Tag Archives: Aroldis Chapman

World Series Game Six: Cubs steamroll Tribe victory party 9-3

Addison Russell's Grand Slam that made it 7-0.
Addison Russell’s Grand Slam that made it 7-0.

[Box Score]

The Cubs live to fight another day, and possibly to give us all the biggest game seven in the history of the sport. Someone is breaking a curse tonight, because of what happened in game six. If you’re a Cubs backer, it was the game of the series for you.

I felt like if Josh Tomlin could get 12 clean outs, the Indians were going to win the title and we would see the trophy last night. That didn’t happen. Tomlin retired the first two hitters, and then some ruckus started.

Kris Bryant got a piece of an 0-2 Josh Tomlin hanging curve, and it gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. This was an absolute BOMB.

Bryant had four hits on the day. I think he’s the undeniable Most Valuable Player of the World Series if the Cubs can win game seven tonight.

From there, the Cubs added two more on a mis-played fly ball in center that no one touched. After the ‘you got it, I take it’ gaffe by Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin; the Cubs led 3-0.

The game stayed quietly at that stanza for only just a little while, and then the third inning happened.

Then the dagger. Addison Russell became the youngest player since Mickey Mantle to drive in six in a World Series game. Four of them came on this grand slam:

The Indians scratched and clawed as they could behind a Jason Kipnis double, and a home run to get it to 7-2. The biggest victory in all of this for the Indians is they did enough to force Joe Maddon to bring Aroldis Chapman into the game, more on that in a moment. But Chapman came in to get out of a two runners on jam with Francisco Lindor at the plate. He did so successfully.

Anthony Rizzo would later add a two-run shot to make it 9-2. The final would read 9-3.

But tonight – it sure feels like the Indians have grabbed a little bit of momentum. Joe Maddon almost seemed as if he was trying to stick one up Francona’s ass, as if to say ‘I can beat you at your game, I’m going to my guy Chapman. He’s my version of Andrew Miller’. Only it wasn’t a game that Chapman should have been in. And Chapman is very different from Andrew Miller, from someone who knows him. He’s not a converted starter. He’s just not Andrew Miller. And in a close game tonight in game seven; he might just be a bit more human because of the workload the last two games.

It all adds up to the biggest game seven this blog and my life have ever seen tonight up I-71 about two hours from my doorstep. I can hardly wait.

Kris Bryant made sure there would be a game six of the World Series

[Box Score]
[Obstructed View] [Chicago Now]

The Cubbies continued to struggle as they have against the breaking balls of the Cleveland Indians pitching staff. Jose Ramirez homered, and the Cubs were starting to run out of outs trailing 1-0.

Then Bryan homered, the biggest swing of his life. The line drive landed in the basket.

For a few minutes afterward – like a fighter in the middle to late rounds of a prizefight – the Cubs came to life just long enough to deliver the knockout.

This one will also go down in history as the game that Aroldis Chapman got eight outs for a save. I thought that was a little much to ask at first, but Chapman was up to the task. He didn’t give up an earned run and extended the Cubs season.

Much like Tito Francona not truly trusting anyone aside from Andrew Miller, the only play for Joe Maddon here was to ride Chapman until the wheels fell off. And he did.

For me, this was the best game of the series all around. It gave us a series, and it was really the first time the Indians had to really play from behind while still having a chance to come back in the game. They had to face Chapman for two innings and change, and they couldn’t answer the bell to win the title.

It heads back to Cleveland for games six and seven. The Indians are staring Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks in the face, so it’s certainly not a gimme putt to their championship that it looked a few days ago.

One More for the Core

Jay+Bruce+Cincinnati+Reds+v+St+Louis+Cardinals+e4Sqq5E2RbXl

If the Reds are torn apart sometime in the next 48 hours with key members of this core from the playoff run stripped from the roster and fan base, then let it be written that the Redlegs went into the sea of red that is St. Louis and shut out the best team in baseball for the second night in a row, winning 1-0.

Jay Bruce hit his 17th home run of the season off a very good John Lackey, and Aroldis Chapman locked down his 21st save of the season.

It was so baseball. These guys going out and in the midst of all kinds of rumors that have them shipped all over teh globe; they go out and play a sound game to beat a much more sound team.

Anthony DeSclafani threw seven shutout innings and improved to 6-7 on the year. The Reds collected just two hits.

And maybe; just maybe, this is the type of win that tells ownership it’s not time to let the sun set on this group yet. Maybe they look towards next year and aggressively decide that by adding a key arm or two to the rotation, they’ll have the lineup to attempt to make a run at things.

But if not – if they do decide to sell off these guys who were being rumored in deals before the game started tonight – it was perhaps one last signature win to remember them by. It’s the kind you don’t forget.

The Toddfather, Bruce, Cueto make it a Reds Opening Day to Remember

[Box Score]
[Cincinnati.com]

This might have been the last one – so I hope you enjoyed today. Actually, take away the ‘might’. If you’ve followed the game long enough, you know in your heart this was the last time that this current core will take the field on Opening Day in Cincinnati as a group. Today almost told us that much. It was a beautiful win, a great start to the marathon that honored Opening Day in the city it should most be honored in. But on more nights then not, the Reds aren’t going to get the type of outing Johnny Cueto provided them with.

When they don’t have that type of performance, it could be a rough go for them. And it was almost a tough day anyways with their lack of a set-up man. When Andrew McCutchen homered to that little spot in right center that he always seems to sneak one out to in Cincinnati (he kills the Reds more than Billy Hall ever did), it seemed like the Reds were going to waste Cueto’s great outing and Bruce’s laser into the Moondeck in right.

Todd Frazier would have none of it – he hit a ball into the upper tank in left in the bottom of the 8th off Tony Watson that would claim the day for Cincinnati. It came after Billy Hamilton and Joey Votto singled to apply some pressure to the lights out reliever.

And one more time, the core of Bruce, Votto, Phillips, Mesoraco, Frazier, Cueto, Chapman had one once the Cuban came in and dominated the ninth inning like he usually does. But if things go bad like we think they might – the Reds will make some moves and some of the veteran faces we’ve all grown the love and attachment with won’t be here on this day next year.

So we appreciated today for what it was, a great memory that we’ll always have and at least a day in first place in this season where the world seems to be doubting the Reds.

Mat Latos slams Reds Organization

mlbf_37067013_th_45

My thoughts on Mat Latos’ comments on the Reds are; 1) you can never trust a ‘Matt’ with only one ‘t’; I maintain. And 2) the Reds are in rough shape as-is, they don’t need a guy with the make-up and propensity to slam a team after he’s gone anyways.

After all, he’s the guy who gave up the grand slam to Buster Posey that this current core will never recover from. We all remember it, it was the death blow. He served that one up. That’s his place in Reds history in my book.

Now for his comments:

When Scott was there, we had guys doing exactly what they were supposed to do. After Scott left, we had guys with two years in the big leagues, in the clubhouse, on their phones, laying down in the video room, just hanging out during games, not in the dugout, not cheering their teammates on. Our dugout looked like a ghost town.

After Bronson, the same exact thing. We had starters in there roping our (clubhouse attendants), like, cattle-roping our clubbies. Guys on their computers, buying stuff, hanging out in the clubhouse. We had a guy with a year-and-a-half in the big leagues wandering around the clubhouse, hanging out. We had a closer in there sleeping until the seventh inning. We lose that veteran leadership, that’s what happens. You can’t have that . . . it turns into a circus.

I thought the Reds mostly responded in a professional manner, taking some underhanded shots at Latos in the process without crossing too many lines.

That said, I think Latos’ tirade has some shreds of truth in it. I do think the Reds clubhouse lacks a true leader, and they have some guys who probably spent the game screwing off on their iPad and social media. I have no issue with Chapman sleeping until the 7th inning; he’s an odd bird and he throws 103 MPH. He can do whatever the Hell he wants.

But the Reds’ lack of a backbone showed last season as their sheep of a manager led them to slaughter. Votto and Bruce have never shown the ability to lead or to really want to be that type of persona in the locker room. I think they’re in desperate need of a veteran who can be a leader – it’s not going to be Marlon Byrd.

It all points towards a season ahead in which you’re probably looking at around a .500 team if everything goes right. And everything hardly ever goes right.

The Reds disappointed and failed to win a playoff series with Mat Latos; good as he thinks he is. They can do the same without him. There is probably a fair degree of hard feelings here as Latos pointed out that the Reds chose to try to re-sign Johnny Cueto rather than him. I doubt a Cueto deal ever comes to fruition, but the choice is easy.

I liked what Homer Bailey said best about it – which is telling without saying much:

“If this was a court of law,” said Reds starter Homer Bailey, “the cross examination would go after the credibility of the witness.”

I also remember an incident where Latos and Bruce got into it in the dugout pretty good. Bruce and Bailey are two guys who get along with pretty much everyone and by all signs are well-liked in the Cincinnati clubhouse. For there to be no love-loss with Latos means Latos probably wasnt the best ingredient in the clubhouse himself.

Most surprising is Latos’ admission that the MILF Hunter himself, Bunny Arroyo was a key clubhouse cog! I know Arroyo was an awesome guy but never knew he was a leader – even though he reportedly took his job very seriously and notoriously pitched through an entire season with mononucleosis.

Two Must-Note items from last night’s Reds game

Last night, the Reds pulled off another improbably win to move to 1.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. The Reds won an ugly game 6-5, which featured a big blown lead by the Pirates.

We’re a fan of all-world talent here, and the following two videos are exhibits of such.

Billy Hamilton was in the matrix. Look at this little jumping bean refuse to be denied his arbitrary right to first base! Hamilton had three hits in the game and is now up to .285 on the year.

Next up is Aroldis Chapman, who locked down his 20th save of the season. But that isn’t what all the hoopla was about. This was Chapman’s 40th straight appearance with at least one strikeout, a Major League record.

That was the 97th save of Chapman’s big league career. Here’s to about 403 more of these before he is finished.

I went to see Yasiel Puig play today

Bp9yt8hCcAA9Xoo

[Box Score]

[Game Highlights]

Another item can be crossed off the baseball bucket list; I spent an afternoon in the same ballpark as Yasiel Puig.

That said, I didn’t get to my seat until the fifth inning, meaning I saw exactly four and a half innings of baseball. Let me go on a small mini-rant now if I may to relieve some frustration.

It was a Reds ‘business day special’. I’ve went to two or three of these in my life, but it was always when I was working downtown and didn’t need to find a place to park.

My friend and I learned today that you don’t go to a Reds business day special unless you work downtown. We arrived around 12:15, twenty solid minutes before the scheduled first pitch. Every garage was ‘PERMIT ONLY’ and the one parking garage that a cop told us we would be able to park in behind the US Bank Arena was full. We drove around in one-way street traffic for a solid hour it seemed. Finally we found a lot about two miles away. We parked, and we walked what seemed like forever.

Alfredo Simon and Zach Greinke cruised through the first four innings. By the time we parked, took a leak, fought through the lines and grabbed a hot dog and some peanuts; the game was into the fifth inning and I had missed two Puig AB’s and two Bruce AB’s. Not good.

Bp9yzSECAAEInPE

I missed Puig hitting a single in the first inning – his only hit on this day – but I did not miss his caught stealing to end an inning. Here he is heading out to right field after getting caught stealing. Dee Gordon and Adrian Gonzalez can be seen in the shot.

The Dodgers on this day as a whole (for the half game I saw) looked like a team ready to get back to Los Angeles. They just looked tired and went through the motions. How else to explain Alfredo ‘Big Pasta’ Simon throwing eight strong innings of one-run baseball? The Dodgers had no fight in them. And by the way, Alfredo Simon has tied Adam Wainwright at least for the time being for the National League lead with nine wins on the mound.

Baseball is completely unpredictable.

Bp9ywcyCUAA29iv

And it is that unpredictability that keeps me rabidly interested. I feel like going to a baseball game live is like buying a ticket and playing the lotto. As you are on your way to the game, you have no damn idea what you’re about to see as a whole or in terms of what each player is going to do. I thought about this on my way to the game – was today going to be the day I hit the Yasiel Puig lotto and possibly see a two homer game?

My ticket was a dud. He was 1 for 4 with a couple of ground outs and of course the aforementioned caught stealing.

Bp9y9xgCcAEVfKj

I didn’t hit the lotto on Jay Bruce either. It seems his number is coming up further and farther in between these days. I remarked during the game that Bruce seems disappointingly like a player who is simply content with being ‘good’. He appears to realize that it’s no longer possible that he will be a ‘great’ player.

I realize he’s had to play through some problems with his knee. Not much has changed since his return. He’s hitting .212 on the year now – there isn’t much you can say about a guy hitting .212 – other than I think he was a better hitter all around when he came out of the minor leagues. He’s just a pull-happy guy with some power now who is never going to hit for much average, strikes out too much, plays a solid right-field, and will not get noticed outside the Reds fanbase. I had higher hopes for Jay Bruce to be honest.

Bp92WS8CYAEZYRA

I did get to see Aroldis Chapman lock down another save, his tenth of the season. One thing that will never get old to me is seeing this guy pump 99, 99, 101, 101, 102 in the ninth inning. Blowing 3-1 fastballs past Matt Kemp when Kemp has to know it’s coming and he still can’t touch it.

Chapman struck out the side in the ninth inning to reward the Reds with their victory. He struck out the second hitter of the inning with a 92 MPH slider down. Just filthy. This guy is a God-given talent and a gift to be able to watch. He’s why you buy the ticket.

Bp-TaKjCUAATn9L

The Todd Frazier lottery numbers came up today, as he hit his 14th home run of the season. Of course, I didn’t see it; we were behind the left field bleachers on Mehring Way when the fireworks were going off listening to it on 700 WLW.

The Reds shouldn’t have business day games if there isn’t a better solution for parking, plain and simple. If you plan to attend one of these games, be ready to have it really dampen your entire experience. I didn’t get to walk around the park, I didn’t get to try any of the new concession stands, I just sat in my seat for what seemed like ten minutes because we arrived so late because it was a true downtown-disaster. I doubt there are these problems around Wrigley.

I’m over it, and happy I got to spend an afternoon watching a few innings of baseball. And I got to see Puig play a few innings. And the Reds split a tough series, even if I know it will end up meaningless.

And next time I buy a ticket, I just might win some kind of baseball lotto!

I Went to the Reds Game LastFriday Night

BocmcmNIMAAoTkp

[Box Score]

[Game Highlights]

My bank has a box on the Owner’s club level at Great American Ball Park. Friday night was my first game of the season and it unfolded pretty perfectly. Here are some notes on it:

  • I honestly, legitimately knew the Reds would win this game. I didn’t look at the MLB Betting Odds on the way to the game but I did put money on the Reds without even caring if they were underdog or heavy favorite. I looked after I won. Of course they were a 150-plus favorite.
  • It was Jay Bruce’s first game back. He had a smoke double to right center off Shelby Miller. That was his only wow moment of the game. Man it’s just good to have
  • I think the moment everyone will remember from this game is the Brayan Pena play at first base (complete with Broxton cover – look at big fella get over there).
  • Devin Mesoraco is going to be a star, at least offensively. He hit an upper deck home run.
  • We played Makatewah Golf Course – a private course since 1910 – earlier in the afternoon. It’s a beautiful course, and we had a perfect day. If you ever get the chance to see it and you love golf, don’t think twice about it. I am told that Marty, Paul O’ Neill, Chris Sabo and a bunch of others who are famed in Reds-lore play there.

BocmVJJIgAEwo5s

  • I got to see save number 81 in the career of Aroldis Chapman. Which, it’s really quite amazing. I mean, look at a few of the Reds players on the roster and the number of home runs they have in their career. I’ve been to a lot of Reds games over the years that Chapman has been on the team, sure. But I would guess this is probably the fifth or sixth career save I’ve seen him notch in person and he has less than 100 in his career. He was pumping 102, 101, 100 pretty consecutively.
  • Todd Frazier went deep this game to put the Reds out 3-0, and he’s got nine now on the season. I told you all Mesoraco and Frazier would hit more than people thought this year;  and Ludwick and Cozart would struggle.
  • We had Skyline in our box. Amazing. Also this was the first time I’ve had Larosa’s Pizza in quite a while – it puts Donatos to shame.

After the game I headed out to Horseshoe Casino, and learned how to play craps. All it did was cost me $300 in a matter of minutes.

A great night at the park, a big Reds win, and a great way to kick off a holiday weekend.

Welcome back, Aroldis Chapman

95661-650-366

It’s been such a ‘blah’ feeling year for my Reds. They’re mired in mediocrity and nothing can seem to break it.

Devon Mesoraco was on fire and then he inevitably got injured with an ailment that could derail his breakout season. They have basically wasted the finest stretch of Johnny Cueto’s career – a stretch that is easily the most dominant I have seen a Reds pitcher perform in a decade. Jay Bruce hit the disabled list also, with a knee surgery that cropped up as necessary overnight. Homer Bailey has looked terrible on the heels of the huge contract. Brandon Phillips isn’t stealing any bags and is eroding offensively. The Reds lineup feels poorly constructed.

But quietly, the Reds aren’t dead yet. They’re getting back a guy who I believe has the chance to be a rallying cry. Aroldis Chapman was activated from the disabled list this this afternoon, and whether or not he pitches tonight he gives the Reds the edge that they need to turn this season around. He’s a dominant figure; as terrifying as anyone in the game when he’s hovering over a hitter on the mound in the ninth inning.

Some might say that Chapman is just a closer, nothing that can swing a season; but I would suggest in knowing the pulse of this Reds team, he’s a lot more to the franchise than just a guy who pitches an inning on some nights.

The time is now for the Reds. If ever they were going to make a break to make 2014 meaningful, it’s going to begin now.

Aroldis Chapman had a steel plate surgically inserted in his head

mlb_a_chapman_600x600

The poor guy.

He’s probably depressed and laid up in an Arizona hospital room right now with a bunch of doctors that don’t speak Spanish, dying for a drag off a cigarette and some mango juice.

But seriously – this really sucks. Not only was I bummed about the news all day due to my allegiance to the Cincinnati Reds, but my fantasy team just lost two months worth of saves and ratios from it’s most dominant player.

Godspeed, Aroldis. We all know J.J. Blooper and the rest of the pen are going to have a hard time filling those huge Cuban shoes of yours until you return. It’s a testament to a guy’s talent when you will literally miss just watching him. Chapman is one of those rare talents.

BREAKING: Aroldis Chapman hit in Forehead by line drive; Carted off field

BjI7EGlCEAAgLyX

So this is entirely awful.

A Salavador Perez line drive struck Aroldis Chapman in the head tonight in the 6th inning of the Spring Training game between the Reds and the Royals. We listened to the postgame wrap-up show on 700 WLW and Marty Brennaman said that the line drive ‘struck Chapman squarely in the forehead’.

Chapman was carted off the field and the game was called. Thoughts and Prayers go out to the Reds closer. We have a feeling he will be alright.

Updates at Hardball Talk.

Cincinnati Reds 2014 Team Preview

One of the fastest to ever play the game.
One of the fastest to ever play the game.

Since that 2012 season ended and the Reds lost to the Giants in game five of the NLDS in Cincinnati after being up two games to zero on the eventual World Champion Giants, I have really been in a deep and dark depression as a Reds fan.

Some people might get really down on me for saying that – they’ll point to when the Reds were running out Jose Acevedo or Jimmy Haynes or Brandon Claussen as starting pitchers and were a losing team and tell me how good we have it now. How we’ve ‘made the playoffs’ three out of the last four years.

But there’s something that kills you about watching a team evolve from the abyss into what you know is a core’s window – and make no mistake – the last two seasons were the peak of this current group’s window. It didn’t ever hurt like that (like this) back when we were so horrible. It has taken me the entire offseason just to get some feeling back in me after the way we went out. To be fully honest, I’m still not over that 2012 afternoon that Buster Posey hit the grandslam off Mat Latos. I’ve never felt anything like that in a lifetime of watching sports. I don’t know if I’ll ever really get over it. It was like dealing with a death.

It’s made it increasingly tough to write about the Reds. Their passive offseason this year really did nothing to dispel that. If anything, it just made me a little bit apathetic towards their upcoming season. You look at their lineup, and there’s still some thunder. There are things you can find a positive in. If their pitching staff doesn’t have any injury, it features some phenomenal arms.

But this is largely the same group that couldn’t get it done the last few seasons. Something is missing. If I could tell you what that something was I would be doing a lot more than just writing about the Reds; it’s like the million-dollar question. I think the Reds needed Aroldis Chapman to develop into a top of the rotation starter that they could roll out in a must win game in the playoffs. A Randy Johnson type figure who the opposition knows is simply going to always beat them. Someone to get Mike Leake out of there. A lot of guys could close for this team. Few guys in the league strike fear into a lineup like Chapman could as a starter. But that’s never going to happen now.

Maybe that something is a real heart and soul leader. Someone who keeps Brandon Phillips in line. As much as I like Phililps, I’m starting to wonder if he’s not a little bit of a cancer in the locker room. I wouldn’t have cared if the Reds decided to part with him – but almost sheepishly they made the choice to bring him back. And along with that, they brought back the entire group that has failed to win the big one year after year. That’s concerning. You keep banging your head against the same wall long enough, all you’re going to get is a headache. The only thing different is the manager, and Bryan Price isn’t even a new voice. It’s not a shake-up. Everyone else got better, and at best the Reds stayed the same.

Continue reading Cincinnati Reds 2014 Team Preview

A Fantastic Read on Aroldis Chapman

chapman-art2-web

We are a few days late getting mention of this up, but over the weekend ESPN did an interesting profile of Aroldis Chapman that all my fellow Reds fans should see.

If you missed it, you might never learn the following:

  • Aroldis Chapman smokes Marlboro Reds, regularly.
  • He owns a swimming pool that he cannot enjoy, because he does not know how to swim.
  • He routinely spends the entire day in his room, often waking around dinner time.
  • Chapman longs for life back in Cuba, specifically the ‘craziness’ of his home country.
  • Chapman seems bored with life despite being independently wealthy.
  • A professional might even say that Aroldis Chapman is depressed.

I don’t want to make too much of this – ESPN would not generate many page clicks or buzz by writing a fluff piece of the Reds closer about him visiting the sick in a hospital (though the article gives mention in passing to this towards the end).

As someone who has closely followed Chapman since the beginning of his incredible career, we get the feeling that this might not end well. It might end with a high speed chase. It might end with Chapman suddenly not wanting to play anymore. It could end with him waking up one day, and it’s all gone – just like Mark Wohlers. It could end with Chapman fading into Miami Marlboro-smoking obscurity. But you get the feeling that this wild ride could someday soon come to it’s sudden and abrupt end.

That’s because talents like Chapman often fade and flicker just as quickly as they burst onto the scene. We’re simply trying to enjoy this while it’s here, because it might not be long for the baseball world.