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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Moeller Grad Designated for Assignment by Reds

The Reds designated Moeller High School grad Mark Brackman for assignment.

The Reds have 10 days to release or trade Brackman before he is exposed to waivers.  If he clears waivers, Brackman can accept assignment to any of the Reds' minor league teams.

The move clears a spot on the roster for Jonathan Broxton, who was acquired this afternoon for minor league pitchers Juan Carlos (J.C,) Sulbaran, a righthanded pitcher at Double A Pensacola and Donnie Joseph a lefhander who was pitching at Triple A Louisville.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Karma Ends Best Reds Streak in 13 Years

The Reds' 10-game winning streak caused broadcaster Marty Brennaman to lose his hair.  I may have caused Devin Mesoraco to loose his mind during the Reds' 11-5 let-down loss.

The soft spoken catcher was ejected in the third inning for vehemently arguing ball calls by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild.  The normally silent rookie catcher erupted in the middle of the San Diego Padres four-run inning.

"The umpire said he (Mesoraco touched him).  I couldn't tell if he touched him or not but he (Fairchild) was pointing his finger saying he touched him. It looked like they really bumped each other and he (Fairchild) did a good acting job.  I hope Devin doesn't get any time."

Touching an umpire usually draws a suspension.

"I don't know if it will or not.  It's not up to me," Baker said.

Mesoraco admitted that is was frustration that set him off.

"First and foremost the game wasn't going the way that we hoped," Mesoraco said.  "I was a little frustrated with that and I disagreed with some calls throughout the game.  Frustration got the best of me and I lost my cool.  You want to stand up for your pitcher.  They can't do it out on the mound.  That's what came up.  I'm not perfect by any means."

Mesoraco was unsure if he touched Fairchild or not.  He's not sure about a suspension.

"Honestly, the way it happened.  I was frustrated and things happened.  At the end of the day, I disagreed with some calls and what happened after that I'm not exactly sure.  I don't know how it works with the commissioner's office. Obviously if you end up hurting the ballclub, that's something that you don't want to do.  We'll see how it goes but there is nothing I can do about it now."

Baker had a talk about it with his young catcher but Mesoraco was not going to reveal the manager's words.

"That's between me and Dusty," Mesoraco said.

The four players that the Reds traded for the winning pitcher in the historic 10th game of the streak, Mat Latos all had a hand in ending it.

After the Reds jumped all over former ace Edinson Volquez the Padres unloaded on Mike Leake with former Reds' top draft choices coming back to haunt them.

National League Co-player of the Week continued to put masking tape on his many critics by blasting a Volquez fastball into the right field bleachers.  One out later, Jay Bruce doubled.  Scott Rolen walked.  Another reclamation project of late, Ryan Ludwick split the left and center fielders with a line drive double that put Volquez in a three-run hole in the first inning.  Ludwick started last season with the Padres but was traded to Pittsburgh at the trading deadline last season.

It was Ludwick's 36th extra-base hit.  He only has 29 singles.  Ludwick had a very slow start but since June 14 is hitting .315 with 11 doubles, nine home runs and 21 RBI.

The euphoria and anticipation of an 11th straight wins for which some women Reds' fans promised to shave their legs, was over before you could say University of Miami Hurricanes.  Yasmani Grandal, the Reds' top draft choice in 2010, walked against Mike Leake.  Yonder Alonso, the Reds top choice in 2008, hit the first of his three doubles.  Leake walked Cameron Maybin to load the bases.

"I wasn't able to hit my spots," Leake said.

Leake is known for his pin point accuracy but wasn't getting the ball over the plate or he wasn't getting the close calls. Everth Cabrera singled to make it a 3-1 game.  Volquez hit a high chop to the mound.  Leake got the force at home.  Alexi Amarista hit a line drive to right and Bruce made an accurate and quick throw to the plate but Maybin and the ball arrived at the same time and Mesoraco couldn't come up with the throw to record the inning ending out.

"It was a situation where he kept missing.  It's not like Mike to walk people.  We didn't want to go get him that early.  We didn't want to get that deep into our bullpen," Baker said.  "We walked 11 that's a lot."

The frustration was beginning to build in the young Reds' backstop.

The Padres were far from finished.

Will Venable, whose father played for the Reds in the 80's, doubled and later scored on a single by Carlos Quinton.

The Padres scored four more in the third inning.  Alfredo Simon walked Amarista and Venable.  He was about to walk Chase Headly when Mesoraco lost his cool.  He turned to face Fairchild which is trouble to begin with then said the magic word and was gone like yesterday.  Dusty Baker had to restrain his rookie physically but he made contact with Fairchild and could get a suspension.

The ugly third left the Reds trailing 9-3.

The Reds scratched.  Bruce homered.  Scott Rolen had an RBI single but Volquez soon gave way to Brad Boxberger, the Reds' supplementental first rounder in 2010.  He pitched 1 1/3 innings and led the Padres bullpen to four scoreless frames.

Like Leake, Simon had a rare off night.  Coming into the game the big righthander had allowed just four earned runs in 37 1/3 innings (0.96 ERA) covering 22 appearances.  The law of averages caught up to him.  He gave up five runs to the Padres.

"We haven't been blown out in a long, long, long, time.  We had some chances to get back in it but couldn't come up with the big hits. Leake hasn't  had a bad game in the last nine or ten outings.  Simon hasn't had a bad outing in months. It was just a bad night. Hopefully, the Pirates lost and everything remains the same."

The Pirates were suffering a similar fate in Chicago as the Cubs mauled them with nine runs in the fifth inning to allow them to lead late 14-4.

Although the Reds failed to reach 11 straight wins last accomplished by the 1957 Reds (12 game streak), they will maintain it's three-game lead unless the Cubs collapse at home.

Reds 10 Game Streak Causes Hair Loss

The Reds decided that Hall of Fame announcer Marty Brennaman, the poofy haired fancy boy, needed a haircut.

As the result of a bet with bench coach Chris Speier,  Brennaman must shave his head.  Speier told Brennamann in a conversation on the team airplane that the Reds were capable of winning 10 in a row because its pitching staff has been so good.

Brennaman, who is opinionated, called Speier on his comment.  Speier asked Brennaman what he would do if the Reds accomplished the feat.  Brennaman said he would shave his poofy head.

Mat Latos with help from Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs defeated the Colorado Rockies on Sunday 7-2 for its 10th straight win.  The Reds are a season-high 21 games above the .500 mark.  The Reds are tied with Washington with the best record in baseball at 61-40.  The legendary New York Yankees lost in extra-innings to Boston to fall to 60-41.

Stubbs, who was 10-for-27 on the Reds' perfect 6-0 road trip, walked and scored in the first inning..  He hit three home runs and drove in 10 runs, including a game-winning home run.

Heisey tripled to open the second inning and scored on Miguel Cairo's sacrifice fly.

The Rockies had taken a brief 2-1 lead.  Mat Latos walked Dexter Fowler to start the game.  Josh Ruteledge hit a home run.  The Rockies never scored again.  Latos finished eight innings, allowing four hits and three walks.  He struck out eight..  Sam LeCure mopped up.

Zack Cozart tripled to open the third.  Stubbs lined deep to right.  Cozart trotted home after the catch.

Stubbs hit a two-run home run in the fifth.  Jay Bruce hit a long home run later in the inning.  Cairo finished the scoring with a single that drove home Heisey, who doubled.

The Reds last won 10 in a row in 1999 between June 21 and July 1.

The Reds will try to extend the streak to 11 against San Diego.  The last time the Reds won that many in a row was April 30 through May 12, 1957 when the Reds won 12 straight.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Didi Gregorius Quick Bat Leads To Fast Track

Speed is a tantalizing quality in a baseball player.  Rare speed has caused a buzz in the Reds' farm system personified by Billy Hamilton and his 100 plus stolen bases. (he may have swiped a couple bags in the time it took to type this.)

There is speed in another form that will likely have a more immediate effect on the Reds' success.

Didi Gregorius with his game face before Bats' game
Didi Gregorius with bat speed is coming on faster than Christmas in a retailer's marketing department.

Gregorius is learning so fast that he is slowing the game down according to his manager at Louisville David Bell.

"You have to watch him to put your finger on it but the best way to describe it, he plays the game at a different speed.  He has the ability to really slow the game down for a young player.  You can't really teach that," Louisville manager David Bell said.

When Dusty Baker was asked about Hall of Famer Barry Larkin recently, he said the same thing about Larkin.  "You can't really tell how fast Larkin was running because he had the ability to slow the game down," Baker said.

Bell played for Baker during the San Francisco Giants World Series year.

Gregorius ready to unleash some bat speed.
"I really expect that (Gregorius slowing the game down) when he goes to the big leagues too," Bell said.  Note he said when and not if.

Bell talked about the outstanding defense Gregorius has played.  "He's made some outstanding plays," Bell said but the lefthanded batting 22-year old from Curacao, Netherlands Antilles can hit as well.

"One of the big things you look for here is the bat speed to hit a fastball.  He has the bat speed to hit a fastball. Everything else is going to come.  Bat speed is the thing you can't teach, really," Bell said.

Since Mariekson Julius Gregorius was promoted from Double A Pensacola, allowing for Hamilton to be promoted to the Blue Wahoos, he has hit .308 in 15 games with four home runs and 10 RBI.  On the night of the interview Didi was 3-for-5 with the walkoff home run that illustrated Bell's pregame comments.

"He's a great kid.  He works hard.  He's intelligent.  He's just a great baseball player," said the gushing Bell.  "He's such a good player that the challenges at each level are what are going to get him to improve.  It was really good timing to get here.  He's risen to the challenge since he's been here."

Gregorius speaks four languages, English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento (a mixture of European and Caribean languages).

"The difference between Double A and Triple A is the pitching," Gregorius said.  "They are more in the (strike) zone, not that they weren't down there but they throw different things in different situations so I need to just relax."

On defense he is learning as well.

"I take a lot of ground balls.  You have to learn the hitters in a series.  You have to learn how they hit and everything.  You have to learn the pitch locations and where they are going to hit the ball," Gregorius said.  "It depends how the hitter swings on certain pitches, so you have to learn where to position yourself."

Gregorius chuckled when asked to compare himself to a major league player that he is most like.

"To be honest I don't know," Gregorius said.  "I just play the game the way I know how to play and stick to myself."

Hours later after Gregorius' third hit made the Bats a 4-3 winner in walkoff fashion..

Bell said, "He's playing with a lot of confidence right now.  He excels in those situations. Again it goes back to being able to hit a fastball and having a quick bat.  Typically guys like that are going to do well at the end of the game in clutch situations against the other team's better relievers."

"Most players aren't going to hit a home run when they are trying to but he has such a level swing.  He's is naturally going to pull the ball because his bat's so quick.'

Gregorius wore the hero's crown humbly.
"I was just happy.  We never gave up. I just put a good swing on it. As a hitter you always look for a fastball.  If you get a different pitch you have to adjust to it."

A few more adjustments and the Reds will have his quick lefthanded bat in Cincinnati soon.

Brett Tomko Could Help a Staff That Needs No Help

The Reds pitching staff is rolling along.  As my good friend John Fay pointed out in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds' young starting staff are all on the way to setting career highs for innings pitched.  They haven't missed a start.

Then Bronson Arroyo fights off the Denver thin air that flattens out his breaking pitches to even his record at 6-6.  He finally gets rewarded with a 'W' and has such a rapport with Dusty Baker that he can tell his boss when he has had enough.  What a great lesson from a veteran to the young staff.  Like Kenny Rogers said, "You've got to know when to hold em  and know when to fold em."

In Louisville Wednesday, another veteran is overcoming adversity and may just be able to help the Reds' down the stretch during November.

Brett Tomko warms up for Wednesday start
Brett Tomko signed the day before spring training to possibly add depth to the Reds' young staff.  He was honest with the team and told them that he was willing to go to Louisville and wait until he is needed.

"The time I signed here, I told them I was willing to go to Triple A. I knew I was an insurance policy but I went into spring training, trying to make the team.  Every start down here, that's the mission is to make it back to Cincinnati."

Not only has he hadn't been needed but he continues to fight through adversity to try to help the Reds' win.  The Reds' former top draft pick would like nothing better than to be at least a small part of a magical Reds' season.

"It would be a special thing for me to get back up, knowing its later on in my career.  You never know how long you're going to play.  If there is a chance to be called up at any point in the season, to me it would be a really big deal."

Bell would not bet against Tomko helping the Reds at some point if and when he is needed.

"He is determined.  There is no reason it can't happen based on his experience. He has a great arm. We've talked about it several times, he's a better pitcher now," Bell said.

Tomko was out of action for nearly two seasons before getting a brief look at the big league level with AL Champion, Texas last season. 

Tomko pitched much better than his 0-6 record until he was injured again on May 30.  His spikes caught on the minor league mound and caused injury to his right bicep and shoulder.

The competitor in him didn't let him give up.  He started for Louisville on Wednesday.  Tomko retired the first two hitters then gave up a couple walks and a couple hits, a botched defensive play in the outfield made it look worse.  The Buffalo Bison's scored three runs.  Tomko stayed in for two more scoreless innings.

"I thought he threw the ball well.  I really did," said former teammate and Louisville Bat's manager, David Bell.  "Unfortunately, he threw too many pitches in that first inning and the second inning.  He threw about 30 in the second inning after throwing close to 40 in the first inning. The first time back that was too many pitches."

The outing was a big step though.

"It was a big step for him getting out there; feeling he can compete," Bell said.

Tomko is working hard in less glamorous surroundings and still believes in himself.

'I feel pretty good actually.  It was a long couple months back," Tomko said after the game.  "It felt good to be out there.  There is a little rust to shake off.  The velocity and all that stuff was there.  It is just a matter of fine tuning a little bit."

Fortunately, the Reds did not need him during his time off.  His injury didn't keep him away.  There was no missed opportunity to deal with.

"Before I got hurt, I was throwing the ball as well as I have in my career for the first couple months. When I got hurt I thought it might be the end of my career.  When you get hurt you're thinking aw that could have been my opportunity but they've all been pitching really well."

The Bats rallied and ended up winning the game, 4-3 on Didi Gregorius walk off home run.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Brett Tomko Returning From Injury Still Hopes to Pitch Reds in 2012

Brett Tomko and Louisville Bats manager David Bell were teammates with the Seattle Mariners in 2000 and 2001.

On Wednesday, Tomko sat in his former teammates office to discuss his first start back from an injured right bicep.

The injury setback Tomko's attempt to return to the major leagues after a devastating injury in 2009.

Tomko won the 100th game of his career for Oakland on September 14th.  He shutout the Texas Rangers but pinched a nerve in his right shoulder in the ninth inning.

"I threw nothing but curveballs to finish the game," Tomko said.  "Four days later my twin sons were born.  I couldn't hold them.  My arm was numb.  I had a burning sensation like a bad sunburn.  Just a wrinkle in my skin was like holding a match to it.  I would be feeding my daughters and it would be burning the whole time."

The A's resigned him in February, knowing he was hurt.

"I had to learn how to through again.  I couldn't lift a one pound weight.  I would try to throw to someone and overthrow by 3 feet."

He went to the Rookie League in June of 2010. "I was getting bombed by the rookie leaguer.  I would throw as hard as I could and it would come out 83," Tomko said.

He improved enough to go to Class A  Stockton.

"There were times I thought I couldn't go on.  I was in Stockton and called my wife to tell her I was coming home.  I had some good years now its time to do something else."

He nearly made the Texas Rangers staff out of spring training last year.  He was called up on April 24 and pitched in eight games for the American League Champions.

Tomko wanted to come back to the Reds.

"I wondered what it would be like to come back to Cincinnati.  I almost came back a couple of times in 08 I had talks with the Reds but it never really blossomed. This winter I talked to Baltimore and Anaheim but this is where I wanted to come.  It's surreal. The same people are here Rob Butcher, the media relations director, Gary Wahoff the traveling secretary, all the clubhouse guys, Rick and Mark Stowe.  This is where I wanted to be."

Tomko's luck wasn't as good as his performance.

Tomko made 10 starts for Louisville before he caught his spikes on the mound on a pitch against Syracuse on May 30.  He was placed on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder and bicep.

Prior to the incident Tomko had pitched into hard luck.  He was working on his second game in a row in which he pitched into the seventh inning.  His ERA was a respectable 3.12 but his won/loss record was 0-6.

Even had he been healthy, the Reds' starters have made every scheduled start thus far this season.  Tomko even picked a bad year to add depth and earn a call to the Reds.

"He's confident that he can go tonight," David Bell said before the game.  "He has a healthy dose of uncertainty especially with what he's been through.  His spikes caught on a delivery when he was hurt.  It happened in the first or second inning but he ended up pitching six or seven innings (6 2/3).  He threw another 50 pitches after he did it."

Tomko is really competitive.

"I was his teammate.  He is competitive and he's a tough guy so it's impressive what he's doing.  Hopefully tonight will be a good night for him," Bell said.

"There are going to be guys here that will be able to go up and make difference with how well the Reds are doing,  Maybe he's the guy."

Tomko got the first two outs in the first inning against the Bisons but he walked Mike Baxter and gave up a double down the thirdbase line that barely eluded Henry Rodriguez.  Tomko  walked Adam Loewen to load the bases.  All three runners scored when Josh Satin's line drive got past a diving, Willie Harris and Denis Phipps could not cut it off in time.  Satin ended up with a bases-clearing double.

Tomko pitched two more innings which were scoreless but left the game with around 80 pitches.

David Bell Is Guiding Louisville Bats to the Major Leagues

Louisville Bats manager David Bell and pitcher Brett Tomko
David Bell grew up in Cincinnati and is one of three generations to play in the Major Leagues.   He never played for the Reds, although his grandfather Gus, father Buddy and brother Mike all played for the Reds.

His father is the director of player personnel for the Chicago White Sox and managed in Colorado, Detroit and Kansas City.  David is on the fast track to following his father's footsteps.

His grandfather and grandmother, Joyce, we born and raised in Louisville so there are times when he leaves 20 passes for great aunts and second cousins.

The Reds promoted Bell from Double A Carolina to Triple A Louisville to facilitate the development of younger players.  Bell played in San Francisco for Reds' manager Dusty Baker on the 2002 World Series team.

On this date, July 25, 2012 the Bats are at the bottom of the International League with a record of 39-66 but the focus is player development.

It has been said that managing at the Triple A level is the most difficult managerial job in baseball.  The players on the way up are so anxious to be promoted and the experienced players are upset that they are not in the Major Leagues.

"I've heard the same thing. There can be some truth to that," Bell said. "I've played for four different Triple A teams so I knew what they were talking about when they said that.  I knew what to expect when I came here but if you don't really put a lot of energy towards any of that type of negativity.  If you keep it about the game, keep it about getting to the big leagues and playing the game the right way.  If you keep it about being a good teammate. You have to concentrate on what you're doing here because if you do it here, you'll do it in the big leagues.  That stuff really doesn't come into play a lot.  I'm certainly aware of it"

There is no denying that every player here wants to be in the big leagues.

"That's the way it should be," Bell said.  "We're ok with that.  There is that challenge but overall it's been a great experience."

Tonight Brett Tomko returns from the disabled list to pitch against the New York Mets Triple A entry, the Buffalo Bison.

Tomko signed with the Reds to add depth to the pitching staff, bearing in mind the baseball saying you never have too much pitching.

This week I will feature Tomko, Neftali Soto, Henry Rodriguez and Didi Gregorius.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

All Of the Reasons That Dusty Baker Should Be Fired

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reds Sweep Brewers Go 15 Games Over .500

The Reds bench backed Johnny Cueto in the Reds 2-1 win over the fading Milwaukee Brewers. Chris Heisey,

Wilson Valdez and Miguel Cairo combined for four hits and scored two runs. Cueto scattered eight hits that included three doubles and a triple. 

Cueto was able to diffuse several rallies with some of his nine strikeouts. Norichika Aoki hit a pair of doubles.

 The first came leading off the third inning. Cueto struck out Nyjer Morgan and Ryan Braun but Aramis Ramirez singled to put Milwaukee in the lead.

 The Reds responded. Heisey starting in centerfield for Drew Stubbs singled to open the inning. Heisey stole second base and scored on a single to center by Valdez. Heisey challenged Nyjer Morgan's suspect arm and beat the throw. Rookie starting pitcher Mike Fiers threw the ball away trying to pick Valdez off first. The Reds shortstop scooted to third from where he scored on Brandon Phillips fly to shallow center. Again the Reds beat Morgan's throw. This time Valdez scored standing.

"I was going to take a chance," Valdez said.  "They have to have perfect execution.  They have to get to the ball.  They have to pick up the ball. They have to get in position to make the throw and they have to throw the ball."

Cueto pitched through the seventh without allowing Milwakee to score a second time to drop his ERA to 2.23. He started the day second to former Red, Ryan Dempster, who sports a 2.11 ERA.

"I was aggressive on every pitch," Cueto said through Tomas Vera.  "I threw a lot of pitches in the first inning. I want to throw fewer pitches than that so I can pitch into the seventh or eighth inning."

"You know Johnny's not going to give up many runs," Valdez said.  "You know you might only have to score a couple of runs."

Logan Ondrusek allowed two hits but pitched a scoreless eighth.

Aroldis Chapman earned his 17th save with two strikeouts.

The Reds dropped Milwaukee 10 1/2 games behind in it's defense of its NL Central title.

The Reds were a whopping 8-2 on the homestand.  It is only the fifth time in franchise history that they have won that many games in a homestand of 10 games or fewer.  The last time they did it was in 1975 when the Big Red Machine won eight games in a nine game homestand.

They swept both division rivals, including the St. Louis Cardinals on the homestand.

"We got off to a great start with the sweep of St. Louis and had a great end with this sweep," Dusty Baker said.  "It's real big.  You know you can pick up and lose ground (quickly within the division)."

No home runs were hit in the game stopping the streak of 74 games at Great American Ball Park with at least one home run.

Reds Go 14 Over 500 On Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips Home Runs

The Reds jumped on Yovanni Gallardo with four runs in the first inning.  Bronson Arroyo and the Reds' bullpen made it stand up.

Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips hit two-run home runs.  Zack Cozart made a game saving stop that turned into a double play to stunt the growth of a Milwaukee rally in the Reds' 6-2 win.  The win pushed the Reds a season-high 14 games over .500.  They have won three in a row, seven of its first nine after the All-Star break and are 4-2 since its best hitter, Joey Votto, had surgery.

"I just worked the count in my favor," said Ludwick of his 15th home run that brought his RBI total to 41. "It was big getting four runs off Gallardo.  He's pretty good."

The 422 ft. blast capped the first inning ambush.  Cozart and Phillips singled with one out.  Jay Bruce, the acting cleanup hitter, single hard through the Brewers infield shift.  The resurgent Scott Rolen caused Ryan Braun to get goosed by the left field fence as Phillips scored after the catch.  Bruce trotted home on Ludwick's launch.

Arroyo went to work with the help of his friends.  The last time he faced the Brewers, Arroyo took a no-hitter into the eighth inning but gave up a 3-0 lead.  This time he was having none of that.

"I was watching video.  I knew I had a good game against somebody but just then I realized it was the Brewers," Arroyo said.

The Brewers scored a run in the fourth but they really threatened to dent the lead in the sixth.

Travis Ishikawa doubled to start the inning.  Ryan Braun hit a hard single to right that was hit too hard for Ishikawa to score.  Aramis Ramirez hit a hard ground ball up the middle.  Cozart dived and caught the ball behind second.  The shortstop raised his body just enough to flip the ball to Phillips at second.  Phillips bare handed the ball and threw to first in one motion to retire Ramirez.  Ishikawa scored to make it a 4-2 game but rather than first and third no outs, the bases were empty with two outs.

"That saved the game," Arroyo said.

"Boy that play was right on time," manager Dusty Baker said.

"If that ball goes through its a different game," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said.  "Cozart and Bruce are killing us."

The Reds had a chance to break the game open in the bottom of the inning.

Scott Rolen tripled off the glove of Corey Hart in the right field corner to lead off the bottom of the sixth.

Rolen is hitting .375 since the All-Star break, hitting safely in six of his seven starts.

"When Scotty is feeling right, he is an outstanding player," Baker said.

Ludwick hit a ground ball to Ishikawa at first.  Ishikawa threw home to get Rolen but Rolen stayed in a rundown long enough for Ludwick to get to secondbase.  Todd Frazier hit an infield single that sent Ludwick to third.  The Brewers brought in former closer John Axford, who walked Ryan Hanigan intentionally.  The Reds sent Xavier Paul to hit for Arroyo.  Paul grounded out to end the threat and the game was placed into the hands of the Major League's leading bullpen.

"It was still a tight game.  We needed to get some runs right there," Baker said.  "Bronson and Leaky have been our hard-luck pitchers. It was good to get Bronson that win."

"I actually didn't have a whole lot left in the tank," Arroyo said.  "It was a good time to come out of the ballgame.  I feel like I'm the weak link in the rotation right now.  Everyone is pitching so well."

The Reds, thanks to Phillips, put the game away in the next inning.

Phillips clubbed his 12th home run off Jose Veras with Cozart aboard.  Phillips, batting third in place of Votto, now has 57 RBI.  He has driven in seven runs in the last three games to move within two of Bruce's team leading total of 59.

"To tell you the truth, I don't know how I hit that ball," Phillips said.  "Veras is a tough guy for me to hit.  I'm glad we scored early today.  It's fun to come from behind but it was good to get on the board early tonight."

The bullpen closed the store.  Jose Arredondo, Sean Marshall and Sam LeCure each pitched 2/3 of an inning.  Arredondo allowed a hit after he was smacked on the right forearm by a Jeff Bianchi line drive that caromed all the way to Frazier at first for the out.  Arredondo threw some warm ups a told Baker he was ok but Cesar Izturis hit a line single off him Baker went to Marshall.

Arredondo has swelling on his right forearm.

"I will be ok for a couple days," Arredondo said.

Logan Ondrusek contributed a scoreless ninth.

The Reds' relievers are 3-0 with a cool 0.60 ERA in the first nine games of this homestand.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bailley Brilliant in First Ever Win Over Brewers

Homer Bailey had never beaten the Brewers.  He had already lost to them twice this season.

“Really? I’m glad you didn’t tell me that before the game," Dusty Baker said. "He was dealing. He was locating his fastball and he had life on his slider. It was hard to pick up."

The closest he came to beating them was October 2, 2010.  He allowed just one run in five innings and struck out 10 , walked three. The bullpen blew that game for him in a 7-4 loss.

This time he also struck out 10 but lasted eight innings because he got a lot of quick outs.  He walked no one  in the 3-1 win that put the Reds a season-high 13 games over the .500 mark.

"My fastball was working.  I didn't have the best velocity but we were keeping the ball down," Bailey said.  "I did have a good slider today.  I rarely try to get strike outs early in the game.  There are certain situations where you try to get strikeouts, when the situation calls for it.  There are times when you don't want a strikeout.  You want a ground ball early in the count."

Bailey has now won four starts in a row, beating first-place Los Angeles, then San Diego, followed by division rivals St. Louis and now Milwaukee.  It is the first time in his career, he's won four straight starts.

"It means that we're winning," Bailey said.  "I've said this 100 times.  I want the win.  If Marshall picks up the win, I don't care.  If Chapman gets the win, I don't care.  It's about the club winning.  When I take the mound, I don't go for wins for myself.  I don't feel I can do that every time out.  I never get too overconfident. I'm getting better at doing what I need to do to get ready.  Right now, it's leading to success."

The Reds are now 3-2 without Joey Votto.  Two struggling young stars were able to produce in the tight game and a struggling veteran was also productive.

Zack Cozart had one hit since the All-Star break. He was 1-for21.  Dusty Baker gave Cozart the day off on Thursday.

"It feels good I've been struggling. I had one hit since the break."

"The home run felt really good," Cozart said.  "I thought it was a double, then I saw Braun looking up and the umpire signal it was out."

"Homer was peppering the strike zone, Cozart said.  "I was busy.  I love that.  It (playing defense) is one of my favorite things.  Homer had good tempo.  He was working quick. Even before Joey went out we were doing it with pitching and defense"

"I don't know if it was the rest or not but I felt good today.  I had a good workout yesterday.  It was more of a mental break than anything.  Just a day to not think about baseball."

Jay Bruce was struggling as in zero hits in his last 19 at bats.  He broke the slump with a ringing double into the right field corner in the fourth inning.  He launched a Marco Estrada pitch 432 ft. from the plate and they could have shown the movie Exodus on that flight with enough time for cartoons in his next at bat in the seventh.

"You can see he's not happy," Dusty Baker said before the game.  "I can see it in his face.  Sometimes it is a bloop or a little ground ball that finds a hole that gets you started."

Bruce had bigger things in store.

"That was a great, great win for us. It was nip-and-tuck there for a while. Those two home runs were huge. Man, Scottie was running around like a little kid out there today, ” Baker said.

Rolen hit a ball in the left center gap.  When Ryan Braun was too slow getting to it he hustled it into a double.  He went to third on a short wild pitch but was thrown out at home on a short fly to left by Devin Mesoraco.

It was a good risk with the pitcher Bailey due up with two outs.

He hit his fourth home run to put the Reds up 3-0 one out after Bruce's blast.

“It felt good to finally get my uniform dirty. It’s hard to steal first base. I liked running around like my hair was on fire,” Rolen said.

Then there was the home run trot that allowed his hair to be flame retardant.

"“I’ll take that, too," Rolen said. "It’s easier on the body. I felt pretty good out there. I think I’ve been swinging the bat better lately. Homer pitched great tonight. That’s where it always starts for me.”

The lone run off Bailey came in the eighth Martin Maldonado hit a short single to right when Bruce just missed making a sliding catch. Light hitting Norichika Aoki hit a line drive over Ryan Ludwick's head in left to spoil the shutout.

Then the fire that eluded Rolen's hair appeared in the fastball of Aroldis Chapman.  He struck out Braun, who had no chance.  He struck out Ramirez, who had little chance.  Corey Hart saved face by getting his bat on a 3-2 pitch that dribbled to Brandon Phillips at secondbase.

Chapman earned his 16th save.  He's converted his last eight opportunities.  The "Cuban Missle" has fanned 25 of the last 31 recorded outs.  He has struck out at least two batters in 10 of his last 11 appearances.

"Where would we be without him in the closer's role?" Baker asked.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Brandon Phillips Scolds Reds Fans But Punishes Arizona

No one is more fan friendly than Brandon Phillips but he has little patience for those with little patience.

Boos cascaded from every inch of the riverfront while the Arizona Diamondbacks built a six-run lead.

"It started out ugly but it ended up beautiful," Phillips said.  Then the lecture began after the Reds 7-6 comeback win.  Phillips had five RBI with his 11th home run and 16th double.  The Reds have 22 comeback wins this season.  The last time they overcame a six-run deficit was against Washington on May 21, 2007 in an 8-7 win.

Phillips role in the bounce-back victory earned him the right to scold the faithless fans.

"I love my fans.  I love the fans out there but all the booing was unnecessary," Phillips said.  "We're playing good baseball.  We didn't do our jobs early in the game but it's not like we're doing it on purpose.  I feel like if you want to boo someone, wait until the end of the game when it's over.  The guys come up in key situations and we feed off the fans."

For some inexplicable reason the Reds' fans have been unworthy of its first-place team.

Mike Leake held his own for five innings and had a decent chance for his sixth straight quality start but gave up back-to-back doubles to Justin Upton, who has heard boos of his own in Arizona, and Chris Young.  Backup catcher Henry Blanco hit his first home run of the season that knocked Leake out of the box with a season-high 11 hits allowed.

Arizona manager Kirk Gibson noted that the team that scored first won the first three games of the series, two of which went to his squad.

Willie Bloomquist, who was acquired by the Reds for its drive to its division title in 2010, led off with a single. He stole second, then scored on a line single by Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning.  Bloomquist doubled in the third and scored on a single by Aaron Hill.  Hill hit his 13th home run in the fifth to build a 3-0 lead against Leake as the boos rang long and loud.

Meanwhile Joe Saunders was mowing down the Votto-deprived Reds.  The first 10 Reds went out in order before Wilson Valdez walked in the fourth.  The Reds' first hit didn't surface until the fifth when Devin Mesoraco singled with two outs. The rookie catcher has hit safely in seven straight games.

The Reds hit bottom and bounced high.

Drew Stubbs, who has heard more boos than a tone-deaf karaoke singer, extended his modest hitting streak to four since moving into the leadoff spot and fifth straight overall.  He is hitting .400 in the last four contests.

Valdez dumped a single into right.  Phillips turned the boos around with a long home run into the upper deck down the line in left.

"It was a good pitch," Saunders said.  "I don't know how he kept it fair.  Maybe he was cheating inside.  You have to just tip your cap to him and move on."

Phillips has been hitting the ball hard but the results have not been there until today.

"I just tried to stay short with my swing," Phillips said.  "It was getting kind of long.  It felt good to get the big part of the bat on the ball."

The momentum shifted big time and the fans began to jump on the bandwagon.

Newcomer Xavier Paul walked, facing Bryan Shaw, who had seven straight scoreless outings on the road.  Stubbs also walked.  Valdez ground ball to first got by Arizona firstbaseman, Paul Goldschmidt.  That was the break the Reds needed.

Phillips doubled to tie the game and scored the go ahead run on Todd Frazier's two-out single.

"We feed off the fans.  When Paul got on base, all the fans were cheering. The fans were in the game and it felt good. Today it was a beautiful thing.  But I said what I said about the fans here."

Going unnoticed with the flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman's electric pitches that helped earn his 15th with two more strikouts, is the work of Alfredo Simon.

Simon has not allowed a run in his last six appearances.  He picked up Leake and the Reds with an inning and 2/3 of scoreless baseball to earn his second win. His ERA is now lower than Chapman's-1.46 to 1.65.

Simon saved the bullpen in the first game of this series by working three scoreless innings.  The Reds lost the game 5-3 but not only did Simon's work give the Reds a chance to comeback, it saved the bullpen for the rest of the series.

Leake had his streak of five straight quality starts snapped.

"We picked up the pitchers this time," Phillips said.  "We're not in panic mode and we could be since Joey (Votto) is out."

The Reds are 2-2 since Votto has been on the DL.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reds Slip Back Into a Tie For First Place

Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said this before the game, "The pattern of this series is whoever scores first wins."  He was prophetic.

The Reds 7-1 loss was determined in the first three innings.

Outfielder Jason Kubel hit two home runs, his 16th and 17th, to power the Diamondbacks over Mat Latos.

Aaron Hill singled before Kubel hit his first blast to straightaway centerfield in the first inning.  He added a 429 ft. blast in the third inning.

"When you put the ball right down the middle of the plate, it doesn't matter what kind of hitter he is, he's going to hit it," Latos said.

The Reds scored one run but squandered chances to score more early in the game to help Ian Kennedy, who had been struggling,  get comfortable.

Kennedy allowed a total of 10 runs in his last two starts.

Drew Stubbs hitting leadoff for the third straight day doubled to start the Reds on the road back.  Zack Cozart popped up a bunt and Stubbs was stuck at second.  Brandon Phillips hit an infield single but Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick popped up.

Another botched sacrifice attempt in the second inning stunted a Reds' rally.

Todd Frazier and Ryan Hanigan hit singles with one out.  Latos bunted right back to Kennedy who threw Frazier out at third.  Stubbs singled to drive in the run but it was just one run instead of the two the Reds needed.

"Ian Kennedy came in struggling," Dusty Baker said.  "I we get on him early he starts to think, 'here I go again'.  When he got out of those situations he settled down and got some run support.  Getting sacrifices down are the things we need to do to play winning baseball.  We have to do more of that with Joey out.  We work on it every day but we're thinking about it.  We need to be able to do it without thinking about it."

The Diamondbacks added on to complete the rout.

Aaron Hill hit a two out double and Latos eventually walked in a fifth run.

"The back breaker was the pitch to Hill.  It was inside where I wanted it but he's a good hitter," Latos said.

The Reds wasted two-out doubles by Ludwick in the fifth and Latos in the sixth.  Frazier also hit a single with two outs in the sixth but Kennedy held onto the lead.

Pittsburgh defeated Colorado in Denver 9-6 this afternoon to forge another tie at the top of the Central Division.  St. Louis lost to Milwaukee to stay 4-1/2 back.

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Joey Votto Backs Reds Handling of Injury

Joey Votto felt a little discomfort in his knee after he slid into thirdbase on June 29 in San Francisco.  He thought it was just one of the many bumps and bruises that a professional athlete has to endure.

"I always would want to have surgery if I have to have surgery but I feel great.  It wasn't until a couple days ago that I felt that I had to talk to Paul Lesard and Walt Jocketty.  I feel great.  Those four days off for the All-Star Game and then coming back I was 85-90 percent as far as running.  All of a sudden it just started swelling up and it felt like it did back in San Francisco. I thought it was handled perfectly.  I got to play against the California teams and the All-Star Game.  I thought I healed, then my knee told me the truth."

"Sunday was the day.  The day before I was running out balls. I was able to play deep defensively.  I could hit.  The following day it acted up.  That's when I knew there was something wrong. I tried to get through that game and I did.  We won."

"I'm really optimistic about my recovery time.  I'd like to come back the day I'm eligible to come off the DL but I don't want to get ahead of myself.  You never know how things shake out."

"I take my job very seriously.  It is very stressful, I find. I ask a lot of myself. To be honest with you its very nice to have some time off considering I didn't have any time off.  The All-Star game and not very many days off this season and last season.  It's part of the gig and why I like playing so much.  It's going to be nice to spend some time on the couch and relax.  And watch my teammates beat up on a number of different opponents."

Votto would not have done anything differently.  He wanted to play against the best and did.  The effects of the original injury took a while to manifest itself.

"I really wouldn't have it checked out any sooner.  All of us players deal with things here and there.  Sometimes we think we might need some help, then it heals.  Other times we think we don't need help and it's something serious.  I was always taught to just stay out of the training room as much as you can.  If you can play, play.  For better or for worse in the long run it is going to pay off for me and for the Reds.  I healed very quickly after the initial injury.  When I got taken out of the game in San Francisco, I healed real well. I was very optimistic.  I was hoping that it was something muscular.  If you ask 100 different ballplayers, you just play as long as you can.  If you can't run or you can't be agile that's when you stop.  We are in first place and trying to win the division, that's another reason that I felt I should wait it out."

The organization took every precaution and tested Votto immediately after the initial injury.

"The team gave me every test they could and I passed them all.  When a team give you all those tests and they see progress to the point the player is back to normal.  It's hard for an organization or training staff to tell the player not to play.  I was healing so quickly.  Nobody is at fault here."

Votto's competitive spirit was satisfied playing against all the division competitors, the Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals.

"I got to play against the California teams and in the Cardinal series.  No disrespect to these other teams but now we are playing these under .500 teams so if I'm going to take some time off.  Now is the time."

Reds Call Xavier Paul Send Todd Redmond Back to Louisville

The Reds recall of Todd Redmond turned to be unnecessary as Johnny Cueto pitched six shutout innings on Tuesday.  For the second time this season Redmond was called to the Major Leagues but did not appear in a game.

The Reds signed Xavier Paul to a minor league contract last week and the injury to Joey Votto created a need for a lefthanded hitter.  Paul hits from the left side.

Paul, 27, spent parts of three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and most of 2011 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He went to spring training with the Washington Nationals as a non-roster player but was sent to Syarcuse where he hit .315 in 60 games with eight home runs and 44 RBI.  He also stole six bases.

"I liked him when he was with the Pirates.  He is a good pinch hitter against righthanded pitching.  He can play all three outfield positions.  He gives us the much needed lefthanded bat off the bench and he has speed," Dusty Baker said.  "I heard about him a few years ago from Gene Clines, who was one of my batting coaches for many years.  He had him (Paul) in the minors with the Dodgers.  I trust Geno's judgement.  I saw what he did against us especially off the bench.  I was quite surprised he wasn't back with the Pirates.  I don't know what happened but he did a good job with them."

Paul hit .480 in six games with the Bats with one home run and four RBI.

“It feels great to be here. I wanted it to happen. I’m elated. I was praying that they would call my name. I’m happy it happened. It’s just unfortunate that it took Joey getting hurt,” Paul said.

Paul left the Nationals on his own.

“I had an out with the Nationals, and I chose to take my chances with another club. The Nationals were great to me. They have a great bunch of guys, and they could win it. It’s just that I needed a change. It worked out.”

With the Nationals and the Reds Paul has now been with two first-place teams.

“Yeah, how about that? I just hope to do my part. As long as we’re winning, I don’t mind being the lefty off the bench. That’s been my role before, and I’ll try to show that I can do that here.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Votto Void No Big Deal Reds Beat Arizona Behind Ryan Ludwick and Johnny Cueto

Joey Votto had arthroscopic surgery and the only other lefthanded hitter, Jay Bruce was not "looking real good." according to Dusty Baker.

The righthanded Reds and ace hurler Johnny Cueto took care of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 4-0 win to push the Reds to 12-games over .500.

For the record the Reds are now 30-29 in games that Votto has missed since he broke in with the Reds in 2007.

"That game felt like 1-0 instead of 4-0," Dusty Baker said.  "We are going to be in a lot of those with Joey gone."

Cueto shook of a blister to throw six shutout innings, allowing just four hits but he wasn't sharp.  He ran his pitch count too high with four walks and twice had to pitch out of bases-loaded jams.

"I felt the blister a little bit," Cueto said.  "It was hot but my legs are in shape because I've been running in this heat."

It has been nine days between starts for Cueto.  He was scratched from his Sunday start and pushed back two days by the blister.

The Reds scored off young 21-year old (has anyone ever seen an old 21-yr old?) phenom, Trevor Bauer, who is the first player to reach the majors out of the 2011 draft.  Bauer had no control from the start, bouncing pitch after pitch and looking like a bowler in cricket.

"That young man has good stuff but he couldn't find the plate which helped us," Baker said.

Bauer walked Stubbs to start the Reds' first.  Zack Cozart reached on Stephen Drew's error.  Brandon Phillips fouled off some pitches before striking out.  With Ryan Ludwick batting, Bauer uncorked a wild pitch to allow Stubbs and Cozart to advance.  Ball four to Ludwick ended up against the bricks behind home plate and Stubbs scored.  The Reds were up 1-0 without a hit in the inning.

Meanwhile the only blister evident were on the butts of the Arizona hitters.  Ten walked to the plate 10 sat back down until former Red, Willie Bloomquist singled in the fourth.  The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the fifth and sixth but Cueto pitched out of both jams, then gave way to Cincinnati's excellent bullpen.

"I was happy to get that lefthanded hitter (Gerardo Parra) out with the bases loaded," Cueto said.

Ryan Ludwick batting cleanup in the absence of Votto and Bruce got the Reds' first hit.  It was a home run to the upper deck with Cozart and Phillips on base courtesy of a pair of passes issued by Bauer.  It was his 14th home run and gave him 39 RBI on the season.

Bauer nearly hit Ludwick with the first pitch.  Ludwick went to his backside with his feet in the air to avoid the pitch.

:"I nearly did the reverse Chapman," Ludwick said.  "We need to pick each other up with Joey gone.  He is a $200 million man so you're going to miss him but we have the guys that can do it."

And that my friends was the end of the scoring.

The Reds' bullpen - Jose Arredondo, Sam LeCure, Sean Marhall and Aroldis Chapman scattered five hits.

Marshall faced four batters and struck out two but allowed a pair of singles.

Dusty Baker elected to bring in the Cuban Missle, Aroldis Chapman to get the last out in what became a save situation.  Four pitches later of 99,99,101 and 101 mph and Aaron Hill was a strike out victim and Chapman had his 14th save.

Joey Votto Has Surgery Todd Redmond Is Recalled

The surgery on Joey Votto's left knee was performed by Dr. Timothy Kremchek.  He was placed on the 15-day disabled list and is expected to miss three to four weeks.

The Reds recalled RHP Todd Redmond from Triple A Louisville to take Votto's spot on the roster.

Redmond will wear number 58.

The Reds obtained Redmond from the Atlanta Braves on Saturday in exchange for shortstop Paul Janish.