About Me

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Todd Frazier's Blast and Mat Latos Gem Earn Reds a Win Over the Cubs

Kent Mercker must feel better about himself at his home in Dublin, Ohio.

Mercker gave up the seventh longest home run in GABP history until Todd Frazier smashed a pitch from his arch rival from his college days.  Frazier hit a poorly placed cutter 480 feet onto the batter's eye in centerfield off Jeff Samardzija.

Mercker's 479 foot home run that he allowed to Ryan Howard five years ago fell to the eighth position on the long ball list.

More importantly, the blast made a 1-0 winner out of the Reds without going to extra innings.  It allowed Mat Latos, who has pitched well all month, to pick up his first win of the season.

Latos threw blanks at the Cubs all day.  He wasn't over powering with just four strikeouts but he allowed just four hits in seven innings, including an infield single in the eighth.  He walked Dioner Navarro to start the frame and left with two on and no out in the inning.

Jonathan Broxton picked him up.  Cody Ransom bunted the potential tying and winning runners to second and third.  Broxton carved up pinch hitter Alfonso Soriano for a strikeout. David DeJesus sent a chill down the Reds' collective spines with a flair down the rightfield line that was less than a foot foul.

Zack Cozart saved the runs and the games with a brilliant stop behind secondbase and an accurate throw to retire DeJesus and end the threat.

By stranding the runners, Latos ERA dropped to a very good 2.16.

"It was an unbelievable play in that situation," Cubs' manager Dale Sveum said.  "The foul ball missed the line by less than a foot.  That's what happens when things aren't going your way."

The Reds found runs to be scarce and Frazier's sixth home run on the season was a welcome sight.  Both teams pitched well during the series that the Reds claimed two games to one.

The first two went extra innings, 13 of them on Monday in the Reds 5-4 win and 10 in the Reds' loss in the 4-2 contest on Tuesday.

"It all begins with starting pitching," Dusty Baker said. "The Cubs had great starting pitching too.  We were told they were getting great starting pitching."

Louisville Slugger Logo Designed in Cincinnati


One of the most famous brand names in sports had its new logo designed in Cincinnati


Baker is Looking For Production in Leftfield. Xavier Paul Gets the Start

Dusty Baker is worried about the wear and tear on the bullpen.  The Reds have played the equivalent of 22 games due in part to the lack of key hits.  They have played five extra-inning games and had chances to win in nine but stranded too many runners, including 17 in the 13-inning game Saturday against Miami.

"I'm looking for production," Baker said.  "We have left too many runners on in key situations."

Chris Heisey has been getting the most playing time since Ryan Ludwick was injured on opening day.

Heisey is hitting .183 in 20 games with 71 at-bats.  He has driven in five runs.

Xavier Paul started four games, hitting .346 on the season with eight RBI in 26 at-bats.

Heisey's at-bats have come with 30 men on base, 20 in scoring postion.  Heisey is hitting .214 with runners in scoring position and has driven in two of the 20.

There have been 21 men on bast in Paul's at bats, 13 in scoring position.  Paul is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position, driving in six runs.

"I talked to Gene Clines about Paul years ago.  Gene had Paul in the Dodgers' organization.  Paul can hit.  He's been working on his defense."

Paul has adapted to a role off the bench.

"I don't get too high or too low," Paul said.  "I have learned to accept failure and handle success.  When I was with the Dodgers I hung out with Juan Pierre, who was learning how to play off the bench when the Dodgers got Andruw Jones and Manny Ramirez.  He taught me how to stay ready; how to get my sprints in, while he was learning to do it.  I try to do things between innings.  We have a 60-yard track and some indoor cages.  I try to stay ready when Dusty calls on me."

Like any one else Paul wants to play everyday.

"It was a big blow when Ludy (Ryan Ludwick) went down but we have a good group of guys.  I know Heis (Heisey) will get hot," Paul said.  "I will be ready when my turn comes."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No Triskaidekaphobia For the Reds.

For the third time in this young season the Reds played a 13-inning game.

Although they lost the first one and an 11-inning contest earlier in the month, the first home stand no less, the Reds won its second 13-inning game in three days with a comeback 5-4 victory over the Cubs.

The game started as a pitching duel between two young pitchers who competed for the fifth starting rotation spot in 2010 for the Reds.

Travis Wood, who was traded along with Dave Sappelt for Sean Marshall, pitched brilliantly for the Cubs.

Mike Leake allowed a home run to David DeJesus the Cubs leadoff batter but only one other marker in his seven innings. Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a run scoring single in the third inning.  Leake allowed a total of eight hits but pitched seven strong innings.

Wood was rolling along.  He gave up two singles to Devin Mesoraco.  He walked Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo.  He also hit Choo with a pitch, the 10th time this month that the Reds' centerfielder was plunked.  It set a Reds' team record.

Outside of that Wood was cruising until Jay Bruce hit a line drive high enough to clear the rightfield fence leading off the seventh inning.  It was the first that Wood allowed this season and the first that Bruce hit.

Reporters crowded around Bruce to ask about it but he beat them to the inquiry.

"Did you think I wasn't going to hit one?" Bruce asked.

Did you?" the reporters echoed.

"I really didn't even think about it," Bruce said.  "History showed that I hit home runs.  I didn't even give it a thought."

Chris Heisey legged out an infield hit one out later that ended the night for Wood.  Pinch hitter Jack Hannahan tripled off James Russel, who was born in Cincinnati.  Russell's father and uncle played the main sports at Wyoming High School.  He was the lone lefty in the Cubs' bullpen.

From the seventh through the 12th inning it was the managers trying to get enough innings out of the bullpen in this battle of attrition.

Jonathan Broxton could only pitch 2/3 of an inning.  He had to leave the game when Nate Schierholtz lined a pitch off his right hand.  X-rays were negative.  Logan Ondrusek finished the eighth for Broxton with a strikeout. It was the fourth straight batter Ondrusek fanned over the last two games.

Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth striking out all three Cubs' batters.

For the Cubs, Carlos Marmol pitched two innings.  Kevin Gregg pitched one. Russel turned in an inning and 2/3.

The Reds used Sam LeCure for an inning and 2/3. He survived two errors in the 10th but struck out three batters in a row.  For the fifth straight game the Reds struck out 10 or more batters.  The first time in the modern era (since 1900) Reds' pitchers accomplished the feat.  LeCure lost control with two outs and the bases empty.  He gave up a hit to Darwin Barney, then walked pinch-hitter Julio Borbon and DeJesus.

J.J. Hoover rescued him by getting Castro to line to right.  Hoover struck out the side in the Cubs' 12th.

Alfredo Simon and Michael Bowden carried the game into the 13th.

Todd Frazier let Wellington Castillo's grounder through his legs for a two-base error and Luis Valbuena followed with a home run.

The Reds came back.

Xavier Paul singled to start the inning.  Votto lined out to left.  Brandon Phillips sliced one to right that Sappelt couldn't get in front of, sending Paul to third and Phillips to second.   Bruce lined a hit to the gap in right center.

"I use the same approach, just look of a pitch to drive," Bruce said.

Cesar Izturis lined a single to left and the Reds celebrated.

"It was a great win for us," Dusty Baker said.  "It was a long night for thinking.  We almost ran out of pitchers."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Zack Cozart Back to Face His Friend Travis Wood

Zack Cozart was surprised his fingers didn't swell up worse than they did.

The Reds shortstop had the fingers on his right hand pinned against the bat while trying to bunt on Saturday.

On Sunday they felt so good that he asked the trainer, Paul Lessard, if he could throw.  Dusty Baker told Cozart the story of former Dodger teammate Bill Russel, who had his fingers broken trying to bunt  and was never the same.

"Paul and Steve (Bauman) did a good job of getting me ready," Cozart said.  "When it first happened I thought they were broken.  After I found out they weren't broken Dusty told me the story and that it brought back flashbacks."


Cozart will wear padding under his batting club to absorb shock from his bat.

Baker also quipped that Cozart wanted to face his friend and former minor league teammate, Travis Wood, who will be the Cubs starter.

"You don't want your friends to be able to say that you're ducking them," Baker said.

Baker would never miss J.R Richard although he had trouble hitting him.

"It's always cool to play against your old teammates and friends," Cozart said.  "We played in Double-A together and hung out a lot."

Cozart's and Wood's wives are friends.

"My wife texted me today and asked if I was going to be able to play against him," Cozart said.

Cubs' manager Dale Sveum is pleased with how Wood has progressed since the Cubs acquired the left-hander from the Reds in exchange for Sean Marshall.  Cubs' backup outfielder, Dave Sappelt, was also part of that trade.  Wood and Reds' starter Mike Leake competed for the final spot in the rotation in 2010.  It is one of those baseball ironies that they face each other tonight.

"Wood was the victim a couple times last year of the wind blowing out at 30 miles an hour last year," Sveum said.

Last year Wood made 26 starts and was 3-3 with a 4.27 ERA.  He allowed 25 home runs.

"He gave up a lot of home runs in those starts and if you take them out, he probably had an ERA around three.  He could always pitch inside.  Now he has learned to hit the corners on his arm side," Sveum said.

This season Wood is 1-1 with an ERA of 1.83 and hasn't allowed a home run in his 19 2/3 innings.  He has pitched at least six innings in every one of his starts.

"Travis is pitching well," Cozart said.  "Hopefully, we can score some runs off him.  It is cool and weird at the same time.  We have to put good at-bats together.  He has good stuff and knows how to pitch."


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Zack Cozart Fingers Escape Serious Injury

Dusty Baker said that Zack Cozart is a lucky young man.

Cozart tried to bunt yesterday when two of the fingers on his right hand were pinned against the bat.  He had to leave the game and was replaced by Cesar Izturis.

It was planned that Izturis would start Sunday's game earlier in the week so the fingers were not the reason but Cozart will have limited duty in the near term.

"It reminded me of Bill Russel," Baker said of his teammate with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  "His finger was bent.  He started throwing sliders to first and couldn't grip the bat the same the rest of his career. Cozart can pinch run and possibly pinch hit but he doesn't have feeling in his fingers so


Ryan Hanigan Disabled Miller Brought Up From Louisville

The Reds placed Ryan Hanigan on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.

Hanigan, who is also dealing with a bruised left thumb, strained his oblique reaching for a high fastball thrown by Aroldis Chapman on Friday.

The Reds transferred RHP Nick Masset from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for catcher Corky Miller.

Miller's contract was selected from Triple-A Louisville.  He will share the catching duties with Devin Mesoraco.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reds Take 13 Innings to Put Marlins Away

A lot of Reds' fans can stop stressing over Joey Votto.

The Reds' leading man had four hits,including his first home run at Great American Ball Park since last June 24, and was on base five times in the Reds' 3-2, 13 inning win.

Votto homered to lead off the third against Wade LeBlanc, then singled in the second Reds' run with a single in the fourth.

Bronson Arroyo pitched seven exceptional innings and had one bad one, allowing two runs in the Marlins' fifth.  He finished with eight innings of two-run, six hit baseball, striking out six.

The strikeouts give him 1,004 as a Cincinnati pitcher, putting him two ahead of Jim O'Toole for ninth on the Reds' All-Time list.

"He pitched a heck of a game," Dusty Baker said.  "He kept some pretty good hitters off balance."

The Reds still struggle with runners in scoring position, stranding 17 runners for the game, including three in the seventh inning.

Shin-Soo Choo, who was obtained specifically to get on base did so, six times in seven plate appearances.  Choo singled twice, doubled, walked twice and got hit by a pitch for the eighth time this season.

Choo's double led off the 13th.  Zack Cozart took a foul ball off his right hand and had to leave the game.  His condition will be determined.  Cesar Izturis replaced Cozart and flied out deep enough to center to move Choo to third.

Miami wisely walked Votto to pitch to Phillips but the Reds' secondbaseman made them pay on his bobblehead day.

The Reds have won five of the six games on the homestand and improve to 10-8 on the season.

Bronson Arroyo Strikes Out His 1000th Batter as a Red Pitcher

Bronson Arroyo stuck out Giancarlo Stanton in the first inning and Justin Ruggiano in the second inning to record his 1,000th strikeout since joining the Reds in 2006.

Arroyo has been among the best and most consistent starting pitchers since, then general manager Wayne Krivsky traded Wily Mo Pena to Boston for Arroyo.

Since 2006, Arroyo has the most wins in the Major Leagues (tied with Tim Hudson), (93), the most starts (tied with Dan Haren at (236) and is second in innings pitched in the National League with 1,508 1/3.  San Francisco's Matt Cain is first with 1,513.

Arroyo struck out Miguel Olivo for his 1,001st strike out as a Red.  His next strikeout will tie him with Jim O'Toole for ninth on the Reds' All-Time list.

Jim Maloney has the Reds career record with 1,592.

Reds Strike Out the Juan Pierre Three Times

In the euphoria among the Reds' fans that attended the game Friday night for getting free LaRosa's pizza for 11 strikeout by Reds' pitchers, the Reds lost 2-1 and Juan Pierre struck out three times.

Pierre is the toughest player in all of baseball to strike out.  He is the anti-Stubbs.

For his career Pierre has fanned once every 17.47 plate appearances.  That is three plate appearances more than the second toughest, teammate Placido Polanco.

It tied a career high for Pierre, the fifth time in 1,897 games that he has been struck out three times.

Reds' manager Dusty Baker and thirdbase coach, Chris Speier, know how rare that feat is.

"I've never seen him do that. I looked at Chris (after the first one) and he looked at me because that doesn't ever happen. Then he struck out again and again. It got us out of some jams."

First year Marlins' manager Mike Redmond isn't quite as familiar with Pierre as Baker and Speier.

"J.P. doesn't strike out a lot, I guess.  He's a good contact hitter," Redmond said.  "J.P. is a professional.  He knows when to bunt, when to move runners up.  He knows how to play the game.  Everybody strikes out three times, I think I've even struck out three times before."

Redmond had 2,404 plate appearances as a catcher for the Marlins and Twins. He struck out 255 times or every 9.2 plate appearances.
Pierre had 7,358 plate appearances coming into this year with 452 strikeouts.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Marlins Edge Reds

The Miami Marlins edged the Reds 2-1 on a frigid, rainy night at Great American Ball Park
Aroldis Chapman threw a high fastball to Justin Ruggiano, who launched it for his second home run in as many nights.

It was Ruggiano's third home run of the season and the Marlins' fifth as a team.

"It was a well pitched game on both sides," Dusty Baker said.  "We're playing good defense. As long as we're playing good defense and getting good pitching. We'll be Ok."

The expectations for Chapman are off the charts.  The fans and perhaps Chapman himself expect to be perfect.  "He isn't but he's close," Baker said. "He (Ruggiano) hit a high fastball which is hard to catch up to.  He hit a high fastball off Cingrani last night. Tip your cap to him.  He might be a high fastball hitter."

The Marlins' starter Kevin Slowey struggled out of the gate but the Reds couldn't finish him off.

Shin-Soo Choo tripled to lead off the game.  Joey Votto delivered Choo with a fly out to left.

Jay Bruce led off the second with a walk.  Todd Frazier followed with a single but Slowey bowed his neck.  Chris Heisey flied to left.  Ryan Hannigan grounded into a double play.  Slowey retired the next five Reds' hitters.  Bruce singled in the fourth and Reds' starter Mat Latos doubled with two outs in the fifth.

Florida scored a run in the only bad inning for Latos all night but Bruce saved the tie.

Nick Green singled.  Donovan Solano followed with a single.  Slowey moved them along with a sacrifice bunt.  Juan Pierre struck out for the second time but Placido Polanco singled to right.  Green scored but Solano was tagged out by Hanigan after he took a perfect throw from Bruce.

Polanco and Pierre are two of the three toughest batters to strike out in the National League but Latos, who struck out 10 for the sixth time in his career got Pierre three times.

Latos doesn't have a win but has pitched some strong games.  He has allowed just eight run in 26 1/3 innings for a 2.73 ERA.

"It's frustrating when the team doesn't win," Latos said. "I did the best I could to keep us in the game."

Latos has given the Reds at least six innings in each of his starts, allowing three or fewer runs in each.  He left two games with a lead that the bullpen gave up, including his last start in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The Reds had one last chance in the ninth when Zack Cozart began the inning with an infield single to the hole at shortstop off Steve Chisek.  Chisek didn't fold.  He struck out Votto to end Votto's streak of reaching base.  Votto was 0-for-3 with and RBI, failing to reach base for the first time this season.

Brandon Phillips, who came into the game tied for the NL lead in RBI with 19 popped to second.  Bruce lined out to right.

Chisek earned the first save for the Marlins this year.

The Reds fell to 9-8 and the Marlins improved to 4-13.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Reds Win in Tony Cingrani's First Start. Teddy Kramer Inspires Todd Frazier

There is something about the "modern" baseball fan that feels the need to be overly critical of a struggling baseball player.  Teddy Kremer does the opposite.  If it's his team, he loves them win or lose.

For years I watched Kremer, who has Down's Syndrome, on the Colerain sideline at football games in which his older brother Dave was a solid player.  When everyone kept their distance from a player, who fumbled, Teddy was there to pat his back and give them a hug.


There was the time that Brad Schutte missed a critical kick near the end of a playoff game in a Colerain loss to Elder.  Teddy was right there for comfort.

Professional baseball players, being paid way more than the average worker, has every move criticized, analyzed and scrutinized to an unfair degree.  The high pay adds to the pressure and the expectations.  It is refreshing that Teddy doesn't care.  That he pulls for his players through thick and thin.

Todd Frazier found out first hand.  He struck out in the second inning and was a little down.

"Frazier said that Teddy came over and gave him a hug and Frazier was mad about striking out. Teddy came over and gave him a hug. Fraz said I can't stay mad any more," Dusty Baker said.

"Teddy was praying for 11 (runs) and 11 (strikeouts).  He loves that pizza, boy."

LaRosa's awards personal pizzas whenever Reds' pitchers strikeout 11 batters.

Tony Cingrani had a tall order.  He has to replace the Reds' ace, Johnny Cueto.

"He pitched well," Dusty Baker said. "He may have been overthrowing a little bit.  Some of his pitches were high and that's not him.  He gave us what we needed and we gave him what he needed."

The Reds solved a 20-year old pitcher for the Miami Marlins.  Jose Fernandez is just 20-years old. He was the first player (14th overall) chosen in the 2011 draft out of Alonso High School in Miami

"He has great stuff," former Red Austin Kearns said before the game.  "It is strange being around a 20-year old like that."  Kearns now 32 was the Reds' first pick in 1998.  He is well aware of inflated expectations.

Through 2 2/3 innings the Reds understood why the hype about Fernandez was justified.

Shin-Soo Choo solved the rookie with a single.  Zack Cozart walked as did Joey Votto, who reached base three times and has been a base runner in all 16 games.  Choo scored on a wild pitch.

Cingrani allowed a leadoff home run to Justin Ruggiano in the fourth.  It was his second of the season and just the fourth for the Marlins this season.

The Reds piled on in the fourth batting around while scoring four runs.

"When you face a pitcher for the first time, you don't know how he throws," Cozart said.  "He throws 95 plus and for the most part he's throwing sliders for strikes and with guys on base he threw some changes which is unusual for a guy that throws that hard," Cozart said.

Cingrani was grateful.

"After I gave up the home run, they came back and scored four," Cingrani said. "It was unbelievable I can't ask for anything more.   One run in five innings in my first game is not too bad.  I have to throw more first pitch strikes the next time."

Didi Gregorius Hit His First Major League Home Run


Former Reds' shortstop Didi Gregorius hit his first major league home run for the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium tonight.

Gregorius was out with an injury for most of spring training.

He hit his home run in the third inning off Phil Hughes in his first at-bat of the season.

Teddy "12 Man" Kremer Is the Reds' Batboy Tonight

Colerain's Teddy Kremer will be the Reds' batboy Thursday against the Florida Marlins.

Kremer has Down's Syndrome.  He has been a fixture on Colerain's sidelines for years wearing a Colerain T-shirt that says "12th Man" on it.
Teddy and Baker

Teddy Kremer Bat Boy
His father Dave, a retired administrator in the Northwest School District, and his mother Cheryl bought Teddy an honorary batboy wish list at a fund raiser.

The Reds' players were so taken with Ted that he has been asked back.

Kremer was also invited to hear President Obama's state of the union address as a guest of the speaker of the house John Boehner.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mike Leake and Reds Crush, Sweep and Own Phillies

The Reds limped home from Pittsburgh to gloom and doom. They faced the Phillies, who have been very tough on the Reds in recent years.

This time the Reds completed a three game sweep of the Phillies to the tune of an 11-2 whoopin.

The Reds completed a suspended game with no outs in the bottom of the ninth to win 1-0 and didn't stop there.

They scored a run in the first off John Lannan.  They added five in the second, three in the third and topped it off with two in the fifth.

Meanwhile, Reds starters held sway over the Phillies bats.  Leake pitched seven innings allowing just three hits and no runs.

Leake matched each hit he allowed with one of his own.  He tripled in the second and singled in the third and fifth, scoring three times.

Derrick Robinson had a single and walked twice.

Zack Cozart doubled, singled and homered in five trips. It was his fourth home run.  His double had to be reviewed because it was close to going out.

Joey Votto was hit by a pitch to extend his on-base streak to 15 games.

Brandon Phillips drove in three runs with two singles.

Jay Bruce singled home two runs and singled again in four at-bats.

Todd Frazier hit his fourth home run.

Chris Heisey doubled and scored.

Devin Mesoraco hit two doubles and scored twice.

Then Leake gave the team some offense.

The Reds' starters allowed two earned runs during the series both coming on Chase Utely's two-run home run against Arroyo on Monday in the eighth inning.

"Leake had his control," Dusty Baker said. "He had everything going.  Granted Philadelphia is a little cold right now."

It was the first time the Reds have swept the Phillies since the 1996 season when they swept four games in Cincinnati in June and again in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in July.

Leake had never beaten the Phillies.  In July 2010, Leake had a 7-0 lead against the Phillies going into the ninth.  Philadelphia ended up tying the game and winning in 10 innings.  In six starts against them, Leake had an 0-3 record with a 9.33 ERA.  His seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts dropped his ERA to 7.41 against the Phillies.

"It does feel good to finish an outing against them," Leake said.  "Sometimes it is easier to pitch in a close game.  You don't get lazy."

The Reds took Leake out after seven.

Justin Freeman, who is likely to be sent down to make room for Tony Cingrani, made his major league debut.  He gave up a double to John Mayberry Jr. and a home run to Freddy Galvis.

The Phillies managed just four runs in the series both scoring on home runs late in the game.

Tony Cingrani Will Pitch In Place of Johnny Cueto

Tony Cingrani will be summoned from Triple-A Louisville to replace Johnny Cueto, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a strained lat.

Cingrani would be the first left-hander to start for Cincinnati in 180 games.  The last left-handed pitcher to start for the Reds was Dontrelle Willis on September 29, 2011.

Cingrani was called up in September of last season, pitching five innings.  He allowed one run and struck out nine. This season at Louisville Cingrani started three games and pitched 14 1/3 scoreless innings with three hits, two walks and 26 strikeouts.  He has one win and zero defeats.

As excited as the Reds are to see if Cingrani can succeed at the big league level, Dusty Baker would prefer the circumstances were different..

"I don't want to see him at the cost of Johnny Cueto," Baker said. "We are here to win ballgames, not to see who the next rising star is."

Cingrani is a work in progress.

"He went down (to Louisville) to work on his secondary pitches," Baker said. "He had hopes of making the team out of spring training. Like Mike Leake did."

Baker wishes that Leake be allowed to developed without the over analysis that seems to trail him.

"Leake is young.  He is going to have something to work on for a long time," Baker said. "I wish he wasn't scrutinized. Let him grow up."

Baker pointed out that Cueto and Homer Bailey took time to develop.

"People wanted Homer out of here a couple years ago.  Johnny was 10-10.  Sometimes you want them to be ready right now.  They need time."

Reds Win the Suspended Game 1-0

The Reds wasted little time in scoring the first and last run of game that was suspended in the ninth inning Tuesday night.

Phillipe Aumont warmed Tuesday night on the Great American Ball Park mound but heavy rains forced a halt to the game.  After 44 minutes it was agreed that the game would be suspended.  At one time, the game would have been replayed in its entirety.

Zack Cozart was effectively on-deck for over 18 hours.

He singled to left centerfield on a 3-2 pitch.  Joey Votto walked.  It extended his on-base streak to 14 games. Brandon Phillips hit a fly to left centerfield.  Ben Revere, who robbed the Reds twice on Monday night with great catches in the outfield, lost the ball in the sun.  The error filled the bases.  Jay Bruce ended the game on the first pitch he saw, lining it to rightfield for a single.

"It was good to get that one out of the way," Bruce said. "I hope it sets the tone for the next game."

Aumont took the loss.  Aroldis Chapman gets credit for the win, even though he hasn't thrown a single pitch on Wednesday.  Chapman is 2-0.

The Reds are insured of taking the series from the Phillies with its second straight victory.  The Reds are now 7-7 on the season.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Reds Snap Five Game Losing Streak Against the Philadelphia Phillies

The Reds needed innings from Bronson Arroyo to rest his battered bullpen.  Arroyo gave him eight strong innings, marred only by a two-run, game tying home run by Chase Utely, a pinch hitter.

The Reds faced a tough customer in Cliff Lee. 

The Reds broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the seventh with two runs.  Joey Votto, who was on base three times, singled to open the seventh.  Brandon Phillips doubled down the leftfield line against Lee, who was Phillips teammate in two organizations, the Montreal Expos and the Cleveland Indians.

Lee uncharacteristically threw a wild pitch that scored Votto.  Jay Bruce battled after falling behind 0-2 and took a 10-pitch walk.  Todd Frazier delivered Phillips with a deep fly to right.  

Frazier was robbed of an earlier run batted in when Ben Revere made a diving catch of his long fly to centerfield in the second inning.  Revere doubled Bruce, who was convinced the ball was over his head.

The Reds have been going through a tough period with a short bullpen, Jonathan Broxton and Sam LeCure were not available.  The short bullpen gave up a five-run lead on Sunday. 

An 'oh no' moment was due.  Chase Utley not in the lineup after going 2-for-14 in the last series hit for Lee with two outs and Dominic Brown on second base.  Utley hit a 2-1 pitch from Arroyo over the centerfield wall to tie the game.

"That was big. I talked to Bronson yesterday. I said we need some innings out of you tomorrow," Dusty Baker said. "He said I know. It was a pitcher's duel all the way because Lee was dealing too.  We had quite a few "at em" balls all night. We thought some of these have to fall.  The centerfielder was robbing us.  They tied it up and you try not to think, 'oh no, here we go again.' "

"I told Brandon, 'you're going to win the game'," Baker said.

Baker was a prophet.  

Derrick Robinson, who like every other player was wearing the number 42 to honor Jackie Robinson, bunted for a single to lead off the eighth for the Reds.  He was batting for Arroyo.  Shin-Soo Choo bunted him to second.  Zack Cozart flairred a double to send  Robinson to third.  The Phillies walked Votto to load the bases and Phillips drove them home with a single to right.

"I told him that was some Jackie Robinson stuff.  That was apprapo. He won it with his legs and scored the winning run.  That was big," Baker said.

"I understand the strategy. I had a chip on my shoulder," Phillips said.

"Dusty must be related to Miss Cleo or something.  He's been money on predictions like that.  We were talking about Robinson in the dugout, like Robinson number 42 scored on Jackie Robinson day.  It's a beautiful thing," Phillips said.

Arroyo had a blast while picking up his teammates.

"It was a super fun game. I think the older I get the more you can appreciate competing sometimes regardless of the results of the game," Arroyo said.  "In a ballgame like that had it gotten away and I lost 4-2, it's never fun but when you go against a guy like Cliff Lee, who has been the best over the last five years, it's fun. Your putting zeroes on the board and he's putting zeroes on the board, it's cool out and you're not sweating too much.  Either way it went it would have been a fun game.  It was a great that we got a win."

Arroyo who prides himself on pitching 200 innings a year was happy to give them to his team.

"Dusty said he needed me bad.  I assumed that meant go deep in the ballgame and get a 'W' out of it," Arroyo said.  "This team (Philadelphia) has been tough on us since I've been in this uniform. They gave me a pinch of breathing room by not having Utley in the lineup tonight.  Sometimes something like that can give you a bit of an edge.  We scored two which was great because those guys stole a couple runs from us (Revere's catch.)

Arroyo also recalled his days in Boston on the day of the tragedy at the Marathon this afternoon.

"I've been out to that Marathon.  I pitched the day of it and went out to the finish line.  It's a terrible situation.  When you're a runner, not a lot of people think about this because we're worried about lives but there were people that trained two years for the event and got cut short before it finished.  It is going to leave a stain on the back bay for awhile.  This is going to change the landscape on Marathon Monday which is sad.  I pitched against the Blue Jays one day and a lot of players went there because Curt Schilling's wife was running in it and Mike Timlin's wife," Arroyo said.


Ben Revere of the Philadelphia Phillies Has Ties to Eastern Kentucky

Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere robbed Todd Frazier with a diving catch near the warning track in the second inning.  Jay Bruce read it as a hit and was easily doubled up at firstbase after the catch.
John Revere EKU Coach

Ben Revere Phillies
Revere grew up in Richmond, Kentucky and attended Lexington Catholic High School.  His father John, played wide receiver for the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels from 1972-1975.  John has been on the EKU coaching staff for the past 16 years, coaching wide receivers and running backs.

Ben was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the first round (28th overall) in the 2007 draft.  The Phillies sent Vance Worley and Trevor May to the Twins in December to obtain Revere.

He split time between the Twins and Rochester last season, hitting .294 in 124 games with Minnesota. He stole 40 bases.

Diving Catch

Johnny Cueto Injury Sends Reds to the Louisville for Help

Johnny Cueto's strained right lat had repercussions in both the Cincinnati and Louisville bullpens, never mind, who will replace him on Thursday against the Miami Marlins.

The Reds selected the contract of Justin Freeman.

Freeman was picked by the Reds in the 32nd round of the 2008 draft. The 5'11", 174 lb. right-hander is 26 years old.  He graduated from Mary Persons High School in Forsyth, Georgia and pitched at Kennesaw State University before signing with the Reds.

Freeman was invited to spring training but was injured for most of it, making two appearances in which he pitched three innings.  He allowed no runs; gave up two hits and struck out three.

"We thought about (Jose) Arredondo but he pitched three innings yesterday," Dusty Baker said.  "He wouldn't be available for a couple days.  He was throwing the best and he has good stuff,"

Baker didn't see much of Freeman but liked his stuff.

"He pitched in the exhibition against the Diamondbacks at the end of spring and showed good stuff," Baker said.  "I talked to Tom Brown (pitching coach at Pensacola).  Brown had him last year. Tom said he could pitch.  He's a character but he can pitch."

 "The way our bullpen is taxed we need someone right now.  We will deal with (Tony) Cingrani when he gets here, whenever he gets here. Cingrani couldn't help us now."

Cueto felt good until he threw a change up in the fifth inning on Saturday.

"I feel good now according to the doctor I'm going to miss at least two outings. I felt it in my triceps but it is the lat," Cueto said.

The latissimus dorsi is attached to the triceps.

Cueto had the same injury at the end of the 2011 season.

"I was feeling so good. I was so relaxed. I can't believe that this happened on one pitch. I don't think this will affect me long at all.  I feel like I can start throwing in about five or six days," Cueto said.

Cueto Placed on the 15-Day DL

The Reds announced that they placed Johnny Cueto on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right latissimus.

The Reds placed Ryan Ludwick on the 60-day disabled list to clear a roster spot.  The team then selected the contract of RHP Justin Freeman from Triple-A Louisville.

Cueto will miss at least three starts.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reds Take Washington in Series Finale Johnny Cueto Outduels Stephen Strasburg

A reporter hinted to Dusty Baker that the Reds were lucky they didn't have to face Stephen Strasburg the last two seasons.

Baker's answer,"Maybe he's the one that's lucky."

Strasburg allowed just three hits in his opening day start against the Miami Marlins over seven innings.

The Reds matched that in the first inning in the 6-3 win on Sunday.

Baker noting that last season left-handed hitters owned a .270 batting average against Strasburg, inserted left-handed hitting Xavier Paul into the lineup between Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto.

That gave the Reds four left-handed batters in the first five positions in the batting order.

It paid off.

Paul singled with one out in the first off the Washington ace.  Votto drew a walk.  Brandon Phillips reached on an infield hit to load the bases.  Jay Bruce, the fourth left-handed batter, doubled to the left centerfield gap, scoring two runs.  Todd Frazier's ground out scored Phillips with the third run.

“I just have to go in there and battle because I know it will be a tough day in the batter’s box,” said Paul before Sunday’s game. “He has a great repertoire of pitches, a really good fastball. I’ve never faced him, but I’ve watched video.”
Now he has faced him and he has had success.
“He has good stuff, no doubt about that,” Paul added. “At the end of the day he had to throw strikes and I had hit strikes. You try to treat him like any other hard-throwing right hander. You just battle him from the mental side of it, but you sure know it won’t be a walkover.”

Bruce came into the game struggling with a .208 average and a team leading 10 strikeouts.

“It’s all pitch selection for me,” said Bruce. “If I pick the right pitch I make contact. It’s a mental approach. This whole season I’ve been trying to take what they give me. A lot of times I get myself out — pretty much every time.

“As for going to left-center (against Strasburg with two strikes), my approach is always left-center,” he said. “It doesn’t always look like it, but that’s it.”

The Reds had their own ace on the mound but he couldn't hold the lead.

Ian Desmond doubled.  Danny Espinosa walked. Catcher Kurt Suzuki quickly tied the game with a home run.

Both pitchers settled in after that, posting scoreless innings until the Reds' sixth.

Derrick Robinson, pinch hitting for Cueto slashed a single to left, the first hit of his career.  Choo hit a hit-and-run single to center that sent the speedy Robinson to third.  Washington played its defense half way.  Paul hit a slow ground ball to Espinosa at secondbase and he elected to try to cut off the run.  Robinson easily beat the throw home.  The runners moved up on Votto's slow roller.  Phillips singled home the other Choo and knock Strasburg from the game.  Bruce hit an infield single off Ryan Matheus to plate Paul.

“Speed kills,” said Baker. “Speed doesn’t go into a slump. I love speed. That’s why Robinson was one of the first call-ups. He has talent.”

Robinson was thrilled with his first hit.

 “It was a great feeling to get my first hit out of the way and have it start a rally like that to win the game," Robinson said. "I was going on the ground, any ball hit on the ground I was going. Instincts kicked in as soon as I saw it.”

Sean Marshall, freshly recovered from a fatigue in his left shoulder pitched a hitless seventh. Jonathan Broxton followed suit in the eighth.  Aroldis Chapman allowed a double to Suzuki but struck out Tyler Moore and Denard Span to end the game.

Xavier Paul Starts Against Stephen Strasburg

Dusty Baker quoted the numbers.  Left-handed batters are hitting .270 against Stephen Strasburg.  Right-handers have managed just .185.

The first three Reds hitters are left-handed today; Choo, Paul and Votto.

"I doubt if those guys know the numbers. Sometimes I don't want them to know," Baker said.  "Sometimes I hide the numbers.  (Jack) Hannahan would be starting too but Frazier's so hot.  Paul was used to playing every day in spring training and is is only a week since we've been there.  So he should be ready.  I try to get guys an at-bat the day before I start them.  You can tell who is going to start sometimes by how I use them the day before."

Paul had one hit in four at-bats but that was a grand slam home run on Friday night.

Heisey has three hits in 20 at-bats for a .150 average.

Johnny Cueto will duel the Nationals' phenom as the mound opponent.

Cueto doesn't care who he pitches against.

"Johnny C is not easily rattled.  He used to be but not any more," Baker said. "He never complains about who he's pitching against.  I've had some guys complain that they get all the tough draws."

When Cueto used to get rattled it was when he would get in trouble on the mound with runners on.

"It's a gradual thing.  The more you get out of trouble.  You find out how to get out of trouble. That's the secret, how to get out of trouble," Baker said.  "Or you find out how to get out of trouble with damage control. You give one run up instead of for.  Cueto knows how to pitch to the situation. If he needs a strikeout or needs a double play, he pitches to the situation.  The good ones do that.  I remember we'd get the bases loaded with one out against (Greg) Maddux. He'd throw that sinker and get a double play. People would call him that lucky so-and-so.  Some guys get lucky all the time."

Choo has been hit four times in five games.  Baker would prefer that he use some other method to reach base.

"These amateurs holler, 'take one for the team', but that ain't the way to get on," Baker said.  "It means they are pitching him inside.  It's only two or three inches between an inside strike and hitting you. They are going to pitch him inside until he proves they can't come in there. As long as they hit him in the legs, those big tree trunks he has.  You just don't want him to get hit in the hand. You shouldn't get hit there if you're getting out of the way properly.  Unless one gets away and you don't see it."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Reds Lose to Nationals in 11 Innings

The Reds comeback brought them all the way back from a 5-1 deficit but the lack of yet another big hit, allowed the Washington Nationals to win 7-6 in 11 innings.

It was the fifth time in 10 games the top two teams in baseball last season took extra innings to decide the winner.

Mike Leake and Ross Detwiler dueled for five innings with the Nationals phenom, Bryce Harper, making a 2-0 difference with a two-run home run in the third inning.

The Reds took advantage of an error by Ian Desmond to cut the lead to one.  Brandon Phillips led off second thanks to Desmond's throwing error.  Phillips scored on a single by the red-hot Todd Frazier.

Two-innings later a lapse in judgement put the Nationals up 4-1.  Leake struck out the Chad Tracy and Desmond to start the sixth but lost Danny Espinosa to a walk on a 3-2 pitch.  Leake got ahead of Wilson Ramos, the eighth hitter with two quick strikes and a foul ball.  Ramos wouldn't bite on three pitches out of the strike zone.

"We didn't care if we walked Ramos," Dusty Baker said.  "The didn't have anybody warmed up."

Leake made his "pay off" pitch too good and Ramos drilled it for a two-run home run.

Jason Werth homered off Sam LeCure leading off the seventh to extend Washington's lead to 5-1.

The Reds had been frustrated by Detwiler all day.  The Reds had two on and no out in the third but Chris Heisey hit into a force play.  Joey Votto grounded into an inning ending double play.

The same scenario played out in the fifth in.ning.  Shin-Soo Choo was nicked with a pitch.  It was the fourth time in five games Choo's been hit with a pitch. Heisey singled.  Votto flew out to shallow left and Phillips hit into a double play.

Cincinnati scored a pair of runs off Drew Storen in the eighth aided by another Desmond error.

Phillips doubled with one out. Jay Bruce singled him to third.  Frazier earned his second RBI of the game with a sharp single between first and second base.  Zack Cozart popped to second as Espinosa raced back to field his soft liner. Devin Mesoraco hit a hard grounder to short that stayed down on Desmond and went through to leftfield.  Bruce scored.  The Reds had the tying runners on second and third but pinch hitter Xavier Paul struck out.

Washington brought on its closer Rafael Soriano to hold the two-run ninth inning lead but Choo greeted him with his third home run of the season.  Votto nearly tied it by himself with a fly to left that hit on the top of the wall.  Votto slid into third with a triple.  He scored on a wild pitch with Phillips at the plate.

The Reds' bullpen is without Sean Marshall who hasn't pitched since March 22.  They used Sam LeCure for the third time in five games.  Chapman struck out the side in the tenth.

Frazier led off the 10th with his third hit of the game.  Cozart bunted him to second.  Mesoraco flew to right.  With two outs Jack Hannahan hit for Chapman to try to end the game.  Craig Stammen struck him out.

J.J. Hoover came on for the 11th.  Hoover worked an inning replacing Manny Parra, who went two innings on Friday and was unavailable.

Desmond attoned for his fielding errors by hitting a two strike pitch for a home run.  One batter later Ramos hit his second home run of the game to put the Nationals in control, 7-5.

"The first home run was on a slider up," Hoover said.  "The second was a well executed pitch but Ramos beat me."

The Reds scored to get within a run in the bottom or the 11th.

With two outs Votto walked.  He took second on defensive indifference and scored on a Phillips second double of the game.

Bruce struck out with yet another chance to get a big hit.

"We had chances to win the game long before Hoover came in," Baker said.  "We have to find a way to hit with runners on base.  Marshall wasn't available and wouldn't have pitched to the right-handers anyway."

Reds Lucky to Avoid Stephen Strasburg, Maybe

The Reds send Mike Leake to the mound for the first time this season to take on the Washington Nationals and left-hander Ross Detwiler.

The Reds have a chance to secure the series with a win today.  For the first time since Monday the Reds will have a different lineup.  Devin Mesoraco will catch Leake in his first start of the season.

Yet the game is a prelude to the series finale in which both teams send their ace to the mound.

Johnny Cueto will pitch for Cincinnati.  Washington sends the much hyped Stephen Strasburg to the mound.  Stasburg was the first choice in all of baseball in the 2009 draft.

He faced the Reds just once before on July 21, 2010. He gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings in a winning effort over Cincinnati, which won the Central Division crown that season.  Strasburg struck out seven.

It was suggested by some Yayhoo that the Reds were lucky that they haven't faced Strasburg since.

"Maybe he's lucky," Dusty Baker said.  "He's a good one.  Somebody has to rise to the occasion.  There are other guys you might pick beside him to face but you can't duck anybody.  Our guy's (Cueto) been in longer. You can't get too far ahead.  This game today puts us in position to win the series."

Jay Bruce busted out of a slump on Friday by hitting two doubles both to the opposite field.

"Well when you're not hitting you go to the opposite field and work your way back Tommy Davis told me, " Baker said.  "When you're pulling your swing is as good as it is going to be. It was nice to see him go to the opposite field but to make contact.  These runs are  too precious to waste."

Manny Parra made his Reds' debut on Friday.  Control has been his nemesis during spring training but Friday Parra pitched two scoreless innings.

"Parra looked good," Baker said.  "He threw strikes. I told him our team you have to trust your defense.  Walks are like strikeouts, you have no chances.  Nothing from nothing leaves nothing it's a Billy Preston song.  We work hard on defense.  Defense is work.  Hitting is fun but defense is work.  You don't win games on defense but it loses games.  This game is designed for 27 outs not 30.  A whole lot of things happen.  They turn the lineup over."

Brandon Phillips made a diving catch of a line drive and turned it into a double play to back Parra.
It came as no surprise to Baker, who has seen many plays just like it made by the Gold Glove secondbaseman.  His newest teammate Shin-Soo Choo hasn't seen Phillips play as long.

"I wasn't surprised but Choo was," Baker said.  "I went by his locker he said, Wow.  I told him to get used to it.

UC Bearcats Take on the Cardinals of Louisville

The UC Bearcats will play the Louisville Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on Saturday following the Reds' game with the Washington Nationals.

It will be the first collegiate game played at the 10-year old ballpark. It is the first Reds Collegiate Invitational.  Fans with tickets to the Reds' game are welcome to stay for the college game. Admission to the college game only is $5.

The Bearcats lost to Louisville ranked number 9 on Friday night, 8-3.  The Cardinals and Bearcat conclude the three-game series on Sunday at Marge Schott Stadium on the UC campus.

The Bearcats (11-16,0-1 Big East) will start Mitch Patishall a freshman right-hander from Pendleton, Indiana.

The Cardinals (23-6, 3-2 Big East) Junior right-hander Jeff Thompson from Greenville, Indiana will put his 5-0 record on the line.  Thompson has an ERA of 0.59.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Reds Score Big Down Only Undefeated MLB Team

Zack Cozart couldn't help but think that he was 0-for-11 on the season. If he could keep his mind off of it three T.V. cameramen reminded him before the game.

Cozart smashed his way out of the mini-slump that would have gone unnoticed had it not been the first three games of the season. He homered in his first two at-bats and drove in five runs to pull the Reds to a 15-0 win over the team that had the best record in baseball last season and was 3-0 coming into the game, the only undefeated team in baseball.

Cozart followed Todd Frazier's home run off Dan Haren with a blast of his own.

"I'm just glad I got a hit," Cozart said. "I'd have taken a double. It's tough not to think about 0-for-11. You want to do good in the moment."

Cozart has been around long enough to know it wouldn't last.  He knew that in spite of the Reds being limited to one run in 13 innings on opening day the team could hit. Cozart knew they could hit good pitching.

"We showed that we can hit," Cozart said. "Washington has a good pitching staff.  We showed that we could hit good pitching."

Four of the last eight games between these two teams went into extra innings.  Neither team had more than a four run lead last season in seven games.

By the time Cozart came around on his second home run of the night, a three-run blast, it was 5-0 Reds.

Shin-Soo Choo hit his second home run in as many nights in the fourth to make it 6-0.  Cozart added a sacrifice fly to make it 7-0.

Homer Bailey who has not allowed a run in his last 19 innings dating back to last season, added a double.

"You can tell it's a good hitting night when I get a hit," Bailey said.  "I like big leads."

Some pitchers find it hard to pitch with a big lead.

"I'll take six shutout innings," said Bailey, who allowed just two hits. "I was in a lot of fastball counts.  My fastball was good tonight."

Bailey walked three but struck out six.

The Reds poured it on in the seventh inning as it emptied the bench.

Brandon Phillips hit his second single of the night.  Jay Bruce hit a long double to leftcenter, a good sign that he is staying on the ball when he hits it that way.  Phillips scored easily.  Frazier hit his second home run off Zach Duke.  Frazier finished with four hits and four RBI.

Devin Mesoraco got to the plate for the first time and singled.  Reliever Manny Parra, who pitched two scoreless innings, singled.  Choo walked.  Xavier Paul hit a long majestic home run for his first career grand slam and his third career pinch hit home run.

"It felt good," Paul said.  "With a 2-1 count I was looking for a pitch I could drive. I want to be in that position.  There wasn't a lot of pressure on me but there was something in the air tonight."

J.J. Hoover pitched a scoreless ninth as the Reds used every position player. Jack Hannahan singled for his first hit of the year.  Derrick Robinson made his Major League debut and reached on an error.

Joel Bender of Oak Hills Gets into His First Game For Dayton

Left-handed Reds' farmhand, Joel Bender, had his first taste of Class-A baseball this afternoon against the Michigan White Caps.

Bender out of Cincinnati's Oak Hills High School, pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief of  Ismael Guillon, one of the Reds' top prospects.

Guillon allowed two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings for Dayton, allowing two runs on one hit and five walks.

Bender picked him up, allowing two earned runs (four total) on four hits and two walks.  Bender struck out two.

Reds Take on the Washington Nationals

The team that finished with the best record in the National League last season visits the Reds, who finished one game off the pace as the second best team.

"The Nationals made it tough on us last year," Dusty Baker said.  "They beat us more than we beat them."

The Nationals won five of the seven games between the two teams last season.  Three went to extra innings. In fact four of the last eight games between the two teams have gone to extra innings.

"All the games were close.  We know its going to be tough," Baker said.  "They have an excellent pitching staff.  They have speed. They added (Rafael) Soriano to an already tough bullpen."

The Reds are covering for thirdbase coach Mark Berry, who is being treated for cancer while the Reds are on the road.

"Miguel Cairo will be handling certain duties when Mark's not here," Baker said.  "He's a student of the game. He played for Joe Torre.  He played for myself.  He picked up some things from everybody.  Miggy pays attention.  He has a different feel of things from being a player.  He is always in the game. Miguel has been the liaison between me and the players, coaches last year."

Jay Bruce is taking some extra swings to try to get his swing together.

"Hitters and pitchers too need a lot of reps.  Jay has a lot of moving parts in his swing.  If something is out of sync, he needs more reps to get confidence in his swing," Baker said. "Good reps lead to positive thoughts and positive actions. Jay needs more reps than a lot of people.  When they're in sync, it is why they are so hot. Jay knows it and I've told him. He fouls off a lot of pitches he should put into fair territory and that puts him in a hole, then he's prone to strikeouts.  The other night he had a pitch he could hit.  Jay should be getting to the point now that these bad streaks should be minimized.  He knows that.  He's not a kid anymore.  It's his fifth or sixth year now.  We need him.  Almost every at-bat he comes up with runners on base.  That's why when he's hot he mounts up a lot of RBI,  When he's cold it increases the pressure."

Davey Johnson the Washington manager will turn his speed guys loose but expects them to be smart.  He has a problem with one of his young stars, Bryce Harper, who tends to be overly aggressive.

"Harper I wanted to kill the other day," Johnson said of his 20-year old player, who tried to steal third in a game earlier this week. "That's Harper.  He thinks he can always make it. You have to me a little smart. He's a pretty quick study. He knows when he makes a mistake.  He's like a lot of young players with talent. Sometimes they expand the strike zone.  They expand running the bases.  They just try to do too much to win ballgames."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Reds Beat the Los Angeles Angels and Albert Pujols for the Second Straight Day

The Reds are now 10,093-9,768 all-time with a 5-4 win over the dastardly Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels.

The Reds took two of the three games from a team that some think are a World Series team.  Pujols and former Red Josh Hamilton were relatively quiet in the series as Reds pitchers struck out a three-game total of 36 for an average of 12 per game for the mathmatically impaired.

After a frustrating 13 inning 3-1 loss on opening day, the Reds bounced back to take a pair of 5-4 decisions.

Dusty Baker was so happy to get Pujols, Hamilton and their young cohort Mike Trout out of town that he would be willing to drive their bus.

Pujols was 1-for-11 but still managed to drive in two runs on Thursday.  Josh Hamilton was 1-for-12 and struck out with the tying run on second against Aroldis Chapman on Thursday.

Mike Trout was 4-for-15 with two doubles but last season's Rookie of the Year hit the ball very hard several times.

"We had excellent pitching.  You have to do that because that team has excellent players.  Those guys didn't get unleashed. Their big boys were caged the entire series.  We feel fortunate to win two out of three," Baker said.  "That Mike Trout, I'll tell you I'd hate to try to tackle him."

Joey Votto and Jay Bruce didn't hit well either but Todd Frazier, Chris Heisey and Shin-Soo Choo picked up the slack, clubbing home runs against former Philadelphia Phillie, Joe Blanton.Choo has been getting on base for the Reds' which is exactly why the Reds acquired the Korean born centerfielder.

"Choo has a lot of talent," Baker said.  "And there is a lot more in there. He'll get even better I think.  These guys were a little easier to play them because he knows them.  He was hitting .440 against (Jered) Weaver, who was the Angels opening day starter.

"Dusty gave me the lineup card for my first home run in Cincinnati," Choo said.  "When you lead off you have a good chance to get a fastball on the first pitch. I was looking for one. Weaver, I've faced a lot.  Blanton I haven't faced that much.  The last time I faced him was three years ago. I watched video.  Most pitchers I haven't faced in the National League. I ask Jay Bruce."

Choo was on base twice in four at-bats.

"I am focused on getting on base," Choo said.  "We have a great lineup."

Heisey is happy to get his opportunity and eager to make the most of it.  One caution he has is not trying too hard.

"It is great to have the backing of your manager.  He's always told me that I hit the ball as hard as anyone in the lineup," Heisey said.  "I actually feel I'm not too relaxed but I'm relaxed because I've been looking for an opportunity to start but not a lot of people have given me the confidence to go out and do it.  So, I don't feel the pressure."

Bronson Arroyo left spring training sharp and it has carried over into the season.

Arroyo pitched six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk.  He struck out five.

"That's the same outing that Bronson had in spring training.  He's been sharp," Baker said.

Arroyo said he felt as comfortable in spring training as he's ever felt.

"This was about an average game for me in spring training.  I threw a lot of strikes," Arroyo said.  "I didn't shut them down completely but this is a big league ball club.  I didn't feel exceptionally strong but my command was there. It was a lineup I was completely unfamiliar with and they weren't familiar with me.  I have less trouble with a team whose power is predominately right-handed.  Albert Pujols I faced a lot and I'm sure he gave them some information. But it was a lineup that doesn't change its approach a whole lot and for that reason we were able to exploit a little bit of their weaknesses."

The home runs gave Arroyo breathing room even though the wind was blowing in toward the batter.

"It was huge.  It was cold out, the wind was blowing in. You don't expect that.  Albert hit a ball off me that would have been out of the stadium on another day but the wind held it up like a kite," Arroyo said.

Reds Play 20,000th Game Today Against the Los Angeles Angels

Dating back to the American Association (the predecessor of the National League) in 1882 the Cincinnati Reds have played 19,999 games coming into Thursday.

The Cincinnati Red Stockings, Redlegs, Reds own a record of 10,092-9,768 with 139 ties, a .504 winning percentage.

The Reds are 5-3 against the Angels and are 105-132 in interleague play.

The lineup for the historic game:

Shin-Soo Choo CF
Chris Heisey LF
Joey Votto 1B
Brandon Phillips 2B
Jay Bruce RF
Todd Frazier 3B
Zack Cozart SS
Ryan Hanigan C
Bronson Arroyo P

They will face Joe Blanton.

Sean Marshall hasn't pitched since March 22.  The left-hander has some shoulder fatigue and has been throwing on the side and getting treatment.

"Spring training was so long, I think I peaked a little early," Marshall said.  "I have a little fatigue.  I should be ready by Friday. The guys in the bullpen has picked me up and we had the off day. They picked me up when I was down. Hopefully, I can pick them up sometime during the season when they are down."

Marshall felt hopeless on Monday when the Reds and Angels played 13 innings.

"I was pacing," Marshall said.  "I was actually throwing (in the bullpen) when Broxton was warming up but I was 75 percent.  We didn't want to have any setbacks."

Chris Heisey was hit in the nose with a ball thrown by catcher Chris Iannetta on Wednesday night. The ball glanced off secondbaseman Howie Kendricks glove and Heisey's finger tip but had enough force to cause some puffing in his face.

"That was a tough one to take," Heisey said.  "I don't know if I saw stars but I was close."

Dusty Baker said, "It shows he can take a punch."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reds Bounce Back to Beat Angels

The resilient Reds bounced back after losing another key player as they did when Joey Votto went down last season for 48 games.

Brandon Phillips, who was looking forward to settling into the number 2 slot in the batting order, was asked to hit cleanup even though he is not the poster child for that slot in the order.

But on cue Tuesday, the day that Ryan Ludwick was placed on the disabled list.  Phillips replaced his fallen comrade and delivered a three-run home run off C.J. Wilson.  It was the key blow in the Reds' 5-4 win.

"When you hit fourth, your goal is to drive in runs," Phillips said.  "That's what I tried to do. I'm not worried about batting average. I'm not worried about advancing runners.  I worry about driving in runs."

Phillips led off the second inning with a drive to the warning track that didn't leave the playing field.

"That one made me mad," Phillips said. "I felt like Willie Mays Hayes in part two (the movie Major League).  I put it on the board. The second one knew I got that one."

Walks to Chris Heisey, who got the start in leftfield as Ludwick's replacement, and Votto set the table for Phillips to be a hero.

Jay Bruce (Bruce turned 26 today) doubled and advanced to third on an error.  Todd Frazier delivered Bruce with a solid single.

Wilson retired the first ten Reds to start the game before he inexplicably lost his control.

Mat Latos, who has a history of lousy Aprils, matched Wilson zero for zero.  He walked Albert Pujols but Pujols was caught stealing.  Chris Iannetta singled and advanced to third on a ground rule double by Mike Trout.  Latos retired Erick Aybar to end the threat.

Latos gave up a solo home run to Howie Kendrick in the fifth and a two-run homer to Alberto Callaspo in the seventh.  That blow ended the night for Latos.  Latos allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk but struck out eight.

The bullpens took over J.J. Hoover held the lead through seven.

Sean Burnett walked two of the three batters he faced.  Kevin Jepsen struck out Phillips and Bruce.

The Angels tied the game in the eighth.  Aybar hit an infield single off Jonathan Broxton.  Broxton got Pujols to hit a one-hopper to Frazier but the thirdbaseman kicked it.  Josh Hamilton grounded out to put runners on second and third with one out.  Aybar scored on a ground out to short.

The Reds avoided extra innings on the second game of the season.

Left-hander Scott Downs was setup to face Shin-Soo Choo, Heisey and Votto.  Two of the three being left-handed hitters.

Downs hit Choo with a pitch and Heisey bunted Choo to second.

Then came a decision for Angel manager Mike Scioscia.  Should he walk one of the best hitters in the National League or pitch to him?

"Walking Joey Votto in that situation is always in the back of your mind," Sciosia said. "The matchup was to pitch Downsy against Votto. If we get him and don't have to pitch to Phillips, we have Downs set up for Bruce.  It was pick your poison. They have a strong middle of the lineup."

Votto hit a hard sinking line drive to the right of Albert Pujols, who has a history of bad knees.  Pujols got a glove on it but it got past him.  Kendrick the secondbaseman couldn't come up with it either and Choo scored to give the Reds its first win of the season.

"I didn't expect them to walk me," Votto said.  "I've been presumptuous in the past and been burned because of it. I wasn't stunned.  I want to be surprised every time they walk me.  I think that's how you should play it.  I needed to be prepared for whatever was presented to me."