Tag Archives: Mat Latos

Sometimes you’re just proud of a player

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[Box Score]

It’s a funny thing. Jay Bruce is still our favorite player. Other guys might be more exciting, other guys are a more captivating watch, other guys are just plain better; and he’s not the superstar we were certain at points he would be. He’s a good player. But we’ve said it before, Jay Bruce is just our sentimental favorite. There’s no one that can take that place and hold it in baseball, no matter how low his batting average gets. No matter how inconsistent he remains. No matter when the end comes of him wearing a Reds uniform.

We couldn’t wait to get to the park to see him play today, just like that first magical night when he made his MLB debut. And then the next night when we went back. We talked with our wife about how Bruce has actually been with the Reds now for parts of SEVEN seasons! It seems like yesterday that we were watching Bruce in big league game numbers one and two. Today, was Bruce’s 899th big league game. It was the first game we’ve gone to with our pregnant wife. It seemed like when we started watching Jay Bruce we were still immature children. Life – and baseball – can blend time and be weird like that. Nonetheless I was excited to see Jay Bruce play today, just for some reason I had a feeling about something.

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We got out of our car and parked in a choice spot. The sun seemed to be shining on the Redlegs from the time we got out of the car, as it was a beautiful day for baseball. Was it foreshadowing that the sun would shine upon the Reds on this day?

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I told my wife that Yovani Gallardo was Jay Bruce’s ‘type’. That he could get one today off him. If you can fight through what my iPhone did to the Reds jumbotron here, you can see he had great career numbers against Gallardo. He would groundout for an RBI in his first at-bat, fly out against the wall in left-center in his second AB, and hit a rocket line out to center in his third. His fourth at-bat wouldn’t come against Gallardo, but rather Will Smith. And Jay Bruce won the Reds the game.

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Here’s a picture of the Reds Smokehouse out in the right field corner. The food options are a little pricey, but they feature really cool special menu items that change with each opposing team that comes to town. For the Brewers, they were serving beer-soaked bratwurst.

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I just realized the All-Star Selection show was tonight when I saw this advertisement for the All Star Game at the stadium. Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco are All Stars for the first time.

I would like you to remember back to the Reds season preview post we did for a moment. Here’s what we said:

Ryan Ludwick returns from injury. He’s really aging, so I don’t expect much. I think the Reds will get less than people want to see out of Ludwick and Cozart and they’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much Mesoraco and Todd Frazier hit. Frazier is one of my breakout player candidates in all of baseball. He has an ugly swing but I think he’s simply too talented to flop completely and that park will aid his numbers in a great way.

Bada-bing bada boom.

 

 

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We’re on our way to the game and I’m listening to Sirius MLB Network radio and Jim Bowden tells us that the Reds owner is in the clubhouse and something big is going down. Joey Votto was actually headed to the disabled list, again. So this is the only Votto sighting we had today.

Mat Latos went eight strong innings and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Todd Frazier had two hits and Devin Mesoraco had three. But the take-home from today was Jay Bruce.

On a day when baseball selected it’s All-Stars, Bruce wasn’t on the list. He has had better seasons, and he will certainly have better seasons. His stats are pretty and his teammates have dropped like flies all season around him, he’s even had knee surgery. But he’s continued to grind – because that’s the type of player he is. Even within the game today, he had to grind. He drilled a couple of balls right at people and just when it seemed he couldn’t buy a hit and the average is plummeting, he steps up in the bottom of the 8th inning and hits a towering home run off a lefty that made George Grande sing, voice cracking like a schoolgirl.

I’ll always love Jay Bruce. I have no way of knowing how many pages to the scrapbook I’ll be able to add to before the game has decided time has run out for us, but today was yet another. Our time has not come yet. I’m still really thankful Jay Bruce is playing in my big league city and hitting in the middle of the lineup. Sometimes, it’s easiest to love those who have their glaring imperfections because they’re like the rest of us. It’s easy to love Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera right now. These guy are the perfect ballplayers. We’ll still take Jay Bruce with his warts and these big moments that mean all that much more.

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

The Fire of Homer Bailey

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Last night Homer Bailey took the ball and 7 and 1/3 scoreless against the might and feared St. Louis Cardinals lineup. The Reds won the game 1-0 in a series that they have to find a way to win – a series that is arguably the most important the Reds have played all season. That’s two starts in a row that Bailey has taken the ball against St. Louis and shut them out, 14.1 innings in all. He struck out 15 and walked three in those two starts, displaying something no one talks about enough when talking about Bailey; a 5 to 1 K to BB ratio. Bailey can be inconsistent, but when he’s on he’s the best pitcher the Reds can put out there.

Bailey has taken the ball twice recently in “winning time” starts against the Cardinals; games the Reds really had to have, and delivered sparkling performances. His record now sits at 10-10, but this is going to end up the season that stands out at Bailey’s best on the back of his baseball card.

The stuff that Bailey displayed last night is why I roll him out there in a one-game playoff against the same Cardinals or the Pittsburgh Pirates. Any pitcher has the chance they could get lit. But if Bailey’s on, he’s the best option the Reds have. He seems to thrive the most in a big spotlight – think about the two no-hitters, think about the NLDS game three last year against the Giants at home (as much as it hurts), and think about the last two starts against the Cardinals.

Some may argue that Mat Latos is the Reds’ ace. It’s a close call and a good argument can be made for either guy. But in one game that I have to have if I’m the Reds – backs to the wall – I’m handing the ball to the country boy from Texas and seeing if David Dewitt Bailey brings it home.

It’s that time of the year where Jay Bruce says “Hop on my back boys, I’m going to carry you a while.”

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[Monday Night Box Score]
[Today's Tuesday Matinee Box Score]
[Bruce Home Run #23]
[Bruce Home Run #24]

Dan Straily and Bartolo Colon learned the hard way, when Jay Bruce decides he’s hot; it’s best just not to mess with him.

The Reds answered my notion that they were dead with two big wins at home over the Oakland A’s, and today on the radio Marty Brennaman brought up a good point. Maybe in this game of such a long season – you never are quite as good as you seem but things are never quite as bad as they seem either.

Bruce hit a big home run last night to the power alley in left center to get the Reds going in a 3-1 win. He also made a terrific running catch in the fourth inning to get Mat Latos out of trouble. Today he hit a two run homer and drove in three total and threw a runner out at home plate.

Bruce is carrying the Reds right now as he has so often through different points of this long and challenging season.

After a day off tomorrow the Reds welcome the Padres to Great American for the weekend with yet another chance to get hot and put their stamp on this 2013 chapter in the book of Cincinnati.

By the way, this was the second Simpsons match up lifetime. That’s right, today at GABP it was Homer vs. Bart just like six years ago (June 14th, 2007) when Colon and Homer Bailey faced off. In yet another piece of evidence that baseball just repeats its own history, neither pitcher has been very sharp when they’ve faced off, like in today’s game.

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.

Reds Respond with a Huge Saturday Night Win over Cardinals

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[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.

Cincinnati Reds 2013 Team Preview

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If you want me to be 100% honest, I thought it was the Reds year last year. I truly thought after they won the first two games of the NLDS in San Francisco that this team was headed to the World Series. The Reds were going to do one better than my prediction I made before the season of just reaching the NLCS; they were actually going to win the NL pennant and give themselves a shot at the first Cincinnati World Title since 1990 when I was eight years old.

The Reds completely broke my heart when they collapsed. Truth be told, I’m still not recovered from it. While I’m excited for  baseball season, I don’t necessarily think that this team in this window will ever be any better positioned to win it all. You can tell me that I’m wrong, and you can tell me that they’re better for the experience they gained and all that. My opinion is the Reds missed a golden opportunity to win it all last year and will never have a better opportunity.

The American League as a whole was suspect last season and I knew at the time that the hot team from the National League would probably win it. At first glance that team looked to be the Reds. Then Johnny Cueto got hurt. Then the Reds couldn’t make a few plays when Homer Bailey threw the gem that should have ended the series. Then the Reds had to throw Leake and throw away game four. Then in game five, Buster Posey drove a stake in my heart that will never be removed.

With that, I decided that I’ll never again believe it’s going to happen until the moment actually arrives. I am forever skeptical; forever jaded. There is no such thing as ‘we’re going to win the whole damn thing’ before we do it as I declared last year on Opening Day. Not this year. You have to prove it to me now.

Major Off-Season Moves:

  • Signed Jack Hannahan
  • Traded for Shin-Soo Choo
  • Re-signed Ryan Ludwick
  • Re-signed Jonathan Broxton
  • Re-signed Manager Dusty Baker

I know this team so well it’s scary sometimes. When I wake up in the morning during the season and the Reds have a game on their schedule, I know if they’re going to win or lose 95% of the time before the game is even played. I still watch and see the results play out. But at the end of things when the final out is recorded, I usually had a pulse of how things were going to go. My wife sometimes asks me why I don’t just smell the roses when following this team. Why don’t I just enjoy things a little bit more? I wish it were that easy. When this much passion gets involved; when you want something so badly, you can’t help but expect the zenith.

I want that damn trophy at the end of the year. There’s no reason that this group in this era shouldn’t win a title. They’re as good as anyone in the league right now. Everyone has their breaks, their weak spots, their bad luck; it’s time to go out and get it done. Anything less is considered an absolute failure. And if and when that happens I can’t help but be completely exasperated, usually after an emotional explosion.

Here’s a look at yours and my 2013 Cincinnati Reds after the jump. Continue reading

Yes, You Choked; Yes, I’m Still Proud of You

This was the toughest loss I’ve ever had to swallow in baseball; or in sports.

For as long as I live, I’ll never forget this. I’ll never get over it. It will never be easier to accept. It will always sting. It now exists as a spot place-marked forever in my life; an irreversible eternity. Never again in my life will I allow myself to think “hey, we might really have a shot to win the whole damn thing”. Not after this. If this team couldn’t do it, I’ll never be sold again.

The Reds made the kind of history you do not want to make yesterday afternoon in Cincinnati in losing 6-4 to the San Francisco Giants.

Sometimes in loss we learn the most about ourselves.

I have never in my life seen a team scratch, claw, and fight with such life or death desperation as the Reds did after getting down 6-0 yesterday. The image that will forever stick with me yesterday was Ryan Hanigan immediately when Buster Posey connected with his grand slam home run. Don’t watch Latos. Don’t watch the crowd behind him. Don’t look at the hitter or the ball’s flight. Watch Hanigan.

I have never seen a catcher react that way to a ball in play in all my years watching the game. Hanigan turns in immediate pain, anguish, and disgust and swings his arm in angst. He knows when Posey connects that it was the kill shot. The Reds at that moment probably knew they were dead. But like a cowboy in an old Western whose gut-shot, they kept shooting until they drew their last breath.

For instance; when Jay Bruce got down 0-2 in the ninth inning, he decides that even in defeat; he’s going to make the Giants closer earn it.

What ensues after Bruce gets down 0-2 in the last frame of the game and the Reds down to their final two outs of the season, was one of the gutsiest things I’ve ever seen in watching sports my entire life.

Bruce proceeds to battle Sergio Romo for 12 pitches in total as if he’s battling a damn lion or dragon. He stubbornly fouls off pitch after pitch, laying off many off-speed pitches that have long been to Bruce’s liking. As the at-bat wears onward, you realize Bruce is doing more than just trying to come up with a big swing that will result in a 3-run homer. He’s battling for himself, for his teammates, for all of us fans, and for what might have been his manager’s swansong. I don’t know what Bruce was thinking during the course of that at-bat where the Giants continually stayed away from his big time power to right field. I can only think he knew he owed it to everyone who hadn’t lost hope.

Bruce eventually flies out to right field, and the Reds came up short. But I had chills for much of that at-bat. It was a moment based on sheer will and determination. It was what baseball was all about. One man competing against another, knowing his probable fate but refusing to just roll over and die.

Forever etched in our memories is something different. I will never forget the hurt of this series collapse, but I’ll always know that the team I rooted the hardest for and held the closest to my heart fought like Hell for a different outcome, even when it would have been easiest to quit.

Like often the man who spends his days writing about them and living and dying with them, they just came up tragically short.

Slaying the Giant Once and For All

Cincinnati: All the scores I’ll never settle, all the debts I can’t repay, all my ghosts await me here.

This post was supposed to be about my team and maybe your team and how they were choking it all away. It was supposed to be about how tomorrow I would go into work depressed and worried. And then slumber home to my couch to see the Reds squander away things in historic fashion.

Instead, I’m getting up tomorrow and using the power of my mind to focus on positive thought. The sun will rise tomorrow, and I believe it will shine just a little bit brighter upon the Reds. And I hope this post, more than any I’ve written before brings positive karma from all things and to all things surrounding the Cincinnati Reds.

What works out to be a legacy game for Dusty Baker in a Reds uniform also will work it’s way into the connected career vines of the names that dot this roster. Legacies will gain some of their definition tomorrow. That’s a certainty. And that’s why I have to say I was there at game five in 2012. That’s why I have to see it with my own eyes. It might be to say goodbye and it might be to celebrate it. But I have to finish what I started back on what ended up the most magical Opening Day in Cincinnati that I’ve ever been a part of. I have to see this thing through. It’s the only way.

Too many times in my life I’ve just talked myself out of going for it. I’m going for it tomorrow. Even if it’s by myself. I’ll be in the stands. And I’ll be rooting with everything I have inside me for Dusty and the boys. Because I do love them. Because they are family.

Tomorrow morning I’ll set foot down in the Queen City, and I’ll try to summon the ghosts of many nights and many friends gone by. And I’ll try and reflect on all the intrinsic value that is in that town for me surrounding that team dating back to when I was just a kid listening to 700 while I fell asleep at night. I’ve been waiting for tomorrow since I was just a little kid with so many big dreams.

Cain. Latos. For all the marbles. One last time. Someone draws their last breath. On an October 11th day in 2012 at 1300 hours, someone’s fate gets decided forever. I want to say I was part of it, regardless of how the end of the chapter will read.

Cincinnati Reds win their first postseason game in 17 years

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [ESPN SweetSpot] [HardballTalk] [Lance Mcalister] [The Splash] [Giants Extra]

Someone pinch me, I’m dreaming.

Did my team really just beat Matt Cain on the road out west after losing Johnny Cueto (the ace of the staff) after he recorded just one out? I have to be dreaming. This has happened to me a million times. I wake up, and it all goes away. After all, it has been 6,210 days since the Reds franchise won a postseason game (1995 against the Dodgers for those wondering).

Brandon Phillips was balling out of his mind last night. He got scoring started with a two-run home run to left field. He made a few barehand plays. He made an unreal back up play over at first base on a bunt single that kept the runner on first. He singled home an insurance run. Thank you for playing this way DatDude.

Jay Bruce continued his postseason hitting success.

Matt Cain was cruising through the first four hitters in the Reds lineup when Bruce doubled down the right field line for the Reds first hit. There would be no perfect game in this one against the Reds.

And then there was Bruce’s home run into a spot of AT&T Park where home runs aren’t typically hit:

Not sure I’ve ever gone more nuts when a couple of home runs left the yard than when I did for Phillips and Bruce going deep.

There were just so many efforts that contributed to this game. There was no one story. It was a gritty team effort comprised of Bruce, Phillips, Mat Latos, Sam LeCure (getting five outs as a pinch-hit reliever), and the Reds bullpen working out of tight spots late in the game that had me holding my breath.

The first domino has fallen, and the Reds need just ten more wins to claim a World Series title and six more to reach the fall classic. Last night was another memorable, improbable, and high-character moment from a team that has already provided a full season’s worth of them.

The 2012 Cincinnati Reds: Champions of the Central Again

The 2012 Cincinnati Reds have partially fulfilled a destiny.

In yesterday’s 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mat Latos threw eight dominant shutout innings. Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips homered. Bruce’s 34th home run of the season was a matter of tradition; he’s homered each time the Reds have clinched a division title.

I sat in the farthest reaches of the upper deck at Great American that October night back in 2010 when the Reds were eliminated from the playoffs, and I told my wife that this group of Reds would be back. I had a strong feeling that the Reds were going to miss the playoffs entirely in 2011 and serve as a monumental disappointment around baseball. Check. I also told her that 2012 was the year. I told her that night that I had a vision of them storming back to make a run for the World Series in 2012.

Here we are.

In all of my life, no matter how long I live; I’ll never forget the 2012 Cincinnati Reds. This is both the most talented, and the most memorable group of Reds that have taken the field since I was nine years old.

I’ve never felt more proud to call a team ‘mine’.

A baseball season is such a weird thing. Compiled of so many highs and lows that serve as mere radar blip snapshots, it’s kind of hard to really know where a team sends until the cement has hardened and the final game has been played. But from the opening gun this year I knew that this team was good. Really good. I never panicked. Not one time did I ever doubt that this would be the outcome. I knew back in May that this team was going to outgun a loaded Cardinals lineup and find a way to win the division by double digits. I knew that a much higher prize should be the idea and that the division title should be table stakes for a roster that’s so talented. Sure, some of it was that vision that came to be back in 2010 (and even before the 2010 season I felt 2012 was the year this team was truly built for). But this team responded to so many things with so many different heroes each night, they never allowed you to doubt them for long.

Hold this moment in your heart if you’re a die hard baseball fan that loves the Reds. I feel that this is what sports are all about. Winning titles are the pantheon of why the games are played. But I’ve said before that Midas’ gold for the sports fan is in the climb. The struggle. The battle. The uncertainty. It’s in the grind that it takes to reach a title. That’s what defines greatness in players, teams and sports.

Reds fans have endured, and now it’s time to indulge. Take a few days, enjoy the fall air and know that a new season is about to begin. The final chapter for this group has not been written and I believe that a great destiny awaits them. Dusty phoned in his post-clinch lineup card.

Sit back, catch your breath, and get ready for a memorable and drama-filled ride that you’re never going to forget. Let’s go after that number one seed.

And thank you, 2012 Reds. I’ll never forget you.

Big Folly Caps Off Up and Down Weekend

The whole weekend got off to the wrong foot when I got home Friday evening and the power was out. The Reds were coming off a lifeless 5-0 loss on Thursday night. It was around 95 degrees, and all I wanted to do was have a quiet and boring night in watching baseball (what else is new?). My wife and I had dinner, figuring that we would return home to air conditioning and some semblance of power. Instead, both of our phones died while we were out and when I returned and charged mine I got a text from a friend who lives nearby saying that it could be a week before power was restored.

Even though it was after 10 PM, it was still between 90 and 95 degrees. My wife went to bed in a salty mood. I climbed in my truck and began charging my phone, with Marty and Cowboy streaming through the MLB At Bat app. When I got my phone half charged I came in and collapsed on the couch. I fell asleep listening to baseball for one of the first times since I was a little kid. Jay Bruce went 4 for 4 off Matt Cain. The Reds won 5-1. It was only Friday night. Hopefully when I awoke the power would be back on and we could get on with our lives.

It wasn’t. At least not initially. Mat Latos threw a gem though and the Reds were rolling again. All was right with the baseball world. And then my wife made me go see Magic Mike in the theater. As much as I love Boogie Nights (all-time top five movie for me), this was no Boogie Nights. Though my buddy and I got a few laughs out of the Kevin Nash cameo, the highpoint ended there.

And then Sunday. Power restored, life is once again whole. The Reds need a win to take 3 out of 4 to begin a brutal West Coast road trip. As usual, it was a complete struggle and we would learn that it was entirely not meant to be. The Reds struggled and slumbered around all day long, only to tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the ninth. Of course, they loaded the bases with no outs and only got one run out of it. And of course, the Giants had something for them in the bottom half of the frame.

Fly ball to right field, and Jay Bruce misplays it. After a clutch single in the top of the 9th to begin the rally and scoring the game’s tying run, Bruce gifted the Giants a walk-off win. It reminded me a lot of NLDS game 2 back in 2010. Nothing else really makes sense other than Bruce was thinking about the moment and what was at stake rather than a routine that he’s performed thousands of times in his life. The moment became too big for him. I’m still riding with Jay Bruce for his whole career. No matter how much he frustrates or runs cold or looks like he’ll never hit again; he’s our guy.

About 98% of people who watch from their couch have never had to make a play on a ball like Bruce had to with the game on the line. It’s really hard. Whether he’s a professional or not I know exactly what happened there, at least I feel like I do.

You can watch the heartbreaking ending of yesterday’s game unfold here. Or don’t. I hate how the Reds do this to me.

Chapmania has reached a Fever Pitch in Cincinnati

I turned on 700 WLW last night and heard the roar of what sounded like a postseason crowd. It was the 9th inning, and Aroldis Chapman had just finished mowing down Jason Heyward on a 100 MPH fastball. The Braves didn’t have a chance in the final frame. Everyone should have headed back to the hotels about a half hour earlier than when things officially got broken up. Baseball could start saving teams the trouble and the time of having to face the best power lefty I’ve seen in my lifetime.

The Reds won the game 4-3. Matt Latos was pretty solid. Brandon Phillips homered a couple of times. Baseball Tonight said that now that the Reds had things ‘straightened out’ they were going to win the NL Central by double-digits this season.

I don’t know about that, but I hope everyone out there is truly enjoying what Aroldis Chapman has done to date. All day I’ve wondered whether or not I should post the actual numbers, but I’m a superstitious guy. I want Chapman to keep rolling. So do you. Let’s not jinx anything and just leave it at this: the guy hasn’t allowed a damn run yet.

Joey Votto has just been Votto-like solid. Jay Bruce is again struggling. We’re all waiting on Brandon Phillips to get hot. But Chapman has truly arrived. As you look around baseball, no one has was a weapon this dominant. And he’s a Cincinnati Red for the foreseeable future, to have and to hold. To do whatever we want with.

Sit back and watch him mow down big leaguers like they’re helpless next time he climbs the hill. In all my years of baseball, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. It could be a summer of records for Chapman, and I think everyone will remember spring 2012 as when this dominant figure in the game arrived for good and set down his luggage.

Game 17, 2012: This is the Mat Latos We Were Searching For

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Bay City Ball] [Mercury News] [The Splash]

Now this is the Mat Latos we traded for.

If the Reds get this Latos to show up more often than not this season, it’s pretty self-explanatory what’s going to happen. The Reds can be a monster.

I didn’t think the Reds had a chance in Hell last night when I saw Matt Cain was pitching.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/DiamondHoggers/status/194804991859499009"]

But I was wrong. I felt like the Reds had three key at-bats in the bottom of the first-inning that were game altering. Zach Cozart opened the game up with a 10-pitch showdown against Cain, and although he flew out to short; the Reds had opened up Cain for head shots with a few nice early body blows from their lead-off hitter. I’ll say it again, these are the type of at-bats that win you ballgames at the onset.

Drew Stubbs doubled, and after Joey Votto struck out Brandon Phillips had another battling type at-bat that resulted in a two-run home run. The Reds were off to the races and a bonus came later in the inning because Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen got Matt Cain to throw even more pitches.

It’s impossible to get these professional at-bats game in and game out. But picked a good pitcher to do this against. You don’t need these kind of at-bats to beat the Barry Zito’s of the world or the Randy Wells’. Matt Cain doesn’t make that first inning mistake to Phillips that landed in the Cincinnati bullpen unless you grind on him like the Reds did. Notice that he settled in and was basically unscathed for the rest of his outing.

The Reds great perseverance in their at-bats also still called for a couple of big pitches by Mat Latos. With the bases juiced, he lured the red-hot Nate Schierholtz to ground out with the bases loaded. That opened the door for the Reds to shoot up the San Francisco Giants like the Alamo.

Great start to a homestand.

Highlights:

Bark in the Park last night in Cincinnati – (Sorry we didn’t make it this time, Bentley)

Phillips two-run home run

Bruce bases-loaded double

Retaliation for Votto being plunked?

Latos’ strong outing