I love the tagline – and I’m sure George Springer’s time in the sun on this blog will come soon enough (and he can’t wait). I guess it’s time to stop hating the Astros. They’re not in the National League anymore. We can leave hating the Astros in our childhood. They’re going to be some kind of fun in a short time. Good for them.
Pretty special moment tonight in a guy’s career we’ve followed since day one.
Jay Bruce reached the 100 RBI plateau in Houston (which is not far from his hometown Beaumount, Texas) for the first time in his career. He did it with a grand slam – the second of his career and first since his rookie season in 2008. It was his 30th home run of 2013.
It’s a nice milestone, and you can tell from Bruce’s reaction in the video highlight along with the interaction with his teammates it has been something that has eluded him for too long of a time. He’s finally done it, and it confirms what has been the feeling all along; that this is the most complete season of Jay Bruce’s big league career; advanced metrics be damned.
The Reds won the game 10-0 over the Astros, who lost their 100th game of the season. This was the third season in a row that this has happened.
Forgive me for having better things to do (not really), but this is the first look I’ve had at the new Houston Astros uniforms.
This comes with the news that the ‘Stros will be opening up their AL West ‘rivalry’ with the Texas Rangers on baseball’s Opening Night of 2013, coming on March 31st.
Don’t get us wrong, we love Jose Altuve. We’ll be forever indebted to the little guy (and the other 11 owners who didn’t pick him up when we had to drop him due to roster constraints before again adding him for a stretch run) for helping deliver yet another fantasy baseball championship with his average, steals, and runs on a bad team.
But shouldn’t Opening Night belong to a couple of teams that have a bit more pizazz? A little more sparkle? Those new threads are not sparkle. They’re a cross between the Detroit Tigers and a well-sponsored Pony League team. Not a fan.
Welcome to the year 2013. A year in which the Astros will donate some 90-something wins to teams of the American League, beginning with Opening Night.
Good teams steal wins. Bad teams seem to gift them.
On Sunday, when I was celebrating my one year marriage anniversary with my wife; Jay Bruce provided Reds fans with a gift and helped Cincinnati steal another win in Houston yesterday afternoon. This was one of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen Jay Bruce hit.
The three run shot was Bruce’s 31st home run off a lefty pitcher in the past three seasons. That’s tops in the big leagues by a lefthanded stick.
With the Cardinals dropping their third game in four contests in Washington 4-3, the Reds sat comfortably at 9 and 1/2 games in first place. I thought the 2012 Reds would win the division by double digits games; that it wouldn’t even be a race when things settled. We’re about to see if I was right.
Jay Bruce hit his 7th home run of the season yesterday, a game-winning drive to the seats in right center. The home run was his fourth in four games. He’s the first Red to do that since Adam Dunn in 2008. The Reds come from behind to beat Houston 6-5, winning the must-have series and heading into a Monday day-off.
I found a great read after the game yesterday while listening to the postgame. It’s good to hear Bruce acknowledge that we’ve been here before with one of Bruce’s “rare-air moments” as Paul Daughterty refers to Bruce’s unbelievable hot streak.
“I’m feeling now like I’m ready to make the right move on the right pitch,’’ Bruce said Sunday. “In years past, if I hit home runs, I did. If I didn’t, I didn’t. I didn’t know why.’’
“Earlier in my career, I never really knew anything but that I was good at baseball,’’ he said. “Up here. everyone’s good at baseball. Still, no matter what I did, I expected more.’’ Problem was, Bruce said Sunday, he didn’t do the work needed to satisfy his expectations. He’d been good his whole life without it.
Bruce goes on to talk about a refined approach and some of the other ideologies that have made him successful thus far this year. In fact, he speaks like a ten-year veteran with one quote in the story.
“Always remember,’’ he said, “that the game doesn’t owe you anything.’’
If Bruce can keep up anything close to this production, he’ll be mentioned in conversations with the game’s elite. That’s been the hope and expectation for him all along.
It’s funny to hear Joey Votto in the post-game show talking about how he hopes that Jay Bruce has figured it out. To be honest, if he truly has his ceiling is higher than that of Votto. And it won’t even be close. And the Reds will go running away with the NL Central.
Couple of random take home points about yesterday’s game, which was one of my favorite Reds games I’ve been to:
- It was the best game that Jay Bruce has had that I’ve been to, if you’re not counting his MLB debut. The home run was a bomb. The defensive double-play assist. The double down the line. Four RBI’s. Huge day for Bruce.
- Johnny Cueto was dominant, and working quickly. The game was just 2 hours, 23 minutes. He went seven shutout innings and after the first he never really was under any type of duress.
- Zach Cozart made the play of the year–probably the finest play I’ve seen made live at a game. From the seat of his pants. Check out that play HERE.
- We got to see Aroldis Chapman pitch. He struck out Chris Snyder with a 99 MPH fastball to end the game.
- The Reds wore the red jerseys for the rare Saturday, 4:00 PM start home game. I like the 4:00 PM start quite a bit I think. I like 1:00 PM Saturday home games more, but the Reds seem to do it once a year, tops.
- We saw the same guy in the crowd catch two consecutive foul balls in this one. Never seen that before.
- This game came during Mike Trout’s return to the big leagues and prior to watching Bryce Harper’s MLB debut later on in the night.
- The drive to Cincinnati seems a lot shorter after driving to Wrigleyville last weekend.
- I appreciate Logan Ondrusek almost beyond words. It’s great having a guy with that kind of stuff in our bullpen.
- [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/DiamondHoggers/status/196269480123441153"]
- This was one of the best Saturday’s I’ve ever spent at the park. It reminded me so much of this April 27, 2002 game I was on hand for. It’s funny because I didn’t realize it was about 10 years to the day.
- I got to the ballpark and somehow the batteries in my camera died. All the pictures below are off my iPhone.
This was one of those rare games of which I did not see a single pitch. We had an NFL Draft party at our house, and when I got the alert on my iPhone that the Reds were down 6-0, I didn’t even bother flipping the game over to check the score.
This team is just flat-out not getting it done right now. There’s no mixing words and no other way to describe it. Mike Leake came out and got hammered around the yard again.
The Reds fought back with a spirited abandon. And I got several text messages about Scott Rolen hitting four balls directly on the screws and going 0 for 4. The comeback died in the 9th, but I think the four unanswered (along with what sounds like it could have been a lot more) bode well for us heading into the weekend.
Wandy Rodriguez continued what has been a career of success against the Reds. Six innings, two earned runs, six strikeouts. He’s got two wins and a 1.72 ERA now. And the Reds are just a game ahead of the putrid Astros.
I’m not fully blaming Dusty Baker–even though he says and does stupid things–but the Reds have got to show some response here soon and play hard for the guy. This is more of what we saw last year. And what is Baker doing hitting Jay Bruce 7th in this lineup? I don’t care if it’s a left-handed pitcher. It’s stupidity. Bruce has OPS’d almost at as high of a clip against southpaws. This is a manager not reviewing his data closely enough.
We’re headed to the ballpark today, and I am very confident we’ll see a win and the Reds will close out this series with two in a row over Houston. I’ve never been more sure in fact. Johnny Cueto is on the bump, and the Astros oppose with a guy I think the Reds will absolutely eat alive.
The Reds are taking care of business. Homer Bailey has been extremely impressive. He’s got it going on right now, and through 13 innings he owns a 2-0 record to begin his season and an ERA under one. Most impressive to me last night was that he didn’t walk a single Houston batter, and he struck out five. He was efficient and kept his pitch count low. This is the Bailey that we thought we were gonna see from day one. It doesn’t always happen that way. All this experience later, he’s still got #1 stuff and a long career ahead of him. I have said all along that I think Bailey is going to be the best pitcher of this group for the Reds. He’s survived changes in management, managers, pitching coaches and teammates; and the Reds have thankfully been patient with him in the process. I think the rewards reaped could be huge, and the Reds might be looking at something special here in the near future.
I am trying to tamper my excitement a little bit. Bailey has always done well against lower-tier opponents like the Astros and Pirates.
The Reds spotted their starter a 4-0 lead in the top of the 1st before I even realized who was going to be taking the mound for Bailey. Yesterday was a long day at work, so cut me a break. I thought Bailey was throwing today’s afternoon game. Two of these came on an upper deck shot by Jay Bruce, his fourth home run this month.
I would love to see Jay Bruce end the month of may with about six more bombs. I know it’s a lot to ask, but he hasn’t really even gotten hot yet. Trust me, he hasn’t. No matter how crazy that sounds, when he’s locked in he’ll have those 3 or 4 hit games, and he’ll have multi-homer games. He’ll hit five home runs in a week. He’ll be knocking in every runner that’s on base. When that happens he’ll be carrying the Redlegs on his back for a week or two. Right now, he’s a player who is a major part in helping the Reds win games.
Ryan Hanigan added a few timely hits to drive in runs and Joey Votto did what Joey Votto does–two run-scoring doubles. The Reds won the game and lifted their record to four games over .500, and have the look of of a team that knows they need to bury teams like the Astros like it’s a given this year. They’ve played well in Houston the last couple of years. They’ve really ‘shot the cripple’ when they’ve needed to against this Houston franchise. Had Coco Cordero not blown the save this past Saturday, the Reds would be on a six game winning streak. As it is, they’ve won 6 of 7.
Not lost in all of this is the fact that Dusty Baker is still playing Johnny Gomes too much and it has seemed to cool off Chris Heisey’s hot bat. Aroldis Chapman gave up the only runs of the game to the Astros. It was the second time of recent that Chapman has given up multiple runs without recording an out. It’s something to keep an eye on–especially if you’re like me and truly believed that he wouldn’t allow a run all year long.
-Red Reporter reminds us that this was just the first time Homer Bailey has pitched in Houston.
-The Reds play at 2:00 today, and face Wandy Rodriguez. He’s had a good history against the Reds, and I think Jay Bruce will be given the day off. I don’t feel optimistic about the Reds winning today.
-I’ll be at the game Friday. Taking a colleague from work who is a Cardinals fan. Should be fun–I’ve got Club Seats.
Travis Wood energized the Reds last night, scattering six hits in 6 and 2/3 shutout innings and hitting a 3 run homer to get the Reds on the board. He improved to 2-3 on the season. It was his night.
Now you see why the Reds might have chosen Wood to stay in the rotation and Mike Leake to head to the pen–even with Wood’s rough outings he endured a few times out recently, he’s still capable of going out there and blanking the other team for a better part of a ballgame. I’d venture to say that the organization feels more confident in his ability to do that than Leake. Plus he’s a southpaw.
The Reds starters are coming on strong, only allowing one run over their last 20 1/3 innings. Over the last six games, the starters are 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA.
Finally, we start to see a little bit of why this team was the favorite of so many to win the division and even the national league. They certainly have some pitching, they play good defense, and they have timely hitting.
Other offensive notables last night in Houston: Drew Stubbs had two hits and an RBI, Brandon Phillips had a couple of hits, Chris Valaika had two hits and two runs, Ryan Hanigan had three hits and a run, and Ramon Hernandez hit a two run bomb.
The lone Astros run came off a Hunter Pence home run that Jay Bruce nearly robbed from the seats. Pence also tripled.
These Reds–who I said weren’t capable of going on the same 9 out of 10 run that they pulled off at this time last year–have suddenly won 4 of 5 and have two more against the Astros in Houston before playing the Cardinals this weekend in Cincinnati.
Maybe I’m not patient or faithful enough with this group. Maybe over the course of a big league season it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that one game is just one game. Maybe that’s how it is when you live and die on every strike. It’s a roller coaster.
I have to get this up before the Reds play their matinee game this afternoon out in Chicago. This was the first time since this blog has been going that the Reds have done back to back weekday afternoon home games. So there’s your fun fact for the day.
Yesterday was a glorious day. I celebrated Cinco De Mayo by discovering the world of Petron tequila–so as you might guess I am feeling like the world surrounding me today is somewhat surreal. We’ve all been there, right?
The real reason yesterday was great was because it was probably my favorite win of the year for the Cincinnati Reds. Jay Bruce was hitting balls all over the field at GABP, and Homer Bailey returned from the DL to look absolutely dominating.
Sure it was against the Astros–and the Reds are on a different wavelength in terms of talent; but there are jobs on the line every day in Houston too. They don’t lay down for you. The Reds went out and did what good teams do; won a series at home they should win.
-Lots of talk right now about Jose Reyes possibly going to the Reds later this summer. I don’t buy it. And if they’re going to move someone, don’t let it be Homer Bailey. I would love if we could get someone to take Edison Volquez or Mike Leake off the Reds hands. But that’s probably not gonna happen. There’s a reason for that, you know?
-Here’s my boy singing really bad Duran Duran karaoke last night. I lit up one 80’s ballad after another. Sister Christian by Night Ranger, then a little .38 Special (Second Chance), and sent the crowd home happy with ‘Drive’ by The Cars–the greatest rock song of all time.
-I’m cutting this short. Anyone have any Advil?
The last time a Reds/Astros game ended with a final of Reds 3, Astros 2, it was a balmy fall night. It was Jay Bruce who ended it with a blast to dead center off Tim Byrdak. This time around it was gloomy, cold, and the temperature was in the mid 40’s.
The hit was definitely just as big, and this victory came with a comeback that could serve as a major catalyst for the Reds.
A couple of quotes struck me as notable yesterday.
“It was like we were sleeping,” Jay Bruce said. “Then we woke up.”
“It was like, ‘OK, boys, we’re down to three outs,” Baker said. “It was like everybody’s bat woke up.”
“I think we felt pretty comfortable against Brandon Lyon and we got some pretty good pitches to hit.” — Joey Votto
The Reds had just one hit through the first eight innings. Then everything began to happen as it was drawn up. Drew Stubbs walked to begin the bottom of the 9th, a frame the Reds so often come to life. Chris Heisey singled, sending Stubbs to third base. Then Votto, Phillips, and Bruce–the three guys in the Reds lineup who have to make teams pay in these situations for this team to be great–came through with three straight clutch hits with no one out.
The win saved the Reds from falling two games under .500, and will allow them to go for a series win this afternoon against the Houston before heading to Wrigley Field. Yesterday, I said that the Reds needed something big to happen to get them going. I think a win like this qualifies.
@MLB (The Official Twitter of Major League Baseball) was ran by an intern last year (we would guess) who didn’t treat us favorably. They continually gave out #FF mentions to Evan Longoria, and other stars who don’t need their help in getting followers. We asked them several times for a little help, because while there are plenty of fans as big as us; we have a hard time imagining that we’re not a shining example of the type of return customer they want to create. The intern likely failed to recognize this, and sent us a direct message that “we gave you a #FF shoutout last week, thanks”. It was a bold-faced lie. We continued to razz them about stuff until they blocked us.
So while we aren’t allowed to follow Official MLB on Twitter anymore, we did notice this good tweet by them yesterday:
Edinson Volquez was largely awful for an inning or two to begin the game, but once he settled in; the Reds got their sea legs underneath them and they proved to be a team that is going to dictate the pace.
The rally got started with a Jay Bruce single to right field with the team already trailing 4-0. Ramon Hernandez singled him to third and a single by Paul Janish brought him in to cut the deficit to 4-1.
Volquez went out in the top of the 3rd and retired the ‘Stros 1-2-3. The Reds came to bat the next inning and went right back to work after a Drew Stubbs groundout. Phillips walked, Votto singled on a line drive to center, and Scott Rolen plated them both with a big double to the left centerfield wall. It was then 4-3. Bruce infield singled, Heisey reached on an error that tied the game at 4, and the Reds then pulled off a double steal that Dusty Baker took straight out of the Roger Craig/San Francisco Giants playbook.
The Reds wouldn’t stop grinding from there, as they piled on 12 unanswered runs in total and threw Aroldis Chapman, Billy Bray, Logan Ondrusek and Coco Cordero at the Astros hitters after Volquez left at the completion of 5 innings. It should be noted while Volquez walked the town, he also struck out 8 hitters last night. So he was effectively wild.
Phillips and Janish had three hits a piece, with Janish driving in two runners and adding a stolen base. The Reds are 5-0 for the first time since 1990; looking for a sweep of the first homestand. Times are good, life is good.
Star of the Game:
Janish. He could have had four hits. I thought that his reaching base on error should have been a hit, but Angel Sanchez was charged with an error. Janish is slashing the ball all over the park. He’s making gold glove plays every night. And we were right, thus far. The Reds knew something everyone else didn’t in terms of their starting shortstop. He can hit enough to be an everyday player with that glove. And in this lineup, he’s a nice little complimentary part. “Soft-J” is going to be just fine.
Chris Heisey had a really nice ballgame, filling in for Jay Bruce (who we guess is still platooning against LHP for some really odd reason). Heisey only finished 1 for 2, but ended up with 3 RBI. I don’t like Jay Bruce sitting, not now or ever; but if you’re going to have a 4th outfielder Chris Heisey is right up there with the Alex Ochoa’s of the world in terms of 4th outfielders that I absolutely love everything about their game.
In a perfect world, I think Heisey is ready for the big time and playing every day in left field. Even though he’s continuing to be selective at the plate, Johnny Gomes can go pound sand. I think Heisey is better defensively, he’s better as an everyday young player, and just has that swagger. Let Gomes be the fourth outfielder. But Dusty does backwards-assed things; see Jay Bruce sitting in game four of the year so Gomes can play every day.
Drew Stubbs continued his good play and Joey Votto tacked on a few more hits. The Reds were on the Astros early and often, and they put the game out of reach so Mike Leake could really coast. And I know I give Mike Leake a hard time. But like Chris Heisey said after the game last night in so many words, it’s nice to have a roster of 25 guys who can contribute.
Another example would have been Miguel Cairo (Dusty loves subbing this guy all over the diamond) coming in for Brandon Phillips. Fear struck the Queen city when Phillips was taken out of the game without reason; but Baker was just getting a guy rest who he knows he’s going to need down the stretch. Heisey, Leake, Cairo; all guys who aren’t considered gem roster finds, but if you can have them they make up winning ballclubs.
And the Reds are 4-0 for the first time since that magical 1990 season. They’re playing so well right now defensively and offensively it is going to take something more than the Astros or a sub par team to get past them on a nightly basis.
It will be very interesting to see how Volquez throws tonight.
I found this last night while perusing the interwebs. I love scout-speak. Absolutely love it. Here’s what they said:
In a lineup with an unquestionable leader, N.L. MVP Joey Votto, the question that’s not so obvious is: Who is the Reds’ second-best regular?
For our answer, we turned to a veteran N.L. scout who sees a lot of the Central:
“It’s a close call but for the present, I’d have to say Phillips. He’s a Gold Glove defender, he plays every day and puts up the numbers. While he can rub some old-school guys wrong with some of the stuff he says, he does a lot of things right to impact a game.
“Bruce really hasn’t established himself yet except for those two months at the end of last season. That said, I consider him probably the best right fielder defensively in the National League right now. A strong, accurate arm and he gets to a lot of balls, more than Jayson Werth.
Offensively, he still gets into too many bad counts and the game can speed up on him sometimes. But he knows this and just has to get the experience to make it happen. He’s only 24. If he progresses as you’d hope, he could be similar to Votto in his production. Votto uses the whole field while Bruce can still get pull-happy at times. But he has a lot of upside.
“I don’t like putting Rolen this low because of everything he has contributed to this team off, as well as on, the field. But because of the injuries and where he is in his career, I put Phillips and Bruce ahead of him.
“Stubbs is another high-ceiling guy who’s not too far behind Bruce. They’re all going to strike out a lot. You’d just like to see them cut down to about 100 from 150.”
I could read that stuff all day long.
I did watch the scoring on my phone to see that Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs keyed the offense on yet another night. Jay Bruce had three hits and Stubbs homered and drove in four runs.
Bronson Arroyo was very good against the Astros again, he picked up his 17th win of the year going 7 innings, striking out four, allowing only one run. He’s now 17-10 on the season and ready for the opening game of the playoffs. He’s the ace. He’s been the stopper. And he’ll get the ball in the biggest game the Reds have played in 15 years; I expect him to go toe to toe with Roy Halladay, I really do.
This has nothing to do with the game but be sure to check out Better Off Red for a great post about the clinch the other night.