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.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homer Bailey Pitches Reds First No Hitter in 24 Years

David Dewitt Bailey signed with the Reds after they made the high school star from Lagrange, Texas the seventh player taken in the 2004 draft.  He was expected to become a valuable member of the Red's rotation one day, but no one had a clue that he would author a no-hitter as he did in the Reds' 1-0 win over Pittsburgh at PNC Park.

Bailey goes by the nickname, Homer, which was his grandfather's name.  He had the ABC's of personality disorders that come with many 19-years olds, even those with less talent.  He was arrogant, boastful and cocky in abundance.

After San Diego made shortstop Matt Bush the first pick in that draft, the next seven were pitchers.  Justin Verlander, Phillip Humber, Jeff Nieman, Mark Rogers, Jeremy Sowers, the only lefthander in the group (he was drafted by the Reds but not signed in 2001), then Homer Bailey, who along with Rogers was the only high schooler of the group.  Humber and Verlander have already authored no-hitters in the big leagues.

Bailey was drafted AHEAD of Los Angeles Angels ace, Jered Weaver, who also pitched an no-hitter earlier this season, and current 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez.

Who could blame the kid for having a big head?

In my first encounter with Bailey, who signed under the condition that he be invited to spring training in 2005,  I asked him a question for SportsTicker in a questionaire about players personnal preferences eg. what cd is playing in your car right now?  One question was, if you had a Hall of Fame vote, who would you choose?  Without hesitation he said, "Pete Rose".  My first impression was that he was an intelligent kid, to name the controversial hometown hero.  I was correct.  Bailey is indeed intelligent.

He was also immature.  He came off as very cocky.  He threw hard, around 97 miles an hour and no matter how many times he was told that he needed to work on other pitches, he kept throwing fastballs. 

Tim Naehring, the Reds' farm director once told Bailey that he wanted him to throw more change ups to perfect it.  "I don't care if you get hit with it.  I want you to use it."  Bailey wouldn't do it.

Bailey got a start against Cleveland one day in spring training.  The Indians hit three home runs.  In a post game meeting with then manager, Jerry Narron, he told reporters, "I'm dissappointed he didn't throw his change up."

He was stubborn.  He shook off his catchers, often.  He kept getting hit hard.  In high school he dominated kids his own age but Major League hitters don't care how hard a pitcher throws, they can hit the ball hard.  It is one of those tough life lessons that pitchers, who dominated batters in high school,  couldn't throw it by professional hitters consistently.

After a tough outing he was snippy with the writers including Hall of Fame writer, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News.  He would get upset and pout when writers were less than flattering about his mound efforts to the point he wouldn't talk to writers for awhile.

He unerved his teammates by constantly wearing camouflage and carrying on his person a large hunting knife.  Veteran pitcher, Kent Mercker, said something to the youngster to dissuade him from carrying it around the clubhouse.  He would read hunting magazines in the clubhouse.  He was not a pleasant teammate at times.

New Reds' manager Dusty Baker, had seen this behavior before.  Baker admited to acting in a similar manner when he was a young player.  The Reds' fans and front office were impatient with Bailey.  He wasn't progressing quickly enough. 

"It ain't easy being green," said Baker paraphrasing a line from the Muppets Movie.  "People want him to be at high level right now.  It takes time," Baker said. "You can tell a kid a thousand times how to do something like use you slider more, or curveball.  Throw it in this situation and they just don't get it.  They have to get hit around before they listen or a light bulb goes off."  Such was the case with Bailey.

In the spring of 2008 whether by design or sublime coincidence, Bailey made three spring training starts against the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees again.  He was hit hard.
Baker was asked if he planned it for Bailey to face the three opponents.  Baker denied matching Bailey with the offensive powers with a purpose in mind, but he admitted it was good for Bailey to struggle some.  The Reds had Jim Maloney, who was the ace in the mid-sixties, counsel the kid.  Maloney, who threw a couple no-hitters himself, one in which he walked 10 batters,  was asked to shadow Bailey.

For the last three seasons Bailey has been a model citizen.  He has grown up through his experiences.  Riddled by injuries in three straight seasons, Bailey had ample time to learn new pitches.  He worked hard in the off season.  He put on 25 pounds this winter so that Bailey would be more durable, showing that he could now make corrections on his own.

Bailey set career highs for wins (13), innings pitched (204) and strikeouts (162) after he pitched a no-hit game to top off his best Major League season.  It was the 16th time in Reds' history and the first in 24 seasons, since Tom Browing tossed a perfect game in September 1988, that a Reds' pitcher finished a no-hitter.

And how are these quotes for showing the humbleness and appreciation for his teammates and opponents.  He didn't shake off catcher Ryan Hanigan one time.

“You really have to tip your hat to A.J. Burnett because we’ve gone back-and-forth four times this year, had some real battles together. He pitched one hell of a game.”
And he didn’t forget his teammates.
“And my hat is off to Ryan Hanigan behind the plate (catcher) because it was cold and I didn’t have my best stuff, but somehow we managed to go out there and make really good pitches.”
And the defense?

“Just like it has been all year, the defense covered my back, unbelievably good. They are really the best in the game, make a pitcher look really good,” he said.
“My adrenaline was pumping in the ninth because some of my pitches were running up out of the zone because I was trying to put a little extra on it,” he said. “I told myself to just back off and make the pitch, one pitch at a time, try to get a ground ball or a pop-up.”

The brash teenager has arrived as a player and a person.  The no-hitter is the finishing touch that illustrates his arrival.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reds End Home Schedule With an Exciting Win

The Reds won their 50th game in dramatic style with a 2-1 win after being shutout down to their last out.

Dioner Navarro, who was signed as insurance in case Devin Mesoraco struggled, tripled to the gap in right center on a 3-2 pitch to allow Jay Bruce to score from first base.

Until then 23-year old Wily Peralta, Brandon Kintzler, Francisco Rodriguez, Jim Henderson and John Axford had the Reds' hitters baffled on just three hits.  Peralta only allowed three hits but his right bicep tightened up on him and he had to leave the game one out into the sixth inning.

Axford had earned 15 straight saves.  When he struck out Zack Cozart looking and Joey Votto swinging the Brewers felt really good about their chances.

But Todd Frazier hit the first pitch he saw for his 19th home run.  It was his first since August 21 in Philadelphia.  The home run seemed to infuse the Reds with energy after looking helpless all day.

Bruce bounced a hard single against the shift past the shortstop, Jean Segura.  Navarro battled to a 3-2 count, hitting two out of the park but foul down the rightfield line off Axford fastballs.  The Brewers' closer decided to throw a breaking ball to mix things up.  Navarro hit the ball to the right center field gap and it tailed away from rightfielder Norichika Aoki.  The ball fell in between Aoki and Carlos Gomez.  With Bruce free to run on the full count pitch, he scored easily.

“That was a real big, big, big at bat, especially in regard to the outcome after fouling off two home run balls,” acting manager Chris Speier said.

“That was a tough at bat. Frazier got the big hit. That set the tone. Then Bruce gets on. He’s been doing it all year. I just wanted to put the ball in play and make something happen. I definitely didn’t want to strike out. I knew Jay would be running.,” said Navarro, the former All Star in Tampa.

It could have been frustrating to miss on two home run foul balls.

“It wasn’t frustrating, I was just out there battling," Navarro said. "He’s a tremendous pitcher. He’s got a great fastball. I was looking fastball. He kept challenging me and challenging me. Once I got to two strikes, I was just trying to put the ball in play and make something happen. Then he threw me a little curveball. I was waving Bruce to home plate.”

The frustration was all Axford's.  The Brewers have a remote chance to make the playoffs as a wild card.  This loss hurts their chances.

"As upset as I am right now this is probably the worst I've felt all
year," Axford said.  "I'm just glad I went after them like I used to without putting
guys on.  It was just tough.  I left the ball up.  Then Navarro put
together a fantastic at bat, battling, fouling balls off, then he put
the ball in the gap."

He had to get Navarro off his fastball and a little luck worked against him.

"It was to mix things up.  He was fouling them off toward the third
base side.  I threw something with a little break hoping he'd roll
over it.  I thought Aoki had a chance at first but the ball kept
heading to the gap and never came back.  It was perfectly placed there
was nothing anybody could do," Axford said.

It was Gomez who put the Brewers in position to win.  He hit his 17th home run off Reds' starter Mat Latos.  That was all the Brewers would get all day.  Latos turned in seven strong innings, allowing just three hits and a walk himself.

The Brewers missed a chance to add onto the lead as they did so well on Wednesday night.  Winning pitcher Jonathan Broxton started the ninth. Rickie Weeks singled to lead off.  Ryan Braun hit a flair that fell in the middle of Brandon Phillips, Drew Stubbs and Bruce.  Broxton got Aramis Ramirez to bounce to third.  Frazier forced Braun at second.  Broxton struck out Corey Hart and induced a fly to left by Martin Maldonado.

That set the stage for Frazier.

“What are you going to do," Frazier said.  "I’ve been swinging as hard as I can. I just haven’t been able to square the ball up. I’ve felt comfortable for the past week or so, but I just haven’t been able to put anything together.”

Looking fastball?

“Dead red fastball. When you’re struggling a little bit, you always think heater and try to get it in the spot you want it.”

The Reds move to within 1/2 game of the Washington Nationals , who play the Philadelphia Phillies tonight, for the best record in baseball and the number one seed in the playoffs.

With six games left the Reds at least have a chance to win 100 games for the first time since 1976.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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Weight Plans Pay Off For Two Reds

A pair of young Reds made physical adjustments over the winter that paid off for them.

Homer Bailey put on 25 pounds over the winter.  Jay Bruce lost 15 pounds over the winter.

Both believe it helped them this season and they have maintained the weight throughout the season.

Bailey, 26, has been injury free and made every one of his starts.  He has a career high in wins (12) with two starts remaining.  He has already logged 195 innings in 31 starts, 60 more than his former high in 2010.

"It made me a little more durable," Bailey said.  "I worked pretty good.  I haven't missed any starts.  I've logged almost 200 innings. I haven't spent time on the DL."

Bailey has monitored his weight the entire season.

"It's fluctuated a little bit depending on where we travel," Bailey said.  "During the summer you lose a lot of water weight but I've pretty much stayed the same.  I started at 225 and now I'm a couple pounds above 220, so around 222."

Bruce, 25, took off weight to make him quicker and help his legs withstand the daily pounding in rightfield.

Bruce played in 157 games in 2011.  He made the All-Star team.  Bruce set career highs with 32 home runs and 97 RBI in 2011.  He hit two triples and stole eight bases in 15 attempts.

The Reds' first round pick in 2005 out of West Brook High in Beaumont, Texas, wanted to be quicker as well as spare his legs the extra pounding.

"I felt pretty good all year.  It's kept me healthy and I feel better on a daily basis," Bruce said.  "I just feel mentally it helps a lot, I'm still like 217, 220 right in there.  The weight's still off it's been great."

This season Bruce also was chosen for the All-Star squad.  With seven games left in the season he has established new career highs with 34 home runs and 97 RBI.  Bruce has eclipsed his previous high of 27 doubles with 35.  He stole a career high nine bases and has been caught just twice, indicating that he is a bit quicker. Bruce hit two triples in 2011.  He hit five in 2012, matching his career high set in 2010.

Manager Dusty Baker mentioned this spring that Bruce's swing would be quicker and he could afford to wait on the ball longer to cut down on strike outs.  To some degree that has worked.  Bruce has fanned 146 times in 536 at bats.  In 2011 he struck out 158 times but in 586 at bats.

"My swing was quicker maybe a little bit," Bruce said.  "My issue has always been waiting long enough as it is, so I don't really know."

Both players worked to prepare themselves for this season.  Whether the weight change helped them physically or mentally is debatable.  Perhaps it was other factors such as simple maturation and experience that accounted for the improvement.  The main thing is both set out to be better this season and the fact is they were by several measures.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ryan Ludwick Feeling Better

If the Reds had not clinched the Central Division title, Ryan Ludwick would have played Wednesday.

"I felt pretty dang good today.  I hope tomorrow I feel a little bit better.  I am right around the corner," Ludwick said.

Ludwick hit on the field, ran and did karioke (not the singing although he was asked what song but the leg in front, leg behind lateral exercise).

"I could have played today but I still feel a little bit in there and I don't think it's smart with the situation we're into to push it. I hit pretty well, I ran, I side shuffled. I did it all today," Ludwick said.


Joey Votto has gotten a hit in 11 of his last 12 games (.368).  He has been on base in 40 of 77 plate appearances since returning to the lineup September 5 and reached base in all of the games since then.  He has 20 walks since September 5 which is the most in the Major Leagues in that time.  He has six doubles since then......Ryan Hanigan is hitting .314 in his last 30 appearances....Zack Cozart is 5-for-10 in his last three games.....

Milwaukee Clubs Reds

The Milwaukee Brewers committed an all out assault on Bronson Arroyo and the Reds' pitching staff in an 8-1 win over the home team.

Arroyo was battered and bruised even when he made good pitches.  Even the bullpen which has been spectacular over the last five weeks was beaten up by the offensive minded Brewers, who once were buried in the division but rallied the last 30 games to put themselves into a position to earn a wild card spot.

Logan Ondrusek, Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon were all touched for a run in relief of Arroyo, who surrendered four in his six innings.

The Reds took a lead but the euphoria ended there.  Zack Cozart singled and scored on the 42nd double of the season by Joey Votto, who reached base in all four of his plate appearances.

Shaun Marcum was at his best after that.

"He kept us off balance," acting manager Chris Speier said.  "He made his pitches when he had to and we didn't get much going."

Arroyo got the first two batters out in the third but the wrath of the heart of the Brewers' order was heard loud and clear the rest of the inning.

Norichika Aoki lined his 10th home run into the right field seats.  Rickie Weeks singled.  Ryan Braun singled and Aramis Ramirez hit a tough pitch off of Cozart's glove to score Weeks.

"It was a change up low and away.  He hit it off the ground and hit it hard," Arroyo said.  "If Cozart would have come up with the ball it would have been an unbelievable play, so you couldn't expect that."

It would have ended the inning with minimal damage but the Brewers added onto the lead.

Corey Hart singled to score Braun.

"They battled me hard just quality at bats," Arroyo said.  "They had quality at bats."

Arroyo held Milwaukee for two innings, trying to give his team a chance to fight back.

The Reds big chance came in the fifth.

Ryan Hanigan opened it with a single.  Arroyo bunted him to second.  Phillips lined to center.  Cozart and Votto walked but Marcum fanned Scott Rolen to end the Reds' threat.

The Brewers added a run in the sixth off Arroyo.  Logan Ondrusek allowed a double by Aoki and Braun's league leading 41st home run.  Aoki doubled again in the eighth that scored.Jeff Bianchi, who walked off Sam LeCure.  Simon gave up a home run to Jonathan Lucroy to close the scoring.

The Reds had just six hits.

Is Speier concerned about the Reds' offense?

"No not really, I'm sure we'd like to get on all cylinders shortly.  Everybody is in that situation, hoping the pitching and the hitting come together," Speier said.

Arroyo, who has been through the post season more than any of the other Reds, agreed.

"In the playoffs it's a coin toss," Arroyo said.  "We've had to grind a lot this year to win some close games.  Runs are definitely at a premium this time of year.  It isn't so much scoring runs but just getting on base and putting pressure on their pitchers to build their pitch count up."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Johnny Cueto Bests His Mentor

Mario Soto taught Johnny Cueto nearly everything he knows.  The pair are constant companions during spring training and Soto was with Cueto a lot on the latter's travels through the minor leagues.

With seven innings of five hit, two run baseball against the Milwaukee Brewers, Cueto became the first righthanded pitcher to win 19 games since Jack Billingham in 1974 in the Reds' 4-2 win.

With some offensive help from Joey Votto and Jay Bruce among others and the game was never in doubt unless, you consider the scare of Cueto limping after running the bases in the Reds' two-run second inning.

"He scared the daylights out of us when he came up limping after he ran the bases," acting manager Chris Speier said.  "He was fine.  He really didn't want to come out after the seventh inning. Again you weigh out the risks and rewards and the risks were just to much.  He really went after it with his fastball."

Cueto was a little scared too.

"When I ran the first time, I felt a little something behind my hamstring," Cueto said. "I got scared to but as the game went along, it went away.  I told them I was ok and they trust what I say."

Soto won a career-high 18 games for a Reds' team that lost 92 games.  Cueto plans to call his mentor in the morning.

"It is too late to call him now," Cueto said.  "I will definitely call him and let him know I beat his record in Cincinnati now."

The inning Cueto ran the bases was a scoring one.

Jay Bruce, Chris Heisey, Drew Stubbs and Dioner Navarro hit singles in succession off rookie Mike Fiers. Navarro's hit scored Bruce and Heisey.  Cueto, who leads the team with 17 sacrifice bunts, bunted into the Brewers' shift.  Corey Hart fielded it and forced Stubbs at third, putting Cueto on base.  That is when he felt the hamstring.

Cueto allowed just two lonely singles in the first four innings and he picked one of them, Rickie Weeks off first base.  It was ninth base runner Cueto has caught napping this season.  Ryan Braun hit a two-out single in the fourth as Cueto struck out the side.  Carlos Gomez doubled with two outs in the fifth and scored on a single by Jean Segura, who the Brewers got in a trade for Zack Grienke from the Los Angeles Angels.

The Reds got that run back in the bottom of the inning.

Zack Cozart tripled off the left center field fence to open the inning.  Votto found a gap with his 41st double of the season.  Bruce doubled Votto home, establishing a new career high with his 98th RBI.

"I focus on controlling the things I can control and that's the work I do in the batting cage.  You can't control success. You can only put yourself in position to be successful," Bruce said.  "But I feel like I've done a better job of that but I'm still underachieving in my opinion."

The Washington Nationals lost to Philadelphia so the Reds are tied with them for the best record in baseball.

"We are going to do what we need to do to get ready for the playoffs," Speier said.  "Those things will take care of themselves."

"We have a good team and Washington has a good team," Bruce said.  "We have a competitive lineup, whoever we put out there.  We expect to win every game.  They (Washington) knows what they need to do and we know what we need to do."

Dusty Baker Suffered a Stroke On Friday

Chris Speier has been handed the keys to the New Red Machine as manager Dusty Baker recuperates from a mini-stroke on Friday as he was about to be discharged from Northwestern Memorial Hospital from atrial fibrillation..

"While at Wrigley Field, I was blessed to have our trainer, Paul Lessard," Baker said through a statement released by the Reds today.  "He had the good sense to call in Cubs' team physician, Dr. Stephen Adams, who examined me in the clubhouse, immediately determined how serious it was and personally rushed me to Northwest Memorial Hospital."

His neurologist, Dr. Joseph Broderick, cardiologists, Dr. Dean Kereiakes and Dr. Daniel Beyerbach expect Baker to make a full recovery and return to the dugout, possibly as soon as the season's final series in St. Louis.

Acting manager, Chris Speier will continue the on field management of the Reds until Baker returns.

"He addressed the team and looked great.  He lost a lot of water weight," Speier said.  "It was great to see him.  We are all anxious to get him back in charge."

Bronson Arroyo echoed that Baker lost weight.

"He looked like he was in good spirits.  It looked like he'd been on a diet and been to Jenny Craig for the last two months," Arroyo said.  "It's obviously a situation had it occurred on a plane it would have been a lot worse. We are going to have him back which is nice to know.  It would have been a little strange going into playoff time without the skipper you've had for the last five years."

Milwaukee Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke spoke to Baker 10 minutes before his daily media conference.

"I left him a text a couple days ago, telling him I'd see him in a couple days," Roenicke said.  "He called me a little bit ago.  He sounded good.  He was a mentor of mine.  When I came to the big leagues (with the Los Angeles Dodgers) he and Rick Monday and Terry Forrester really broke me in the right way."

Managing a major league team is a stressful job.

"It can be," Roenicke said.  "It's a stressful job.  It is but he's been doing it a long time and he has the right temperament for it.  It's probably not as stressful to him as it is to some other people.  It is hard on these guys.  They like back. And when you're without him it's different.   But hopefully he'll get back and be fine and take these guys into the playoffs."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dusty Baker Meets With His Team Before Reds Loss

Chris Speier managed the Reds for the fifth straight game, an anti-climactic 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who still have a shot at the last wild card spot.

Baker arrived under cover and the players had a private meeting with him in the off limits area of the clubhouse.  Baker arrived this morning but is still resting from treatment for an irregular heartbeat which had him hospitalized at the Northwestern Medical Center in Chicago.

Acting manager Chris Speier said that the Reds hoped to have Baker back on Tuesday.

"If he gets a good night of sleep and with the day off tomorrow, we hope to have him back.  We have to see how he feels," Speier said.

Sources close to Baker said that he has been told to take it slow.  He may not manage again until the playoffs.

"It was a welcome sight to see him," Ryan Ludwick said.  "He made his rounds and everybody gave him a hug. We are hoping, praying and pulling for him.

"Dusty came in and looked good," Speier said. "He's in great spirits.  We hope to have him back but we'll play it one day at a time."

Homer Bailey was scheduled to duel former Reds' ace Aaron Harang, who was on three days rest.  Harang was moved up because Clayton Kershaw was recovering from a sore hip.  Kershaw was cleared medically and made the start instead.

Kershaw, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, showed some rust walking five but he struck out Joey Votto with the bases loaded in the fourth and finished the fifth by striking out Denis Phipps.

The Reds rested Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen and Zack Cozart.  Leftfielder Ludwick is still out with strained groin.  Ryan Hanigan left the game with a bruised right shoulder.  X-rays were negative.

"Hanigan took a pitch in the Adam's apple.  I just took him out as a precaution," Speier said.

Ludwick is more sore than he thought he would be.

"It was three days ago.  I had to back off a little.  I would like to get in some games before the season ends but the important thing is to get ready for the post season," Ludwick said.

Bailey solved everyone in the Dodgers' lineup except Adrian Gonzalez.  Gonzalez had tagged Bailey three times for home runs in 12 at bats, coming into the game.  He added two more, solo home runs in the second and seventh innings.

"If you want to get Adrian Gonzalez hot, send him to face me.  He's just a tough out for me," Bailey said.  "Both pitches were out of the strike zone and he still hit them out.  Other than that, I wasn't as sharp as I've been the rest of this month but I got out of some jams."

"I thought Homer was solid. I wanted to see if he could get through that inning," Speier said.

Kershaw walked Wilson Valdez and Votto to start the third inning.  Todd Frazier tied the game with a run scoring single.

Gonzalez second home run put the Dodgers up 2-1 and opened the flood gates.  Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz singled with Dee Gordon, running for Ramirez, reaching third.  Bailey struck out Elian Herrera. A.J. Ellies bunted on a safety squeeze with Gordon breaking for home as Bailey threw Ellis out.  Miguel Cairo, covering first, dropped the ball trying to make the throw home.  Bailey walked Bobby Abreu then left in favor of Jose Arredondo.  A double by Mark Ellis and a single by Andre Either capped a four run inning.

Rookie Denis Phipps hit the first home run of his career in the eighth off Ronald Bellasario to make the game tight at 5-3.

"I was going to pinch hit for him to be honest with you," Speier said. "If it had been a must win situation I probably would have.  I'm glad he got one it was nice to see."

Phipps had an injury riddled season at Triple A Louisville.  He had a bad shoulder and his numbers were down but he came back strong at the end of the season.  The Reds' security negotiated for the home run ball which he plans to give to his mother.

"It feels good.  I am happy to be the here. I have good teammates here," said a grinning Phipps.

Brandon League pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the win for the Dodgers.

Chris Speier Managing Reds on ESPN

For the first time in five days  a Baker will be on the Reds' bench but it is Dusty Baker's 13-year old son Darren.

Baker is in Cincinnati and may or may not come to the ball park tonight.

"With the day off tomorrow, he can get a good night's rest and depending how he feels be ready on Tuesday," acting manager Chris Speier said.

The Reds now turn their eyes to the playoffs.  Players will get their work in but get significant rest over the next 10 plus days.

There is work to be done.  The Reds have yet to clinch the home field edge over San Francisco, although they are extremely close to doing so.  The Reds are in a dead heat with the Washington Nationals for the best record in the NL and with it the home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
for proofreading services
Call 513-240-3120

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reds Celebrate but Miss Their Leader

The scene was not as chaotic in the clubhouse as it was two years ago.  Then Dusty Baker did the bounce with champagne dripping from all over his body.  Baker had a solitary and sedate celebration since he was hospitalized with an irregular heart beat.

This is no longer new to the team in spite of its youth.  Yet some of the key members, Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart were rookies.  That is past tense now.

Joey Votto stopped his personal revelry to video tape a message to Baker.

"Dusty wish you were here. This is definitely for you," Votto said into the camera.

In the opposite corner, Scott Rolen, who was an offensive force and a defensive stabalizer after a horrible start, put into perspective how important the youngsters were.

"They were good all the way," Rolen said. "Cozart was the unsung hero.  He played a gold glove shortstop."

This may be Rolen's last year but right now his thoughts were with his manager.

"We had a little toast to Dusty, our little private thing. He digs this kind of thing. It's a shame he wasn't here," Rolen said.

Brandon Phillips had his own little ritual for his manager.

"If it wasn't for Dusty, we wouldn't be here," Phillips said.  "I poured some champagne on the ground for my homey. I'm going to call him.  We're still on a mission there are things we've got to do."

Chris Speier is not only the bench coach but one of Baker's friends and goes back to when both were San Francisco Giants coaches.

"This is special. It's really special.  When you go through this you want the people who had a lot to do with this moment to be there and experience it.  I and all of us feel we wish he was here. The latest is he should be back here tomorrow.  It will be very low key.  It's all good (health wise). Everything's good right now. But there isn't anything worse than not having Dusty here.  I thought about him a lot throughout the whole game.  I got distracted during the game because my thoughts were with him.  These are special times.  I haven't talked to him.  His phone has gone off the charts.  You can't get through.  The only way to reach him is through one of his friends that is in the room with him.  At some point not to late from now, I will talk to him."

Clinchmas In Cincinnati As Reds Cop NL Central Flag

For nearly 100 years the Cincinnati Reds' were only professional franchise in the Queen City.  The Royals moved from Rochester, New York in 1957 and they left in 1972.  The Bengals arrived in 1968.  It is said there are two seasons in Cincinnati, baseball and winter.

For the second time in three years the once proud baseball franchise finished the 162 game marathon at the top of its division.  Both times on the strength of a Jay Bruce home run the Reds finished off its nemesis from the Big Red Machine era, the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-0.

In 2010 the franchise snapped an eight-season slump without a winning season.

The Reds' distanced themselves from the NL Central pack with a torrid stretch immediately after the All-Star break.

Beginning the day with an 11-game lead over arch-rival St. Louis with 11 games to play, either a loss by St. Louis or a Reds' win gave the crown to Cincinnati.

Bruce hit his 34th home run of the season 443 feet into the Dodgers' bullpen off young Stephen Fife, snapping a scoreless tie in the fourth.  The Reds added a run on a two-out single from rookie Todd Frazier an inning later.  Brandon Phillips clubbed his 18th home run off Matt Guerrier in the seventh.

Mat Latos, who cost the Reds three first round draft picks this winter in a trade with San Diego, scattered six harmless singles to earn his 13th win against just four losses.  Latos put eight scoreless innings in the books as the excitement in the ball park grew with each pitch.

The Reds added three runs in the eighth to break it wide open.

Acting manager Chris Speier went to Aroldis Chapman, who hadn't pitched since September 10 due to shoulder fatigue.

Matt Kemp grounded out to Zack Cozart at shortstop, the crowd got charged up.
Adrian Gonzalez walked with the crowd on its feet.
Hanley Ramirez hit into a 4-6-3 double play setting off a mob scene on the field to a rousing cheer from the stands.

Dusty Baker Still In Chicago Hospital

Acting Reds' manager Chris Speier told the media earlier this afternoon that Dusty Baker will not make it to Great American Ball Park today and will miss his fourth straight game.

The Reds' are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers with one eye on the scoreboard.  A Chicago Cub win over the St. Louis Cardinals will clinch the NL Central for the Reds before the outcome of its own game with the Dodgers is complete.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Reds Wait Another Day to Clinch

The Dodgers delayed the Reds party by scoring two runs in the 10th inning in a 3-1 win.

The Dodgers are fighting for a playoff spot with the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.  They are now two games behind the Cardinals and a half game behind the Brewers.

Bronson Arroyo is the elder statesman of the Reds' pitching staff at the age of 35.  Needing one more victory to secure the NL Central crown, Arroyo took it all upon himself but got very little help from his teammates..

He allowed just five hits through the first seven innings but two were by Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz, leading off the second inning.  Ramirez score on a ground out to Brandon Phillips, scoring Ramirez but that was all the slumping Dodgers could muster off of the veteran righthander.

Dodgers' starter Joe Blanton stymied the Reds as well with just a first inning Joey Votto single to tarnish his pitching line over the first 4 2/3 innings.  Pinch hitter Xavier Paul getting a start over the slightly hobbled Ryan Ludwick, hit a ground rule double to deep left center.  Dodger skipper Don Mattingly decided to walk Ryan Hanigan to pitch to Arroyo.  On cue Arroyo tied the game with a sharp single to left.

Arroyo allowed a bloop single to Andre Ethier with two outs in the eighth but got the dangerous Matt Kemp to fly out to Drew Stubbs in centerfield.

"Bronson pitched a phenomenal game against a pretty potent lineup.  We just couldn't get anything going," acting manager Chris Speier said.

"It was nice to tie the game.  I definitely wouldn't have been able to go out for the eighth if we didn't tie it up. It was a playoff atmosphere.  The Dodgers are fighting for their lives," Arroyo said.

The Dodgers' bullpen handle the Reds through the eighth, stranding three Reds' baserunners with two out in the sixth when Shawn Tolleson struck out Paul.

Former Dodger closer Jonathan Broxton took over for Arroyo in the ninth. Broxton retired Adrian Gonzalez,  Ramirez and Cruz in order, setting up Jay Bruce to lead off the ninth against Ronald Bellisario.  Bruce clinched the 2010 NL Central crown with a leadoff ninth inning home run off Tim Byrdak of Houston.

The home run was on the video board as Bruce stepped to the plate.

"When they're playing on the screen, you obviously can't help think about it," Bruce said.  "Once I started the at bat I was just trying to take a good at bat. I thought about it before the at bat too.  It was a pretty big moment in my career, I didn't forget about it.  I felt like it was a playoff atmosphere it was a must win for them.  They played us tough.

This time Bruce struck out. Stubbs and Paul followed suit, taking the game to extra innings for the fourth time in 10 games.

Sam LeCure, who has pitched effectively down the stretch, started the 10th inning.

LeCure got two strikes on Elian Herrera, then nicked him on the sleeve with a pitch.  Catcher A.J. Ellis bunted.  Votto's low throw allowed both runners to reach base.  Pinch hitter Nick Punto bunted the runners over.  Mark Ellis walked.  Speier brought Sean Marshall into the game to face the lefthanded Ethier.

Marshall struck out Ethier on three pitches.  He got ahead of Kemp 0-2 but the Dodgers' slugger dumped a two-run single into rightfield.

"The way the inning played out, I'd have like to see it by taking the out with Joey being aggressive.  Herrera is a good runner. Then we just made a mistake on an 0-2 pitch," Speier said.

The Reds found a silver lining.  By not clinching their manager Dusty Baker may be able to make it back to join the celebration.

"Of course everybody in here and in the organization wants him to partake in this.  The reality is that you stay focused.  Thinking about his health and well being is first and foremost.  Would it be great to have him here? Yeah, but I think everybody in here really, really wanted to get it.  It's going to happen and to me the sooner the better," said Speier, who is 6-1 as the Reds acting manager since 2008.

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Zack Cozart is Back, Dusty Baker is Not

Rookie Zack Cozart missed 14 games with a strained left oblique.  The Reds with an 11-game lead let it heal longer than they normally would.

Dusty Baker intended to return today but has not been seen and his whereabouts are unknown.  He was in a Chicago hospital overnight for observation.  The Reds sent an email that explained his doctors were concerned about his traveling today and decided to keep him another day.  The St. Louis Cardinals are in extra innings with the Chicago Cubs.  A Cubs win and the Reds have a possibility to clinch tonight with a win.  Baker is reportedly watching the Cubs/Cardinals in his hospital room.

St. Louis held a 4-2 lead over the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and no one on base.  Fernando Salas allowed a single to David DeJesus.  Salas had Darwin Barney down to his last strike before he hit one into the left field seats to send the game to extra innings.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reds Empty Bench to Sweep Cubs Nearer to Clinch

From his hospital bed, Dusty Baker sent in a makeshift lineup to Chris Speier, who won his second straight game as a substitute manager.

Rookies Didi Gregorius and Henry Rodriguez drove in runs.  Rookie Denis Phipps earned his first two Major League hits.  Xavier Paul, the Reds' outstanding pinch hitter, started and drove in a run.  Joey Votto drove in a run as a pinch hitter.

Johnny Cueto navigated dangerous waters for six shutout innings to win his 18th game thanks to a decision by Speier.

Cueto was not as sharp as he has been.  He walked four.  He allowed four base runners in one scoreless inning because he picked off Starlin Castro.  It was Cueto's eighth pickoff of the season.  He is the only righthanded pitcher among the top 10 in pickoffs this season.  Only one base runner has been successful stealing a base with him on the mound.  Nine base runners have been erased attempting a stolen base.

The Reds' ace pitched around Castro's leadoff triple in the fourth inning.

Speier brought Votto off the bench with the Reds' having scored the tie-breaking run off Cubs' reliever Manny Corpas.  With one out, Denis Phipps reached base on an infield single.  Ryan Hanigan singled Phipps to third.  Gregorius, hitting .316 in his brief career, singled home Phipps with the first run of the game. 

This is where Speier made an executive decision bringing arguably the NL's best hitter off the bench to bat for Cueto.  Votto singled home Hanigan for the second run then resumed his "day off".  Pual singled in Gregorius.  Rodriguez doubled to left center to score pinch runner Mike Leake and Gregorius.

That completed the Reds scoring.

A bullpen of Jose Arredondo, Sean Marshall, Logan Ondrusek and Alfredo Simon, who earned his first save of the season, made the runs stand up.

The win guaranteed the Reds' a minimum of a wild card spot.  Any combination of Reds' wins or St. Louis Cardinals losses clinches the NL Central.

Dusty Baker is expected back on Friday as the Reds attempt to clinch against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Cardinals play the Cubs Friday afternoon.  A loss in that game by the Cardinals would clinch at least a tie for the Reds. 

The Reds are also a season-high 32 games above .500.  They are momentarily in a virtual tie with the Washington Nationals for the best record in baseball.  The Nationals are playing a night game against the Dodgers.

Also of note, Cubs' starting pitcher Jason Berken struck out four batters in the second inning but only one other batter in his six scoreless innings.