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The Reds finished off a road trip in which they went 4-2 yesterday with a loss to the Houston Astros. The Reds won’t go on a 9 out of 10 run this season to match last year’s pace at this time. When I went to leave work yesterday I forgot my glasses in my office, so when leaving around the 5:00 hour here in Ohio; Hunter Pence was at the plate and I had the game on the radio. When I returned to my car minutes later, the game was on commercial break. The mind of a baseball fan works quickly in those situations. So I knew that Mike Leake and the Reds either got out of the inning quickly, or the game was over. Considering that when I ran back up to my office Hunter Pence was at the plate with a man on base, and Mike Leake was on the bump rather than Francisco Cordero, I think I knew exactly what had happened before Marty Brenneman returned to the air to give the grim news to me. When he actually said it I grit my teeth for a minute, and it made rush hour that much more hard to bear. I immediately wanted to choke Mike Leake, that little worthless rat bastard.
My original hatred for the Astros stemmed long ago when they had guys on their team that could really hurt you. Guys like Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman, Oswalt, Pettite, Clemens, and so forth. I hated them more than I hate any other team in baseball. That hate still remains, and I hope they’re an after-thought forever. That said, it’s not as easy to hate them anymore because they really only have two guys that can hurt you on a regular basis now: Wandy Rodriguez, and Hunter Pence. Brett Wallace and Billy Hall don’t count. Both Wandy and Pence did their damage yesterday against the Reds.
Yesterday’s loss was an infliction from bad moves by the Reds manager, Dusty Baker. He did three things I didn’t like, that really set the Reds up for a loss on getaway day like he so often does.
I was surprised to see Jay Bruce get the start against Wandy Rodriguez. Bruce went out and did what I expected him to do yesterday, nothing. He went 1 for the series vs. the Astros with the one hit being a bomb. But I really thought that Dusty Baker sent a message in the wrong way when he decided to roll with Jay Bruce yesterday–but hit him 7th in the lineup. If you’re going to run Bruce out there against a guy who you know he doesn’t have good numbers against, display confidence in him. Protect him with someone in the lineup who might get him an extra fastball or two. In fact, do something out of the ordinary to get ordinary results against Wandy. Hit him 2nd. Hell, get really wild and hit him fourth. What does it matter? You’re just trying something anyways. But don’t hit him 7th, because that basically says without actually saying anything that you expect him to go out and go 0 for 4, which is exactly what happened. Bad lineups on getaway day often damn the Reds.
The second thing I had a problem with is seeing Johnny Gomes once again in left field. If you read this blog or my tweets enough, you know that I’ve seen enough of Johnny Gomes.
Here’s some stats for thought on Gomes via Lance Mcalister: Jonny Gomes hit 2 HR’s and drove in 6 runs in June 12 of last season to help the Reds beat the Kansas City Royals. After that game Gomes was hitting .307 with 9 HR and his 47 RBI tied him for the NL lead. Since that game: 125 games for Gomes, 495 plate appearances, 101 for 436 (.232), 15 HR, 46 RBI, 45 BB, 110 K, .295 OBP, .378 SLG, .673 OPS.
Chris Heisey was on the bench again, and later in the game he came off the bench to homer and cut the deficit to 3-2. I ask the question, why does Dusty get an annual hard-on for guys that help the Reds lose ballgames? Because he’s a player’s manager? Oh, it’s great for the players. But it’s rough on fans like me and you. In 2008, Corey Patterson was that guy. In 2009, Wily Taveras was that guy. Last year, I’m shocked that Gary Matthews Jr. wasn’t that guy. Now, it’s Johnny Gomes. Gomes starting over Heisey is a load of shit as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t care how great of a guy Johnny Gomes is or how much fun he is in the clubhouse. He’s killing the Reds, every at-bat and every night. A slow, painful death. And we’re going on a year now.
The third problem that I had was going with Mike Leake yesterday in the bottom of the 9th instead of Francisco Cordero. Why are the Reds forcing Mike Leake down our throat? Why can’t this guy spend some time attempting to develop in AAA Louisville? I don’t care that he was a first round pick. I don’t care if the organization likes his potential. What I see is a guy who lacks stuff. Especially stuff that allows you to survive in the 9th inning of a tie game on the road. That’s a situation where for as long as I’ve been watching baseball, you go to your closer. Dusty at least thought about it because Cordero was warming up before the inning. I’m sure he had some reason after the game that he went to Leake instead, and I don’t really care what it was. It was a bad reason. I have a feeling if Cordero was out there in the 9th, the Reds get one more chance to hit for the sweep.
I’ll be at the game tomorrow night, and of course today is an off day. I need the day to cool off I think.
Found this post on FanGraphs as to why Aroldis Chapman is struggling:
It looks like [Chapman] is releasing his fastballs about six inches higher and closer to the center of the mound: so more over-the-top and less 3/4 delivery. Again this conclusion is hard to make without the actual release point, and because the Pitch F/x system is more noisy at the release-point end of the trajectory than the plate-location end. So I wanted to see if I could back it up with photographic support. It was hard to find pictures from the head-on angle, but it does look like he has a slightly more over-the-top delivery in 2011 than in 2010 and definitely more than in 2009 during the World Baseball Classic.
This suggests, though definitely not conclusively, that Chapman may have “lost” his release point. And it is possible that this “lost” release point plays a role in his huge walk rate.