.  Ryan Hanigan doubled him home.  After pinch hitter Mike Costanzo and Cozart grounded out, Drew Stubbs and Joey Votto singled.  Hudson got Phillips to fly out to complete his night.

Heisey turned in his second straight three-hit game and upped his average to .260.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Reds Take Atlanta To Open Road Trip

The Reds dramatic, soggy win over the Washington Nationals gave the streaking Atlanta Braves first place.  A day later the Reds took it back with a 3-1 win.

Atlanta returned home after ending its road trip with a three-game sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals, the Reds division rival.  The Reds moved to within a 1 1/2 games of the Cardinals, who dropped its fourth straight game to the Chicago Cubs, 6-4.

Homer Bailey had an impressive start, working 6 2/3 innings against the Braves.  He allowed one run. The former number one draft pick has five quality starts in eight tries.

Randall Delgado held the Reds off for three innings with Jay Bruce getting the first two hits.  The Reds wasted Bruce's leadoff double in the second inning but broke through in the fourth.

With two outs, Bruce singled to right.  Chris Heisey, who had three hits, followed with a single.  Bruce scored when Todd Frazier hit a 3-2 pitch on the ground to Tyler Pastornicky at short.  Dan Uggla failed to cover second and when Pastornicky tried to make the short play at second, the ball rolled toward first allowing Bruce to cross the plate.

Michael Bourn hit a one-out triple off Bailey in the fifth.  He scored on a short fly to Bruce by Martin Prado. Bruce threw home but to the firstbase side of home plate.  Devin Mesoraco couldn't come up with the ball.

Both starters left with the game tied.

Logan Ondrusek extended his season-long scoreless streak to 15 1/3 innings.  He inherited a base runner from Bailey and left him stranded.  The big righthander has inherited 16 base runners in 17 appearances and allowed just one to score.  Ondrusek picked up the win to run his record to 3-0.

The Reds solved Pikeville, Kentucky native Johnny Venters in the eighth.  Drew Stubbs topped a ball down the third base line and Venters had no chance to make the play.  Stubbs advanced to second on a wild pitch, becoming the third Reds runner to reach second with no outs.  He was the first to score when cleanup hitter Brandon Phillips raked a double high off the barrier in left center field.  Phillips grew up in the Atlanta area.

Heisey plated Phillips with his second double of the game.

Prado's second hit off Ondrusek.  Joey Votto threw Prado out at second on Jack Wilson's bunt.  Ondrusek walked Dan Uggla.

Dusty Baker called to Aroldis Chapman to get the last two outs.  Brian McCann flied to Stubbs but he walked soon-to-be Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones, finishing his final season.

Chapman rallied with the bases loaded.  He got two quick strikes past Jason Heyward.  Then buzzed him up and in with a 101 mph heater.  Heyward waved weakly at Chapman's slider that followed.  Thus Chapman extended his season-long scoreless streak to 18 1/3 innings.  Chapman has stranded all seven of the base runners he's inherited and took over the team strikeout lead from Johnny Cueto with his 32nd strikeout.  Cueto has 31 in 48 1/3 innings.  Chapman has 32 in 18 1/3 frames.

Sean Marshall allowed a single then finished off the Braves by fanning Bourn and Prado to complete his sixth save in seven chances.

Bryce Harper is the First Teenager Since Ken Griffey Jr to Hit a Home Run

Bryce Harper wasn't even born when Ken Griffey Jr. hit a home run in the Major Leagues in 1989.

Griffey, who later played for the Reds, hit a home run off Eric King of the Chicago White Sox on April 10, 1989.

Harper connected off Tim Stauffer from the San Diego Padres in the third inning in the Nationals 8-5 win.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

More Than Rain Dampens Reds Mother's Day But Votto Saved It

The Reds waited out a rain delay of 3:36 only to have their spirits further dampened by the "Red Hot" Washington Nationals. Joey Votto however drowned them.

Votto had the second three-home run game of his career and a double to boot.  His grand slam in the bottom of the ninth salvaged the three-game homestand and sent the Reds on a high to Atlanta.

"That was huge for us," Dusty Baker said.  "Josh Hamilton had a great day the other day but this was right there with it.  It is good to see Joey get going.  Hopefully, this is the kind of game that will get us going."

After trailing all game the

Joey Votto had two to the Reds five hits through eight innings and they both left the yard, solo home runs in the first and the fourth.  Mike Costanzo hit a sacrifice fly in his first major league at bat off Washington starter Edwin Jackson.

The Nationals owned the rest of the game.  They banged 11 hits off Reds starter Bronson Arroyo in touching him for four runs.  Sam LeCure and J.J. Hoover allowed one apiece.

The rain played a part in the Reds comeback after Votto doubled in the eighth.  Teen sensation, Bryce Harper, lost Jay Bruce's fly ball in the haze and the Reds got to within a run at 6-5.

The Nationals flame throwing reliever, Henry Rodriguez, had trouble throwing the soggy baseball.  Ryan Hanigan singled on a 3-2 pitch and Wilson Valdez bunted him to second base.  Miguel Cairo popped to third.

Drew Stubbs walked so did Chris Heisey after falling behind 0-2.

Votto hit a 2-2 pitch onto the grassy knoll in right center for the 9-6 win.

"Usually in those situations, I'm just trying to put the ball in play. With two strikes I shortened up, but the ball carried.  Rodriguez is really difficult to hit when he has command."

Votto's preparation over time led to this big moment.

"I've noticed some things and I've worked on them.  I tried to take them from practice to the games.  It's certainly a work in progress.  The day to day grind is more my style than the big moments."

Still the dramatic win was something to hang his hat on.

"I think Washington wanted it as much as we did.  We're trying to get every win we can.  We're not a .500 team.  This is the type of wins good teams get."

Dusty Baker Is Tired Of Tipping His Cap

The Washington Nationals to date have the best pitching in baseball.

The Nationals starters have two of the top five pitchers in the ERA category.  Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez   are ranked and Jordan Zimmerman would be if he had enough innings.  The starters lead the league in ERA, batting average against and strikeouts.  The bullpen has been outstanding to.  The Reds bullpen has the top ranking but Washington is fourth.

That doesn't excuse Reds hitters according to Dusty Baker.  The Reds have scored just 16 runs in six games in losing five of six to the Nationals, that includes one game in which the Reds scored eight.  Also, three of the games were extra innings.

"They have a good rotation and those guys in the bullpen," Baker said.  "We have to find a way to hit them.  I'm tired of tipping my hat to them.  How many times can you tip your hat?  When I first got to the big leagues I remembering asking Orlando Cepeda.  'Is this like this every day?' He said, 'Everyday.'  There were no weak sisters out there.  I mean, Chicago had a bad team and they had Bill Hands and Ferguson Jenkins.  LA had (Bill) Singer, (Don) Sutton and some other bad dudes.  San Francisco had Juan Marichal and two other bad dudes.  Houston had Don Wilson, Jim Ray (J.R Richard), Doug Griffin (actually Tom), throwing about a thousand miles an hour, (Larry) Dierker and that's on a bad ball club."

"Every team had someone throwing 94 plus.  Welcome to the big leagues.  That's what amazes me about Hank Aaron and Orlando Cepeda. Those were the guys they were facing every day, (Don) Drysdale, (Sandy) Koufax, (Tom) Seaver, Sutton.  How many Hall of Famers came up in that era?  (Gerry) Koosman, (John) Matlack, holy shit.  You had to be ready every day."

"I was always taught that dude had four days to think about how to get you out.  I had less than 24 hours sometimes.  You go from one bad dude to another bad dude. You can't give them too much credit."