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, July 30, 2014

Reds Offense Ran Away And Hid Until Ninth


The Reds are organizing a search party for its offense after a 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The club banged out seven hits off Diamondback's starter, Wade Miley,  but had two runners thrown out on the base paths in the third inning and completely wasted a leadoff double as one of the nine stranded runners on the day.

Alfredo Simon was one bad pitch away from hanging a 26th straight scoreless inning on the also impotent Diamondback hitters but Paul Goldschmidt lined a pitch into the leftfield stands with Aaron Hill on base in the sixth inning.

David Peralta singled to start the sixth but was caught stealing by Devin Mesoraco.  Todd Frazier could not quite get to Hill's infield roller at thirdbase which allowed a runner to score in front of Goldschmidt's 19th long ball of the year.

The Reds had two base runners with two out in the first, one with two out in the second and had the first three batters reach in the third.

Chris Heisey lined a single to leftcenter to open the third.  Mark Trumbo dropped the ball but picked it up in time to throw Heisey out at second.  Ramon Santiago singled and Frazier walked but Santiago was caught stealing third.
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Ryan Ludwick, who blasted a pitch right at Goldschmidt at first to end the first inning, doubled to leadoff the fourth.  The Reds managed to get him to third with two outs but Simon lined out to second to end the threat.

Kristopher Negron led off the seventh with a pinch-hit single.  Heisey for some unknown reason bunted him to second. Santiago hit a smash back to the box that Miley captured.  Negron was caught in a rundown but stayed alive long enough for Santiago to get to second.  Frazier grounded out.

J.J Hoover replaced Simon.  Peralta tripled off the centerfield wall and scored on a fly to left by Trumbo.

The Reds avoided its 11th shutout when Skip Schumaker doubled home Brayan Pena with two outs in the eighth inning against Brad Zieglar.

Former Red Didi Gregorius hit his fourth home run with a man on in the ninth off Carlos Contreras.

The Reds took advantage of wildness from Eury Del La Rosa in the ninth.  Del La Rosa allowed a single to Billy Hamilton and walked Santiago.  Arizona manager brought in Addison Reed, who gave up Devin Mesoraco's 18th home run to provide the final margin.  Redd struck out Ludwick to end the game.

Reds Looking To Get Better Now; Not Waiting For 2015


The trading deadline is Thursday afternoon at 4:00.  The Reds are anticipating getting better for the stretch run, whether that is by getting injured stars, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto back before the end of the season or by trade is undetermined.

"It is and exciting time of the year in baseball," Bryan Price said on Wednesday morning.  "If your a contender you look for pieces right now.  If you're not a contender, you look for future pieces."

The manager put the Reds in the category of looking for pieces now.

"We're looking to get better," Price said.  "We're not looking for 2015. We have a bunch of guys that fight, they're gamers."

Price acknowledged that the Reds could deal for some help via trade even with Phillips and Votto getting closer to a return.

"Walt has been working the phones," Price said.  "We know that we have Joey and Brandon coming. We know we can get better by the end of August and the beginning of September.

In spite of going 2-for-9 since the All-Star break, the Reds trail Milwaukee by just five games with 56 games left in the season.

Ryan Ludwick took exception to a "Fan Graph" estimate that the Reds have a 15 percent chance of making the playoffs.
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"How do they ever determine these things," Ludwick wondered aloud  "The amazing thing is that some people believe that stuff.  It's like WAR.  I don't know how they calculate defense.  Do they even take into consideration the jump a guy gets on the ball/  They can measure distance but what about the jump or human element?'

In a separate conversation, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson agreed with Ludwick.

Gibson was asked about the change in the defensive metrics for his righfielder Gerardo Parra.

"Do you think the numbers are the Holy Grail for how you determine that?  When you play the game, year-to-year, you can filter the numbers anyway you want to.  You're going to have years when you're trending to the mean or even lower.  He's still the same player.  A guy who throws the ball good, if you get him going lateral, it's hard to throw guys out.  I'm not sure the numbers take that into account," Gibson said.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Shuffling The Reds' Lineup Fails


Shuffling the lineup did nothing for the Reds in the 10th game since the All-Star break with runs as scarce as trees in Arizona

Nick Ahmed's 15th inning single off J.J. Hoover scored Martin Prado, who walked. The Diamondbacks scored to take a 2-1 victory after 10 innings without a run.

Moving Jay Bruce was supposed to get him some good pitches to hit since he was behind Billy Hamilton.  The theory was predicated on Hamilton getting on base to distract Arizona's starter Chase Anderson.  Bruce was supposed to see more fastballs.

The Reds haven't tried everything but it has been close to everything.

It was Diamondback's manager Kirk Gibson, who came up with the plan to thwart the Reds strategy.
When asked what to do about Billy Hamilton stealing bases against his club, Gibson replied.  "We pitched out with him on base in Phoenix and he beat the throw.  Number one we want to keep him off base.  Number two pay a lot of attention to him."

Hamilton was 0-for-3 and sitting in the dugout during Bruce's first three at-bats in which Bruce struck out twice and walked.

The only bad pitch that Anderson threw left the yard.  Devin Mesoraco hit his 17th home run, naturally with the bases were empty.  The Reds had three hits, all in the second, and two walks.
"I can't be critical of the effort but we're not producing," Price said. "We're wasting too much good pitching."

After Mesoraco's home run, Brayan Pena doubled with one out.  Kristopher Negron dumped a single into shallow center.  Pena was sent home and was out by roughly a first-down.  It was the 22 second non-force play out at home plate by the Reds this season.  The team with the next highest total has 18.

"The talking points when they get thrown out are not the same as the talking points when they score," Price said.  "I don't fault anyone on that play. We're just trying to make something happen.  We haven't been hitting with runners in scoring position."

Homer Bailey had one of his best games.  He allowed a run on five hits through eight innings.  He just couldn't close the fourth inning and it cost the Reds the lead.  Mark Trumbo doubled with two outs.  All-Star catcher Miguel Montero singled off the wall in right over Bruce's head.  Bruce wisely turned and played the carom to keep the potential lead run at first.

"This is a tough team (the Reds)," Bailey said.  "There is a lot of heart on this club.  We have to turn it around."

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Anderson walked Mesoraco to open the fourth.  He struck out Chris Heisey looking and got out of the inning when rightfielder David Peralta made a diving shoe-string catch off Pena's bid for a second hit.  Mesoraco reading it as a hit was way around secondbase and was easilty doubled off first.

Heisey was the first of 11 straight batters retired by Anderson, who left after the seventh inning.

Negron greeted Brad Zieglar with an inning opening single in the eighth.  Zack Cozart avoided setting his career-high hitless streak to 23 at-bats when he sacrificed Negron to second. But Skip Schumaker struck out for Bailey and Hamilton became 0-for-4 with a ground out to third.

Price sent Aroldis Chapman out to start the ninth.  He struck out Paul Goldschmidt to extend his streak of appearances with at least one strikeout to 44.  He also fanned Trumbo and Montero.  One of the pitches was clocked at 104. He has an astounding 66 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings. Chapman has struck out 55 percent of the batters he's faced.

Hoover was asked to pitch two innings again.  He walked Prado with one out.  Didi Gregorius hit a ball wide of first. It was just two far for Pena to get the lead runner.  He stepped ou first to retire Gregorius but it put Prado in position to score.

"It was just too far for Pena," Price said. "It is just unfortunate that we are wasting that kind of pitching."

Jay Bruce Back To Square Two


When a player struggles the way Jay Bruce has this season, the remedy used by coaches is to break down his swing and get it back to square one.

Tonight, manager Bryan Price is trying out square two, as in the second spot in the Reds' batting order behind Billy Hamilton.

"I'm just trying to do some things to shake it up for us," said Price, who has watched his team average fewer than two runs per game in the nine games (16 runs).  "Maybe putting Jay behind Billy will get him some good pitches to hit."

Bruce, who referred to himself as employee number 32, is all for it.

"That's where I started out in 2008," Bruce said reveling in the good old days.  "It was the first spot I ever hit in.  Hopefully, I can channel some of that."

Bruce hit .400 the spring of 2008 but it was a soft .400.  He had a lot of seven hoppers and bloopers early in spring against pitchers that were only throwing fastballs to get ready for the season.  He tailed off at the end of the spring but fans only saw the average and screamed for the Reds to take Bruce north from Sarasota.  Dusty Baker and the Reds' front office knew better.

Bruce went to Louisville for the start of the season. 
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The Reds first pick in the 2005 draft played 49 games in Louisville, hitting .364 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI.

Bruce made his Major League debut on May 27 against the Pittsburgh Pirates batting second between Jerry Hairston and Ken Griffey Jr against Ian Snell.

Bruce was 3-for-3 with two walks in five plate appearances. 

The rookie continued hitting in his first two series from the second spot in the batting order.  Bruce had nine hits in 13 at bats in his second series against the Atlanta Braves in a three-game weekend series.  His first home run was a walk-off in the 10th inning on May 31 off Manny Acosta.  On Sunday of that series, Bruce walked but catcher Brian McCann caught him stealing secondbase.  After that game McCann told reporters, "We found a way to get Jay Bruce out.  Walk him then catch him stealing."

Bruce finished the first season with a .254 average with 21 home runs and 52 RBI.

Now six seasons into his career, Bruce has become a key part in the Reds lineup but he has struggled.

"It is no secret that I've been struggling," Bruce said.  "There are no excuses. I expect to play better. But it's possible I'll get some pitches as teams focus on Billy. We put higher expectations on ourselves than people on the outside does."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mat Latos Frustration Boils Over In Decisive Inning


The deciding game of the Reds' three-game series with Washington hinged on one pitch in the Red's 4-2 loss to the Nationals.

With the bases loaded, Mat Latos thought he had Jayson Werth struck out on a 1-2 curveball.  The pitch was ruled a ball by homeplate umpire Toby Basner.

Latos walked Werth and Adam LaRoche dumped a two-run single into leftfield to give Doug Fister all the run support he needed. For good measure the Nationals added an unearned run in the ninth off Carlos Contreras.

Latos walked off the mound with an expletive laden message for Basner.

"There were close pitches to Werth that were not strikes but were close," Bryan Price said.  "Baseball is a game you have to endure."

Latos finished after allowing three runs on three hits and four walks.  We walked two, including Werth and hit a batter in the decisive fifth inning.

"I started to pitch like shit," Latos said.  "I let a couple of things get to me that shouldn't have.  The walk to Werth was what bothered me  There were some pitches that were close.  He (umpire Toby Basner) was inconsistent behind the dish."

Latos was also upset about the first hit he allowed to Danny Espinosa, who started the game with a .214 average.

"I gave too much credit to some of their hitters. I hung a curve on an 0-2 pitch to a .200 hitter.  Then the whole inning went to shit. That's what you get when you pitch like shit."

The Reds are still in a hitting funk since the All-Star game. In the nine games the Reds have scored no more than three runs in a game while losing eight of them.
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Fister allowed three harmless singles in seven innings.  He walked one.

"What it comes down to is we didn't score many runs," Price said.  "We have to get better at that.  Guys are trying but aren't getting anything out of their effort." 

The Reds avoided being shutout for the 11th time this season. When Devin Mesoroco doubled home Frazier and Jay Bruce, who had his third hit since the All-Star break,(3-28). They have scored 16 runs in the nine games since the All-Star break.

"You can't wait until the ninth inning.  We have to get more runners on base," Price said.


Jack Hannahan Completes The Long Road Back


Jack Hannahan's last game was on September 29th against Pittsburgh during the Reds' final homestand.  Prior to that he hadn't played in eight days.

Hannahan will be in the lineup at firstbase, batting sixth for the Reds in the final game of the three-game series with the Washington Nationals.

Immediately after the season, Hannahan had surgery on his right shoulder.  He injured it in spring training last year but played the entire season with pain.

Hannahan played in 83 games, hitting .216 with one home run and 15 RBI in 162 at-bats.  The Reds had signed him as a free agent to spell Joey Votto at firstbase and Todd Frazier at thirdbase but his effectiveness was limited.

Hannahan had several setbacks during his rehabilitation.  He was scheduled to go on a rehab assignment twice but plans were postponed.

The 34-year old with seven years of Major League experience played four games at Single A Dayton and eight games at Triple A Louisville.  Hannahan had 12 hits in 40 at-bats for an even .300 average.

"Just seeing pitches and been able to recognize pitches and getting your legs back under  you and playing," Hannahan said.  "It’s been like my spring training and everything that comes along with spring training. I went down there and a week and half in I started recognizing pitches better and started being able to put some good swings on balls. Everything’s feeling good. I’m excited to go out there and help these boys win.”

Hannahan's return allows the Reds to get closer to normal.

"The medical staff has signed off on it, so he's ready to go," Bryan Price said. "He's been swinging the bat well in Louisville. He's been playing firstbase but is still a work in progress as far as playing third.  First we wanted to get him at bats, then we wanted him to be comfortable at firstbase while he works on his arm strength."
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"Having Hannahan strengthens our bench.  It is not ideal for Lutz or Negron to break in as bench players.  It allows us to keep Frazier at third and not have to experiment with Bruce and Ludwig.  Now everyone thinks of Pena as a firstbaseman including me when he only had five appearances there before and some of those were late in the game for a couple innings.  We were thinking about Ondrusek there for awhile."

"It is not that these guys aren't going to play firesbase again but puts guys in their normal roles."



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cueto Applies Brake To Losing Streak


Todd Frazier changed his 'walk-up" music.  He kept Sinatra but switched "Fly Me To The Moon" with "The Best Is Yet To Come."  The thirdbaseman is evidently trying to inspire teammates and keep fans from jumping ship.

Sinatra's classic may have turned the tide for the Reds, who broke its losing streak at seven games with a 1-0 win.

Johnny Cueto was back in ace mode and needed to be.

Cueto hooked up with crafty, lefty, Gio Gonzalez and both ate up hitters for seven innings.

"Johnny had a little bit of a head cold," Price said.  "Early it looked like he was going to struggle but once he got the lead, he was throwing a lot better."

Cueto started out throwing in the 90's but by the seventh inning he was throwing 95.

"It was hot and I was having trouble breathing but I was still throwing the ball where I wanted to," Cueto said.

Both allowed four hits.  But Gonzalez was nicked for a run in the fifth, thanks to some risk taking by Chris Heisey.

Heisey doubled to open the fifth.  Skip Schumaker couldn't advance Heisey, so he ignored his caught stealing in the second inning.  He stole third for his eighth stolen base of the year.  Brayan Pena singled to left to put the Reds in the lead for just the third time in eight games.

"I sensed earlier in the game that things were going to go our way," Heisey said.  "You can't play this game scared and you have to try to turn the momentum around when you haven't been having it.  It had pretty much screeched to a halt.  We haven't been getting the breaks and when that starts happening, guys start expecting bad things to happen.  You can stand around or you can start trying to make good things happen.  I think that's what we need to do."

Pena had a chance to get the Reds back in the game in the ninth on Friday as the tying run but popped up to end the game.

"I'm a positive guy," Pena said.  "The baseball gods gave me another opportunity. It is not easy to stay positive. It doesn't matter what level you play, everybody wants to get the job done.  That guy over there that your facing. He wants to get the job done also.  He's going to bring you the best he's got against the best you've got. I try my best to keep it simple; not trying to do too much and take advantage of what the pitcher gives me.  It is going to happen.  You have to understand that sometimes you're going to fail. At the same time you can't let that carry on and learn from it."

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Cueto walked three but two of those to bright but reckless, Washington star Bryce Harper became outs later.  Harper walked in the second but couldn't get back when Jay Bruce ran down Wilson Ramos long fly on the warning track in right.  Bruce threw on a fly to Frazier at first, whose dive beat Harper back to the base.  Harper walked again on out into the seventh but rounded second too far on an infield hit by Ramos and was rundown between second and third.

Jonathan Broxton started the eighth for the Reds.  After retiring the first two batters, Broxton walked Anthony Rendon and hit Jayson Werth. 

Bryan Price brought in Aroldis Chapman to face left-handed batting Adam LaRoche.  LaRoche grounded out to Zack Cozart to preserve the lead.

"We knew that LaRoche was the fifth batter in the inning and in order to get to him there had to be runners on," Price said.  "It just seemed that match up left on left was the right move to make, where a bloop could hurt us."

Chapman walked Ian Desmond to start the ninth but Harper missed two bunts before Pena threw Desmond out stealing. 

Pena brought up the last game in New York when Jacoby Ellsbury singled to open the bottom of the ninth.  Chapman, concentrating on the batter, allowed Ellsbury to steal second uncontested.  Ellsbury went to third on a pitch in the dirt that squirted away from Devin Mesoraco and scored when an easy fly ball fell in between Frazier, Schumaker and Bruce.

"I talked to him about that and told him from now on, whoever is running at first, we need to give him a couple looks," Pena said.  "It was one of those that he gave me a quick step and gave me a chance to throw him out."

Chapman struck out Harper for the second out  It was the 43rd straight appearance in which Chapman recorded at least one strike

Chapman caught Ramos looking at strike three for his 22nd save.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Reds Extend Streak To Five Year Low


The post All-Star game horrors continue for the Reds in a 4-1 defeat.

The seven losses in a row mark the longest losing streak since the 2009 Reds lost eight in a row.  The loss drops the Reds to an even 51-51 with 60 games to play.

Even All-Star hurler, Alfredo Simon, is a little off his game compared to the first half.

The Eastern Division leading Washington Nationals, got consecutive hits from Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Zach Walters off Simon to snap a scoreless tie.   After Washington starter, Tanner Roark struck out. Denard Span and Anthony Rendon singled to put up three runs.

Roark and Simon dueled in Washington on May 21st.  Simon authored a 2-1 win even though Roark allowed just one earned run as the Reds took that series two games to one.

This time Roark was perfect through three innings.  Billy Hamilton blooped the Reds first hit of the night to left, leading off.  He stole second for his 41st steal of the season, advanced to third on a groundout.  Hamilton scored on an infield hit by Ryan Ludwick.

The Reds have scored just 13 runs since the All-Star game in seven tries.

Reds' manager Bryan Price removed ace with one out in the fifth after Adam LaRoche doubled to start the inning and walked Harper with one out.

"There were just too many baserunner," Price said.  "I try to stick with the starters but I didn't want the game to get away from us."

J.J. Hoover kept the Nationals off the board in the fifth but gave up a run in the sixth.
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The Reds had just two measly hits until two outs in the seventh.  Devin Mesoraco walked and Brayan Pena singled but Rendon made a diving stop of Zack Cozart's hard grounder to end the mild threat.

"We're struggling. When you're struggling you tend to put hurdles in front of yourself.  Pitchers try to make the perfect pitch and lose the feel for the strike zone.  Hitters get out of their strengths trying to do too much," Price said.  "It is easy to say just relax but it is hard to do."

Todd Frazier admitted to the frustration.

"Everyone is trying to do their part.  It is frustrating but we're just not doing it," Frazier said.  "The pitchers gave up four runs but we should be able to find a way to scratch for that many."

Price observed that when the team was winning before the break, it was taking an early lead.  That hasn't happened much the last seven games. 

"We are 37-19 when we score first," Price said.  "We haven't been able to get the lead as much lately.  We need to score early and have the pitching keep the opponents from scoring early.  There is a reason we've won two thirds of our games that way."

Bryan Price Says He Doesn't Know What He's Talking About


The Reds over the past few seasons have bullied teams under .500 and struggled against teams over .500.

Most people would see that as common sense.  Whenever, I here a fan complain, "They can't beat the good teams," I shake my head because it stands to reason that a team will have a harder time beating a better team.

This season the Reds seem to have reversed the trend.

The Reds are 31-30 against teams that are currently above .500 and 20-20 against teams currently below .500.

The Reds went into the recently finished Milwaukee series with a 7-3 advantage over the Central Division leaders but were swept in three games.  Even with that disaster the Reds are still above water against winning teams.

Why Mr. Price? Why?

“I don’t know," Bryan Price said on Friday afternoon.  "I try to explain these things and then I reflect back and I realize that I don’t know what I’m talking about. You get to the point where you start making stuff up to say something. I’m not going to do that. I don’t know why. I have no answer for you.”

As indicators go it is completely irrelevant.  The rulebook says that having more wins than any other team wins the division.  It doesn't specify how good the teams are that you defeated or those that defeated you.  The list will change anyway. A plus .500 team today may be under .500 later in the season.

What is more disturbing is the post-All-Star Game losing streak of six straight games.  This comes after the Reds' 8-3 homestand before the break put the team 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee.  Now that separation has grown to six games.

What does the first-year manager do to turn his team around?
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"Other than the early part of the year, I haven’t had to do anything at all. I don’t make a lot of trips though the clubhouse to pick up the spirits of the guys. What’s happening isn’t uncommon," Price said. "This is standard practice in a major league baseball season. You have periods where you play very well. You have periods where you tread water, like we did in the first couple of months, and then periods where you struggle to win games. The last six have been a real struggle for us. That being said, it’s a stretch in the season. We’re going to have a stretch where we get back and play much better than we have here. What we need is to play well enough to get ourselves to the top of the division and into the playoffs and hopefully be one of the hotter teams going into the playoffs so we can do more than we’ve done in the past few opportunities.”

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Kristopher Negron's First Career Home Run Leads Reds To All-Star Break

Kristopher Negron, a new arrival for the injury riddled Reds, hit a three-run home run off Francisco Liriano to jump on the Pirates in the second inning.

Negron's first Major League home run led the Reds to a 6-3 win, leaving them 1 1/2 games out of first place at the break.

The Reds loaded the bases when Reds' starter Johnny Cueto walked.  Billy Hamilton doubled high off the leftfield wall.  Zack Cozart walked but the threat ended when Todd Frazier flied out to right.

Cueto was nicked for a run in the fourth. 

Andrew McCutchen hit a a flare to right.  Jay Bruce tried to make a diving catch but the ball got by him.  McCutchen slid into third with a triple.  He scored on a ground out by Neil Walker.

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Liriano, who was reactivated before the game after he recovered from a strained left oblique, pitched out of another bases loaded jam in the fourth.  Cueto struck out but the ball got past catcher Russell Martin. Hamilton and Cozart walked.  Liriano rallied to strike out Frazier, in an extended at bat, and Heisey.

Cincinnati native, Josh Harrison singled home a run in the fifth after a 56 minute rain delay.

Reliever Stolmy Pimentel walked Bruce to lead off the bottom of the fifth.  Devin Mesoraco doubled Bruce home.  Mesoraco went to third on Pena's fly to right.  The Reds tried the suicide squeeze with Negron at the plate.  The pitch was outside but Martin was able to scramble to the plate to catch Mesoraco stealing.

Walker led off the sixth with his 13th home run.

Reds' shortstop made two errors in the inning.  He overthrew firstbase on Martin's groundball and booted a grounder by Jordy Mercer. Cueto was able to pitch around the miscues.
Todd Frazier's 19th home run, a two-run shot into the bullpen in the rightfield corner off Vance Worley gave the Reds some breathing room.

Jumbo Diaz pitched a scoreless seventh, retiring the top of the Pittsburgh lineup in order.

Jonathon Broxton, who could play strong side tackle anywhere, retired the Pirates in order in the eighth.

Aroldis Chapman, after a day off earned his 21st save, continuing his record string for relievers by striking out at least one batter in his last 41 appearances. 

Reds Aggressive Play Has Them In The Hunt At The Break


The Reds played a game in which the manager, thirdbase coach and the pitcher could have been second guessed based on the unfavorable outcome on Saturday with one game left until the All-Star break.

Bryan Price in his first year on the job is learning not to be as hard on himself as the fans are.

We've seen the good and the bad so far during the first 94 games of the season.  We've seen Billy Hamilton defy the odds at the leadoff spot.  We've seen the product of the coaches that have helped Hamilton's development and we've seen him use his athletic ability and instincts that simply can't be coached.


The Reds started out the season with eigh.t players on the disabled list. We've seen them strand runners and fail to come back from deficits more than two runs.  Now we are seeing an aggressive team that has shown three times this week that they can overcome leads of four and five runs.

We seen injuries resurface but now Price sees the upside of them even.

"It has given other guys some opportunities and they have seized them," Price said.

On Saturday thirdbase coach Steve Smith sent Ramon Santiago, who is a fill in for the injured Brandon Phillips, sent home on a potential game winning hit by Jay Bruce only to be thrown out.

The play was aggressive, the Pirates had to make great plays on both ends to get Santiago at the plate. Rookie Gregory Polanco had to get to the ball quickly in position to throw, make a strong accurate throw.  Catcher Russell Martin had to catch the ball, looking away from the runner, then whirl, find the runner and make a swipe tag.

"It was a sweet play, a sweet throw and a sweet, swipe tag," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
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Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs, the last being the game winner off J.J. Hoover.

Hoover had an ERA of 10.03 on May 15.  Over the next 18 appearances Hoover had a 2.22 ERA.  Price has asked him to pitch more than one inning in his last three appearances in a span of four days.

"That's just not right that I've had to ask him to do that,"

Why pitch to McCutchen with two outs in the ninth after he had already homered to send the game to extra innings.?

McCutchen with a .324 batting average is such a good hitter that he will only make an out 68 percent of the time.  If a team wins 68 percent of its games, they walk away with the World Championship.  The odds are so much in the Reds favor that it would be foolish to put the winning run on base.

Then there is the mental side of the game.  When you're trying to develop a winning attitude, you can not be afraid to fail.  You have to believe that you are going to get the batter out regardless of who he is, knowing there are no guarantees and that he will beat you from time to time.

The fact that McCutchen defied those odds is a tribute to his ability.
"It's what elite players are capable of doing," Hurdle said.  "When you're six years old drawing up these scenarios, the elite players are the ones that actually go do it in front of a packed house, against number one and number two pitchers, closers. With him there is no bat flip just a handshake and touch homeplate, There is no signature move.  I love that. That's how we are as a team."

Price is learning to live with the difficult decisions he has to make on a daily basis.  His only regret other than having to use Hoover in a bad situation, with no margin for error was using three pitchers to stop a Pittsburgh threat in the eighth inning;.

"Probably not to over-critique my decisions," Price said. "Last night was a great example because there were a couple opportunities to bunt and I chose not to because our baserunners were not real speed guys and there was a chance we could bunt ourselves into a force out and waste an out. Bunt a below-average runner into scoring position. Use three pitchers to pitch the eighth inning in a game where we were up by a run. If it was a tie game I probably wouldn't have done that, I would've gone with Parra and not brought Diaz in. These are the things you think about over the course of time, be more active with the hit-and-run. You see all these with white hair in their 40s and 50s. I'm well on my way, but trying to keep the dark tint as long as possible. Even as a pitching coach, self-persecution is something you try not to do. I want to live a nice, long healthy life".


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Reds Explosion Takes A Back Seat To Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen proved to the Reds that he is an All-Star and a clutch player.
McCutchen homered in the ninth off Jonathan Broxton to tie the game and in the 11th to win it off J.J. Hoover, lifting the Pirates to a 6-5 win to even the series.
"They outlasted us," Bryan Price said. "McCutchen got us not only with the home runs but he covered a lot of ground in centerfield.  I asked J.J, to go more than an inning for the first time in five days. It wasn't right. It was a situation where there was no margin for error. If there was a regret it was that I used three pitchers in the eighth inning.  We didn't get beat, they (Pirates) just did what they needed to do to win."
The Reds were trailing by four runs again as Mike Leake had early control problems, while his mound opponent Charlie Morton was cruising along.
"I've seen Mike a lot sharper.  We needed length out of him and he gave us what we needed and gave us a chance to come back they stranded a lot of runners when he was out there."

The Reds continued its recently found talent for comeback wins when Chris Heisey and All-Star Todd Frazier hit home runs as the first five Reds to bat scored in the sixth.

Leake created problems for himself in the first.  With one out, Travis Snider hit a groundball up the middle.  Ramon Santiago, a replacement for the injured Brandon Phillips, dived for the ball.  He gloved it by drew a visit from frequently seen trainer, Paul Lessard.  Santiago continued after shaking off his discomfort.  Leake grazed Andrew McCutchen with a pitch, then walked Neil Walker to fill the bases.  Russel Martin hit a sacrifice fly to Billy Hamilton in centerfield.  Hamilton did everything right, he lined up his body to make an accurate throw but Devin Mesoraco couldn't come up with the ball.

McCutchen doubled, leading off the third inning.  Walker's groundball moved the Pirates' centerfielder to third.  Martin, who had one sacrifice fly in 54 games, added his second of the game to put the Pirates ahead, 2-0.

Gabby Sanchez and Jordy Mercer singled to open the Pirate's fifth.  Morton bunted them over tsecond and third.  Leake threw the ball away, trying to pickoff Sanchez, who trotted home.  Gregory Polanco singled to build the Pirates lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Morton was slicing and dicing the Reds.  Frazier singled in the first but was stranded.  Ryan Ludwick singled but was erased on a 3-6-3 double play in the second. Santiago singled  but Jay Bruce, hitting against a shift, hit into a rare 5-6-3 double play.

Then the explosion rained down on Morton in the sixth.
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A seemingly harmless walk to Cozart started the frame.  Heisey hit for Leake and lined a pitch into the leftfield stands.  Hamilton singled, and to the surprise of no one, stole second base for his 38th theft.  Santiago drew a walk.  On a 3-2 pitch Hamilton took off to be stopped by the crack of Ftazier's bat.  He stopped short of third to watch Frazier's team-leading 18th home run sail way out of centerfield to give the Reds a 5-4 advantage.

Three Reds pitchers guarded the lead in the eighth.

Sam LeCure struck out Sanchez but Mercer and Princeton/UC grad Josh Harrison singled.  Bryan Price brought in Manny Parra to pitch to Polanco, who hit into a force at second with Mercer moving to third.  Matt Hague was announced to bat for Snider but Price brought in Jumbo Diaz into the game. Ike Davis hit for Hague instead.  Diaz got a ground out on one pitch.

Jonathan Broxton came on to rest Aroldis Chapman, who had pitched four days in a row.  He had the middle of the Pittsburgh order to deal with, McCutchen, Walker and Martin.

McCutchen hit a 2-2 pitch out to dead center for his 16th home run to tie the game. It was the first home run allowed by Broxton. Broxton struck out two to end the inning with no further damage.
Tony Watson, who had his only bad outing of the year on Friday night, started the bottom of the ninth.  Ryan Ludwick started it with a soft single to center.  Brayan Pena scorched the ball up the middle. Watson knocked it down and got the force. Zack Cozart singled.  Neftali Soto called from Louisville this morning, pinch hit for Broxton.  Soto fouled off four two-strike pitches before he struck out.  Hamilton, the Reds leading hitter with runners in scoring position, came to the plate with two outs.  He fouled out to the catcher to send the game to extra innings.

J.J. Hoover struck out two batters in a scoreless 10th.

The Reds missed a chance to end the game in the bottom of the 10th.  Ernesto Frieri walked Santiago and Frazier to start the inning.  Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle brought in left-hander Justin Wilson to pitch to Bruce, who hit home runs off left-hander pitchers in three consecutive games on this homestand.  Bruce singled but rookie Gregory Polance threw a strike to Martin to nail Santiago at the plate as Frazier and Bruce advance to second and third with one out. Hurdle ordered Mesoraco walked and Wilson struck out Ludwick and Pena to send the game to the 11th.

"He had to have time and make a good throw and he did," said Bruce, who has thrown out his share of runners trying to score. "McCutchen is locked in to say the least right now. I know the pitchers feel bad but he put two good swings on the ball."

Jeanmar Gomez gave up two long fly balls but earned his first career save.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Milwaukee Brewers this afternoon. The win by the Pirates puts the top four teams in the division within 2 1/2 games of the division lead.  The worst the Reds will be is 2 1/2 games out when the break comes.

"I think that we are a little dissatisfied with the way we played in the first half. We didn't get started until the last month and a half or so.  If you would have said in spring training we'd be within two games of first, no one would have scoffed at that. We played well but we can still play better and I think we can play better.  We hope to get healthy. One of our strengths is our bench.  Whoever we put out there we expect to win.  We just have to play baseball man. This is a good division and we're a good team. I look forward to what's to come," Bruce said.

Reds Learning To Make Comebacks


For the first two months of the season when the Reds were down a run or two the game was over.

At some point in time the squad began to believe they could come back from deficits.  The Reds erased a 5-0 Chicago Cub lead in the second game of the doubleheader on Tuesday.  They came back from a 5-1 lead on Friday night that ignited the fireworks crowd.

"If that was your first baseball game, you were hooked after that," Bryan Price said.  "You could try to reproduce it but may never be able to."

There were so many plays that went into the comeback some seem big and others in significant at the time.

Curtis Partch, who was 0-2 for his career, made what was predetermined to be his only game to give the Reds' regular bullpen time to recouperate.

The big right-hander walked the bases loaded but escaped without giving up a run.

"A 37-pitch inning without giving up a run was impressive," said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle, who brought Ike Davis in to pinch hit against Partch.  "Davis was 4-for-8 with the bases loaded. He's the kind of guy where a walk usually comes into play during the at-bat."

Davis hit two grand slams against the Reds with two different teams.  He hit one to win a game off J.J. Hoover while he was a member of the Mets on April 5 and on April 21 off Mike Leake after he was traded to the Pirates.
Partch struck him out and it set the stage for the Reds to make an improbable comeback.
With two outs against All-Star left-handed reliever Tony Watson, Devin Mesoraco hit his 16th home run.  Ryan Ludwick blooped a single that fell between three Pirate fielders.  Ramon Santiago's single up the middle barely eluded Neil Walker and Brayan Pena fouled off a pitch that barely made it to the safety of the stands with Davis, Walker and outfielder Gregory Polanco within a foot of the ball.
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When the Reds were struggling at least one of those three events were caught, now they are going the Reds way.
Price believes that the Reds new mentality is to try to chip away at an opponents lead.
"We've found out that every run is important," Price said.  "If we get one here and another there the add up.  We now have the confidence that we've done it before."
"It is one of those fascinating things about the baseball season that's hard to explain," Price said. "Coming back against the Cubs was big for us.  Just finding ways to grind out runs, I think we weren't able to appreciate the value of a single run.  It means that you get one, then two runs the next thing you know, you're in a two run game and you can manage that.  In a couple games you can find a way to beat a closer or a setup guy.  When you're down 5-1 and you don't do anything.  You get to a point where you don't feel like you can do it.  I think you have to do it to understand that you can do it.  Ludwick hits the soft hit into the outfield, then Heisey hits a line drive, then Santiago, then Pena and you say to yourself, "where did this come from?" Then all after Mesoraco hits a two-out homer that's usually a rally killer.  That was such a memorable game. If that was truly your first baseball game, now you're hooked, you're addicted.  It was so exciting."

Is it a game the Reds can build on?

"I think you can build on both good and bad games.  We had the loss to Toronto when we had an 8-0 lead and the next thing you know they rolled on us.  That could have been one of those games that led to a lot of negative thoughts but we didn't let that happen," Price said.  "But winning gets you to anticipate winning."

Princeton and UC Grad Josh Harrison An All-Star Include Video


Josh Harrison was chosen to play in the 2014 All-Star game in Minneapolis by St. Louis Cardinal manager Mike Matheny, making his alma maters at Princeton High School and the University of Cincinnati proud.

The three-sport star for the Vikings didn't even think about being named to such a prestigious team.

"I know I can play this game and that's what I concentrate on," Harrison said.  "It is not something that I ever thought about."

The news have left his family and friends excited and Harrison himself felling happy, blessed and overwhelmed.  It is exciting. There are a lot of things that go into it, like the phone calls and the texts. It is a blessing and exciting but tiring," Harrison said. "I'm looking forward to it but we have these next to games to try and win the series first."

The 26-year old came to the Pirates in a 2009 trade with the Chicago Cubs, who drafted him.  He spent part of the 2011 season with the Pirates.  Harrison was with the Pirates for all of the 2012 season and the first half of the 2013 season. 

Harrison filled in for the injured Neil Walker at secondbase and also plays thirdbase and the outfield.  He is currently hitting .292 in 77 games with five home runs and 27 RBI.

Harrison is from an athletic family that has excelled in baseball.  His uncle John Shelby played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues and coaches.  His older brother, Vince, spent five years in the minor leagues with Tampa Bay, Florida Marlins and the New York Mets.

Anyone who saw Billy Hamilton escape a tag attempt by Gabby Sanchez on Friday was impressed The Pirates weren't quite as impressed as they have seen their All-Star escape a trap against the New York Mets a couple weeks ago.  (See Video Below)

Harrison believes that playing multiple sports at Princeton helped him in the situation to trust his abilities.

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"It was my athletic ability. I played football and basketball at Princeton," Harrison said. "Plus I played in the backyard with my brothers Vince and Shawn, where I had to get out of situations like that."

Reds Expand Louisville Shuttle


The Reds made another roster move to compensate for injuries and a bullpen on the brink of over use.

On Saturday the Reds sent Curtis Partch back to Louisville with the memory of his first Major League win.  It was a 37 pitch odyssey that would have been hard for Homer to imagine, (the Greek writer not Bailey.)

Partch was a one-day solution for a bullpen that had its core pitch three days in a row and some for multiple innings.
"Coming into the game that was the intent," Bryan Price said

Neftali Soto was brought back to replace Partch on the roster to give the Reds a four-man bench that has been taxed by the loss of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Skip Schumaker, who was placed on the shorter term, seven-day concussion list.

"We are talking about weeks with Votto and Phillips; days with Schumaker," Price said. "Concussions are difficult.  We don't want to be reckless.  We are just hoping Skip is good to go after the All-Star break.  We have two games left and four days off for the All-Star game. We wouldn't be able to weather the short-term with out it."
Mat Latos struggle through lower back spasms to become the second starting pitcher in as many days to leave the game early.  Homer Bailey left with a strained patella tendon in his right knee on Thursday.
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"I don't think you can give at title to it," Price said of the Latos injury.  "It's just a strained back.  I'm not sure Homer could make his next start if not for the All-Star break.  Now we can put these guys on the back end coming out of the break."

Billy Hamilton Evades Tag You Can't Coach This


Billy Hamilton has shown uncanny instincts for baseball this season.

In just his second full year as a switch hitter and his second full year as a centerfielder, converted from shortstop, Hamilton is closing in hitting a season high .285 and played Gold Glove centerfield.

He leads his older, more experienced teammates with a .357 average with runners in scoring position.

All of that aside this play in which Hamilton turned a bad bunt into a single illustrates those instincts.

The irony is announcer Thom Brenamann pronouced it an easy out an instant before Hamilton turned it into a single.  It teaches us all lessons about not making assumptions.  Hamilton was just not ready to head for the bench.  That could wait a couple pitches later when he scored from first on Zack Cozart's double.
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