Tag Archives: Joey Votto

Are the Cincinnati Reds Good?

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[Box Score]

Hold your firesale just a damn minute. Something magical *might* be taking form in the Queen City.

The Reds survived a start by Jason Marquis (he actually, really struck out seven hitters) against the feared St. Louis Cardinals and have now begun the 2015 campaign 4-0 after sweeping the Pirates and a thrilling Friday night victory over the rival Redbirds.

The Reds appear to have their on-field leader back. This is as close as anyone has seen to 2010 Joey Votto in a long time. Votto hit a pair of home runs – the first was a prototype Votto two-run shot to left field to give the Reds a 2-1 lead – and the second was almost the same exact home run to give the Reds a 4-3 lead.

The Cuban came on in the ninth to lock down his 114th save in a Reds uniform, his second of the season, and blew away the final hitter with 101 MPH gas to match what his license plate on his fast car says.

The Reds are winning with timely hitting, quality starts (which seem unlikely to continue), and….. a little bit of luck.

Billy Hamilton is also worth mentioning for a reason why the Reds are winning. He’s getting on base, and he’s stolen eight bases in four games.

Johnny Cueto goes tomorrow afternoon for a chance to start something really special.

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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.

Marty Brennaman is ready for another grumpy season as the voice of the Reds!

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God I can’t wait for the Reds to be a couple games under .500 in early April and to have to climb in my car and find Marty Brennaman calling the Reds game. You flip the dial to 700 WLW and without knowing the score, you know the score just by listening to Marty’s voice.

When the Reds are losing, Marty is Mister Miserable in every way, shape, form. Marty hates everyone, and everything in his surroundings and must feel like he’s wasting valuable time in his life when he could be out at Maketewah Country Club having a cigar and playing 18. Or sitting in a sauna. Or doing things that old men do when they’re financially secure and successful and at retirement age.

It wouldn’t be Reds season without Marty B. being angry. And you know what? I’ve got something for you Saberheads who think that Joey Votto is the perfect player: he’s not. Marty might voice frustration over the walks, which is really Marty voicing frustration over Votto having plate appearances in which he didn’t make an out. But I’ve watched enough Joey Votto the last few seasons to know this:

He’s too damn submissive in the batter’s box. I, myself; am sick of Votto choking halfway up the bat on a 2-0 count and getting too cute with a damn fastball, trying to place-hit the damn thing into left field because it’s ‘a beautiful piece of hitting’. Drive the damn thing into the seats. You’re a middle of the order hitter, you are being paid to mash like you did in 2010, you certainly aren’t going to lead with your voice in the clubhouse and that’s fine. Swing the bat like a leader. Stop being content to give up an at-bat and spoil pitches and take fastballs thrown right down the heart of the plate while you bend over and look at it because the full count offering isn’t going to be as good.

Votto is a completely different hitter than he was when he was the MVP – his approach has changed and entire philosophy on hitting – it doesn’t mean he isn’t a good hitter. Of course his stats support that he is productive. But the choking up the bat and being so passive has to stop or the Reds will continue to struggle because the guys behind Votto simply don’t have the ability to win an MVP as he once did. I get what Marty is trying to say, he’s just gone about it in the wrong way.

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.

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Baseball is Back

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Today, baseball returned to the field (and there was only one collegiate team in play as an opponent).

The Reds beat their friends from around the Cuyahoga 8-3. Jay Bruce was back in right field. Joey Votto manned first base. Billy Hamilton hit lead-off and played centerfield.

Even though it was a long day at work, it seemed all was once again right with the world. Spring is on it’s way. There is a new hope arriving. As the sun shined during freezing temperatures outside today, something just felt different.

That Yasiel Puig guy went 2 for 3 as well.

Reds win in Los Angeles; Snap Dodgers 6-game winning streak

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[Box Score]

The Reds went into the Lions Den and came away with a victory, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 in Los Angeles. The win snapped the Dodgers six-game winning streak.

A true barometer of how good any Reds team is (especially at this point in the season) is how they fare on a west coast trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. That is a long trip across the country for the midwest Reds and in the past a pedestrian Reds team would commonly go 2-8 or 3-7 and then head home with their seasons really on the rails.

This year has been different so far. The Reds are now 4-1 on the current trip. Mat Latos picked up his 10th win of the season going 7 and 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking one. Aroldis Chapman got the save in the ninth, his 24th of the season.

The Reds broke the game open with Jay Bruce’s 21st home run of the season, a two-run shot to left center that sucked all the wind out of the crowd when it hit the bat. That’s how Bruce’s home runs have been this year on the road. I didn’t know it was gone off the bat because Dodger Stadium is so cavernous; but I heard what the crowd did and I knew how it looked sitting there live. It’s an impressive home run so make sure you watch it by clicking the hyperlink above. Bruce caught a hanging breaking ball from Zack Greinke – a guy he’s really struggled against in his career – and rode it out to one of the deepest parts of the park. It’s great to see Bruce continue to hit for power to this left center power alley.

Cho0, Votto, and Frazier had two hits each. Devin Mesoraco added a hit and he’s up to .261 on the season. It could be a great weekend for the Reds out in Los Angeles.

Worst Loss of the Season? Worst Loss of the Season.

Nothing makes me want to go play in traffic more than my team losing a ballgame this way. But as the texts and complaints and misery rolled in to my cell phone from my friends who are fellow Reds fans, all I could think about is this is the game of baseball biting the Reds in the ass because they were forced to try to win a game by this nature. This is what happens when you squander opportunities. You leave yourselves open to this shit when you hit Zach Cozart second.

It really is a game of inches. And Carlos Gomez seized the moment as he’s seized it all damn season. And the Baseball Gods are strict accountants.

Hit with RISP or get a clutch hit before there are two outs in the ninth and you won’t lose this way. No, it doesn’t make it hurt any less. No, it didn’t make getting up for work any easier this morning. But in my older and wiser age I realize that my boys die by the same sword that damns everyone who fails time and again to capitalize on opportunities the game presents to them. And that’s baseball

A PERFECT Summer Night at Great American Ball Park

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[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

Last night was a fun game that I attended with some guys from work, and it featured a little bit of something for everyone. The highlight of the night was this majestic opposite-field blast from Jay Bruce, his 13th home run on the season:

And that wasn’t the only long ball we saw. Zach Cozart and Todd Frazier had upper deck jobs (I missed Frazier’s because I was grabbing a beer for my buddy) and Joey Votto snuck one out the other way.

I also loved Starling Marte’s unreal catch to rob Brandon Phillips of extra bases – at least – you could say I ‘appreciated’ it.

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I’ve never really taken a shot of the Great American Insurance building behind the park. Here it is in all of it’s glory.

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Bruce warming up before the start of an inning. And I think the kid on the right field line who warms him up every inning *might* be the nephew of Walt Jocketty or Bob Castellini. Something is up with this kid. He throws worse than a woman. He is scared to death of the ball. Anything thrown his way where Bruce puts anything on the ball and the kid looks like he wants to run out of the way and allow a fan to take the brunt of it. He short-hopped Bruce multiple times. He is a special brand of hideous.

You are a big league team; and that’s the best you can do with a ball boy? Something is rotten in Denmark with this.

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Here’s Andrew McCutchen. Love watching the guy play. He did his thing with a couple of line drives for base hits, and took his usual bean ball to the middle of the back later in the game.

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“Strikeouts for LaRosa’s” is new at the ball park this year. It’s a deal where you get a free small LaRosa’s pizza when Reds pitchers strike out 11 hitters or more in a game. The Reds didn’t give anyone strikeout pizza last night but that’s okay because I’m on a diet and LaRosa’s is kind of overrated. It’s like the Cincinnati equivalent of Donato’s.

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We had fourth-row seats out in right field behind our version of The Mick. It was a great night for a ballgame. I’ve sat in a lot worse then mid-80 degree heat and all night the weather stayed clear.

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And any perfect night at the park is capped off with Aroldis Chapman coming into the game throwing 99 MPH heat, and ended with him striking out a hitter with a 101 MPH fastball. He also threw inside on Neil Walker before striking him out in absolutely demeaning fashion.

Game 70, 2013: Reds 5, Brewers 1

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[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

Let’s start the post with the most glorious part of the day: Jay Bruce’s 443-foot moonshot. It was his 12th home run of the season. It came off a 3-0 count from Wily Peralta. Bruce had himself a nice little weekend. A walk-off home run on Friday night. A 2 for 3 day with a walk in a game where no one on the Reds hit on Saturday. And then this bomb today. When Bruce is going like he is going right now, it’s a good idea to just let him go. I would like to know whether or not the call to let him green light on 3 and 0 came from Dusty or from Bruce himself. Either way, I said to myself when he was in that count that it was a perfect time to let him try and hit one into the sun deck. By the time I finished the thought, the ball was ricocheting off the facade of the entrance way to a section of the ball park that few home runs are hit.

And we go back to the thought we had coming home from work Friday while sitting in traffic:

When Jay Bruce is at home, and he’s facing fastball dependent right-handed pitching, AND that opposing team happens to be the Brewers; something good is bound to happen. And it did this weekend.

We’ve still got some time until the All-Star break, and Bruce has an opportunity to play his way into a spot if he can just stay hot. The average sits at .283, with 12 homers and a quiet 47 RBI. He’s having a nice little season that with a few breaks could end up a career year.

But let’s not make this all about Jay Bruce. Zach Cozart and Joey Votto added two hits each. Johnny Cueto had the most Cueto outing ever. He improved to 4-0 on the season, allowing only one run while striking out three and walking no one in six innings. The Reds moved to 42-28 on father’s day, and gained a game in the NL Central standings on the Cardinals. They’re 2.5 back, and something tells me they’re not going to go away this year.

Reds Respond with a Huge Saturday Night Win over Cardinals

Jay Bruce

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

I missed a lot of this game for date night, but I returned home for the climactic ending. And thus brings another point, FOX has gone and pulled a fast one that we actually like. I believe FOX did Saturday Night Baseball (aka Baseball Night in America) telecasts last year, but now they’re a regularly scheduled item.

While I miss the afternoon Saturday telecasts, I believe this is good for the game. And FOX is dressing things up by designing this fancy little logo which can be nothing more than a spin off of what the NFL has done with it’s big Sunday Football Night in America telecasts.

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The Reds got into a 1-0 hole early. And then the texts started to flow in. Several friends while I was at dinner with ‘BRUUUUUUUUUCE’ texts. And by now I know what that means. Jay Bruce had hit his 10th home run of the season to tie the game at 1-1.

It was arguably the best team win of the year. Mat Latos did his thing in a game the Reds had to have and improved to 6-0. Shin Soo Choo, Derrick Robinson, Joey Votto, Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco all had two hits each. Bruce added what may or may not have been a home run saving catch. You be the judge:

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The game came to a close on a controversial call, with Aroldis Chapman getting the save after Joey Votto appeared to pull his foot on a Todd Frazier throw. We’ll take it!

The win left the Reds three games behind the Cardinals entering the big Sunday Night Baseball showdown on ESPN.

The Memorial Day that Belonged to Joey Votto and the Reds

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I’ve been to what seems like hundreds of baseball games. After being at today’s Indians-Reds game, I’ll never forget the Memorial Day game-winning home run that I saw a future Hall of Famer hit with my wife and our two friends (unfortunate for them, they are Indians fans).

Take a look at the home run and the context of it so you can gain a full appreciation of how incredible it really was.

I got texts after Votto hit the home run that he was actually choked up off the knob of the bat. He hit it into the opposite field stands – something he does often but isn’t appreciated enough. He hit it off a left-handed reliever. And of course, as soon as it left the bat you knew that the hometown team was going to win the ballgame. It wasn’t a walk-off shot, but teams don’t come back from the kind of home run that Votto hit earlier today. It was the baseball equivalent of the dagger. Every Indians fan in the park knew it.

For all the talk of prospects and Trouts and Cabrera’s and Harper’s and players around baseball, the Reds have one of the best two or three in the entire game playing at their park and he’s going to be there for another decade.

It felt like about 95 degrees in the right field Sun Deck today and I thought we were going to be sitting there a while after Jason Giambi demolished this ball off the centerfield batter’s eye to tie the game 2-2.

So the pools are all open. Memorial Day happened. Summer is here. I saw the Redlegs win 4-2 today, and 5-2 on Saturday with my wife, dad and sister.

The lasting image that will stay with me from the weekend was Joey Votto in that cool camouflage uniform, leaving another opponent in his wake.

One of the most entertaining games I’ve ever attended

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[Box Score]

First off, in this game there were six home runs hit. Five of them were by the Nationals.

Now that’s exciting, because most games you attend don’t feature six home runs in today’s game. Great American ballpark played like Great American. Even my wife said the game was exciting and made it through three hours and thirty minutes of baseball with a fair amount of whooping and hollering.

For a recap on the rest of the day and more photos, click through the jump.
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The Watch Report: Cincinnati Reds Opening Day

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Who had Chris Iannetta in the Opening Day hero pool?

[Angels 3, Reds 1]

This was actually my first Opening Day that I haven’t been in the stands in Cincinnati since Joe Randa and Adam Dunn went back to back to walk off the Mets back in 2005. That’s a lot of Opening Days that I strung together. I doubt I ever make it back to that many consecutive Opening Days. I’m satisfied with the streak I put together. I’ve seen some unbelievable openers in the Queen City. From Randa’s walk-off, to Ramon Hernandez’s walk-off grand slam, to last year’s Cueto masterpiece with Bruce’s moonshot to seal it shut.

Here’s some notes from today’s ballgame, which was a long one.

  • The Reds really didn’t hit all spring long, and they didn’t hit today. Jay Bruce wore a golden sombrero in the middle of the order. Joey Votto went 0 for 4 but at least drew a few walks.
  • Shin-Soo Choo had two hits and Todd Frazier had one. And that’s all the Reds offense tallied. There weren’t even any hard hit balls.
  • Of the Angels fearsome three, Mike Trout was the only one with a hit. Trout went 1 for 6, Pujols and Hamilton went 0 for 4.
  • Chris Iannetta was the hero in this one, hitting a solo home run and doubling in the top of the 13th inning with two outs off J.J. Hoover.
  • The Angels pen just earned this game, though I would give it to the lack of Reds hitting. After Jered Weaver exited, six Angels relievers combined for seven scoreless innings. Ernesto Frieri was the final one and he earned the save.
  • I’m not too upset with this game. The Angels are a World Series contender, and the Reds are going to hit at some point. It hurts that they’ll miss Ryan Ludwick for the better part of a month with separated shoulder.
  • How could I forget Johnny Cueto. I feel like for the last year and a half, if you’ve seen Cueto throw once you’ve seen the same solid, dependable game. I love the effort this guy always brings to the mound with him.

Here’s some running total stats from today’s game, and from my most recent watched game:

Home Runs: 1 (Chris Iannetta 1)
Strikeouts: 30
Runs: 4
Hits: 9
Errors: 4
Stolen bases: none
Official time watching baseball: 4 hours, 45 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 2
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): one half

EDIT: I watched about two innings out of the Rockies Brewers game today, I watched Chris Sale’s entire start on and off, and I watched about five innings out of the Phillies-Braves game today. I’m not going to count it, because my totals aren’t exact. And I’m honestly ready to abandon the 2000-Inning Quest after just a night and a day. It’s too damn tedious. But still I press onward to go where no idiot has ever gone before.

STATS during the 2000-Inning Quest:

Home Runs: 4
Bryce Harper home runs: 2
Strikeouts: 59
Runs: 16
Hits: 31
Errors: 5
Stolen bases: NONE
Official time watching baseball: 9 hours, 55 minutes
Times taking the dog out to pee: 6
Chores my wife asked me to do during (unofficial): .5
Innings left to go: 1,969