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.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Reds Announce Its September Call Ups

The Reds have padded its roster with some of its top prospects and a couple players, who have been with the team most of the season.

Shortstop Didi Gregorius, thirdbasemen Henry Rodriquez and outfielder Denis Phipps will be called up tomorrow.  Gregorius and Rodriguez were featured last month in Full of Schatz with commentary from Louisville manager David Bell.

Gregorius and Rodriguez both started the season at Double A Pensacola.  Phipps made that rapid advancement last season.  He has been slowed by injury this year but has been coming on strong lately.

RHP Logan Ondrusek will be recalled also on Saturday.

Devin Mesoraco will be recalled Sunday.  He had to wait an extra day to satisfy the 10-day rule.  Barring injury a player being sent to the minor leagues is not eligible for recall before 10 days.

Louisville will not make the playoffs and its season ends on Monday.  On Tuesday the Reds will recall RHP Todd Redmond, who made the start against the Chicago Cubs in the second game of the doubleheader on August 18.  RHP Pedro Villarreal will also be recalled.

Kris Negron was reinstated from the Louisville seven-day disabled list and placed on the Reds' 15-day disabled list.

Billy Hamilton, who now holds the minor league record for stolen bases in a season is not going to be placed on the Reds 40-man roster at this time.  This gives the Reds another year to control his contract.  He will be sent to the instructional league and the Arizona Fall League.  In addition to making a spot on the roster and starting the clock toward arbitration, the Reds want to give Hamilton a little breather before the instructional league.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Reds Need A Change at The Top

The Reds need to change by James.

There is no way that this team can win the World Series by playing the wrong players in the wrong spots in the field and in the batting order.

How can a team in a hitter friendly venue that is Great American Ball Park expect to go all the way with pitching and defense?

It can't be done.  Yes the Reds are 42-24 at home but the team is only 38-28 on the road.  That is four game drop off and an indication that the roster is out of whack.

Don't be fooled by the best record in baseball.  You can't continue to play .606 baseball when the top of your batting order can't get on base.

The St. Louis Cardinals are waiting in the weeds with a whopping, Major League Leading, .341 on-base-percentage.  They are after all the defending World Champion.  It is just a matter of time before the Cardinals overtake the pitiful Reds, who are in the middle of the league with a .319 OBP.

The Reds aren't the only team headed down the proverbial drain.  The Los Angeles Dodgers, who are battling to take the NL West have the same OBP at .319.  The Washington Nationals, who have the second best record in baseball are even worse with a .317 OBP.  How in the name of Bill James can these teams expect to compete?

You can not win with your top two hitters in your lineup are ranked dead last among the 59 hitters in the league that qualify for the batting title.  Centerfielder Drew Stubbs is ranked 58th in the league with a .287 OBP.  Rookie shortstop, Zack Cozart, is dead last at .287.  For comparison, St. Louis has three players in the top 11, Matt Holiday (.383), Yadier Molina (.375) and David Freese (.369).  That's how you win. Never mind this offensive Juggernaut has been shut out two games in a row by the Pittsburgh Pirates and have fallen a season-high eight games out of first place.

The 6-2 win is the proof that this current Reds' lineup can't work.

The team only scored six runs with the top two batters only  2-for-10 with five strikeouts.

Everyone who reads Bill James stats or Moneyball, will tell you that you can't score when your top two hitters don't get on base.  You can't win if good defense as your best weapon.  So to insist on playing Drew Stubbs and Cozart because of their ability to save runs is nonsense it will never work.

Preventing runs is over rated, no one has ever won a rotisserie league with defense.  Preventing runs is no way to win a pennant.  The days of the Go-Go Sox or the hitless wonders of the 1906 Chicago White Sox are over.  The 1906 White Sox won the World Series with a team batting average of .230 and an OBP of .301. Winning teams need to score, score and score some more.

The Reds with the best record in baseball are fooling themselves if they think they can beat good teams with this offense.  They are 2-5 against Washington (who have an OBP of .317). Cincinnati has beaten San Francisco in the season series, 4-3.  The Giants have the third best record in the league at 73-57.  The Reds played them in all seven games before the Giants leading hitter was suspended for taking testosterone.  The Reds are 5-1 against the Atlanta Braves with a winning percentage of .565, fourth in the league.  The Reds are 1-2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers owner of the fifth best league record (.534).  The Dodgers team OBP is the same as the Reds (.319).

The Reds are 6-6 with St. Louis and Pittsburgh.  In the all important OBP stat, Pittsburgh is next to last with .304.

The two winning American League opponents the Reds encountered this year are second and third in OBP.

The Reds were 1-2 against Detroit which is second in the AL with a .337 OBP.  Cincinnati was 2-1 against the New York Yankees that is third with a .334 OBP.

Against teams they are most likely to face in the playoffs, the Reds are 26-25.  It is not good enough when you need to be 4-3 to advance in the playoffs, is it?

If you believe that statistics is the indicator of success in baseball then Dusty Baker must change.  With 30 games left it is time to get serious and stop tempting fate.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Big Test Is Out of Joey Votto's Way

The Reds are an amazing 28-14 without the services of Joey Votto.  The Dayton Dragons also picked up the pace following Votto's exit from the game in a 9-3 win over the West Michigan White Caps.

It was just two at bats and one chance in the field but the fact that Votto was on the field was big for him.

"It went all right.  I have a ways to go. I've been off for almost six weeks now, it's not too comfortable quite yet," Votto said.

Votto walked on five pitches in his first at bat and didn't have to take the bat off his shoulders.  He swung and missed at a pitch early in the count of his second at bat, fouled off a 3-2 pitch then struck out swinging.

Swinging the bat isn't his main concern.

"It was nice to face live pitching but I don't think it will take very long to get back in the swing of things.  I felt pretty good today," Votto said.

He didn't get to run much.  His walk came with two outs and Yorman Rodriguez flied out routinely for the third out, so Votto merely had a jog around second base.  His lone fielding chance other than taking throws from the infield, was a one high-hop ground ball that came directly to him.  Without moving he gloved it and made an easy throw to thirdbase to throw the West Michigan White Cap's Jason King out at third.

"My concern isn't my swing it's the other things, running the bases, playing defense and not being concerned about how my knee reacts," Votto said.

Jeff Ferrell, the 21-year old West Michigan starting pitcher, was visibly pleased that he struck out Votto.  Karma caught up to the righthander from Greenvilled, North Carolina.  Yorman Rodriguez belted his sixth home run for the Dragons as Votto was stowing his bat.  Juan Silva went back-to-back with his seventh long ball.

"Just like the Reds, I've noticed when I leave games or leave the team, the team starts playing really, really well," said the 2010 NL MVP.  "I didn't bat in the (bottom) fifth. It wasn't for any physical reason.  It was just me being a good teammate and getting the heck out of there and letting somebody out take over."

Votto was in fact the only Dayton starter without one of the 15 hits the young low A team collected on the night.  Even catcher Yovan Gonzalez, who got the thrill of pinch hitting for the Reds' star, hit safely.

Votto plans to come back earlier Wednesday and the goal is to get three at bats.

The Dayton Dragons hold a continuing record for consecutive sellouts by a professional team and Tuesday was no exception.  Votto joked, "I was hoping I didn't cause them to interrupt their sellout streak."

Fans like Emma Barth were excited to see Votto and it was obvious as I road the elevator with her to the press box.  The crowd gave Votto a heroes welcome, a drastic difference from his developmental seasons in Dayton in 2003 and 2004.

"It was nice to hear the reaction of the crowd.  I was very appreciative of that," Votto said as he reflected on his time in the Gem City.  "They certainly treated me better than when I was here.  It's nice to be back.  I'm astonished with the fans, who turn out in droves.  The grounds crew keeps the field nice.  It is a great place to play."

Joey Votto In Final Stages Before His Return

Joey Votto is testing his surgically repaired knee with the Dayton Dragons.

The plan is for Votto to play five innings for two games with the Dragons, then return to the Reds in Houston, if his knee passes the test.

"We're playing it totally by ear," Votto said.  "That I'm able to play speaks to the progress I've made.  I'm happy to get on the field again.  I'm not 100 percent yet but when you start your rehab, you're usually not."

The road back from an injury first sustained on June 28 in San Francisco sliding into thirdbase, had a setback.  He played with the injury for over a week but had surgery on July 17.  He discovered loose cartilage during a sliding drill two weeks ago that extended his stay on the disabled list.

"I'm learning a lot about my knee and my body.  The sooner I get back the better obviously but I'm not going to rush it.  It doesn't make much sense right now," Votto said.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cardinals Take Two Out of Three From the Reds

As the Reds get ready to welcome Joey Votto back as early as next weekend, the Reds hold onto a six game lead, even with it's closest division rival taking two of three games at Great American Ball Park.

St. Louis banged out 17 hits, the most that the Reds' staff has allowed this season, in forging a 6-6 tie in the season series with three to play in St. Louis on October 1,2 and 3.

The Cardinals had six batters with .300 batting averages or better at game time.  The Reds had none, although Brandon Phillips (.294), Todd Frazier (.296) and Ryan Hanigan (.290) are close.

"Everybody in their lineup is a .300 hitter.  I don't know who makes outs on that team," Phillips said.

The Reds are hoping to put the Cardinals away in the 30 games before then.

It was just the second series the Reds have lost since the All-Star break.  The Reds have been without its star firstbaseman, Joey Votto, for a full quarter of a season but are 27-14 without him.

The Reds are 11-10 since closing a series with the Pirates three weeks ago.  They have expanded the lead 1-1/2 since then.

Facing hard-hitting St. Louis toward the end of their toughest stretch of the season had predictable results for the Cincinnati Reds.

Matt Holliday had four hits and four RBIs, Allen Craig homered and drove in three runs as St. Louis handed the Reds just their second series loss in 13 sets since the All-Star break. The Cardinals have won five of six to move within six games of the NL Central-leading Reds, who are 8-6 going into the final three games of a grueling stretch of 17 games in 16 days that manager Dusty Baker called the toughest of the season.

"This was a tough series," Baker said. "This is a tough stretch for us. We knew it'd be tough."

Running into a hot pitcher didn't help. Adam Wainwright won his fifth consecutive start. Wainwright (13-10) allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings while improving to 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last seven starts overall. The 6-foot-7 right-hander, who missed all of last season because of elbow surgery, hasn't lost since July 18 at Milwaukee.

"Wainwright threw the ball well," Baker said. "There's not much else to say, except they beat us."

Reds right-hander Homer Bailey (10-9) gave up five runs in six innings while falling to 1-3 with a 6.04 ERA in five August starts. He also allowed a season-high nine hits for the sixth time.

The Cardinals strung together four consecutive ground-ball singles during a five-hit third inning that plated three runs. Skip Schumaker led off with a double to right-center, and Wainwright chipped in with a one-out single into left field. Schumaker scored on Jon Jay's base hit up the middle and Matt Carpenter singled to load the bases for Matt Holliday's two-run single to left.

"That's the way it goes," Bailey said. "I can hold my head up high. I was trying to get them to hit groundballs and get some double plays and keep the ball in the yard. It wasn't like I was all over the place. I didn't have any walks. You've just got to tip your cap to them."

St. Louis added two more runs in the sixth to make it 5-0. Holliday hit a leadoff triple before Craig drove a 1-2 pitch over the wall in left for his 20th homer.

Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick had RBI singles in the sixth for Cincinnati, which beat the Cardinals 8-2 on Saturday.  Heisey is hitting .368 in his last nine appearances (7-for-19) with two doubles and three RBI.

Holliday doubled in a run in the seventh and singled in Carpenter in the ninth.

"It's a situation where they came in swinging the bats," Baker said of St. Louis, which finished with 42 hits in the series. "We couldn't put them away. The bounced some balls up the middle on (Bailey). You could tell they were trying to hit the ball up the middle. That was a good lesson on how to hit with runners in scoring position with two outs."

The Reds left after the game for a three-game series in Arizona before enjoying just their second day off in a span of 35. They finish the road trip with three games against Houston, which went into Sunday's games with the worst record in the majoe leagues.

"We've got to push and push the next three days," Baker said. "These are the dog days. We've got to finish strong in August."

Nick Masset Has a Setback

Nick Masset was close to returning when he took the mound for Louisville on Tuesday.  He felt no pain during the outing but soreness lingered the next day.

An MRI was taken and the righthander, who has missed the entire season, is waiting for the results.

"I had a setback on Tuesday.  There was a little bit of soreness.  I
didn't feel any pain when I was pitching.  There is just soreness
turning over.  A couple of weeks ago, I felt the best that I've felt
in years.  I had about eight games under my belt.  I was one
back-to-back away to joining these guys.  I've done everythingI could
do possible for my shoulder.  Sometimes your body thinks different."

"It's been tough especially the way the team is playing.  I'm
impressed with the whole team.  Everybody has been jelling.  It is fun
to be around here."

Joey Votto Going to Dayton Tuesday

Joey Votto is going back to Dayton on Tuesday.

The Reds informed its star player, who has missed 40 games to date, that he will play in a rehab assignment in Dayton.  If everything goes well, Votto will meet the team next weekend in Houston.

"I'm a little apprehensive because I haven't played in a long time.
The work on the field has been good.  I have a long way to go on my
swing.  The things that I'm uncomfortable about will come out when I
play in Dayton."

The Reds are 27-13 since Votto was disabled on July 16.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reds Get A Big Game Back Over St. Louis

Jay Bruce shook off some boos and drilled a 432' home run with Todd Frazier on base in the sixth inning to put some breathing room between Mike Leake and the St. Louis Cardinals in an 8-2 win.

Tied at one going into the bottom of the sixth, the Reds mounted a three-run rally.  Brandon Phillips started it off with a ringing double into the rightfield corner off Cardinal starter, Jaime Garcia.  Ryan Ludwick single sharply to right.  It was hit too hard and right at rightfielder Carlos Beltran.  Phillips advanced to third.  Frazier hit a high chop into the hole at short.  The Cards got the force but Frazier beat the relay.  The Reds went up 2-1 on the play.  Bruce launched a line drive deep into the rightfield bleachers.

Leake had two hits and scored the first run for the Reds.  He led off the third inning with a double. Phillips two-out single provided the first run of the game.

St. Louis tied the game in the the fifth.  Backup catcher Tony Cruz and Rafael Furcal singled.  Garcia failed to bunt them over and struck out.  Jon Jay singled to right to load the bases. Matt Carpenter hit a fly to medium right.  Bruce's throw was on time but off line.  Cruz scored.  Both runners moved to second and third respectively.  Leake went to work on Matt Holliday.  The count went full.  Holliday hit a bullet that one-hopped Zack Cozart who gloved it and ended the inning with a throw to first.

St. Louis threatened again in the seventh, scoring one run.  Cruz and Furcal singled again.  But Leake got a double-play ground ball from pinch hitter, Shane Robinson.  Jay singled for the second Cardinal run.  Dusty Baker brought on Sean Marshal, who threw one pitch, getting Carpenter to fly out to center.

Leake ended with 6-2/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and two runs.

The Reds broke it open against Brandon Dickson.  Phillips third hit was a leadoff home run to right.  Ludwick singled for the third time.  Then Dickson lost track of the plate, walking Frazier and Bruce. Veteran Scott Rolen fought off a good pitch and singled up the middle to break the game open.  Dioner Navarro dropped a single in front of leftfielder, Holliday, who lost the flight of the ball.  Bruce scored the Reds' eighth run.

Jonathan Broxton and JJ Hoover fanned the last five Cardinals to seal the win and move the Reds back in front of the Cardinals by seven games.

Reds Retire Barry Larkin's Number 11

Barry Larkin's number 11 will forever hang next to the retired number 13 worn by his predecessor.

Dave Concepcion and Larkin held down the shortstop position in Cincinnati for 24 seasons.

Larkin's is the ninth officially retired number in Reds' history.  Frank Robinson (20), Sparky Anderson (10), Concepcion (13), Joe Morgan (8), Tony Perez (24), Fred Hutchinson (1), Ted Kluszewski (18) and Johnny Bench (5).  Pete Rose's number 14 is not officially retired but no one other than his son, Pete Jr. has worn 14 since Rose was banished from the game.

Larkin was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, earlier this summer.

Larkin obtained the number after wearing 15 in his first two seasons with the Reds.  The irony is that Larkin's  competitor for the Reds' shortstop job, Kurt Stillwell, wore the number when Larkin arrived from the minor leagues.  The Reds' player personnel department decided Larkin was the better candidate and traded Stillwell to Kansas City.  Larkin requested and received the number when Stillwell departed.

"I wore it in knothole ball," Larkin said Friday afternoon.  "I wore 14 at Moeller High."

Larkin went to the University of Michigan on a football scholarship but had permission to play spring baseball.  He chose baseball after one season.

"At Michigan 11 was retired because Bill Freehan wore it," Larkin said.  Freehan, a Michigan grad, had an All-Star career with the Detroit Tigers.

"When you are a rookie in the major leagues, you don't ask for a number, you wear what is assigned but when it became available, I asked for it," Larkin said.

The honor caps a full summer of honors for the Reds' former captain, who won the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1995.

"There has been a lot of recognition and its always been positive," Larkin said. "This whole summer has been busy.  It's been real good busy work."

Larkin has been working with baseball's international effort to spread the game.  He has been asked to manage the Brazillian team if it should qualify for the World Baseball Classic next spring.

"Player development is something that I've always been interested in," Larkin said.  "I've forged a real good relationship with the Brazilian Baseball Federation.'

Larkin's children are starting to develop careers of their own.  His son, Shane, will be a sophomore on the University of Miami (FL) basketball team.  His daughter, Cymber, sang the National Anthem at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and is pursuing a singing career.

"She is pretty popular already in Brazil," Larkin said.

Larkin's brother, Byron, had his number 23 retired at Xavier University.  Byron Larkin remains the Musketeers' All-Time leading scorer.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cardinals Six Run Inning Cuts Reds' Lead to Six Games

It looked like the Reds would walk away from the Cardinals and increase it's lead to eight games.  St. Louis had other ideas in a comeback 8-5 win in the first game of the weekend series.

The Reds eliminated Lance Lynn after two innings.  Zack Cozart opened with a double. Drew Stubbs walked.  Brandon Phillips singled to give the Reds a quick 1-0 lead with Stubbs going to third.

Ryan Ludwick hit into a double play but Stubbs scored.  It was a fast start for the home team.

The Cardinals got a run back in the second inning with the run scoring on the 100th double play that they have hit into.

The Reds parlayed a walk to Todd Frazier and single by Scott Rolen into a run when Ryan Hanigan hit a sacrifice fly.  Latos singled to extend his hitting streak to five games but Cozart forced him and Stubbs lined hard to center for the

The Reds knocked Lynn out in the third before he could get an out Phillips singled again.  Ludwick singled.  One out later Frazier drove in a run with a single.  The Reds loaded the bases on reliever Joe Kelly's error but he recovered to strike out Hanigan and Reds' starter Mat Latos.

The Reds added another run off Kelly on singles by Bruce and Frazier followed by Rolen's double into the rightfield corner.  Hanigan was walked intentionally.  Latos went too far on a 3-2 pitch. Cozart lined to deep center.

Then the wheels fell off the wagon.

Carlos Beltran reached on a single when Frazier fielded a ball behind first but Latos was late covering the bag. Matt Holiday, who was robbed by Bruce in the first inning of a double, singled.  Allen Craig hit a long fly ball down the leftfield line that hooked foul.  He made sure that his next blast stayed fair by hitting onto the green in front of the centerfield batter's eye.  The much booed Yadier Molina followed with his third hit a GABP home run to the first row of the rightfield bleachers, just beyond Bruce's reach.

"I went from having good fastball command to not," Latos said.  "It is no excuse but I literally got caught up on the mound with my spikes.  It is what it is a guy with 28 home runs was diving head first into first base."

Dusty Baker noted the Reds concentration wasn't there tonight after an extra-inning loss in Philadelphia last night and a 4 a.m. arrival in Cincinnati this morning.

"Our concentration wasn't there," Baker said.  "You could tell by how many pitches we swung at in the dirt.  We had the bases loaded a couple of times and could have blown the game open early.  Latos swung at ball four with the bases loaded.  Who knows what could have happened after that.  Cozart hit a fly to center that would have been another run."

Latos not getting over was the break the Cardinals needed according to Baker.

"That put Mat in the stretch right away and opened the flood gates.  You can't give them extra opportunities."

The Cardinals piled on from there.  David Freese walked, finishing Latos' night.  Skip Schumaker singled off  Alfredo Simon scoring Freese.  Rafael Furcal singled moving Schumaker to third.  Pinch hitter Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly to center.

The bullpens went into shutdown mode.  Simon finished three innings and in spite of three wild pitches cut off the scoring for St. Louis.

Meanwhile, Fernando Silas, Edward Mujica and Mitchell Boggs retired nine of 10 batters with the only baserunner allowed reaching on an error by Freese on Cozart's ground ball.

Jason Motte pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his 30th save.

 The Reds did bring the tying run to the plate when Ludwick and Frazier singled.  Frazier's third hit improved his batting average to .298.  Motte struck out Rolen to seal it.

Reds Cardinals On Paper

If you look at the lineups for the series opener between the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds, it may be difficult to tell which team is seven games better than the other.

Comparing batting order:

St. Louis                                                                            Cincinnati

Jon Jay .316                                                                       Zack Cozart .253
Carlos Beltran .276                                                            Drew Stubbs .229
Matt Holiday .303                                                              Brandon Phillips .289
Allen Craig ..313                                                                Ryan Ludwick ..270
Yadier Molina ..324                                                           Jay Bruce .260
David Freese .298                                                              Todd Frazier .293
Skip Schumaker .300                                                         Scott Rolen .245  
Rafael Furcal .269                                                              Ryan Hanigan .292
Lance Lynn .073                                                                Mat Latos ..188

Lynn 13-5 3.73                                                                  Latos 10-3 3.56

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Another Dimension to Billy Hamilton

Hamilton Steals Third

On March 15 last spring, I was watching Bakersfield play the Arizona Diamondbacks high A affiliate.

Edinson Volquez had visa problems preventing him from appearing in any exhibition games for which admission was charged.  He was limited to minor league games on the back fields which is why I was there.

What I saw described below was perhaps more amazing than the stolen base record that the 21-year old from Taylorsville, Mississippi just set and extended to 148 last night for Pensacola.

Hamilton wears #4 for Blue Wahoos
We had seen him late in games in 2009 at shortstop and got a glimpse of his speed and raw skills at shortstop but below was one of the most impressive plays I have ever seen.

The most impressive play of the day is the young shortstop, Billy Hamilton, who can flat run.

Juan Duran was in leftfield when one of the Diamondback farmhands hit a fly ball to medium deep left field that was drifting toward the foul line. Duran could not find it in the Arizona high sky with no clouds.  Hamilton ran it down from his shortstop position and caught it, diving head first with his back to the infield.

As much baseball I've seen in my lifetime that was as impressive as anything.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ugly Win Puts Reds at Season High Point

Dusty Baker wanted to talk to the team about defense.  Cincinnati has built a 6-1/2 game lead with pitching and defense but since Thursday the defense has been sloppy.

"I intend to talk to them about defense again," Baker said before the game.  "Offense wins you games but bad defense can lose games but all people see is the offense.  What good does it do to drive in two runs, then let in three with errors?"

Xavier Paul kept the Cincinnati Reds winning in spite of themselves.

Paul led off the ninth inning with a pinch-hit triple and Ryan Hanigan followed with a single Sunday as Cincinnati overcame three more errors to pull out a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.

 Paul lined the first pitch from Shawn Camp (3-6) over first base into the right-field corner. Hanigan hit the next pitch to left-center over the drawn-in Chicago outfield.

The reserve outfielder was thinking triple all the way, he said.

 "I knew the ball was down the line and I had a chance for three," he said. "I was trying to bust it out of the box. There's a big difference between being on third with nobody out and being on second with no outs. On the first pitch, I was looking for a pitch I could drive. I went out with the mindset that, if I got a pitch I could handle, I was hacking. I got it, and luckily, I got a good swing on it."

Aroldis Chapman (5-4) struck out two in the ninth. Brett Jackson doubled with one out, but was caught trying to steal third.

The NL Central-leading Reds, who went into the game leading second-place Pittsburgh by 6 1/2 games, took three out of four from the Cubs and finished a 5-2 homestand despite committing three errors on Sunday, leading to two unearned runs, and 10 in the seven games, leading to seven unearned runs. The Reds went into Sunday's games tied for second in the league in fielding, and the sloppy glovework left manager Dusty Baker less than giddy about the win.

"Is there stink on the field?" wondered Baker, who said he spoke with his team about tightening up the defense while the Reds were in Chicago Aug. 9-12. "It was an ugly win, but a win's a win. We've got to tighten up the defense. That's one thing we pride ourselves in. We've just got to keep working. It's a matter of concentration. We've got to go back to total concentration."

 The Cubs capitalized on two errors to tie the score. Third baseman Wilson Valdez misplayed Darwin Barney's potential double-play ball with no outs in the sixth, leading to Alfonso Soriano's sacrifice fly and Starlin Castro's RBI single.

 Jay Bruce dropped Luis Valbuena's fly ball near the right-field warning track with one out in the eighth inning, allowing David DeJesus to go from first to third. DeJesus scored on Soriano's groundout.

 The Cubs' comeback allowed Chris Volstad to avoid the loss, but his streak of consecutive starts without a win was stretched to 24, dating to July 17, 2011, when he was pitching for the Marlins. He allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings.

The errors cost Mat Latos his fourth straight win. He gave up six hits and four runs _ two earned _ with six strikeouts in eight innings.

"I was spotty here and there," Latos said. "I didn't have control of my fastball or command of my curveball or slider. I got by with what I had."

Cincinnati took a 1-0 lead in the first on Bruce's two-out single. He is batting .406 (13 for 32) during an eight-game hitting streak, which started immediately after he got two days off.

The Cubs tied it in the third on Scott Clevenger's leadoff walk, Volstad's sacrifice and DeJesus' ground-rule double.

Consecutive singles by Bruce, Todd Frazier and Valdez to lead off the fourth produced the go-ahead run. Hanigan's sacrifice fly and Latos' RBI single made it 4-1.

Volstad was hurt as much by bad luck as anything, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

 "It started with a cueball by Bruce and a (lunging) single that found a hole by Frazier," Sveum said. "Then he threw a bad pitch to Valdez and got lazy with the pitcher."

Volstad agreed, especially on Latos' hit.

"There was no reason for the pitcher to get a hit there," Volstad said.

Joey Votto's Rehab Will Continue At Home (Video)

The Reds' firstbaseman will not make the trip to Philadelphia.  He is still experiencing pain in his injured knee.

No time table has been set.  He met privately with Dusty Baker this morning.  Neither Baker, nor Votto, have a date in mind for his return.

"I'm always hopeful," Baker said.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Todd Frazier Beats Old College Rival in Reds' First Game Win

Todd Frazier and Jeff Smardzjia have met before.

Samardzjia pitched a Notre Dame University while Frazier was the leading hitter on the Rutgers University baseball team.  They met in Big East play a lot.

On Saturday the pair were trying to establish themselves and bonafide Major League stars.
Frazier got the best of this rematch.

The red hot Frazier has torn up Samardzjia and his teammates this year.

 Frazier, who also drove in Jay Bruce with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, improved to .600 (15-for-25) against the Cubs this season.

"I don't know what it is," the rookie said. "It's crazy. I'm comfortable against them and confident, like always. When I'm at the plate, I feel like I can some damage."

"I played against Frazier in college," said Samardzjia of the hot Reds' rookie. "He's confident. He feeds off momentum and he's swinging a hot bat.  Maybe he can put on a Rutgers jersey and I can put on the Irish(Notre Dame) jersey and we can go back to college. I'm sure I'll be facing him a lot in the future."

The Reds improved to a season-high 26 games over .500 with Johnny Cueto winning his 16th game of the season and improving to 11-0 in day time games.

Johnny Cueto prepares for night games the same way he gets ready for day games, so he can't explain why he's so much better under the sun.

 Whatever the reason, the Reds will take it. Cueto was masterful again on Saturday afternoon and Todd Frazier hit the go-ahead drive for the second straight game, leading the Cincinnati Reds over the Chicago Cubs 5-3 Saturday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.

 "Don't get me wrong," Cueto said through an interpreter after improving to 11-0 with a 1.62 earned-run average in 13 day-game starts this season. "I like throwing at night, but I like pitching in the day, too. It's not really different. It's all in how I get prepared the night before day games."

Xavier Paul and Miguel Cairo added their first home runs of the season as the Reds roughed up another Chicago starting pitcher for three home runs. They hit three off Travis Wood in a 7-3 win on Friday night and three more off Samardzija.

Cueto (16-6) settled down after allowing Alfonso Soriano's two-run homer in the first. The right-hander gave up three hits and struck out eight in eight innings, earning a standing ovation when he walked off the mound for the last time. He also hit David DeJesus, the first batter of the game.

Cueto, who didn't allow a runner past first base after the first inning and retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced, is the first Cincinnati pitcher since Danny Jackson in 1988 to win 16 of his first 25 starts. Cueto has won seven of his last eight appearances to move into a tie with Tampa Bay's David Price for the major league lead in wins. That's the kind of performance manager Dusty Baker has come to expect from the pitcher he believes is a legitimate candidate for the Cy Young Award.

"He was dealing," Baker said. "He has to be a serious candidate for the Cy Young Award. We don't talk about it, but that has to be in the back of his mind."

"I've got to keep working," Cueto said. "There's a lot of baseball to go before I can think about that."

Cubs manager Dale Sveum watched Cueto dominate Chicago for the second time in six days. Cueto pitched eight shutout innings in the Reds' 3-0 win at Wrigley Field last Sunday.

"He has a (2.44) ERA for a reason," Sveum said. "He limits the damage. He did everything. His off-speed stuff was good. He worked inside."

Aroldis Chapman allowed two hits, a walk and a run _ his first in 24 appearances _ but held on for his 29th save.

The first-place Reds (73-47) began the day with a six-game lead over Pittsburgh and an eight-game advantage over St. Louis in the NL Central.

Downtown Goes Frazier ROY?

Still in the first game of a day/night double header, Rookie of the Year Candidate Todd Frazier continues to tear up the league.

His five-game hitting streak was snapped on Thursday night. In the first two games of the Reds' series against the Chicago Cubs, he rekindled his hot streak..

Frazier has hit safely in eight of the last nine games, with seven multi-hit games, including today.  He singled and scored on Xavier Paul's first home run of the season in the first inning.  He hit his 17th home run to open the fourth inning against Jeff Samardzjia.

Frazier is hitting .291 through two at bats.

One former major league general manager said, "Frazier has outperformed (Bryce) Harper."  Even though Harper has the benefit of advanced publicity.

Does he think about the Rookie of the Year award?

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't look at it but at the same time, I don't think about it all the time," Frazier said earlier this week.  "I don't watch what everybody else does (eg Bryce Harper).  I am here trying to help get some wins.  I learned early that those things will take care of themselves."

He apparently listens when manager Dusty Baker speaks.

Baker was asked independently about Frazier as Rookie of the Year and Johnny Cueto or Aroldis Chapman for Cy Young.

"I think about those awards and tell my guys to go for them.  When a team wins those awards usually follow," Baker said.

One could make a case for Frazier as an MVP too considering he has been asked to play two positions on a regular basis.  He has played a lot of thirdbase, his favorite, and has filled in nicely for Joey Votto.  Yet his best position according to Baker is leftfield.

Since Votto has been on the disabled list, Frazier is hitting .318 with five home runs and 19 RBI in 22 starts at firstbase.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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