June 24, 2010
The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Oakland A’s 3-0 yesterday to sweep the series and finish the road trip at 3-3. Not bad after a disastrous start in Seattle.
The Reds have today off–their 3rd and final one of June–before hosting the Cleveland Indians on Friday. Sam LeCure is scheduled to make his first start against someone who’s not a Cy Young candidate in Aaron Laffey at 7:10pm EDT.
Not Quiet on the Rotation Front
The Reds have some interesting decisions to make in the coming months regarding their starting rotation.
Mike Leake continues to be awesome, but everyone’s known the Reds will need to limit his innings to reduce his injury risk. Not having any professional experience does have some draw-backs. Yesterday, a step towards that was made with the announcement that Leake will be skipped for his next start. According to Walt Jocketty, there is a goal in mind: “We have a round number. Probably 170, but it’s not etched in stone.”
Edinson Volquez also continues his rapid rehab. He pitched for the Bats yesterday, and was very good, allowing 1 run over 5 innings. He has yet to walk a batter in any of his rehab starts. At this rate, he may be ready before the All Star Break, although I’d prefer the team take it slow.
Because Volquez started for Louisville on Aroldis Chapman’s regular starting day, he pitched in relief. The Reds have been consistent that they view Chapman as a starter, but as John Fay points out, plenty of great starters have begun their MLB time in the bullpen: “A long line of good starters began in the bullpen – Roy Oswalt, Adam Wainwright, Nolan Ryan, Don Gullett – it may help Chapman’s development.” I’m not sure what the best decision is here, but there are definite advantages to having a left-hander with a 100 mph fastball available in the bullpen.
What to Say to Sound Smart at the Water Cooler
Joey Votto has reached base safely, by hit, hit-by-pitch, or walk in his last 32 games. This ties him with the longest such streak in the majors this year, by Evan Langoria, who also reached base in 32 straight games.
June 23, 2010
Continuing our series of Human League posts about the Reds All-Star vote-getters, tonight I ponder the wonder and glory that is Scott Rolen.
What I love about Scott Rolen is maturity as a genuine role-model for those who have lacked demonstration of how to comport themselves. I love that perspective and experience make him confident in his righteousness to bitch at umpires in just about every game.
What I love about Scott Rolen is the relief I feel when he steps into the box after Joey Votto. I love that, as potent as one infield corner is, there’s a mirror of it on the other side, protecting each other while at the same time challenging.
What I love about Scott Rolen is singing, “Rolen, Rolen, Rolen…Keep this inning Rollin'” when he’s at the plate. Since the Ryan Parker song, I now sometimes also sing, “Rolen on the River.”
What I love about Scott Rolen is how, through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, he has fought his way here to take back what injury had stolen. I love that the Cardinals gave up on him before he finished that quest and the Reds are the ones to see the return to greatness. It’s about time it worked that way for a change.
What I love about Scott Rolen is that my mom likes him. She’s not even a baseball fan. He’s just that lovable.
If you, too, love Scott Rolen, do your part to spread the word by voting. The All-Star game deserves his presence.
June 23, 2010
W: Cueto (7-2)
L: Mazzaro (2-2)
S: Cordero (19)
When the Cincinnati Reds were at the halfway point of their Interleague West Coast trip, things weren’t looking good. They’d just been swept at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, one of the worst teams in the league. They moved to Oakland, feeling down, with visions of previous years of West Coast collapses dancing in their heads.
And then Cincinnati showed something that us Reds fans aren’t really used to: resilience. Behind solid pitching and a re-awoken offense, they finished the sweep of Oakland today. It reminds me of another sweep 20 years ago.
The Reds took the early lead in the very first frame. With 2 outs, Joey Votto walked. A single by Brandon Phillips and a hit-by-pitch by Jonny Gomes later, and Jay Bruce stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Bruce came through, singling to right and driving in 2, and the Reds never lost the lead.
Johnny Cueto started and shutout the A’s over his 7 innings of work. He allowed 7 hits and 2 walks, but managed to get out of his jams unscathed. He was more pitch-efficient, too, throwing only 102 pitches. All that was good enough for his 7th win and it got his ERA below 4 for the first time in a while.
Francisco Cordero came on in the 9th for his 19th save. And this time, he did it drama-free. I guess the third time was the charm.
For now, the West Coast crisis has been averted. The Reds return home feeling much more positive about themselves, having managed to go .500 during the long trip from home and return just 1 game back of the Cardinals.
June 22, 2010
At long last, I find myself again entangled in that romantic ardor of fandom that I haven’t known lo these five years of blogging. The kind of baseball love affair that makes you want to write sentences like that first one.
In honor of the five Reds in the top spots in All-Star voting, I’m going to share with you my poetic musings on these paladins of the plate in a new Human League segment called “What I Love About.”
What I love about Jonny Gomes is the eagerness he brings to the game and to life. The intensity in his gaze hints at a man uncontent to drift through life like common mortals, intent instead to live every moment to its fullest. It also hints at a man who might be capable of the kind of frenzy displayed by Danny Bateman in The Replacements. “Get me the base, Jonny!” “I GOT THE BASE.”
What I love about Jonny Gomes is his hair. Mr. T meets Kid N Play with just a touch of the true Hoosiers I used to live next door to in rural Indiana. Just a touch, mind you. He could have gone with the rat tail, but he didn’t. He knows when enough is enough.
What I love about Jonny Gomes is his twitchy helmet adjustments as he goes to the plate. One wonders if maybe the haircut has caused the helmet not to fit quite right.
What I love about Jonny Gomes is doing a Google image search on his name. Try it. It’s awesome.
But what I love most of all about Jonny Gomes are his team-leading 49 RBI. That’s about 15% of the team’s total runs for the season so far.
If you find yourself moved, tell the world with your vote.
June 21, 2010
W: Rowland-Smith (1-6)
L: Harang (5-7)
S: Aardsma (15)
The Cincinnati Reds ended a completely futile weekend yesterday, as the Seattle Mariners completed the sweep.
Apparently, the Mariners traveled back in time and signed Cy Young, Nolan Ryan, and Sandy Koufax in their prime because the Reds managed one measly run in 27 innings of baseball against one of the worst teams in the majors. It did not leave a good taste in the mouth of Reds fans.
Yesterday, the Reds needed an excellent outing from Aaron Harang to stop the losing, and he complied. Over 6 innings, he allowed 1 run, on 3 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 4. The bullpen even stepped in and put up 2 innings of scoreless baseball. Yay, bullpen! And hooray, Logan Ondrusek, who contributed 1 1/3 scoreless innings yesterday. He’s been a greatly improved pitcher since his time down with Louisville.
The offense, though, managed 3 hits against a guy who isn’t very good in Ryan Rowland-Smith. Rowland-Smith was winless coming into the game with an ERA above 6. Not so any longer.
The weekend sweep dropped the Reds from any share of first place. They are now in second place, 1.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.