Tag Archives: Scott Rolen

Talk Me Down From The Ledge

Last night was as it should have been. Homer Bailey was as dominant as a pitcher has ever been in the postseason.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, last night Homer Bailey became only the fourth pitcher in Major League Postseason history to allow 1 or fewer hits while striking out least 10 batters and throwing at least 7.0 innings…he joins Bal’s Mike Mussina (1997 ALCS vs Cle, 8ip, 1h, 10k), NYY’s Orlando Hernandez (1999 World Series vs Atl, 7ip, 1h, 10k) and NYY’s Roger Clemens (2000 ALCS vs Sea, 9ip, 1h, 15k).

Yet, the Reds drop this one 2-1 in 10 innings in front of the second largest crowd ever on hand at Great American Ballpark. Today, it’s Mike Leake pitching the biggest game of the Reds’ season. Johnny Cueto is done for the NLDS and the NLCS. Just terrific.

If the Reds bats awaken, they’ll move on to the NLCS. If they don’t, we’re going to lose this series in five game in a national embarrassment. If I’m completely honest with everyone that reads this blog; I’m not really satisfied with simply getting to the NLDS and winning a few playoff games. I want this damn series. I don’t care that Johnny Cueto and the team was dealt a really poor hand–and that’s what it was. When Homer Bailey pitches his ass off for you in an effort to keep you free from a lot of headaches, get more than four hits (three of which came in the first inning of the ballgame).

I now have a rotten feeling in my core I can’t seem to shake. That’s my thoughts on this early afternoon of what will be game four of the NLDS between the Giants and the Reds.

Reds Weekend Sweep the Cardinals in Cincinnati

[Box Score]

[Hal McCoy] [Cincinnati.com]

What a weekend.

On the weekend that my best friend tied the knot (the Reds lost to the Cardinals on my big day), the Reds swept the Cardinals and reclaimed sole possession of first place in the NL Central standings. They played on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball last night. It’s the first time it’s been in Cincinnati in a very long time. Last night was about as large as a July ballgame gets. The Reds showed the nation that pitching, defense, and timely hitting are the best ways to build something special.

I think Friday and Saturday night’s games were additional evidence in this. I didn’t realize that the Reds basically have the finest defense in baseball. The starting pitching and bullpen have been phenomenal. It’s the hitting that has ran pretty hot-cold. And if you’re going to have one ingredient that is going to waiver with your ball club, I think you should want it to be the hitting. Everyone slumps. If you can keep pitching and defense from going into slumps you can manufacture enough runs to win. Especially in Great American Ball Park.

The Reds hitting will come around. I remember so many weekends where it wasn’t even fathomable to sweep the high and mighty St. Louis Cardinals. To even go into Sunday with a chance of a sweep was like playing in the Super Bowl. Last night, I expected the win. I knew Homer Bailey would pitch his ass off.

The Reds are going to win the division this year. They’re going to go to the NLCS. Believe it. Know it. Times might get ugly, but more often than not they’ll find a way (it doesn’t get much uglier than Scott Rolen winning one for you with an opposite field single).

This is the team that you waited since 1990 and 1995 for Cincinnati. Try to soak it in.

Josh Willingham’s Sobering Sunday Swing

So much can change with one moment. An entire season’s emotion can be directed in just one week. With Josh Willingham’s soul-crushing bomb off Aroldis Chapman yesterday (a 4-3 loss), the Reds dropped five of six contests this past week. I think for the first time I’ve started to question my beliefs in the 2012 Reds, if only just a little bit.

Baseball really has a way of sobering you. This was supposed to be a series that really got the Reds back on track. I saw the club exploding for offense at home against the patchwork Twins pitching staff. A sweep could easily have been hoped for but at worst I saw the Reds taking two of three and heading into another home series against the Brewers beginning today.

The Baseball Gods had other ideas.

What seems to be both funny and ironic about Willingham destroying a Chapman pitch into the seats is there’s probably no other guy around baseball that should be wearing a Reds uniform than Willingham. The Reds bypassed him in the off-season, allowing him to sign with a non-contender in Minnesota. He and Jay Bruce share the same agent, Sosnick & Cobbe. Tell me right now that Josh Willingham couldn’t have fit in beautifully in this current Reds lineup playing the outfield.

Instead, he stepped to the plate on Sunday to play the part of Darth Vader in baseball cleats. No one should have been shocked. And perhaps my cocky and invincible feelings about this Reds team were based too much off high-running emotions when things were going well.

A Major League baseball season is so much like life. While there are both high and low moments it’s important to never feel too comfortable. You never want to feel like too much is guaranteed or certain until you’re sure you’ve reached the end. Right now, I’ll admit that I don’t know what is going to happen with these Reds and while all along I’ve promised anyone who will listen that the Reds are going to the postseason, the truth is right now I really don’t know.

Dusty Baker is making managerial moves like he would like to be terminated. I walked into my house Friday night just in time to see Scott Rolen held at third base rather than scoring. I quickly received a barrage of text messages from friends watching the game berating Dusty’s lack of forethought to pinch run for the aging Rolen. That move cost us that game.

Don’t be surprised if the Reds get back on track tonight with a big win. It’s the way things go. But if they don’t, more doubt starts to creep in. If the Reds don’t deliver this season, they’ll waste the finest season of Joey Votto’s career just as they wasted an incredibly clutch two-run home run that should have went down as the game winner yesterday.

We can’t make time speed up so we can know how each chapter end. We just have to patiently see how it all plays out, with the characters taking on a different role in the novel each week and each night. As we ride along with them, it’s important to never allow ourselves to get too high. We can’t control anything, despite what outcomes we wish for.

Game 24, 2012: Cubs fail to play for 27 outs

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Mark Sheldon]

Frustrate you as they may, and they were frustrating for eight long innings with Ryan Dempster on the hill; there’s one thing you can say about the Reds. This group will force you to play for 27 outs, and if you don’t they’ll send you home losers.

The Reds entered the ninth inning trailing by a score of 3-0. They had just three hits on the day until that point. And then Carlos Marmol gave them the air supply they desperately needed.

He walked Willie Harris to lead off the ninth, which was a bad idea since Harris hasn’t collected a base-hit all season thus far. Joey Votto followed with a walk of his own. Brandon Phillips hit a ground ball to Ian Stewart, and the usually sound defense of the Cubs imploded. Stewart booted the ball and Harris scored. Jay Bruce followed with a sharp single. Ryan Ludwick walked to make it 3-2. Devin Mesoraco hit into a double play but the game was tied at 3-3.

The Reds found a way to win it in the 10th on a sacrifice fly by Scott Rolen that scored Zach Cozart. What should have been a 4-4 homestand became a 5-3 homestand. The Reds were back to .500 and the Cardinals which gave them renewed life.

The Reds knack for the comeback just might be their best quality. They had absolutely nothing yesterday and they still found a way to beat the opposition.

Highlights:

Homer Bailey’s 4th quality start in five outings

Starlin Castro’s first dinger of the year

Zach Cozart’s great diving stop

Rolen’s sac-fly to win it

Potpourri:

  • This was the first time in MLB history that two starting pitchers shared a birthday on the day of the game started. Bailey is now 26, while Dempter is 35.
  • I’m now getting old enough that I can remember games a full decade ago. Ten years ago to the day the Reds lost a game 6-1 in San Francisco. Their lineup went Larkin, Juan Encarnacion, Sean Casey, Dunn, Aaron Boone, Todd Walker, Austin Kearns, Corky Miller, and Jose Rijo started on the mound.
  • A decade ago to the day, Adam Dunn had 25 career home runs. Dunn now has 372 as of last evening, including this monster home run last night off Cleveland’s Dan Wheeler.

Game 20, 2012: Reds Spirited comeback Falls Short

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Redleg Nation] [Better Off Red] [Crawfish Boxes] [Houston Chronicle] [Hal McCoy]

This was one of those rare games of which I did not see a single pitch. We had an NFL Draft party at our house, and when I got the alert on my iPhone that the Reds were down 6-0, I didn’t even bother flipping the game over to check the score.

This team is just flat-out not getting it done right now. There’s no mixing words and no other way to describe it. Mike Leake came out and got hammered around the yard again.

The Reds fought back with a spirited abandon. And I got several text messages about Scott Rolen hitting four balls directly on the screws and going 0 for 4. The comeback died in the 9th, but I think the four unanswered (along with what sounds like it could have been a lot more) bode well for us heading into the weekend.

Wandy Rodriguez continued what has been a career of success against the Reds. Six innings, two earned runs, six strikeouts. He’s got two wins and a 1.72 ERA now. And the Reds are just a game ahead of the putrid Astros.

I’m not fully blaming Dusty Baker–even though he says and does stupid things–but the Reds have got to show some response here soon and play hard for the guy. This is more of what we saw last year. And what is Baker doing hitting Jay Bruce 7th in this lineup? I don’t care if it’s a left-handed pitcher. It’s stupidity. Bruce has OPS’d almost at as high of a clip against southpaws. This is a manager not reviewing his data closely enough.

We’re headed to the ballpark today, and I am very confident we’ll see a win and the Reds will close out this series with two in a row over Houston. I’ve never been more sure in fact. Johnny Cueto is on the bump, and the Astros oppose with a guy I think the Reds will absolutely eat alive.

Highlights:

Wandy Rodriguez continues his mastery of the Reds

Todd Frazier RBI triple

Jay Bruce homers (5) to center field in the 9th inning

Devin Mesoraco goes back-to-back

Game 3, 2012: Reds Rise From the Dead on Easter Sunday

Jay Bruce got one off Heath Bell to tie the game at 5-5, bottom of the 9th.

[Box Score]

Cincinnati.com | Mark Sheldon | Redleg Nation | Red Reporter

This was the type of win that builds chemistry when the season is still young. It was a huge victory for the Reds, pushing the Marlins out of town when they should have lost the opening series of the season.

I returned from Easter brunch in time to see Jay Bruce hit his game tying opposite field home run off Heath Bell. Drew Stubbs added an infield single. The Reds started to pile on the pressure on Bell and the Marlins. Hanigan singled to the opposite field and Stubbs advanced to third.

I was never really concerned with this bunch. Even if they had lost today, I’m not concerned. If they lose five games in a row after this–I still have a relaxed sense that at some point the wins are coming. And when Scott Rolen pinch hit and drove a ball hard to third base, Jose Reyes couldn’t field it cleanly. Stubbs scampered home, and the Reds had themselves against a quality opponent.

Marlins exit stage left–they took a nice piece of us last night–but we let Mike Stanton come to town and didn’t surrender any bombs. Statement win on Opening Day followed by letdown loss and finished up with a character and chemistry building win on Easter Sunday.

How about Jay Bruce? He’s never gotten off to a start like this. To see him using all of the field and put a swing on a Bell fast ball on the outer half like he did was no accident–whereas last season when Bruce went the other way with a pitch it looked forced or by mistake. Bruce hit a ball that got caught in the jet stream. The swing looked a little bit like Joey Votto off first glace. The Reds don’t win today without Bruce’s game-tying blast.

Pats on the back go to Zach Cozart, Aroldis Chapman (nice ‘W’ in two scoreless innings of relief), and DatDudeBP for his 1000th hit as a Cincinnati Red.

Bring on the damn Cardinals tomorrow night and let’s get this rivalry going again. We’re going to put a whuppin’ on that ass.

Highlights:

Bruce’s 2nd home run of the season

Bruce’s game-tying shot off Heath Bell in the 9th

Rolen drives in the game-winning run

10 Bold Predictions for 2012: The Cincinnati Reds make the NLCS

As part of our preview for the upcoming 2012 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2012 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our fifth installment of this prediction series is that the Cincinnati Reds are one of two NLCS representatives in 2012.

There’s people out there that won’t want to believe me–but my wife will serve as my witness on this (she would NEVER lie for me). I have been talking about the 2012 Cincinnati Reds making a possible World Series run for several years now.

The night my wife will remember me saying it was when the outs were starting to melt away in that NLDS game three versus the Phillies back in 2010. As I sat there in the last row of the stadium with her, I said “we’re really going to get swept. It’s really going to end like this”. I was right. The Reds got shutout by Cole Hamels on a night when he had his best stuff. But I made a prediction I have felt so strongly about for so long.

“Mark my words, this team will be back. They’ll miss out on the playoffs in 2011 and then they’re going to come roaring back and go after the whole thing in 2012. That’s been the year all along: 2012″.

Now, because she’s a woman and things like that aren’t important to her she wouldn’t be able to recite my exact prediction. But she can attest to the fact that her husband has never felt more strongly about something happening in sports than the Cincinnati Reds impending 2012 run to the World Series. This is because I’ve also reminded her countless times over the last year.

And I’ve hedged my prediction some. I don’t think they’re going to the World Series. Our season predictions won’t go up until next week on this site but I still don’t fully know who this mystery opponent who will knock off the Reds in the 2012 NLCS will even be yet. But someone’s knocking them off. All I know is they’re going to get that far, and they’re not going to make the World Series. And I feel like it’s going to be in six games that the NLCS lasts. Just enough so that you have some hopes and dreams of the Reds really playing for the whole thing. But they’re going to fall tragically short like all of our heroes eventually do. And that’s because they’re my team. That’s why they’re not going to the World Series. But mark my words, before this thing gets completely blown up and the Reds nucleus as you know it is disbanded, they’re going to take you on a ride that you haven’t been on in a long, long time.

I love the make up of this roster. I think there are any number of players who could go from respectable Major League professionals to star pretty easily because they have the pedigree and I think they’ve got the ability to truly be more than solid. Many of these guys moved up through the minor league system together and have grown up as ballplayers together. The chemistry in this organization with this group of players is not overstated as it so often is around baseball. These guys like each-other and have a strong clubhouse. They’ve also all reached that ‘peak ‘and ‘prime’ age around the same time. When you get several guys who have career years together you see teams come out of nowhere and take off.

Last year was absolutely painful for my heart and huge hit to my mental health at times. Just writing on this blog each day was a challenge because I was lamenting the fact it was baseball season as the Reds floundered their way through 162. Sometimes in baseball that just happens. And sometimes in life things happen for a reason that you never come to understand. And the reason the Reds of 2011 were so bad was so that they could fly under the radar in 2012. The baseball Gods made me purge my joys last season so that it could be a summer long party in 2012.

Aside from the Reds being able to once again sneak up on some teams quietly–something they lacked the ability to do from game one in 2011–it’s been the perfect storm off-season with some of the things that have happened. Let’s examine some of the things that have taken place that are going to allow the Reds to make a run in 2012:

  1. Reds trade for Matt Latos. Alright, he’s not an ace in my opinion yet. But it’s another lottery ticket thrown in the raffle of guys who could be aces for the Reds. And I still see Cueto, Bailey, and now Latos as guys who could have that type of ‘stopper’ season for the Reds. Give me the ball on day five and let me go get you a ballgame and end this slide or keep this streak going.
  2. Albert Pujols leaves the Cardinals for the Angels. Why don’t you do me a favor, look up what Albert Pujols did against the Reds over his career (Actually, let me do that for you. 172 GP, .350, 46 HR, 143 RBI, 10 steals/zero caught stealing, 92 BB, 50 K’s, .430/.641/1.072). Look, I’ll miss seeing the guy’s pure talent a few times a summer, but let’s get serious I can do without him making me miserable in the form of game winning grand slams and such. AL West foes, you enjoy that.
  3. Prince Fielder signs with the Detroit Tigers. Maybe the second greatest offensive lethal weapon in the National League, and he’s leaving the NL Central too! Now this is just gravy. People forget he’ll just be 28 years old this season, he is in his prime years and he will still torture pitching staffs for about 4 or 5 more seasons before he’s ‘getting old’ or no matter how big that spare tire gets.
  4. Ryan Braun is suspended for PED use for 40 games. Yea. Shit. Damn you formality. This would have been the nail in the Brewers coffin, trust me. They lucked out here.
  5. Chris Carpenter is out 3 to 4 months with a bulging disk. Chris Carpenter scares me. He’s fiery, he eats innings, you can hang a few runs on him in the first inning of a game and then he one hits you the rest of the way. He’s the type of catalyst ace that few guys around the big leagues truly are. This is a huge void for the Cardinals. And I found out they’re going to Opening Day start Kyle Lohse. A man doesn’t deserve such a life of luxury folks. I am that man.
  6. Adam Wainwright returns from Tommy-John surgery.People want to talk about Wainwright being the sleeper of the year. Look, he’s good and I have no doubts he’ll return to his previous levels of performance. But give me one guy who came back and was his dominant old self his first half season back from Tommy-John surgery. There aren’t any. Reds luck out again here. I’m still warm and fuzzy inside with memories of that February day last year.
  7. Theo Epstein got his hands on the Cubs a bit too late. Theo will turn the Cubbies around but it’s going to take time. Are they still employing the likes of Ryan Dempster and Alfonso Soriano? Bryan LaHair at first base? It’s going to be a fun season of making fun of Cubs fans again.
  8. The Phillies are a mess. I expect a regression from Cliff Lee. Roy Halladay has been nothing if not touch and go this spring. Jimmy Rollins is getting old. Chase Utley is hurt. Ryan Howard is hurt. The Phillies do not scare me. Not in the slightest.
  9. The Reds sign Sean Marshall. This guy is like the nastiest lefty in baseball. He’s not gonna crap out like Ricky Rincon did when the Indians went out and tried to make a splash in getting a nasty lefty to bolster a great pen. He’s going to get first dibs on the closer role, and I think he’s going to have a fine audition.

I could keep going, but these are all things that have made it a wonderful off-season towards building my case for the Reds run to the 2012 NLCS.

We led off the prediction series by telling you that Jay Bruce was going to be the 2012 MVP. But now for some of the unheralded guys who will pay off huge for the Redlegs in 2012. Chris Heisey, Homer Bailey, Ryan Ludwick, and the rebound of guys like Scott Rolen and Drew Stubbs will pay off for the Reds. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto will play their usual role.

You look in the pen and the Reds have some serious firepower. Jose Arredondo is a year into his own Tommy-John recovery, and the Reds have Bill Bray, Nick Masset, Aroldis Chapman, Marshall, and some other very capable arms that will be down in that bullpen. They’re deep. Especially if Ryan Madson hadn’t gotten hurt. But we’re here to focus on why this prediction will come true.

The Reds are about to give you the finest season since 1990, if you can just make it until October. This is going to be the year and I want you to remember where you heard it. Just don’t expect too much ultimately. I’ll sign up for an NLCS run and take my chances from there right now.

10 Questions for Reds Manager Dusty Baker

If I was sitting at a Jazz club with Dusty Baker, and I was buying the drinks; here’s 10 things I would ask the skipper of Cincinnati Reds right now. Some of these might turn into a two for one type deal, but please bear with me:

1. What is your reasoning behind putting Paul Janish in the 2-hole? You realize Janish is an asset for his defense if he’s hitting 8th, but hitting 2nd you’re costing Joey Votto RBI chances on a nightly basis.

2. Why are you so reluctant to hit Jay Bruce 2nd or even in the clean-up spot, yet you have always been prone to letting Jonny Gomes hit in the clean-up spot (7 times last year, 7 times this year) and even as recently as this past Friday night, had Gomes hitting 2nd.

3. Do you realize that not putting lefties back to back in the lineup is a silly move (especially against a right-handed starting pitcher) because it is a match-up that might occur once over the course of a 9 inning ballgame, of which the game could already be decided by the point that we would even see a LOOGY out of the pen to face back to back lefties like Votto and Bruce.

4. Doesn’t Sam Lecure (3.18 ERA in 34 IP, 25 H, 8 BB) deserve a crack at the starting rotation over Mike Leake (5.70 ERA in 36.1, 37 H)? Be honest with me, the organization; and maybe even you to a point doesn’t want a first round pick like Leake to look like a failure. So you’re going to run him out there no matter what for the next several years regardless of guys that were unheralded flat out looking better?

5. Have you looked at Jay Bruce’s OPS against left-handed pitching the last year plus? Oh you have? Someone has referenced it, you say. Well why is it when someone does need to sit against a run of the mill left-hander, it’s the guy with the highest OPS of all your outfielders against left-handed pitching?

6. What does Yonder Alonso (5 HR, 23 RBI, .323/.387/.525 in AAA Louisville) have to do to get called up? There’s not a position for him? So you’re saying Jonny Gomes can play left field better than Alonso? Do you really believe that?

7. Be honest with me on this one: how much does Scott Rolen have left in the tank? Is he trying to hit back-side because he can’t turn on pitches anymore? At what point does a beautiful piece of hitting the other way become all a guy can do?

8. Billy Bray has filled the role of 2010 Arthur Rhodes, at least it appears. Can we just start making Aroldis Chapman a starter now? If not, why? Have you seen how the Yankees screwed up Joba Chamberlain? And lets be honest, Dusty; Chapman becoming a #1 starter is the only chance you’ve got at winning a short playoff series with a Philadelphia, a San Francisco or even a St. Louis. We don’t need a 7th inning guy who throws smoke. We need a #1 or at the very least a #2 starter.

9. Why the reliance on such small sample sizes in some cases; you know like yesterday you hit Janish 2nd in the order because he was 3 for 7 lifetime against Cole Hamels; but you ignore such large sample sizes when it suits you?

10. What is it with you and guys who defy logic and overall just hurt a ballclub? Every year you get a fascination with somebody who is the albatross around the neck of us winning games. Ken Griffey Jr., Corey Patterson, Wily Taveras, Jonny Gomes. I’ll give you Junior, because he was Junior; though he had no business hitting 3rd until the day he was traded from the Reds. But what the Hell is your deal with these guys. I mean, I am shocked you did not derail last season to play Gary Matthews Jr. more. That really must of killed you.

What are your questions for Reds manager, Dusty Baker?

Game 41, 2011: Reds 7, Cubs 4

Last night felt like a night in which the Reds luck was going to run out a little bit, but they scored seven runs in the 6th inning and showed why Carlos Zambrano is no longer worth giving away starts and innings on any fantasy baseball team. The win was the Reds fourth in a row at home.

With the win, the Cincinnati Reds of 2011 are now one game better than the 2010 Reds were at this point.

Homer Bailey fought through tough mound conditions, loading the bases in the 1st inning with walks, and overall not having his best stuff. It’s the type of game where in the past, he would have lost. Bailey is a lot more cerebral on the mound this year and it shows. He knows when he needs a strikeout. He knows when he has to throw a ground ball. He knows when he can afford to give up a fly ball. Carlos Pena touched him up for a long one to make it 4-0 Cubs, but it was Bailey’s ability to limit damage in spots that allowed the Reds to hang around and come back and win this one.

[Cincinnati.com] [Box Score]

A lot was made after the game of Johnny Gomes being knocked down by Chicago reliever Marcus Mateo and then getting off the dirt two pitches later to fly one into the seats in right center field. It would definitely be big for Johnny Gomes to get going and be a run producer in the lineup for the Reds which has to be why Dusty Baker is giving the veteran so much rope when it would be easy to go to Chris Heisey as the everyday left fielder or a platoon of Gomes, Heisey and Fred Lewis.

Jay Bruce had his second multi-hit game in a row. He started 0 for 2 off Zambrano but then singled and doubled, scored and run and drove in his 13th run of the month.

The big moment of the game for me was when Scott Rolen hit a ball hard and back into left field and Alfonso Soriano had his almost daily ‘woopsies’ out in left-field. The misplay allowed the Reds to take the lead, and they wouldn’t look back.

Bailey improves to 3-0 for the first time in his career. This is success that really has the chance to be sustained. Bailey is pitching really well, and he’s on a truly good team. A team that; as they did in this game, can dig him out of small holes should he lack stuff on certain nights.

Clearly, the Reds are surging right now since getting pitching back from injury like Bailey and Johnny Cueto. The lineup continues to score at a consistent clip. Francisco Cordero locked down his 8th save in pitching in his 4th straight 9th inning.

Top Plays:

Stubbs throws a seed to nail Alfonso Soriano at home plate

Johnny Gomes goes oppo-long ball

Another big hit for Joey Votto (RBI single)
Potpourri:

You want proof that I’m cursed in fantasy baseball? Here’s a screen grab of my box score from my 10-team keeper roto-league last night. This is the night that officially put me on tilt:

What the shot doesn’t include is sub-par outings from Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson, and a blown save by Jordan Walden. The 1 for 28 actually grew to 1 for 31 last night before Mike Stanton added another hit and Jason Kubel got a mercy single late in Seattle. I ended up 3 for 39.

Game 15, 2011: Pirates 7, Reds 6

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

Observations:
In the worst way I wanted the Reds to come away with this game and I wanted to be able to say that these are the same old Pirates that we’re talking about. But once again as they so often seem to do, the Reds will send me to work on a Monday following a Sunday loss thinking about what might have been.

These are not the same old Pirates. It’s a long series and we’ve all had a good look at the likes of Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, Ronny Cedeno, Garrett Jones, Joel Hanrahan, Pedro Alvarez and the new and improved tandem of Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton.

Today, the guy that went off was Mccutchen. It’s pretty much his team now even though he’s only 23. It’s funny because today was a microcosm of Mccutchen vs. Bruce. Both guys firing back and forth with blows in a heavyweight title fight. Both guys who figure to face off for the next decade or so and be tops at their craft in the NL Central.

It doesn’t help that Edinson Volquez put the Reds in yet another hole this afternoon. They trailed 4-0 after the first inning, and Volquez’s first inning ERA is now 29.25.

For all the qualities of imperfection the Reds will have to deal with to be one of the best teams in the National League this year, one that they have that so many don’t is that they grind, and they fight and they claw back into ballgames time and again.

When they were in the 4-0 hole, I was sure that the Pirates would need more than that to hang a loss on them today and I was right. Miguel Cairo–a super sub for Brandon Phillips that got on base four times today–homered to get them on the board. It wasn’t a cheapie either.

With two outs a few innings later Jay Bruce singled and Paul Janish followed his single with his own that would make it 4-2. A few innings later Scott Rolen’s RBI double would tie it. Then the Reds took the lead on a Bruce single to make it 5-4.

Garrett Jones homered off Volquez who had settled down and we were tied again. A few hitters later the Pirates would have their lead back at 6-5. Again, there were too many frames left and I knew the Reds would be back.

Jay Bruce’s confidence looks like it’s surging right now. After he lined the single to right field to give the Reds a lead, we just had the feeling that he would have a day. When he came back to the plate with the Reds trailing by one and Jose Veras gave him a high fastball, he launched it into the seats in right centerfield and the Reds had tied it once again.

Logan Ondrusek got out of trouble with a nice play on a squeeze by the Pirates to keep it tied. But as I said to myself, I’ve seen this game so many times. Too often I’ve seen my team battle and get a heroic play like that only to lose it on a single with two outs. That’s exactly what happened. Mccutchen strikes again. The Reds got bested by a good player today.

It is a testament to their character that they weren’t done yet. The Redlegs loaded the bases up in the bottom of the 9th off Joel Hanrahan, and he went 2-0 to Drew Stubbs before Stubbs flied out to the man of the hour in center to end it.

We’re 15 games in and it seems like there’s been a million big moments already. The Reds play all week long instead of having tomorrow off, so that made this one just a little easier to take. Beyond that, when this lineup really goes off it’s all over. No one will be able to play with the Reds on some nights because they’re all going to hit and it’s going to be scary the type of runs they score on a good day. The starters need to start going more than six innings and they need the same good clean bill of health that they were blessed with mostly last year.

Top Plays:

Miguel Cairo’s bomb gets the Reds on the board

Bruce singles the Reds to an early 5-4 lead. All the way back.

Jay Bruce ties it at six with a bomb to center (2)

The heartbreaking but predictable beginning of the end

The Cardiac Reds fall just short

Classic Oldie Song That Should be Played on Loud Speakers at a Ballpark near you:




“Woman, hold me in your arms. Rock it baby.”

Hang with these Reds. They’ll get ‘em tomorrow. They’re that kind of team.

Game 13, 2011: Pirates 6, Reds 1

[Box Score]

[Red Reporter] [PBC Blog]

Observations:

Bronson Arroyo just didn’t have his best stuff on this Friday evening, Jackie Robinson Day. Charlie Morton looked like a different pitcher than the guy that the Reds roughed up on Jay Bruce Day 2010. Morton was the whole damn show as we like to say, and he almost had a shutout in front of 21,312 at Great American Ballpark.

The Reds didn’t have much offense to speak of tonight. Drew Stubbs had a couple of hits and a couple of steals. Miguel Cairo singled back up the box. Scott Rolen blooped one in. And the Reds grounded out pretty much the rest of the night or flew out harmlessly. It was fun to watch the outfielders battle the wind. I remember playing those conditions as an outfielder and it was awful. These guys make it look easy.

Jose Tabata is one Hell of a ballplayer for the Buccos. Andrew Mccutchen got himself a golden sombrero courtesy of Bronson Arroyo (Cutch is 0 for 12 against him lifetime).

In the 9th, we saw light at the end of the tunnel. Jay Bruce broke up the shutout with a 2-out bomb to centerfield off Morton, and while there was no victory, tomorrow will bring better things.

Top Plays:

Bruce homers to center (1) with 2-out in the 9th

Reds turn an ugly double play

Neil Walker bombs Bunny Arroyo

Potpourri:

Quiet Friday night at home watching this one. I had the flu all week. Flu’s that hang on forever are absolutely awful, and I’m good for about one a year.

The weather and game result didn’t do much to make me feel better either. Glad the week has came to an end and I can head to Cincinnati to watch the ballgame. I love Saturday afternoon home ballgames, and there aren’t many on the Reds schedule typically.

On another note, I had a really HUGE night on the fantasy baseball front. Momentum!

Game 2, 2011: Reds 4, Brewers 2

[Box Score]
[Cincinnati.com]

Observations:

I actually took this one in with Mike from The Sombrero, nice quick ballgame. Travis Wood was doing what he seemingly always does, right? Just painting the outside corner, allowing some contact but nothing substantial or hard, and even striking a few guys out. You look up in the 8th inning and the opposition has a run and two hits.

Big lift early in the game with Scott Rolen hitting the two pointer to put the Reds up. Shawn Marcum had some problems all night with his control (he walked Johnny Gomes three times), and he left one up in the zone but hittable to Scotty Rolen.

The Reds didn’t get an abundance of offense but they had enough. Let’s not forget that Drew Stubbs went 2 for 3 with a triple, RBI and stolen base. Playing real good ball to start the season that Stubbsy. Votto and Hanigan added singles. Masset came in out of the pen in the 8th and looked like we need Nick Masset to look. I made the comment to Mike from the Sombrero that if they’re not going to use Chapman in a set-up role every night he should have been groomed to start this year.

Cordero came in for the 9th inning and he did pretty much what he always does. Left a few balls down the middle, gave up a few hits, but in the end he locked it down. Reds, 2-0 to start the year for the first time since 2005. And now I’m greedy and want more than a few to start the year. I want to be the talk of all of baseball with the start we jump out to.

Star of the Game:

Travis Wood. The hillbilly just keeps getting it done. He worked a game just a hair over 2 and 1/2 hours in front of a crowd of 37,967 on ‘Opening Night’. He’s got ice water in his veins and fits into this team perfectly. He could be these Reds Tom Browning, which if you think back to Mr. Perfect in his prime is a pretty big shot in the arm with some of the other big ‘names’ that are part of this pitching staff. I don’t just like Wood, I love the damn guy; and in 109.2 career innings pitched his career WHIP is now 1.04; which is nothing short of phenomenal.

I didn’t start out a believer, but the guy is legitimate. Sky is the limit and be glad he wasn’t the throw in for a bat, or someone else.

Top Plays:

Bruce’s sick catch by the wall in foul territory

Edgar Renteria snuffs out a rally with a great stop and a 6-4-3

Rolen 2-run bomb for a 2-0 lead

Potpourri:

*It’s Wrestlemania 27 tonight. I’m predicting high drama from John Cena and The Rock; as well as Alberto Del Rio to get the strap.

*Watched Player to be named later with The Sombrero yesterday. Pretty good baseball documentary if you haven’t seen it with a starring role from Marco Scutaro.

*I’m exhausted from 2 Opening Days in 2 days. And it’s the week for me to get my taxes together. Ugh.