About Me

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

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Marshall Visits UC Bearcats

Marshall travels from its the West Virginia home to Cincinnati to take on the University of Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium.

Marshall’s Thundering Herd with a 2-1 record, including its last game on September 16 against Kent State, 21-0.  Both wins are against its former Mid-American Conference rivals.  They defeated Miami 31-26.  They suffered a 37-20 loss to North Carolina State.

Cincinnati suffered a 42-32 loss to Navy last week.  They beat the only common opponent with Marshall by besting Miami of Ohio, 21-17.  The Bearcats beat Austin Peay and lost to Michigan in its other two outings.

UC hopes to get running back Mike Boone back.  Boone missed two games with an ankle injury.  Red shirt freshman, Gerrid Doaks, filled in.  Hayden Moore threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns against Navy.   Marshall’s very good at stopping the run but is vulnerable to the pass.

Marshall is led by three-year starter, Chase Litton, a 6-6, 232lb. junior.  Litton has completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 781 yards, an average of 260 per game.  His favorite target is Tyre Brady a transfer from Miami of Florida.  Brady has 19 catches for 373 yards, an average of 19.3.  Brady caught two touchdown passes.

UC leads the series 8-3-1.  The last meeting resulted in\a 33-10 win for Cincinnati.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Reds Sox Rally To Sweep Reds.. Reds Skunked On Final Homestand

The Reds wanted to go out on a positive note on the last home game of the season.  They wanted to test their young pitchers against a team in the pennant race.

The Boston Red Sox provided that opposition and proved why they are close to clinching the American League East title with a four-run eighth inning rally in a 5-4 win.  It completed the sweep and left Cincinnati winless in its last six-game homestand.

'"Let Boston and the Brewers get caught up in the pennant race," Bryan Price said.  'We are in the finish strong mode.  It is two different things.  They have five guys over there who either started for someone else or stated for them.  We have rookies>"

Jackson Stephens, one of nine rookie pitchers to start a game for the Reds, made his third start of the season.

Stephens held Boston to a pair of hits through six innings, one of those hit was Red Sox rookie Rafael Dever’s 10th home run of the season.  It was his second home run of the series.

The Reds broke the ice against Doug Fister in the first inning.  Zack Cozart, in perhaps his last home game as a Red, singled.  Scooter Gennett’s two out double sent Cozart home.  Gennett was caught in between second and third by Mookie Betts’ throw, ending the inning.

After Dever’s fifth inning home run tied the game the Reds forcefully took the lead. Adam Duvall rolled and infield single down the thirdbase line.  Stephens blooped his second Major League hit to center.  Centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. air mailed a throw to third into the camera well behind third, allowing Duvall to score.  Stephens trotted home on Billy Hamilton’s triple into the rightfield corner. 

Stephens left with the 3-1 lead after six innings of two-hit, one-run baseball.  He walked two and struck out two. Stephens depended on another rookie, Wandy Peralta, to preserve his third win with no losses.

"Stephens was really good.  He was really aggressive in the zone," Price said.

Peralta and Michael Lorenzen navigated a scoreless seventh.

Hamilton stole the Reds’ fourth run in the bottom of the inning.  Hamilton walked with run out, ready to steal his 59th base of the season.  Boston reliever Brandon Workman threw to Mitch Moreland at first.  Hamilton stopped halfway.  Moreland started to run him toward second.  Hamilton waited until Moreland lobbed a throw to secondbaseman Dustin Pedroia.  Hamilton passed Moreland and headed to first where both Workman and catcher Christian Vazquez was covering.  Pedroia was unsure who to throw to and missed both. The ball bounced off the screen protecting the dugout.  Hamilton sped past second and went to third.  As he rounded third he saw home plate was unprotected and out ran three Red Sox players to the plate, scoring with a head first, diving slide.  He was not credited with a stolen base.

Hamilton had a cut above his right eye when his helmet flew off with such force.

"I was trying to get to second base.  When I run, I run with my head up so I can see what happens," Hamilton said.  "It was a race between me and Devers. I'll take my chances.  My whole career it was one of my best runs.  I was mad because I got picked off.  It wasn't how I drew it up but I'll take it."

Lorenzen pitched the Reds into trouble in the eighth.  Vazquez and Xander Bogaerts singled. Raisell Iglesias relieved Lorenzen.  Pedroia bounced to the mound.  Fielded cleanly it could have been a double play but Iglesias knocked it down and got the out at first as the runners advanced. Iglesias walked Andrew Benintendi to load the bases.  Mookie Betts cleared the bases with a ball just over Phillip Ervin’s head in left.  With two outs, Devers hit a slow roller to Eugenio Suarez at third and beat the throw to Joey Votto at first.  Betts hustled all the way and beat Votto’s throw from his stretched out posture with a diving slide.

Iglesias suffered his second blown save of the season after converting 15 consecutive times since the Dodgers got to him on June 11.

 "This loss sucks. It sucks because we had the lead. It sucks because we walked to guys who ended up scoring.  It sucks because it was against a really good team.  It sucks because we played really good with the exception of a half inning. You want these guys rewarded because of their effort and we haven't been rewarded enough.  It sucks.  Losing sucks. Plain and simple, you guys watched it.  We had the lead late  Because we're 2o-plus games under doesn't make it suck less.  It sucks worse. The truth be told."

Craig Kimbrel struck out rookie Jesse Winker to earn his 35th save.

Reds Sign Tucker Barnhart To Avoid Arbitration

The Reds’ avoided arbitration with Homer Bailey, signing him to a six-year deal in 2014. They avoided arbitration with Devin Mesoraco and signed him to a four-year deal the next spring.

Both signings were star crossed.  Bailey had a series of elbow surgeries.  Mesoraco had hips and shoulders fixed through operations.

Tempting fate again the Reds signed Tucker Barnhart to a four-year, $16 million contact as he emerged as a true everyday catcher in the void left by Mesoraco’s medical problems.

Barnhart is leading Major League catchers in fielding percentage, caught stealings and assists.  He has one error all year and that was 52 games ago.

With seven games left, he is hitting .273 which would be his best career average.  Barnhart is one short of his career highs for doubles (22) and home runs (6).

The Reds made an easy decision by signing the 26-year old, who was drafted out of Brownsburg, Indiana High School in 2009.

“He’s the right guy at the right time,” president of baseball operations and general manager Dick Williams said at a press conference on Friday attended by president and chief executive officer Bob Castellini, manager Bryan Price, Barnhart’s wife Sierra and newborn son Tatum and parents Kevin and Pam. “We’re pleased that ownership was behind the deal and gave us the resources to get it done.”

The ever humble Barnhart was not used to the attention.

“Obviously, I’m extremely humbled and grateful for all the kind words,” said Barnhart, 26, who would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season. “It means a lot. Now I’m ready to go out and win some ballgames.”

 Barnhart grew up a Reds’ fan but was going to go to Georgia Tech partly because they had a famous collegiate catching coach.  He wasn’t thinking about professional baseball after high school, although that was his long range goal.

When the Reds picked him he changed his plans.

“I just want the opportunity to play,” he said. “I want to produce for the team. I’ll admit that there have been times this year when I’ve thought about what’s going to happen moving forward. Wiping that out and just worrying about winning is all I want to do.

Barnhart and his high school girlfriend Sierra had their first child Tatum on September 30.

 “My wife and I were joking that we’re getting all of the marriage stuff out of the way. We got married a couple of years ago, bought a house, had a son, and now the contract. It’s been like a whirlwind. It’s surreal. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. It probably won’t until the off-season, but it’s something that I wanted to happen.”

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Eduardo Rodriguez Blanks Reds - Red Sox Near Clinch

Mitch Moreland broke open a 1-0 game with a three-run home run in the sixth inning to edge the Boston Red Sox closer to a division title with a 5-0 win.

It was the fifth straight loss for the Reds, 0-5 on the last homestand of the season.

Bob Stephenson got his next to last start of the season against the AL East leading Red Sox.

His mound opponent was Eduardo Rodriguez, who shut the Reds out through 7 2/3  innings.  Carson Smith relieved him with a runner on and two outs in the eighth

The two dueled in the sun for five innings. 

For the second straight games Xander Bogaerts led off the game with a hit, this time a double.  He went to third on a rare passed ball by Tucker Barnhart and scored the unearned run on a sacrifice fly by Brock Holt.

Rodriguez held the Reds hitless in three innings.  Joey Votto reached base for the 305th time this season with a single to left.  Cincinnati native Andrew Benintendi threw to second and Votto’s slide was short.

The Reds didn’t get their second hit until Scooter Gennett opened the fifth with a single.

Stephenson cracked in the sixth.  He muffed Holt’s comebacker to the mound for an error.  He walked Benintendi, then gave up Moreland’s 20th home run of the season.  He ended with six innings, two earned runs (4 total) in six innings on four hits and two walks, one intentional

"I wasn't disappointed in his outing," Bryan Price said.  "He's heading in the right direction.

The error may have caused his lapse in focus.

"I was upset with myself," Stephenson said.  "i lost concentration for a little bit. I walked the next batter and hung a split for the home run. Until then its was the most efficient games I pitched all year."

"One of the challenges in this game is once you make a mistake, getting past it," Price said.

Benintendi got his first hit of the series to plate a run in the seventh.  Amir Garrett in relief of Stephenson got the first two outs quickly, then walked Bogaerts and Holt.  Benintendi singled to left.  Bogaerts crossed the plate, just before.Adam Duvall’s throw to third nailed Holt.

Luke Farrell came in to pitch the Boston ninth inning while his father Red Sox’ manager John Farrell watched from the dugout.  Farrell walked two and struck out one in a scoreless frame.

'It was a cool moment," Farrell said.  "I took a couple glances over there while I was warming up.  Once the inning started, I was focused on getting outs.  It is new for me to come out of the bullpen.  It is key for me to get the first pitch strike and the first batter out."

Farrell has plans for dinner with his father this evening.

"Hopefully, he'll buy," Farrell said.

Bronson Arroyo Sings Farewell To Reds And Red Sox

Bronson Arroyo spent 12 of his 16  Major League seasons with either the Cincinnati Reds or the Boston Red Sox.

He was with the Red Sox for three seasons, from 2003 thru 2005.  It was with Boston in 2004 that he emerged as a bonafide big league starter, winning 10 games in Boston’s first World Championship season since 1918.   He followed that up with a 14-win 2005 season, the first of eight seasons in which he pitched 200 or more innings.  He also had a season with 199 innings.

The Red Sox traded Arroyo to the Reds for Wily Mo Pena during spring training in 2006.  He is one of the most successful pitchers in Cincinnati’s long history.

This is Arroyo’s last season.  He has been on the disabled list since June 19 after 14 starts which followed nearly three year of injury.  Arroyo’s 40-year old body can no longer stand up to the rigors of a Major League season.

While it lasted, Arroyo had an exceptional career.

Arroyo will finish sixth on the Reds’ all-time list with 279 starts, sixth with 1,157 strikeouts, 12th with 108 wins and 12th with 1,761 2/3 innings pitched.

From 2006 - 2013 Arroyo won 105 games.  Only six pitchers won more during that period.  He was one of three pitchers to make at least 30 starts in nine different seasons during that span.

After the game, Arroyo will turn to his favorite pastime, playing guitar and singing.

“It is going to be a mini concert,” Arroyo said.  “A real concert is three hours long.  Bronson Arroyo ain’t got three hours in him.  That’s Bruce Springsteen.  That’s Pear Jam.  That’s a real show.  I’m going to give them the appetizer.  I’m going to give them the shrimp cocktail and then they can watch the fireworks.”

Arroyo learned to play while he was in the minor leagues.  He recorded a CD singing cover songs.  He played for Reds’ fan at winter Redsfest.

“It’s going to be fun. I can’t contribute on the field right now, at least I can contribute in some other ways. People come to the ballpark.  In a lot of ways we are entertaining out here.  Internally, we’re thinking about wins and losses all the time, and that drives the machine. At the end of the day, the amenities here, the food, the overall experience still matters a lot to the fans. It is what keeps them coming back.  I’m trying to do my part. I’ve been doing some little things. They’ve given me the opportunity to play around the ballpark.  With the Red Sox coming in, it will be a nice cap to my career, moving on to the things that I’ll be doing.  I’ll be doing a lot more than throwing a baseball in the future.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Red Sox Inches Closer To Title Reds Lose Fourth Straight

Sal Romano grew up a New York Yankee fan and wanted to ruin the Boston Red Sox day.

The Red Sox, holding a three-game lead with 10 to play had other ideas.  Rafael Devers three-run home run propelled Boston to a 5-4 win.

The first four Reds’ batters scored and that was the extent of their offense.

Xander Bogaerts opened the game with a single.  Romano misplaced the strike zone that led to Boston loading the bases with no outs.  Romano gathered himself and struck out Mookie Betts but Mitch Moreland hit a sacrifice fly to score Bogaerts.  Romano limited the damage to one run.

The Red’s assaulted Rick Porcello in their fits turn.  Billy Hamilton fresh from the disabled list from a left thumb fracture singled.  He was running on a pitch to Zack Cozart, who drilled the ball into th right centerfield gap.  Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. got close enough to the ball that Hamilton had to freeze.  He had to stop at third on Cozart’s double.  Joey Votto walked and the Reds had a bases loaded no out situation.  Their advantage, Scooter Gennett came to the plate.

 “In that type of situation, its important to jump on the first strike and make something happen,” Gennett said.“I think I’ve matured a little and try to slow those situations down, and not get too pumped up.”

Gennett lined a pitch into the rightfield stands for his 27th home run and fourth grand slam.  He became the first Reds’ in history to hit four in a season.  It was his fifth career grand slam.

“Scooter is a nice topic," Bryan Price said.  "He’s been a really good topic to talk about.  Sometimes its a flair for the dramatic. Porcello is a 20-game winner, a Cy Young winner and the first pitch he sees he hits a grand slam. Some people are really comfortable in that environment. I’m sure he wasn’t trying to hit a grand slam.  It is amazing how often he gets the barrel of the bat on the ball in big RBI situations.”

Gennett has played in 20 fewer games than Votto and has 93 RBI, just three fewer.  He is the first player since Ernie Banks hit  Albert Pujols tied Ernie Banks with five grand slams in a season in 2009.  He is the only player besides Lou Gehrig to have a four homerun game (1932) and hit four grand slams in a season (1934).  Earlier this year he joined Babe Ruth as the only players to hit their 20th home run and pitch in the same game.  Ruth never hit four home runs in a game.

“That’s crazy.  That’s baseball.  Anything can happen.  It’s a little small and not as well known to be in that group.  That’s crazy,.” said Gennett, who was born near Cincinnati

Romano retired eight of the next night batters.  Devers doubled, beating the throw by Adam Duvall but popped off the base for a 7-4 putout in the second. 

The Red Sox took the lead in the fourth.  Betts led off with a double. Moreland walked.  Christian Vazquez doubled home Betts with Moreland stopping at third.  Devers hit his ninth home run.

 “It was a curveball," Romano said. "I threw two pretty good ones prior to that.  He was able to take it and foul the other one off. I don’t know how he was able to get that one.  I wanted to make the same pitch, a little more down.  I hung it.”

Romano was removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the inning.  He allowed five runs on five hits and four walks over four innings.

 “He did a really good job of getting out of that first inning and here we go.  Then Scooter comes on and hits a grand slam and we have a good feeling,” Price said.  “I thought Sal did a really good job of battling but it caught up with him in that fourth inning.”

“I hung a few breaking balls," Romano said.  "I was happy to get out of the first with just one run. Scooter came up with the grand slam. My job is to hold them. I got in some trouble and made some bad pitches.  You’ve just got to learn from it.”

The Red Sox replaced Porcello after four innings with David Price.  Pocello was charged with four runs on four hits and three walks.

Ariel Hernandez and Asher Wojciechowski kept the Red Sox where they were but Price and Addison Reed held off the Reds.

Boston carried the thin lead into the ninth.

Deck McGuire entered to pitch the ninth for the Reds.

 “We threw all rookies tonight," Price said. "They held their own. It was a nice five innings of shutout baseball by three rookies that kept us in the game.  We made a push late in the game to score some runs and it didn’t happen.”

Former Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrell came on for his 34th save against four blown saves. Kimbrell turned in his 10th straight scoreless outing.

Family Ties Highlite Reds - Red Sox Series

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell is 100 percent behind his son Luke, except this weekend.  Andrew Benintendi came from his Madeira home to Great American Ball Park to watch his favorite player Ken Griffey Jr. play, hoping the Reds would win.  This weekend, he within his power to make sure they don’t.

Luke Farrell is in the Reds’ bullpen and there is a good chance he eill try to spoil his father’s trip to Cincinnati.

“You shut things out and compartmentalize those things,” said Luke Farrell. who spent the afternoon with his dad before coming to the ballpark.  “We will get together when the season is over, probably by going fishing.”

John Fattell’s Red Sox lead in the American League East race with a three=game lead with 10 games to play.  They could be anywhere from a tie to a six game lead when they leave town.  The Reds have long been eliminated from contention but Luke Farrell, who is on his third team this season, has to prove that he can pitch in the big leagues.

“I’m proud of what he’s earned,” John Farrell said.  “Hopefully, this will be a side story for a successful series for us.  We have an ongoing conversation with texts. It is unique.  This gives us a chance to be regular people.  I had a similar experience with his brother Jeremy when he was with the Pirates but that was spring training.  There is an element of an adrenaline rush.  A set of nerves that kind of kick in.  He’s my son but he’s in the other uniform.  I don’t mean to sound crass or overly competitive. This is an important series for us.  We don’t take them lightly.”

Benintendi estimates a thousand friends and family from Madeira will be in the bleachers as he mans the third spot in the Red Sox batting order, hitting .278 with 19 home runs and 87 RBI. 

The Reds’ drafted by the Reds in the 31st round of the 2013 draft out of Madeira High School.

“Once the draft got past the second round, I knew I was going to college,” Benindendi said.  “It was the best decision I ever made.  I wasn’t ready for the long season of professional baseball. I had to go to college, learn how to lift weights, how to eat.”

The 5‘6“ 140 pound, Benintendi out of high school, who played basketball as well as baseball attended the University of Arkansas in Fayettville for two season and grew to 5‘10“, 175 pounds.

Benintendi hit .380 in his sophomore season with a .489 OBP and .715 slugging mark while leading Division 1 in homers (19) and stealing 23 bases in 27 attempts. He was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year ahead of shortstops Dansby Swanson of Vanderbilt and Alex Bregman of LSU, the top two picks in the draft. He was a key to Arkansas run to the College World Series..

The Red Sox made him their first pick in 2015.  A year and two months later on August 2, 2016, Benintendi made his debut against Seattle.  His rookie status is still in tact as he plays the final 10 games for the Sox.

He attended a rally at his high school on the off day, Thursday.

“It was awesome. I’m not much for that kind of stuff but it was put together, really well,” Benintendi said.  “It was good to see everybody.  It is something, I’ll definitely remember.”

Benintendi came to watch the Reds four or five times.  He doesn’t remember a lot of details about the games but remembered how big Adam Dunn was. 

“I would picture myself playing here,” Benintendi said.

There will be a lot of fans from Madeira here to watch him.

“I’m not sure how many there are but I don’t know anyone who is not coming,” Benintendi said.  “I try to stay out of it and concentrate on playing.  They bought their own tickets.”

Madeira is a small suburban town about 12 miles from GABP.  They had a program for him at the high school gym  A fourth grade choir sang, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame_ and  “Sweet Caroline.”

“I kind of wanted to stay under the radar.  I want to concentrate on the game,’ Benintendi said. “I heard the ball flies here.  I can’t wait to get out to batting practice.”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cardinals Sweep Wins Season Series - Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

The season series between the Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals was undecided coming into the final meeting with each team boasting nine victories.

Dexter Fowler hit two doubles among three hits, scoring and driving in two to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to an 8-5 win over the Reds.  The Cards swept the three-game series and prevented the Reds from taking the first season series since 2011.

The Cardinals behind Carlos Martinez scored first.with two outs.  Fowler doubled against Reds’ veteran Homer Bailey.  Jose Martinez shook off a thumb injury and drilled a run scoring single past Joey Votto at firstbase.

The Reds tied it in the second inning.  Jesse Winker doubled.  Winker stopped to visit thirdbase coach Billy Hatcher on Tucker Barnhart’s sharp single to righfield.  Martinez pitch in the dirt eluded gold glove catcher Yadier Molina and Winker scored while Patrick Kivlehan was at the plate.

Bailey was smacked around in the third.

Matt Carpenter opened the frame with a single.  Tommy Pham’s single sent Carpenter to third. Fowler’s second double of the game over the head of Phillip Ervin in center scored Pham and Carpenter.  Fowler went to third when Barnhart, the Reds’ catcher, made a sliding catch of Martinez’ foul out.  Molina lined to center and Fowler scored after the catch.

Winker singled to open the fourth.  Ervin made it a one-run game by lining his third home run into the leftfield stands.  Barnhart and Kivlehan singled.  Bryan Price sent Adam Duvall in to hit for Bailey, who pitched four innings.  Duvall lined to deep right and the Reds' ended the inning a run short.

“It was tough to take Homer out. He had pitches left on the table. In that situation I had to take a shot,” Price said. “We battled.  They got some fringe pitches.  We needed to have a big inning because our bullpen couldn’t stop them “

Bailey, who is finishing the season after missing 2 1/2 months, is trying to get his form back.  He would have liked to continue.

“It was Bryan decision and it’s not mine to question," Bailey said.  "I was battling for sure. I didn’t get any breaks, a double play a borderline pitch but that’s not an excuse.  Sometimes you can get through if you get a break here or there.”

He wants a normal off season for the first time in years to feel better when he takes the mound.

“It’s still a toss up with my stuff when I go out there.  I have one start left. I hope to finish strong," Bailey said.

The Reds turned the game over to the bullpen.  St. Louis stuck with Martinez on the mound.

The Cardinals got some breathing room off Michael Lorenzen in the seventh.  Jose Martinez singled and scored on Molina’s long double, beating Ervin’s relay to Scooter Gennett. Kolton Wong’s slow ground ball to first allowed Molina to score to make it a 6-3 game.

Scott Schebler hit his 28th home run in the eighth.  Zack Cozart’s single knocked Carlos Martinez out of the game. Lyons struck out Votto and Gennett looking.

The Cards scored two ninth inning runs off Raisell Iglesias to add a cushion.

Former Red Zach Duke pitched the ninth for St. Louis.  He gave up Schebler’s 29th home run to lead off the inning.  It was Schebler's third multi-home run game.  He is coming off a mid season injury.

“I got that first one pretty good.  Martinez got a couple pitches in on me and Wong made a nice play.  The last bat, he just threw me a pitch where I was expecting it," Schebler said. “The second half was disappointing for me personally. If I look at it the right way and finish strong, coming back may be the thing that makes me a good player.”

Duke finished the ninth with no further scoring.

Bryan Price

“Homer got the first two outs on three pitches.  It was labor intensive after that.  I don’t think he threw the ball bad.”

Homer Bailey

Scott Schebler

Sal Romano Pumped To Dump Red Sox

Looking past the final meeting between the Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals, the Reds are gearing up for a meeting with the Boston Red Sox, interest is being peaked for several reasons over the last four home games.

Billy Hamilton has been taking batting practice and is able to play as early as tonight.  Hamilton will not start but could realistically, bat, as well as pinch run and play defense.  It is more likely he will play against the Red Sox this season.

“He isn’t experiencing any pain with anything he does,” Bryan Price said.

Scott Schebler will leadoff and play rightfield as Phillip Ervin will patrol centerfield.  Jesse Winker will be in leftfield and bat fifth behind Scooter Gennett, after hitting leadoff during Hamilton’s absence.

“It is a little bit more speed,” Price said.  “The way Wink is swinging the bat, he provides a nice protection for Gennett and we kind of start to run off the on-base guys. When you go Cozart, Votto, Gennett and Winker, all those guys are above .345 on base.  It just seemed to make the most sense.”

The Reds are not only trying to play spoiler with the Cardinals, who are five games behind the Chicago Cubs for the Central Division tittle and 2.5 games behind the Colorado Rockies for the sixth and final wild card spot.  The Reds and Cardinals have split their 18 meetings evenly.  The Reds haven’t won a season series against them since 2011 (9-6).

Boston holds a three game lead over the New York Yankees for the American League Eastern Division tittle with 10 games left.

Sal Romano will get the start on Friday against Rick Porcello.  Romano was born on Syossett, Long Island in New York.  He grew up a Yankee fan.

“I’m very pumped to pitch against the Red Sox,” Romano said, who graduated from Southington High School, where his parents moved in Connecticut. “I’m a big Yankee fan.  I’ve been to a lot of Yankee Red Sox games in my life. I know the Yankees are in a race right now with them.  It would be very nice to help them beat the Red Sox.”

Southington is halfway between the two cities, two hours from Fenway Park and two hours from Yankee Stadium.  He has seen games at both venues. 

“I wish we were playing in Fenway," Romano said. “NESN (Boston Red Sox TV network) is back at home so my family can watch. It will be the Red Sox broadcasters but that’s ok.”

Another Reds, Red Sox connection is Luke Farrell.  His father, John, is the Red Sox manager.

Price has made it widely known that the Reds are playing the last 10 games to win.  But not at all costs.

“I’d like to get Luke into a game with the Red Sox,” Price said. “It’s one of the little things that go mostly undiscussed.  I tried to get Kivlehan into a game in Philadelphia. I knew (Zach) Vincez’ parents have been to see some games but never got to see him start, so Sunday we were giving Cozart a day off anyway, Vincej got the start where typically it would have been Peraza. It was his parents last chance to be in Cincinnati.  I’ve had the luxury to do that. If you’re in first place by a game, you can’t.  With Luke its extremely unique.  I know John saw Luke pitch in Kansas City when he made his debut which I thought was sensational.  The same thing happened with Chad Wallach.  Sometimes that opportunity doesn’t present itself.”

The Reds have had a few moments like those in the past.

In 1997, the Reds called up Pete Rose Jr. to play in September when Jack McKeon managed the Reds.  Rose Jr. played in 11 games and it was obvious that he didn’t have the talent to play in the Major Leagues.  He never played again.

The next season at the end of the year, McKeon at the insistence of Jim Bowden III turned in a lineup with Aaron Boone at thirdbase, Barry Larkin at shortstop, Brett Boone at secondbase and Stephen Larkin at firstbase.  It was the only game Stephen ever played.  He got a hit in three at bats, thus retiring with a .333 batting average.  His lifetime average was higher than the .295 average that his Hall of Fame brother put up in 19 seasons.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cardinals Rough Up Reds' Rookie Davis

Rookie Davis made his sixth big league start against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

This one was short and not so sweet in the 9-2 Cardinals win.  Determined not to walk anybody, Davis gave up two doubles and three home runs, including back-to-back long balls to Dexter Fowler (18) and Paul DeJong (24).

“Rookie got into deep counts," Bryan Price said. "They saw too many pitches and put the barrel of the bat on the ball.  This is a whole different environment up here.  The games count.  The stats count.  I watched Rookie’s last bullpen.  He couldn’t have thrown the ball any better.”

Matt Carpenter wasted very little time by hitting his 21st home run leading off the game.  It was the fourth time a Reds’ pitcher allowed a home run to start a game.

 “Bottom line, I didn’t pitch good enough ballgame for us to win," Davis said. "It’s tough you want to go out there and throw a good game.  I didn’t do that.  Fastball command for the most part was there. Against a lineup like that when you can’t throw your secondary pitches across for strikes, and then when I would try to get a chase with two strikes it was nowhere near the zone.”

Scott Feldman gave up a home run to Philadelphia Phillie’s Cesar Hernandez to start the season.

Keury Mella, relieved Davis after the third inning, becoming the 17th Reds’ player to make his Major League debut; 12 were pitchers.

Mella’s first inning was flawless.  Flaws showed up in the Cardinals fifth, two doubles and two walks allowed St. Louis to take a 7-0 lead. 

Cardinals’ starter Luke Weaver allowed two harmless, first inning singles until the Reds fought back in the fifth.  Jose Peraza starting in centerfield, singled, Peraza was taking the place of Billy Hamilton, who was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list before the game, tests his injured left thumb.  Patrick Kivlehan, starting for new father Eugenio Suarez, doubled Peraza home.   Jesse Winker’s two out single made it a 7-2 game.

The Cardinals added a run in the sixth off Luke Farrel aided by a reversed call that would have been a double play off Weaver’s sacrifice attempt.  Alejandro Chacin was touched for one in the ninth.

The Cardinals evened the season series at 9-9 with the win and stayed in the playoff race.  They are 2.1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the Central Division race and 2 1/2 games behind Colorado for the final wild card spot. Davis would have liked to spoil the party.

 “These guys (Cardinals) are in the thick of things so you want to throw a quality start.  You want to beat them.  I didn’t force early contact when I needed to,” Davis said.

The game looked like a spring game in Goodyear. Both managers used benches and bullpens liberally.

Joey Votto singled in the first inning to reach base for the 300th time.

Chad Wallach got his first Major League hit, a single with two outs in the ninth.

Venezuelan Baseball Players Face Unique Problems

Eugenio Suarez is staying in the US.  Jose Peraza is going home to Venezuela.

What was once a simple individual decision has been complicated by the Nicolas Maduro government in the homeland of these two Reds’ players.

Major League Baseball is aggressive about spreading its sport to fans around the world.

MLB encourages its teams to develop players from around the world. It holds the World Baseball Classic every three years.  They play regular season games in Mexico, Australia and Japan.

The down side of the world wide expansion is the world’s attitudes toward acceptance of foreign nationals in general.  While the United States is known for being a melting pot for multiple cultures.  Recent political thought has turned to isolationist movements. 

Players from Venezuela now have to deal with social unrest in its native country as a socialist regime is attempting to dominate the country by force, by eliminating political dissidence and free thought and travel.  There has also been an economic price to play for its citizens.  Necessities are scarce and expensive for the average Venezuelan citizens.  Professional baseball players are getting caught up in the unrest with an uncertain future as far as playing in the United States.  It is  similar to Cuba, which ironically has become easier for baseball players to come to the United States.

Suarez was born 26-years ago in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela but with the imminent birth of his daughter Nicolle, he is afraid he may not be able to return.

‘I have my family there,” Suarez said.  “I try to visit for Christmas with my family there and try to enjoy, the couple months.  Right now everybody knows Venzuela is in trouble.  So it is not easy to be there.  I don’t know if I will go to Venezuela this year because my daughter is coming on the way.  I don’t want to be in trouble. I love my country.  I want to go over there so bad.”

The September 19th birth of his daughter Nicolle influenced his decision to stay in the US over the winter.

Each player handles immigration issues for family members on their own,” said Eric Lee the Reds’ director of baseball operations, who is responsible for requesting visa form the United States Customs and Immigration Service.  “Based on what I've been hearing and reading, Geno's concerns might be more about the instability in Venezuela, and rumors that its government may impose controls that restrict Venezuelan nationals from leaving the country freely (not unlike Cuba).”

Peraza, who has seven brothers and sisters living in Venezuela, he wants to go back to see them but did not want any details about them to become public.

“It is very difficult to get a visa in Venezuela.  It is too difficult,” said Peraza, a 23-year old from San Diego, VZ.  He has to return to Venezuela before 2018.

“Whatever happens is going to happen,” Peraza said through interpreter Julio Murillo.  “I feel bad about the situation down there but there is nothing that I can do.”

There are 160 active players from Venezuela on the 30 rosters.

One of the most prominent Veneuelan players, Miguel Cabrera, reportedly,  has been threatened by those close to Maduro and forced to pay ransom to prevent his mother from being kidnaped.

Work visas tend to go smoother for Canadian players than those from Latin America to begin with.

“The petitioning process for a work visa for Canadian nationals is the same as for other countries, but I think it’s fair to say the cases are generally less complicated for USCIS to deal with,” Lee said.

The Reds and MLB have concerns about the future status of Venezuelan players, somewhat exacerbated by the changing US policies on immigration.  

“We are in close consultation with legal counsel and MLB to keep abreast of all proposed changes to make sure all players and staff have legal citizenship status, and are preparing to change our processes and act accordingly should substantive changes to US policy be enacted,” Lee said.

“By and large, the process of acquiring work visas for players is pretty smooth on our end.  That is not to say that players do not have issues, which they would be in a much better position to speak to,” Lee said.  “As I'm sure you well know, Cuban players who come to the US (or anywhere else) before they sign often have harrowing tales, but those are extremely personal and we don't always get the whole story on our end.”

With new US sanctions on Venezuela imposed by the Trump administration, there is concern about the future of baseball players born and living there.  It is uncertain what the reaction by Maduro will be or its effect on Venezuelan players.

“We are deeply concerned about the state of affairs in Venezuela and the safety of our Venezuelan players, coaches, staff, and their families,” Lee said.  “We have engaged each one individually and offered to do anything in our power to ensure that they and their families have a safe place to spend the winter.  Many have friends and family who remain in Venezuela, and as a result, some are inclined to return to provide help and support in person, which we understand and respect.” 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cardinal Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With An Extra Inning Win

The Reds and St. Louis Cardinals had a topsy, turvy, see-saw, extra-inning struggle on Tuesday night.

Dexter Fowler’s 10th inning double kept the Cardinals playoff hopes alive in a 8-7 win over the Reds.
Tim Adleman hit leadoff hitter Kolten Wong with a pitch.  Wong stole second.  Fowler’s second hit and RBI, a double just inside the first base line sent Wong home. Paul DeJong’s RBI single added insurance.

The Reds jumped ahead 4-0 when Zack Cozart lined his 23rd home run into the leftfield seats with Jesse Winker on base after his second hit.

Winker doubled off Jack Flaherty to open the bottom of the first and scored on a single by Joey Votto’s single.

Adam Duvall walked.  He went to third on Scott Schebler’s single and trotted home on a sacrifice fly by Patrick Kivlehan, who filled in for Eugenio Suarez, who was attending the birth of his daughter Nicole.

Young Jackson Stephens retired the first 10 Cardinal batters but Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler and Jose Matinez singled in succession to plate a run.  Yadier Molina tied the game with his 18th home run.  Dejong hit his 23rd right after to give the Cardinals a 5-4 lead.

 ‘Typically, it came down to execution," Bryan Price said. "He got the first 10 guys out.  He fell behind 2-0 on Pham, he got a hit and the next two guys got hits, then the home runs.  Probably not the best location. He did a really nice job of pitching in, establishing inside and using his breaking ball and change up.  It seams the second time around he wasn’t making the same quality pitches.”

Stephens will get the start again in five days against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.  Today, Stephens had trouble the second time through the batting order.

“I’m sure they made adjustments but that’s baseball. I got behind and didn’t make good pitches,.” Stephens said. “Later in the game, I didn’t get ahead in the count and just didn’t execute pitches. I wasn’t going to walk anyone. I didn’t want to give anything away. I didn’t execute pitches and they hurt me.”

Both teams used the full September bullpen.  Asher Wojciechowski relieved Stephens.  John Gant gave up Cozart’s homer.  Brett Cecil pitched two scoreless frames until the Reds took the lead back in the sixth.  A total of 16 pitchers were used;.eight by each team.

 “The expanded roster are beneficial this time of year but it is hard to get a matchup," Price said.."They can burn a couple guys to get the right guy up there.  It makes it easier to take a guy out that’s struggling.”

Votto walked.  Scooter Gennett doubled Votto to third.  Duvall and Schebler hit back-to-back sacrifice flies

Fowlier’s eighth inning home run off Kevin Shackelford tied the score at six.  It was his 17th home run.

Scooter Gennett led of the bottom of the 10th with his 26th home run off a Juan Nicasio full count pitch.

 “There were a lot of good things," Price said.  "The result wasn’t / Gennett hits the home run of Nicasio, who has been as tough on us as anyone.  We just weren’t able to do it against Lyons.”

 Bryan Price

“Jackson will start again in five days.”

Jackson Stephens

“I didn’t execute pitches.  I was pounding the zone pretty much all night. Then I got behind on some counts and got into fastball counts and didn’t execute the pitch.”

Colin Kaepernick Would Not Be First Bengal To Protest Anthem

There has been talk that the Cincinnati Bengals should replace quarterback Andy Dalton.

Reportedly, some Bengals players are advocating the unit that has scored a scant nine points in two games and looking for their first touchdown, would be better served with currently unemployed Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick has been vilified for refusing to stand properly for the National Anthem to protest how young black men have been treated by police.

The mere suggestion that owner Mike Brown should bring him to the team, have caused fans on social media and talk radio to threaten to boycott the NFL and the Bengals if Kaepernick indeed be signed.

But there is doubt, based on precedent, that fans would follow through.

Brown’s father Paul Brown signed Tommie Smith to an NFL contract in 1969.  Smith played in two games as a wide receiver for Cincinnati that season in the old AFL, catching one pass for 41-yards.

Former Bengal Tommie Smith at Mexico City
There were no sustained protests to Smith being on the Bengals roster.

What makes Smith’s story similar to Kaepernick?

Smith and John Carlos protested the anthem in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.  Smith and Carlos were medal winners.  Smith won the gold medal in the 200 meter race and Carlos won the bronze.  What went largely unnoticed was that Australian silver medal winner Peter Norman wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of Smith and Carlos.

Kaepernick’s protest has similar reasoning behind it, 50 years after Smith’s protest.

The US was in turmoil in 1968.  Peaceful civil rights protests in the south turned violent after the April 4 assassination of leader Martin Luther King.  A violent group the Black Panthers were a product of the nation’s strife. The protests against the Viet Nam war were raging at the same time. 

 In October 1968 Smith from San Jose State and Carlos received their medals standing on the podium without shoes to signify black poverty.  Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride. Carlos un-zipped his track suit to indicate solidarity with blue collar workers, who by and large were those fighting the war while the well-to-do like Donald J Trump was diagnosed with a “foot thingy” and received seven student deferments. 

Avery Brundage, the head of the International Olympic Committee, sighting that political statements were not appropriate at the Olympic Games, ordered Smith and Carlos banned from the US Olympic team and expelled from Olympic Village.  When the US Olympic committee refused, Brundage threatened to ban the entire US team. That resulted in the expulsion of Smith and Carlos.

The hypocrisy of the situation is obvious upon examination that Brundage as the head of the US Olympic Committee in 1936, had no problem with the Nazi salute at the 1936 games in Berlin where Ohio State’s Jesse Owens showed Hitler’s master race as a farce.  Brundage had been accused of being one of the United States' most prominent Nazi sympathisers even after the outbreak of the Second World War,[13][14] and his removal as president of the IOC had been one of the three stated objectives of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.

Kaepernick’s protested the deaths of several unarmed African American youths at the wrong end of a gun held by police officers, who were either never indicted or convicted.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

Several players have joined in similar protests while Kaepernick remains unsigned by any of the 30 NFL teams in spite of the fact he took the San Francisco 49ers to the Superbowl in 2012 after taking over for the injured Alex Smith in midseason.

Cleveland Browns players protested the Anthem on August 22nd before an exhibition game against the New York Giants.  Soon after the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Seth DeValve, who is married to an African American women, was one of two white players to join 14 African American teammates.

“I wanted to take the opportunity with my teammates during the anthem to pray for our country,” said DeValve, who was quoted in the New York Times. “And also to draw attention to the fact that we have work to do. And that’s why I did what I did.”

Linebackers Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey; running backs Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Terrance Magee and Brandon Wilds; safety Jabrill Peppers; DeValve; wide receivers Kenny Britt and Ricardo Louis; and defensive back Calvin Pryor dropped to one knee in a huddle.
Continue reading the main story.

Karpernick was drafted one pick after the Bengals chose Dalton in the 2011 draft out of the University of Nevada. 

Kaepernick’s mother was a 19-year old white woman named Heidi Russo. He was born in Milwaukee.  His father an unknown black man left the family before Kaepernick was born.  The youth was ad\opted by Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, who had a son Kyle and daughter Devon.  The couple lost two male children to heart defects. When Kaepernick was four the family moved to  California.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Reds Use Power To Sweep The Pirates Bob Stephenson Allows One Hit

Another tough day for offense until the Reds’ record tying power pack overwhelmed Garrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 to sweep the three-game series.

Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett hit two-run homers in a decisive sixth inning.

Cole, who beat the Reds 1-0 with his own home run on August 26, was at it again.

The Reds’ managed a Jesse Winker single in five innings against Cole, whose lone win in eight prior decisions was that 1-0 game in which Luis Castillo allowed Cole to hit a home run.

On Sunday, Bob (Robert) Stephenson, was the young pitcher matching Cole pitch for pitch.  He finished with six scoreless innings, allowing one hit and three walks while striking out eight.

“The first three innings he wasn’t that sharp," Bryan Price said.."He didn’t have real good stuff, a lot of big misses.  My concern was when to pull the plug. I talked to Mack (Jenkins) and said ‘hey man’, we’ll try to get through five.  Then innings 4,5 and 6 here he comes.  That’s exactly what you want to see. You want to see the struggle.  He pitched out of situations and hadn’t given up a run.  If we didn’t have a long nine-batter inning where his turn came up, he’d have probably gone out for the seventh.”

Stephenson showed the strides he's made during the season in evening his record at 5-5 and dropping his ERA horrendous 8.10 in late July to a more respectable 5.01.

It was Cole again with the only hit when he doubled following a walk to Chris Stewart to put Stephenson in a second and third, no-out predicament.  Stephenson forgot to panic.  He struck out John Jaso.  Jordan Luplow popped to Zach Vincej, making his first career start at shortstop.  Stephenson completed the escape act when Andrew McCutchen popped out to catcher Tucker Barnhart.

 “My thought process was, I’m not going to let anyone score," Stephenson said. "I’m going to bear down right here and make my best pitches and try to get three outs.  If you ask me a year ago, I’d probably tell you I’m just going to try to throw the ball over the plate, try to find contact. I’ve gotten a lot better in situations like that, knowing I can bear down.”

The Reds had enough of the hitless nonsense in the bottom of the sixth.  Winker walked.  Suarez launched his 26th home run to open the scoreboard for business.  Joey Votto drew a walk, then Gennett hit his 25th home run of the campaign.  Cole left, replaced by Daniel Hudson.  Vincej was hit by a pitch with two outs and scored on a rare Tucker Barnhart triple.

“There is a certain optimism that we had but the power threat adds another dimension to this lineup," Price said.

Deck McGuire pitched a scoreless seventh.

Luke Farrell walked pinch hitter Christopher Bostic on some close pitches then served up Jaso’s 10th home run to break the shutout but sent the game to the ninth, 5-2.

Michael Lorenzen pitched the ninth for his second save.

The Reds have five players with 25 or more home runs.  Votto 34, Duvall 31, Scott Schebler 27, Suarez and Gennett.

The 1956 had five players with 25 or more.

Frank Robinson hit 38, Wally Post 36, Ted Kluzewski 35, Gus Bell 29 and Ed Bailey 28 during the 1956 season, setting a team record with 221.  The Reds hit 222 in 2005 in 163 games.

 “It’s pretty cool man to have five guys with that many," Gennett said.. "Obviously we can hit. It’s nice to see the other pieces are falling in.  I finally feel if they give up four or less we have a pretty good chance to win.

The 2017 Reds have 207 home runs with 12 games to play.

The series sweep gave the Reds a 13-6 record over Pittsburgh for 2017 and closed to within two games of fourth place.

 “We should strive for a lot more.  We should be talking about getting to the top of the division but at this point in time unfortunately it’s fourth place.  It is better than where we currently stand and we should push hard.”“We should strive for a lot more.  We should be talking about getting to the top of the division but at this point in time unfortunately it’s fourth place.  It is better than where we currently stand and we should push hard," Price said.

Drew Storen Out Until 2019 Reds Play All Contenders After Today

Drew Storen has been shut down for this year and won’t be seen again until 2019.

Storen will have surgery to repair his right elbow.  With 12-month recovery period, he won’t be able to pitch competitively until then.

“He’s found a way to be competitive and stay on the field,” Bryan Price said. “His elbow as not 100 percent but it certainly allowed him to pitch regularly. We noticed the decrease in velocity. Now in order for him to get back he needs to have the ulnar collateral ligament surgery. It’s individual. It used to be nine to 12 months. But, you never know.”  

Storen was signed to provide a veteran presence to a bullpen that was beat up in 2016.  His contract was through this season.  He will be unemployed after October.

“I started out the year, I felt great.  It started to bother me but this last time it grabbed and I knew that it was time,” Storen said.  “I asked people who have had, Jason Mott and others.  I knew it was a possibility.  There were a lot of different factors and I’m only 30. (Storen turned 30 on August 11).  It is one of those situations where I have the time, let’s do it now.”

The market doesn’t reward players with injuries, who are free agents as Storen will be.

“You don’t have the security to make yourself better.  From a career standpoint it is not ideal but at the same time, everybody goes through this stuff. You have to make the most of it and not sit around and feel sorry for yourself.”

Storen’s velocity was down this year but he learned to pitch.

“I was able to get outs,” Storen said.  “It is a matter of getting healthy again.  When you go out their with the stuff I had it forces you to learn how to pitch a little bit more.  It shows me how much I took for granted the way I pitched before.”

At 30, Storen was the most experienced pitcher in the bullpen.  Now Price is down to a bullpen of two-year pitchers in Raisell Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen.  The rest are rookies.  Most of whom have made Major League debuts this year.  Homer Bailey is the only starter left with more that one-year experience and he is fresh off surgery.

“I have almost exclusively minor league starting pitchers in our bullpen, who are healthy,” Price said.

The Reds play contenders for the playoffs the last 12 games of the season.

“We will put a competitive team on the field every day,” Price promised.  “Not at all costs though, our priority is the Cincinnati Reds.  If it means Tucker Barnhart has to play everyday or Zack Cozart has to play every day, no.  (Jose) Peraza will continue to get at bats.  (Phillip) Ervin will get some starts.  But I respect the environment we’re in.  I won’t empty the bench and have a bench day but the Reds are the priority, not the Cardinals, the Cubs, the Brewers or the Red Sox.”

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rookies Shine In Reds Win

Da Wink and Big Sally otherwise known as Jesse Winker and Sal Romano turned in veteran like performances in the Reds 2-1 win over Ivan Nova and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Romano entered the game lugging a 4.54 ERA and a 4-6 record, frustrated the Pirates by widely scattering five hits.

Big Sally and Nova took a scoreless draw into the seventh inning.  Romano was aided by three slick plays by Eugenio Suarez at thirdbase and two above average grabs by Adam Duvall in left

Nova surrendered a single to Joey Votto until Winker lined his sixth home run into the happy fans in the rightfield bleachers.

“It was fun playing behind Sal tonight," Winker said. "It was cool to be a part of the game. The last three or four games I felt like I’ve hit the ball hard but into tough luck.”

Winker didn't hit for much power but gets on base at a very good rate.

He hit two home runs in 299 at bats at Louisville but was on base at a .395 rate.

“I didn’t worry about my home run numbers in the minor leagues," Windkr said.. "Every coach, I’ve ever had told me to keep doing what I’m doing.  Don’t get caught up in the home run numbers. I was trying to get on base.  I knew the guys behind me would drive me in.  The ball just carried out.”

 With Winker in the lineup, the first four batters in the Reds' lineup have a ..365, 391, .452 and ..375 on-base percentage. Winker, Cozart, Votto and Suarez.

Winker's home run opened the Reds offense.

"There is a good flow to the offense," Bryan Price said.

Zack Cozart followed with a double.  Votto lined to left but Suarez walked.  Scooter Gennett, in his first game back from a hand injury greeted reliever Dovydas Neverauskas with a single up the middle.  Cozart scored but Suarez was cauight in a rundown.  Suarez dodged Pirates long enough for Gennett to reach second.   Scott Schebler struck out to end the inning.

Romano returned to the mound for the eighth with 90 pitches.  Since August 13 when the Milwaukee Brewers hung six runs on the big righthander, Romano allowed nine runs in 37 2/3 innings (1.83) when he walked out for the eighth.

It became Romano’s longest outing when Jordy Mercer bounced to the mound, having turned in back-to-back seven innings on August 18 and 24.

“I felt I got into a good rhythm," Romano said.. "I trusted Tucker.  I had fastball command and a curveball that I could throw for strikes. The difference is confidence.  You have to believe that you’re better than the hitter.”

Romano had no trouble with the Pirates in the eighth.

Patrick Kivlehan hit for Romano in the bottom of the eighth.

“The decision to let Sal finish was tough and not tough," Price said.. "I knew he was up third in the eighth.  If he had to run the bases, knowing we didn’t have Iglesias and Lorenzen made it easy. I would have set myself up.  I had Reed and Schackelford. I wanted them to have a clean inning. It was tough because I really wanted Sal to finish.  He had pitches left.“”

Romano finished with eight innings of shutout baseball on five hits, no walks and six strikeouts.

He dropped his ERA to 4.09

Kevin Schackelford rather than Raisell Iglesias was given the task of preserving the game with Jordan Luplow, Andrew McCuthchen and Josh Bell due up for the Pirates.

Schackelford struck out Luplow on three pitches.   McCuthchen made it a one-run game with his 26th home run   Bell popped to short.  David Freese stepped in representing the tying run.  Schackelford got ahead in the count 1-2.  He missed with the next two pitches bringing it to a full count. Freese fouled off two pitches before drawing a walk.  Bryan Price visited the mound as Christopher Bostic ran for Freese.  Cody Reed came on to pitch to Gregory Polanco.

 Reed has had his struggles here but he’s got the stuff and fastball, slider is a perfect matchup for Polanco," Price said.

Reed, a housemate of Romano's, was seeking his first career save.

Reed got ahoad with a called strike. Polanco grounded out to Gennett to end the drama.

Bryan Price

“He just pounded the strike zone with good stuff and good location.  That allowed him to pitch into the eighth inning.”

“The decision to let Sal finish was tough and not tough.  I knew he was up third in the eighth.  If he had to run the bases, knowing we didn’t have Iglesias and Lorenzen made it easy. I would have set myself up.  I had Reed and Schackelford. I wanted them to have a clean inning. It was tough because I really wanted Sal to finish.  He had pitches left.“”

Sal Romano

Jesse Winker

Friday, September 15, 2017

Zach Cozart And Friends Outslug Pirates Close To Within Four Games Of Fourth Place

Zack Cozart’s salary drive got into high gear against the Pittsburgh Pirates’ on Friday night in the Reds 4-2 win.

Cozart, who is a free agent at the end of the season, turned in his fifth career multi-home run game with his 21st and 22nd homers off Pirates starter, Chad Kuhl.  Joey Votto hit his 35th in th first inning to back the pitching of Homer Bailey.

The Reds would like to have him back but there are economic forces in the works.

 “There has been no contract talk right now. I’m in a good spot  I want to win. I’m 32-years old.  I love Cincinnati and my family does,"  Cozart said.

 The  offensive year that he's having is creating a chance for him to cash in.

“Cozart found his offensive stride in his 30‘s. He’s kept his power up and is still around .300 with close to .400 on base," Bryan Price said.  "We would like to see him back.  There are some limitations to keeping him. This is his first chance at free agency.  His first chance to leverage his success.  I don’t know if that is enough for him to give a homerown discount.”

Cozart's offensive skills paved the way for the Reds win.

 “It feels good to be mostly healthy at this point in the season," Cozart said.  "I fell like I’m good for 15 (homers).  The biggest thing is not chasing hits.  I’m chasing a good swing on and if I make an out I make an out. I wasn;t looking for a pitch honestly.  He was throwing 97 and I’d never faced him before. I wanted to see what he had.  At that speed, all I wanted to do was put the barrel of the bat on the ball.”

Scott Schebler contributed his 27th long ball in the fifth inning.

Bailey had one tough inning, the third.  The Pirates loaded the bases with one out but Bailey limited the damage to a sacrifice fly by rookie Jordan Luplow.

Bailey pitched 5 2/3 innings, leaving with the bases loaded and two outs.  Michael Lorenzen threw one pitch to Elias Diaz who bounced out to Votto at first.

 Bailey picked up his fifth win with 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out seven.

The contract that Bailey signed will in all probability keep him in a Reds' uniform in 2018.   The game was an indication but not proof that he has over come his multitude of injuries.

“I liked Homer’s fastball command.  He clustered a lot of good pitches," Price said.”“I would like to see him next year if he is all the way back. He had a lot of work on his elbow.  The first couple of months next year will tell.  He is looking a lot better now than when we first activated him.”

Bailey is cautiously optimistic.

“My arm is starting to get there," Bailey said. "I missed 2 1/2 months of preparation.  A good off season will help.  I get to 100 pitches and feel good but there’s another gear that I have to get to.”

Raisell Iglesias finished off the Pirates for his 27th save in 28 tries.

Former Red Jay Bruce Part Of Historic Win Streak

As a 19-year old, Jay Bruce was invited to spring training in Sarasota, Florida with the big league team. 

Adam Dunn took Bruce under his wing, explaining the Major League facts of life to him and occasionally,  playing tricks on the young player.

Dunn held a players’ only meeting in which he brought a karaoke machine to the clubhouse in Sarasota.  Like a fraternity hazing session, rookies were assigned a song to sing.  Dunn assigned Bruce, Barry Manilow’s Copa Cabana.  Bruce dutifully sang the tune.  Two years later, Bruce was given a spring day off by Dusty Baker.  Dunn called and text Bruce and asked him why he was late.  Dunn convinced Bruce that he was mistaken and expected to be at the spring complex. Bruce got to the park before Dunn told him that he’d been had.

Bruce is not the type ro play such practical jokes but he is the type to help a younger player.

The last two years that Bruce was in the organization, Jesse Winker was the benefit of Bruce
s guidance.  Winker to this day wears the batting gloves that Bruce gave him.  Winker is in the position Bruce vactated when he was traded a little more than a year ago to the New York Mets.

Winker stays in touch and pulls for the former Red, who was traded to the Cleveland Indians on August 8 for minor leaguer Ryder Ryan.

Since Bruce joined the Indians the Tribe is 31-6, including the last 22 in a row with Bruce getting the walkoff, game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th inning on Thursday night.

Winker is watching his mentor with hopes of being a part of something special like that one day.

“I watched the wall off last night.  It was really cool,” Winker said.  “I’m sure it’s very fun to be a part of.  I was talking to him the other day about something.  I asked him what’s it like.  He just told me it’s an incredible feeling. Obviously, it is baseball history. I am sure it’s a cool feeling.”

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Luis Castillo Finishes Season Strong Reds Sweep Brewers

In what was likely his last start of the season, Luis Castillo established himself as a 2018 starter in the Reds’ rotation, pitching the Reds to a 7-1 win and a series sweep.

Neil Walker hit a solo home run in the first inning, then Castillo got frugal.

 “He was extremely dominant," Bryan Price said.  "He limited their ability to get the barrel of the bat on the ball. He has good stuff of course.  We knew that.  That’s why we got him in the trade.  He’s a tough kid, who has tremendous confidence."

Travis Shaw doubled off Billy Hamilton’s glove with two outs in the first and Keon Broxton beat out a slow roller to short.  Both were stranded.

Castillo retired 11 straight in front of Broxton’s single and nine more before Orlando Arcia’s line single to center.  He finished eight innings, allowing one run on four hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts.

 “I was trying to compete," Castillo said. "I had a really good feel for my pitches.  I feel really, really good about having a great year.  I’m going to go back to the Dominican (after the season) and work hard for next season.  I feel really happy.”

Castillo finished the season with a combined 169 2/3 innings, including 80 with Double A Pensacola.  Last season he worked 132 2/3 innings.  Reds’ management will likely shut him down after he reached his incremental increase in workload.

His record improved to 3-7 and that could easily be reversed.  He dropped his ERA to 3.12 for his Major League portion of the season.

 How many guys can come up from Double A and do what he’s done?" Price asked.  "He is only 3-7 but he kept us in every game and that’s important.”

Castillo will remain with the team and work lightly with a good positive season behind him.

“I don’t know exactly what we will do with Luis the rest of the year," Price said.  "We have to get together and see what he will do.  I never say never but it is unlikely that he will pitch out of the bullpen. I don’t think you will see him on the mound the rest of the year.”

 The Reds’ hitters supplied the offense against Matt Garza in the third.

Zack Cozart, Joey Votto, Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez singled in succession plating one run and leaving the bases loaded.  Jose Peraza beat the relay on a potential double play ball to drive in a run.  Walker couldn’t handle the throw and Duvall scored on the play.  Peraza swiped secondbase.  Tucker Barnhart’s single delivered the fifth run.

Zack Cozart’s 18th home run of the season off Jeremy Jeffries gave Castillo five runs to play with.  Jose Peraza touched Corey Knebel for his fifth home run in the eighth.

 “I try to work hard every day and be ready," Peraza said.  "I know he likes fastball, fastball, fastball. I was looking for one.  It felt good when I hit it.”

Note: Billy Hamilton left the game after the second inning.  A pitch hit him on his left thumb as he intended to bunt.

“Billy has a fractured thumb," Price said.  "He is going to be in a splint for 10 days, then we’ll re asses.  I don’t think it will be season ending.  He can pinch run for us if he can’t swing a bat.”

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Robert Stephenson Pitches Reds Over Brewers

Robert Stephenson added a 12th game to the recent list of Reds quality starts that had them a 2.94 for the last 11 games.

The Reds scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh in a 9-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Reds turned three double plays and Stephenson struck his way out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the fourth inning, whiffing, Domingo Santana, Stephen Vogt and Jonathan Villar to maintain a scoreless outing.

"He walked the tightrope and walked it very well," Bryan Price said.  "He made some really good pitches to some really good hitters.  We are seeing growth.  He didn't kick in to overthrowing."

The Reds got an unearned run in the third when Villar, normally an infielder mishandled Stephenson’s deep fly to center.  Villar was making his fifth start in centerfield, while his first 83 starts were at secondbase.  Zack Cozart’s double brought the run home.

Scooter Gennett doubled against his old mates with two outs in the sixth.  Eugenio Suarez delivered him with a single.

The Brewers opened the seventh against Stephenson with back-to-back doubles by Santana and Vogt.  Asher Wojciechowski relieved Stephenson.  Wojciechowski walked Orlando Arcia and Eric Sogard but struck out Neil Walker to end the inning.

Stephenson finished with six innings, allowing one run on four hits.  He walked five and struckout seven in balancing his record at 4-4. Stephenson walked Brewers' starter Zach Davies twice.

"It's tough to work out of a lot of jams," Stephenson said. "I had five walks.  Three of them I made some good close pitches.  The only two I was mad about was to the pitcher."

The Reds got the run backplus four in the bottom of the seventh 

Tucker Barnhart singled.  Patrick Kivlehan and Cozart walked against Jacov Barnes.  Barnes threw a wild pitch with Joey Votto batting.  Barnhart scored.  Votto was walked to load the bases.  Adam Duvall drove in his 92nd run of the season with a fly that put leftfielder Ryan Braun agains the fence. Gennett hit his 24th home run of the season off Wei-Chung Wang.

"With a team like that, with the bats they have in their lineup, it's nice to tack on more runs," Gennett said.  'I like hitting home runs off any teams but knowing those guys looking at them after you hit them, it's always fun."

Gennett's previous home run high was 14 set last year.

"I changed a few things. I worked out with my cousin this winter," Gennett said.  "The longer you play and getting more playing time makes a difference.a'

Tracis Shaw’s 28th home run came off Ariel Hernandez with a runner on in the eighth.

The Reds added two insurance runs in the eighth.

Hernandez issued two more walks, crating a save situation for Raisell Iglesias, who retired three Brewers in the eighth.  Iglesias finished a two-inning save, his 25th in 26 attempts.