Category Archives: first place

Chapmania: Night 2 yields a win, and a sweep

[Box Score]
[] [Hardball Talk]

There’s a lot going on with this team right now. On the night the Reds climbed 8 games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central race, Aroldis Chapman picked up his first win in his career. This will also go down in history as the night that Yonder Alonso made his big league debut (albeit with an excuse me type swing). The excitement at the ball park is palpable if you’re a true fan that has watched this team flounder for the past decade.

I’m impressed by Chapman. I can’t figure out how he is throwing as hard as he is, but I figure that they’ve got his mechanics just right at this point and he’s in the zone on the mound in mastering those mechanics. That’s why you see the jump on the fastball. That’s why you see the slider (which probably grades out at a perfect 80 by scouts). I buy the momentum and shot in the arm that Chapman represents. I don’t think it’s overstated in the slightest. The guy makes the Reds contenders to go deep in the postseason.

I think the National League is wide open; and the Reds will be right in the thick of things if they can get a few guys back healthy. I’m concerned about Jay Bruce. I’m concerned about Arthur Rhodes. I’m needing to see Phillips swing the bat well for a few weeks. But if they get these things in place I’m telling you right now that this team could roll right into the World Series if the stars get a little more aligned. I’m not being a homer. I’m telling you, it’s a reality.

And now for my favorite Clapton tune of all time. You tell me with a straight face that this one shouldn’t be played on the loudspeakers at a ball park near you!

Aroldis Chapman’s Big League Debut

Seems like a day of reckoning has arrived Reds fans. After a decade and a half of losing, we’re as close to the top of the baseball world as we’ve been since 1990.

Last night, as Joey Votto and Scott Rolen made back to back extraordinary plays to close out the Reds 8-4 victory and ensure another series win; they did it just as Thom Brennaman had announced that the Cardinals had been shut out yet again. The Reds lead over the Cardinals had been increased to seven games with just 30 left to play.

But the story of the night was the phenom Aroldis Chapman and his fastball going 101, 100, 102, 103 and a slider that fell off the table.

This is what it’s all about: Reds walk off Brewers in 10

Being a baseball fan, these are the nights you remember forever. No matter how long you have enjoyed the game of baseball, and no matter how many seasons in the sun that follow; you’ll always remember the 2010 Reds. I can only imagine what it would be like to have this be the team you began to follow when you first started to follow the game of baseball. This isn’t a perfect team, but it will be a memorable one; with several figures that will hold their respectful prominence place in this game forever. It’s a little bit like those 1990 Reds were for me (I was only eight). But it really is similar.

Last night, St. Louis had already lost their game 3-0 and I decided to go out for a late run around the neighborhood and listen to the extra innings affair.

As the sweat started to pour off me, Jay Bruce laced his game winning single to left field off Trevor Hoffman and Jim Kelch belted out that the Reds had done it again. Summer coming to the end and the text messages flowing into my iPhone from all of my redleg nation peers. As I told one of them, we’ve only just begun.

And as I told someone at the office this morning (a place that remarkably, is an easier place to get up and come to when your favorite team is playing like this); the Reds are winning games even when they’re making fundamental mistakes. Every move is working–like the move to pinch run Brandon Phillips for Ryan Hanigan last night and to leave Chris Heisey in on a double switch. Things aren’t back-firing and the momentum is snow balling. That’s when you know it could be your year.

The Reds just keep on rolling. They’ve got 18 wins this August, the most wins they’ve had in a month since August of 1999. These guys are talented. The National League is wide open. If they continue to handle their business they have a chance to cement their place in the annals of this great game. Every night is big and crucial, that can’t be overstated.

I didn’t know much about Lorenzo Cain before last night, except that he wore a pitcher’s number on his back. But this kid can flat out ball in center field. If I’m in the Brewers front office I probably stick him in the lead-off or two spot in my order and see what he can do; if he shows anything he’s my Opening Day center fielder next season.

Cain made one of the best catches I’ve seen all season by nearly going through the screen last night to rob Paul Janish of extra bases in the 6th inning.

At the end of the night, the Reds had pulled out another game and gained another game in the standings on the Cardinals. With the excitement that’s been built and is continuing to build with each passing day (magic number is down to 27), it gets no better than moments like right now in Cincinnati. This is what it’s all about.

The Reds and deliverance on a Sunday

I fell asleep towards the middle innings of today’s Reds game. What can I say, I was tuckered out. When I awoke the Reds were 5 games up on the Cardinals and the magic number was down to 29. The Reds had delivered in the hot sun on a Sunday and Jay Bruce had hit home run #17 on the season. As I remarked and thought about, I used to have to go to sleep in order to formulate dreams that would produce what is now true reality.

Everything is rolling right now. Like that Robert Earl Keen song, The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends. That’s what this is feeling like in late August 2010. During some points of the 2010 season the Reds have looked like they were going to collapse, only to show you that they had a beautiful unwrapped gift for us all. To show people like me who have doubted them at points that doubters should step aside and clean the egg off their proverbial face. Who knows where the hell this ride ends. It really could end up special beyond our wildest imaginations.

I don’t know if they’ll fend off the Cardinals. I can’t predict the future, but I know that people in St. Louis are starting to give up hope. The Cardinals have a long way to go and a short time to get there (another reference to a song that I love).

A week from now the Reds will be wrapping up a series in St. Louis that sets up as the biggest series they’ve probably played in over a decade. I’d make a case that they’re all big right now, and every night is a playoff atmosphere. Next weekend while big for the Reds, is even bigger for the Cardinals. The Reds have played welll enough to this point that taking even one of three on Labor Day weekend sets them up nicely for the stretch run.

I’m not punching a playoff ticket yet, as I’ve seen too many whacky things happen in sports to count my chickens before they hatch. I believe this team will be in the postseason as I believe they’re in the top four teams in the National league, if not on paper then in terms of intangibles and chemistry. This is just ‘one of those years’ I think for the Reds, by God. But we’re not betting on machines here, we’re betting on something uncertain; human beings. The Reds still have almost a quarter of a season that they must handle their business as they have to this point. If they do that, they’ll be where we all want them to be.

Today, wearing that Sunday day-time Red, was another one of those days in which they handled their business and took another series. I can wake up and start my long work week (I have to work this Friday following the opening of the OSU Buckeyes football season unlike many of my peers) with a smile. And speaking of football, NCAA will be here soon; the NFL in two weeks, and I could give a shit.

It’s still Reds season and I love it.

[Box Score]

Jay Bruce's Career Night

As a sports fan, it gets no better than last night. To think that not only did our favorite player CRUSH three long home runs into the Moondeck in right field (all three off a left-handed pitcher), but the Reds won again convincingly and got a performance on the mound from a guy who is our supposed ace. There’s about a month to go, but the stars just may be aligning for the Reds. At least for right now, that’s what it feels like. Not to mention, Aroldis Chapman hit 105 MPH on the gun last night in Louisville and Chris Valaika hit his first career home run batting second in the order behind Jay Bruce.
Jay Bruce has been on the brink all season. While it’s been so frustrating at points, it all came to a head last night and you saw the results. Jay Bruce joins a storied list of baseball’s history. This is the equivalent of a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, and if you’re a guy who pays to see home runs like I am; this is even better.

The Reds have basically gotten to where they’re at this season without Jay Bruce ever truly heating up. He hit over .300 in the month of June, but we’ve said all along that if he ever truly gets torrid, it could be all over as far as the Cardinals chances in the NL Central race are concerned.
If Jay Bruce never hits another home run, this goes down as probably the sweetest memory in his Reds career; I’d rank it a close second to the home run he hit off Roy Halladay on June 30th to beat the Phillies. On second thought, it’s probably a coin flip towards which event was more special.

Bruce was hitting in the leadoff spot last night for the 23rd time in his big league career, and the 1st time since 2008. I think that he kept a simple approach and reacted to seeing more fastballs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this finally be what gets Dusty baker to change his ways. It’s scary to think what might have happened if Dusty would have allowed Bruce to hit 2nd in the lineup or towards the top earlier in the season rather than using the likes of Laynce Nix, Paul Janish, and Drew Stubbs (you can throw Orlando Cabrera in there as well).

It’s simple, Bruce got pitches to hit last night and kept a simple approach. He drew a walk to lead off the game, and then hit three balls that are still flying into the right field seats.

In front of a sold out house, this was a sports zenith for Reds fan. It gets no better than last night so we hope you soaked it in.

Survival of the Fittest

[Box Score]
[] [The Real McCoy]
Today was the day when a legend grew, and when a hero shined the brightest in the moment of truth. Today was the day when the Most Valuable Player stood up. Today was the day when the pendulum swung; and when things went the opposite of how they have for so many years. Today was the day that lightning struck twice. And then didn’t (if you remember the game in Atlanta several months ago).

Today, Joey Votto cemented himself as the best Reds player of my lifetime. The 2010 Joey Votto is the most dominating version of an offensive player that a team that I’ve pulled for has ever had within its members.

Votto got four hits today. Two backside home runs to left field in a ballpark that doesn’t allow home runs to that part of the ball park. As I was driving home from work Marty Brenneman remarked that in all his years of broadcasting; George Foster had the best power to the opposite field for a right-handed hitter that he’d ever seen. He said today that Joey Votto had the best power the other way for a left handed hitter. We’re seeing something very special take place right in front of our eyes. I can hardly believe that Joey Votto is really a Cincinnati Red. Things like this typically don’t happen to us. After Votto saved us in Los Angeles on Sunday, he saved us in what could have been a monumental collapse that could allow a season to slide.

Not lost in all this is a little bit of fate and magic. In the top of the 9th after the Giants came and got what they wanted in the form of an 11-10 lead; Pablo Sandoval sailed a routine throw with one out over the head of the first baseman. This allowed Drew Stubbs to reach second base. Paul Janish (who I love more every single damn day) got one of the biggest hits all year off Giants closer Brian Wilson. A single to right field allowed the tying run to score.

I was still positive that the Reds would find a way to lose this game. But the hero rose again. On the day before he is immortalized on the cover of Sports Illustrated, he showed that there is no fucking curse.

Coco Cordero hung on in the final inning as the Giants battled until the final out. The Reds did it. They completed the West Coast road trip bloodied and battered, but they emerged 6-3 and with a lead of at least 2 and 1/2 games.

This team has driven me to the brink of insanity sometimes. They test my fandom to the sport at times. But there isn’t an ounce of quit in this bunch.

No matter how long the Cincinnati Reds of 2010 stay together, no matter how long the window stays open to compete; I predict that there will never be a group who fights like this and who refuses to give up like the guys who have put on the Reds uniform this season. Whether they collapse the final few months and break our hearts or go on to postseason play, I’ll never forget the way that this group of guys battled and scrapped until the final out was hung every night.

Votto shows off MVP credentials in Sunday win in Los Angeles

When those lovable 1999 Reds went out west at the end of July they had a really nice series in San Francisco followed by a really nice series in Los Angeles. That was when I knew they had something special (other then winning seven in a row on the road in late May to June 6th).

I think that the Reds proved that this is no ordinary group of Cincinnati Reds in this series, and on a much smaller scale; this game out in Los Angeles. This is the signature game in terms of Joey Votto winning the MVP award. He’s cementing himself as the leader in the clubhouse; and of course Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard among others have a chance to make some noise.

But the Reds are showing us this is no normal group. A normal Reds team on getaway day out in the California sun finds a way to lose this one. They don’t score insurance runs in the top of the 9th inning and then close it out 1-2-3. The normal Reds don’t do this. But these Reds do. Playoff teams do.

Bronson Arroyo pitched his ass off and found a way to win his 14th game of the season. I’ll tell you what, I’ve never been so glad to have Bunny Arroyo as a member of the Reds. Arroyo is going to end up with 18 or 19 wins this season and lead the staff. And they’re going to let him walk. That’s the only thing that seems sure to me. They have ‘too many arms’ and they’ll look at the $11 million price tag and just bid him goodbye.

Foolish move in my opinion. Arroyo is so solid and has blended perfectly here. I think that if anything you trade one of the young arms. I’d keep Bailey, Cueto, Wood, and either Leake or Volquez. Honestly I think Leake’s future is the farthest from a sure thing of any of them. But it’s very clear to me that not only Harang but Arroyo will not be back next year and I think that’s one ingredient of a winning team that we won’t have next season, a guy who anchors your staff. He’s the most consistent and closest thing to a stopper this team has and I’d hate it if he’s not back next year because that would be one thing that would keep us from re-creating the magic of 2010.

The Reds beat a young Clayton Kershaw when he had his dominating stuff. And the home run that Votto hit off him to the opposite field is going to be one of the bigger swings of the season. Of course, don’t forget his 10-pitch legendary at bat.

The Redlegs are 5-1 on this road trip with one city to go. They’ve taken some good punching and they’re still fighting as we enter some of the final rounds.

Reds ride Homer Bailey to a series sweep of Marlins

This was the Homer Bailey I know and love. This was the guy we saw down the stretch last year. Homer Bailey (aside from Miguel Cairo’s 2-run poke that gave us our only offense on the day) was the whole damn show.

He struck out five and walked no one. Aside from having guys foul off one too many pitches, he was really dominating. It was obvious that he was painting all day long. This is a guy that for right now you have to leave in the rotation. He looks like he’s putting it all together. If he can be anything close to how he was down the stretch last season; he could help catapult us in this pennant race.

I’m extremely happy for Homer Bailey, and he’s one of my favorite Reds. I believe we’re seeing a guy who is delivering on his promise and becoming a very established big league pitcher.

The Reds celebrating the sweep moments after Coco Cordero recorded the final out. This was also just a short while after the stadium PA announcer let the crowd know that the Cubs had a 7-1 lead on the Cardinals. The crowd roared. I just kind of thought to myself that no matter what happens, it’s exciting to be part of all this as a fan and I imagine the players are taking hold of what is happening around them. The town is starting to buy into the fact that we’re at the very least a good team this season.

The final scoreboard. The bullpen did an outstanding job, getting scoreless innings from Logan Ondrusek, Nick Masset, and of course the temperamental Cordero. Miguel Cairo’s line drive shot off a hanging breaking ball that landed in the left field seats was the only offense the Reds mustered on the day. And for this good team, it was enough.

Joey Votto got tossed today. I dropped an “F” bomb when it happened. I was really looking forward to seeing him hit today. I honestly think he would have dropped multiple bombs. The home plate umpire D.J.Rayburn is on our shit list, from now until forever.

Hey D.J., just something to think about here. There was almost thirty thousand people in that stadium today. How many of them do you think came to see Joey Votto hit? How many of them came to see you? Just a simple thought, dickbag.

Reds slip by Pirates in series opener 7-5

Gotta hand it to Aaron Harang for last night’s performance. It wasn’t Cy Young material, but it was a win and he ate up 6 and 1/3 innings–114 overall pitches in getting his 3rd win on the year. Harang also provided a key hit in the Reds 5-run 4th inning.
This was a game I could have seen the Reds struggling, the old Reds that is. They were facing a lefty in Brian Burres; a guy that Reds teams of the past would have made look like an All-Star. It seems however that this year’s version of the Reds are figuring out lefthanders a lot better then teams of the past. That’s one of the biggest differences I see in this group. I don’t have the stats, but I’d guaruntee that the Reds of 2010 are having markedly more success against southpaws then any team in the past five years.

It looks like there was a lot going on down at the old ballyard last night. It was the 75th anniversary of the first night game in baseball. The Reds did some special fireworks displays to entertain a crowd of just 13,385.
Now on an 83 degree clear night when a lot of the kids are out of school, why is a first place team not drawing more bodies then that? I know why I wasn’t there. I’ll be there at least once on this homestand, and I live two hours away. But if we don’t go out and get that player that puts us over the top; we have no one to blame but ourselves. We must show ownership that we’re excited about this team. If you’re reading these words and not planning on going out and seeing the Reds play, you’re part of the problem. If you’re a real Reds fan, now is the time to catch Reds fever and get your butt down to the park to see these guys. Then when the time comes about a month and a half from now to add some players, and we don’t do it; it’s because we’re losing money.
Go get yourself a cheap ticket and see these guys play. As I told a friend last night, they’re as for real as for real gets in Reds country. They’re now just a half game back of the Phillies for the best team in the National League–two in the loss column. They’re tied record-wise with the Yankees. It’s time to support this group and as long as they keep getting W’s, you have to be happy about it.