Tag Archives: Kyle Lohse

Wild Card Friday (& Predictions)

For the first time in the history of this blog (and the sport in general), the postseason kicks off with two Wildcard teams playing a one game play-in the day before the real deal gets going.

National League: St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves

The last time Fredi Gonzalez was in this situation, he didn’t fare so well. He’s not a good manager, and his immensely talented team has brought him back for a chance at redemption despite his attempts to sabotage them all. It’s a testament to the winning culture in Atlanta, and the fact that they want to send their strong leader Chipper Jones out as he deserves; a winner.

The Cardinals had enough magic last season to last them a lifetime. If you were like us, you waited all season long for a Cardinals run that never really came. We have no doubts that the Cardinals will have some great runs in the future under Mike Matheny, and this season was a nice start to his managerial career. But these Cardinals are not made with the same ingredients that made them great at this time last year. They just aren’t.

They’ve still got the ability to score and knock down fences with the best of them, but there’s some smoke and mirrors within their starting rotation. Adam Wainwright has a lot of mileage on his arm, Chris Carpenter missed most of the season, and the wildcard game starter Kyle Lohse had a career year that seems to be an anomaly more than a constant.

The baseball gods will allow the Braves to extract some sweet revenge on the team that stole their spot like a thief in the night a year ago. Fredi and the Braves will win tomorrow night in Atlanta and give Chipper Jones one final crack at a ring that has eluded him since 1995. The Cardinals season ends tomorrow.

Prediction: Braves over Cardinals

American League: Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers

My goodness we love Ron Washington. His speech to his troops before World Series game seven last postseason is the thing that legends are made of. And how about those tricky Orioles? Who in their right mind had Buck Showalter and the Orioles here at this point? No one. Not a damn person outside the Baltimore fan base, and if you try to tell me otherwise you’re lying.

The Orioles have strung together a rag-tag bunch that includes Mark Reynolds, Robert Andino, Nate McLouth, and Chris Davis. Of course they’ll go to the Hellhouse that is the Ballpark in Arlington, to face all of those terrifying hitters and F-bomb dropping Ron Washington and they’ll start a pitcher (Joe Saunders) who I would consider waiver wire garbage. Were they trolling late-night for catfish the night that they found Saunders? He started seven games for the Orioles this season. They haven’t a season like this since I was still searching for my first kiss. And they’re going to let Joe Saunders decide their season? This is who you throw out there to decide the biggest game this team has played in decades? That’s TV I’ve got to see.

But you know what? The baseball gods are a funny thing.

Here are teams on the opposite side of the spectrum. One team is littered with superstars, while the other just appears littered. The Rangers will throw their high-dollar import special Yu Darvish to oppose Saunders. The Rangers have about as much postseason experience up and down the roster as anyone in the field this year. The Orioles have little to none.

Everyone in the world will pick the Rangers tomorrow night. It would probably make sense to do the same. But something in my gut tells me that this Texas team has learned the just how long and impossible the journey seems. They’re jaded. They dropped the World Series two years ago. Last year they climbed back up that tall hill only to see it slip away in the most gut-wrenching fashion possible in sports. If that wasn’t enough to kill the spirits of this team, getting caught by the Oakland Athletics and losing the division title after leading the way for 99% of the season has destroyed this team’s inner conscious. I’m telling you that they’re mentally cooked.

Look back at the other side now, those tricky Orioles. They don’t know what they’re about to embark upon. They haven’t been here. They can say ‘who gives a shit, the whole damn season has been crazy anyways’. They have been starting Mark Reynolds the last few seasons. What do they care? Here’s a situation where I think lack of experience helps a team. In this one game scenario, they can catch some lightning in a bottle because they aren’t able to fully grasp the moment. All the pressure in the world is on our beloved Ron Washington and his Cocaine Cowboys of the West.

Most of all, in this life when everything seems so certain; it isn’t at all. Go the other way with the pick that everyone will go one way with. When they zig, you zag.

Prediction: Orioles over Rangers

Game 38, 2011: Reds 6, Cardinals 5

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

I went to last night’s game with my boy from work, T.J. who is a pretty big Cardinals fan. We saw a great game that might be a season-changing win for the Cincinnati Reds. It was the type of game where they just kept coming back, and coming back, and grinding until they reached their final goal. When Joey Votto singled Chris Heisey in to home plate in the 10th inning, the entire team stormed the field and was genuinely pumped. It was a team victory earned that they probably had no business in getting. Teams like the Cardinals–true first place teams–don’t blow leads like the one they let slip away last night.

Kyle Lohse was throwing a pretty good game and the Cardinals were stringing together hits off Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake. Then for some reason, the Cardinals pulled Lohse maybe an inning or a few hitters too early in favor of Miguel Batista. When they did this, I told my buddy that I thought if the Reds were going to get to one guy in the Cardinals bullpen, it was going to be Batista. I was right.

I have to hand it to the Cincinnati crowd last night. This was the loudest that I’ve ever heard it save for last year’s postseason game against the Philadelphia Phillies. The rally towels were handed out to everyone in attendance before the game, and while it took the Reds about half the game to get the crowd into it, they had a 10th man last night in the form of their home fans. The crowd was great. It was a playoff atmosphere. And despite not being a sell out crowd, they got loud and got behind the Reds and most of the crowd hung around until the conclusion of this one. It wasn’t without it’s big moments to reward them.

Brandon Phillips had a nice ballgame last night. The box score only will show two of his hits and an RBI, but he had good at-bats, made great plays in the field all night and generally was the driving force in the middle of the Reds lineup aside from Votto. You get the feeling that BP just loves these games against the Cardinals. This is truly one of the most fun guys to watch that the Reds have ever had in my lifetime. My love affair with Phillips is at an all-time high right now. I have a feeling he’ll go yard today on FOX Saturday baseball.

Then there’s the MVP Joey Votto. He got his MVP chants. He had great at-bats all night long, grinding against one Cardinals pitcher after another. He doubled off the wall, moved a runner over in a critical spot in the game, and of course had the game winning death blow that he delivered to the Cards in the 10th.

Here’s an advertisement at random that made me want to eat a cheeseburger.

Jay Bruce had a single, a run, and an RBI and just narrowly missed hitting a ball out to left center field. He was being intentionally walked in this at-bat.

This was the first time I’ve gotten to see Eduardo Sanchez live and in the flesh. He was throwing 92-94 MPH and was all over the place. By the time he settled in, he had walked Edgar Renteria and allowed him to score in blowing his first save. The guy has big time talent and I’m glad I got to see him pitch against the Reds. It made the rally even sweeter.

Now the Diamond Hoggers song of the game:

Keep it a Rivalry

The Cardinals are in town and whenever the Reds and Cardinals get together, it’s an important couple of games. Anytime they play, it’s a big series. Right now, the Cardinals are the hunted and the Reds are the hunter. It looks like St. Louis is going to be punching back a little bit more than we all anticipated when this season began.

Tonight I’m heading down to the park with good buddy from work. There aren’t many games at my age that you are excited to go and see, but legitimately; I cannot wait to watch these next three games.

The last time I was in Cincinnati to see Reds/Cardinals was about a year ago (tomorrow it will be one year) and the Cardinals hung on for their only win of the series. The guy I’m going to the game with from work tonight is a Cardinals fan; so hopefully I get in two good hours of ribbing on him on the way home.

With Kyle Lohse and Bunny Arroyo on the bump tonight, I think we could see some bombs leave the yard. Should be mind kind of ballgame.

ESPN SweetSpot had a really nice write-up on the Reds rotation today. Check it out for some good pre-game reading.