June 7, 2012
As RHM mentioned yesterday, Scott Rolen has started taking batting practice again and is apparently weeks, if not days, away from returning to major league action. And that has Redleg Nation worried.
Announcers Jim Kelch and Jeff Brantley turned to the news that Scott Rolen had taken batting practice earlier in the day. We’re looking at days now, rather than weeks. Great! Right? I love watching Scott Rolen play baseball. Shouldn’t I be looking forward to his return?
All reasonable fans of the Cincinnati Reds understand and appreciate how much Rolen has done for this team. He’s a good guy, and without him, the Reds would not have won the division in 2010. No bout adoubt it. He willed the team into believing it could win. Bt not in that annoying, St. Louis Cardinals way. In a fun way, because it’s a team we like.
But Rolen hasn’t been that player since 2010. And Redleg Nation is right. There’s reason to dread the return of Scott Rolen, and that reason is Dusty Baker. Todd Frazier has won the third base starting job. The stats this year bear that out. But we all know how Baker will use Rolen and Frazier. Rolen’s the veteran, after all.
But as Kelch and Brantley began to discuss Rolen’s return, a feeling of queasiness crept through me. They didn’t seem to consider, even for a second, that Frazier should continue to start at third base for the Reds. Instead, they talked about how he would be perfectly suited to replace Rolen on the veteran’s regular days off. Were they kidding?
It doesn’t matter what announcers (or bloggers) think. But, if Kelch and Brantley don’t see Frazier as having earned the 3B job then, to a moral certainty, neither does Dusty Baker. And unfortunately, it does matter what he thinks.
It definitely does. Baker’s a player’s manager and will stand by guys he thinks deserve it long past the time their performance tells everyone else they don’t. I like Rolen, and I’d love nothing more than for him to come back and contribute like he did in 2010. I’ve got to, for the Reds’ chances in 2012 are likely to hinge on him.
June 7, 2012
W: Cueto (6-3)
L: Lincoln (3-1)
S: Chapman (6)
After the Reds lost the first game of the series, I was a little nervous that the Pirates might really sweep the series and come into a tie for first. But now the Buccos will have to hope for another series to do that, since the Reds won last night, 4-5.
Johnny Cueto started for the Reds, and it was Good Cueto this time. He went 7.2 innings with 3 runs (earned) on 6 hits and a walk. He got into a bit of a bind at the end and let two guys on. Logan Ondrusek didn’t make matters better when he came in. He promptly gave up a home run to McCutchen to allow a run of his own (earned) in addition to the inherited 2.
Sean Marshall was better when he took over. He got the next guy out to finish out the eighth with no hits, no runs, no nothin’. Aroldis Chapman closed ‘er down with a 9-pitch ninth inning, including 2 strike-outs.
The scoring was brought to you tonight by Brandon Phillips, Ryan Hannigan, and most of all by Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick went just 1-for-4, but that included 3 RBI. Joey Votto extended his hitting streak, but didn’t do much else. He didn’t have to, for a change.
The win brings the Reds’ record to 31-24 and puts them back in a 3-game lead in the NLC. Tonight they finish the series with the Pirates at 7:10 p.m. Mike Leake (2-5, 4.95 ERA) takes on Kevin Correia (2-5, 4.19 ERA).
June 7, 2012
The Reds pulled the series even yesterday by beating the Pirates 4-5. Johnny Cueto got the win and Brandon Phillips redeemed himself a little with a 2-for-4 night that included a home run. He’d gone 0-fer and left 7 on base the day before.
Tonight is the rubber match, with Mike Leake (2-5, 4.95 ERA) defending against Kevin Correia (2-5, 4.19 ERA). Don’t let the record fool you: Correia has been a hard-luck loser. His team has won only one of his six quality starts this season.
A Consistent Rotation
In the past, Dusty Baker has talked about needing consistency, but that’s just translated into seeing the same crappy performance day after day. But now, just as the Earth rotates predictably through the vacuum, the Reds have rotated predictably through the rotation all season long.
Through these first 55 games, the Reds have used only five starting pitchers: Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, and Mike Leake. That’s the longest streak of using only five starters to begin a season since they went 79 games in 1992.
And unless someone gets hurt, it’s probably going to stay this way. These guys aren’t perfect, but the bullpen damn near is, so there’s not really the laser focus on the pitching for a change. More urgent is keeping the Reds’ power flowing.
What to Say to Sound Smart at the Water Cooler
The Reds are 23-6 in games where they hit at least one home run.