[Hal McCoy] [Cincinnati.com]
What a weekend.
On the weekend that my best friend tied the knot (the Reds lost to the Cardinals on my big day), the Reds swept the Cardinals and reclaimed sole possession of first place in the NL Central standings. They played on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball last night. It’s the first time it’s been in Cincinnati in a very long time. Last night was about as large as a July ballgame gets. The Reds showed the nation that pitching, defense, and timely hitting are the best ways to build something special.
I think Friday and Saturday night’s games were additional evidence in this. I didn’t realize that the Reds basically have the finest defense in baseball. The starting pitching and bullpen have been phenomenal. It’s the hitting that has ran pretty hot-cold. And if you’re going to have one ingredient that is going to waiver with your ball club, I think you should want it to be the hitting. Everyone slumps. If you can keep pitching and defense from going into slumps you can manufacture enough runs to win. Especially in Great American Ball Park.
The Reds hitting will come around. I remember so many weekends where it wasn’t even fathomable to sweep the high and mighty St. Louis Cardinals. To even go into Sunday with a chance of a sweep was like playing in the Super Bowl. Last night, I expected the win. I knew Homer Bailey would pitch his ass off.
The Reds are going to win the division this year. They’re going to go to the NLCS. Believe it. Know it. Times might get ugly, but more often than not they’ll find a way (it doesn’t get much uglier than Scott Rolen winning one for you with an opposite field single).
This is the team that you waited since 1990 and 1995 for Cincinnati. Try to soak it in.
So I got around to doing some thinking this past week about my 10 cent beer night post which turned into more of a Cleveland post.
It made a lot of Cleveland fans upset. It might be because it was pretty true, or it might be because of their outstanding pride towards their city. No matter. I think I might owe Cleveland fans a little something. After all, your team got swept today in Cincinnati. It’s familiar territory for you folks, but it’s likely that you’re going to fall into third place within the next week or so or as soon as Jim Leyland gets his shit together. The Indians did what they do almost every year.
Everyone A few people got lukewarm excited. Nice hot start. No one went to the park, really. And things fizzled out. There’s no reason to kick a city while they’re down.
For my post last week along with some of the hard luck that has found the Indians as of late (as in like, the past 60 years), I decided to get Cleveland fans a gift:
In last night’s 7-2 win that finished off a Nationals sweep, Bryce Harper hit what I think was the most impressive of his four career big league home runs.
In case you weren’t watching, in the at-bat prior Livan Hernandez struck out Harper with a breaking ball. When Livan came back with a breaking ball the following at-bat, it ended up deep in the Atlanta night.
The dog days are coming to an end, and summer is waning.
God forbid, this was my last weekend as a single man. This time next week, I’ll be getting married on the New Jersey shore and our wonderful baseball season will be into September.
Maybe this was the Reds little wedding present to me. Although–we all know it was not–I’ll tell myself that because that’s how my relationship with baseball and the Reds is. The Reds won Friday, Saturday, Sunday for me this weekend because I’m getting married next weekend and I had nothing to do this weekend but watch three baseball games.
I didn’t go out and party. I didn’t run a ton of wedding errands (that’s what wives to be are for). I sat around and watched Jay Bruce, Yonder Alonso, and Joey Votto homer the Reds to a sweep in 14 innings.
The Reds are doing seemingly what they do this time of year. Winning a lot while it’s too late to make a difference, thanks to the tear the Brewers have been on for two months.
I appreciate the effort that the Reds have been given, and I hope they go out on a blaze of glory this final month. And why not? I hope they win every damn game left on the schedule even though it pains me that this feels like 2006-2009 so familiarly. We did not know how good we had it in that last summer of 2010. That was baseball heaven.
I hope that the Reds continue to win every game they can right now and give the world a preview of the Hell that will be reckoned with in 2012. I truly believe the Reds will win the whole damn thing in terms of the NL next year. Next year will be the year.
For the right now, thanks for the wedding gift Cincinnati.
“But sometimes if you have watched baseball long enough you just know the result before it plays out. I knew the Pirates were going to beat the Reds last night. If I were a richer man I would have bet some big time money on it. Just like today–the Reds play at 12:35–and they’ll win before going on the road for three games in Cleveland. I would bet anyone that Cueto is good again and the Reds get a big home run out of someone to win a tight ballgame.”
— Mevs, morning of May 19th, 2011. Before a 2-game sweep by the Pirates.
[Box Score][Cincinnati.com] [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!
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.
Jay Bruce got the big hit yesterday that helped the Reds earn a much-needed sweep in Oakland. Bruce totaled three hits on the day, the second game in a row in which he collected three hits and finished the series 7 for 10. The hot streak took his average to a season high .282 and has risen his line-drive rate to 22.9% on the season.
Johnny Cueto improved to 7-2 by throwing seven shut out innings.
The Reds remain a game behind the Cardinals who snuck by the Blue Jays last night 1-0, and have an off day today. They return home for a weekend three-game set against the Indians where they’ve got to find a way to continue to play good baseball.
Help is on the way, they just need to continue staying within striking distance of the Cardinals on a nightly basis.
After starting the west coast trip 0-3 in Seattle, I think you have to take this split of the trip with a smile. Oakland has been a mini house of horrors for this franchise in the past.
**Help Diamond Hoggers Strike Out Lung Cancer in honor of 700 WLW’s Doc Rogers. Make a donation that will go to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America HERE. If we can get in touch with Doc, we’d like to give a donation to his family instead of the Foundation**
Roy Oswalt is now 23-2 lifetime against the Reds
The Reds hadn’t beaten Roy Oswalt since 2006 when Brandon Claussen was the opposing pitcher. Last night in the first few innings they looked like they were trying to slay a dragon. Guys weren’t getting good hacks and we stranded six runners through three innings. But the Reds did what confident, veteran, successful ball clubs do. They waited Oswalt out and battled until he had to come out of the game. They built a 3-0 lead on the strength of a Joey Votto home run; which by the way, was the display of perfect hitting on an outside fastball after getting pounded inside all night. Votto hit one into the top of the Crawford boxes for home run #4 on the season.
Owners of a winning streak
At the beginning of the week we tweeted that you were going to see the Reds play some good baseball. Not only is the new lineup better, but the Reds were due to face a string of right handed starters that favored them in matchups. Guys with good fastballs and not a lot of breaking stuff. There was a method to our madness in predicting some Reds success. Since Dusty Baker held the closed door meeting and that horrible 5-0 loss last Saturday, the Reds have won four straight. It’s just enough to get everyone excited and bring us back to .500 and 2nd place in the division. Last time we had a mini-run and headed to St. Louis for a clash for the division, things didn’t go well (last year). We’ll see how the Reds fare this weekend, we’ll learn a lot about them.
Bruce hit his 4th home run of the season against Tim Byrdak in the 7th inning. He also added a double to the gap off Oswalt. He needs to keep it going, but as Dusty Baker said about him, if he can make a move before he has 150 and 200 at-bats on the year, you set yourself up for a nice season. It might appear that Jay is making his move. He’s now had multi-hit games in 3 of his last 4. Just keep it going, Jay. He’s really a huge factor in this lineup when he’s swinging like he has been.
Bunny got his first win of the season last night, and he pitched well. He worked quickly and despite getting into a little trouble in the bottom of the 7th, he gave the Reds exactly what they needed; a guy who could take the ball and match Roy Oswalt pitch for pitch long enough to give us a chance. A huge start by Arroyo. Makes you realize when this guy is on, we have a formidable rotation.
Heading to St. Louis
The Reds have three games in St. Louis with the division leaders starting today with Brad Penny opposing Johnny Cueto. I was thinking on my drive into work; how nice is it in theory to send a guy out to the mound every night that gives us a chance to win? In past years we’d have 2 or maybe 3 guys you felt like that at most. Right now, we’ve got guys who should keep us in the ballgame each and every night and we could win if the offense does their job. The Reds face three right-handers this weekend in Penny, Kyle Lohse and Chris Carpenter on Sunday. You have to hope for 2 out of 3. And until it’s over, you have to hope to keep this win streak going as long as possible. It seems like it’s been so long since the Reds have had a week in which they didn’t lose a game. Win tonight, and you have a winning month of April.
Other then Jay Bruce getting home runs #1 and #2 on the season, the positives were few and far between for the Reds who were swept in a 5-3 loss on an overcast Sunday in Pittsburgh.
We knew entering this series that the Reds would be lucky to take even one of three games from the Pirates. Fact is, even though the Pirates are known as the cellar dwellar of the Central, the Reds don’t handle them well; especially in Pittsburgh.
It came down to one bad inning in which Bunny Arroyo allowed 5 earned runs. Arroyo wasn’t horrible aside from that inning, working 7 innings with 3 walks and 7 strikeouts.
This Reds team has a thin lineup. They don’t have the ability to come from behind night after night. The Reds worked all weekend without the services of Scott Rolen, and with Joey Votto feeling the effects of the flu. When those things happen it’s going to be a tough day offensively.
Still it’s encouraging that maybe Jay Bruce is getting going a little bit at the plate. Bruce homered off of a tough lefty in Paul Maholm, and the Pirates closer Octavio Dotel (who otherwise had a 9th inning that saw him strikeout three). Both swings were off breaking balls. Bruce once again was robbed of a hit which would have been a three hit day on a nice play by Garrett Jones.
The Reds come home to host a couple of teams from the West, and we’re already deeming it time to Circle the Wagons. This homestand is going to determine a lot about not only this season and how it turns out but also some things for the future as far as personnel in our opinion. More on that later, but it’s time for the Reds to turn things around and quickly. If not, the focus is going to be waiting til next year like we’ve so often done.
Joe Torre is headed back to the NLCS. Just wanted to get this shot up here. Don’t be surprised if this isn’t the only bottle of bubbly that is poured on JT Godfather’s old bald head this fall. The Dodgers were impressive in their sweep of the Cardinals. The Phillies have their hands full.
Pirates fans must be feeling pretty good right now. Andrew McCutchen is all the rage. He made his MLB debut, picked up a couple hits, and the Pirates swept the New York Mets.
A quick look at McCutchen’s minor league statistics and scouting report reveals that he’s got more similarities to Lastings Milledge then just first glance appearance. And that’s how this kid strikes us. He looks like Milledge and he’s got about the same skill set, and the man who calls himself ‘Blastings Thrilledge’ has done little to nothing so far.
So before you go getting all excited about this 22-year old that came out of the 2005 draft you need to remember that you’re still the Pirates. And there’s also no sure bets in this game. All I have to do is whisper the name Jermaine Allensworth to a Pirates fan to prove my point. It took him 342 lifetime games and four seasons to compile a season’s worth of stats before he called it a career.
Last night’s 10-3 victory along with the Cardinals dropping their second straight game in Pittsburgh allowed the Reds to move into a three way tie for 1st place in the NL Central. Now sure it’s not a huge deal, but lets put this in perspective. The Reds were in first place last season for 1 day, on April 3. That was it. This team has the look of a group who might be able to hang onto it a little bit longer.
Folks are taking notice of these Reds, little by little. I’ll say it again: it’s going to be a fun summer in Cincinnati.
It’s safe to bet against the Reds today and take the Giants on a two team parlay, with the other game holding up and being the White Sox over the Red Sox at Fenway. Yeah, it is. The Reds won’t win a third straight game needed for a sweep, no way. The hot run that Arroyo has been on won’t continue. Plus it seems that they never win on sundays, when they wear those God-awful red jerseys. Yeah, this is easy money. The Giants are bound to win one.
Sons of bitches. Can’t even lose when your supposed to.