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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.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Eugenio Suarez Ignited Reds, J.J. Hoover Ready To Be Fireman Again

Billy Joel sang, "We Didn't Start The Fire."  Eugenio Suarez was glad he did.

After the Reds were embarrassed by a 16-0, no-hit shutout on Thursday and a 9-1 three-hit debacle on Friday.on Purple Rain Fireworks Night.  The team was on the way to another thrashing by the Cubs.

After grabbing the first lead they had in the series, the Cubs snatched the lead right back and veteran John Lackey was tooling along, humming a song.

The up jump the Reds and it started out innocently enough a single by Tyler Holt and a daily hit by Zack Cozart who has a hit in every game but the no-hitter.  Eugenio Saurez took his bat into the right-handed batters' box.  It might as well have been a torch because Saurez lit the fuse with his fifth home run of the season that caused the Reds' bench to erupt with glee.

"We were talking about how we gotta go," Suarez said. 'When Holt got that hit and Cozart got the base hit, I said to myself, 'this is my opportunity.'  I have to bring the run home.  My mind focused to hit a ball good."

Suarez hit the ball into the leftfield stands to get the lead back and the Reds kept at it. Joey Votto singled.  Brandon Phillips smoked the ball but it went right to Lackey who turned it into a double play.  Jay Bruce walked. Devin Mesoraco singled.  Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler homered back-to-back.

"We worked a lot the last two days.  After the no-hitter we had our heads down," Suarez said.  "Bryan said, 'hey put this out of your head. Get a good pitch and swing hard."

Lackey told Cubs' media that he threw too many strikes and needed to make an adjustment.  The Reds locked in on him quick.  Suarez didn't see any difference in Lackey the third time through the batting order.

"I don't know," Suarez said. "They always start me with a fastball away. I had to be ready for that fastball. He threw me that, right in the middle. He missed a little bit. I hit it good."

Hoover Makes Adjustment

It is not a secret that J.J. Hoover, who inherited the closer's job from the traded Aroldis Chapman, has struggled.  Hoover has given up 13 runs and four homers in six innings.  He managed a save in which he gave up a two-run home run.

He understood why Bryan Price removed him from the closer role.  He has gone through rough spots before like he did in April 2014.

"We just corrected it (mechanical flaw) it was a little thing that I couldn't feel physically," said Hoover after a Sunday morning bullpen session. "We made the adjustment and it looked completely different in the bullpen. Sometimes you lose a little bit on your delivery until you find the little error that is taking away the crispness of everything. Price, (Mark) Riggins, (Mack) Jenkins have all helped me. I think we finally got it figured out."

Hoover was baffled before the corrected flaw, that he wished to keep to himself, was discovered.

"Everybody was searching. I couldn't feel it. I felt like I was making quality pitches," Hoover said. "I wasn't getting any soft contact that I was used to. That is what directed us to find the problem. The stuff looked to be there was something that was a tick off.. I think we got it."

Hoover now appears confident that he can become an effective closer.

"I know I can," Hoover said.

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