What’s been happening, what’s to come…

Let me begin by apologizing for my absence over the last few days. Two jobs and house-sitting duty have left me with an extra-busy schedule this week, not to mention the added excitement of World Cup Soccer, and the NHL and NBA finals. Ok, just kidding about the last two – I’ve watched more baseball in the past two days than either of the two sports playoff series, but I have been one of those goofballs watching their fair share of soccer.

Anyway, enough about me. You don’t want to read that, you want to read about the Reds, so here goes…

Back to Sunday’s game: Beautiful seats. Crizappy game. I was the one sitting behind the plate shouting at the Reds’ dugout to remind them that the pitcher who was shutting them out came into the game with an ERA over 6. I was officially out of it by the seventh inning – no, I don’t mean drunk, I just mean sitting back, arms folded, scowl on face. And then the bullpen gave up five runs. (Note: Second game in a row the ‘pen gave up five runs! That couldn’t possibly happen a third time, right!? Wait for it…)

Monday: So, Wily Mo Who? … Bronson Arroyo improved his record to 9-3 with a complete game, 2 run win over the hot-hot-hot New York Mets. He pitched all nine innings not because he had been ultra-conservative with his pitches or because he was completely dominant. No, he pitched a CG because Jerry Narron was afraid of his bullpen. Frankly, so am I. Aren’t you? Good Lord.

Tuesday: Elizardo finally did what I expected him to do last Wednesday – he got hit hard. He gave up three runs in the first inning, before surprising the heck out of me and lasting for six, only giving up one more run. Seriously, I was impressed – he went back out there after getting a talking to from Hume via Javier Valentin, and showed some incredible poise. We were treated to so many 3-inning, 6-run outings from our starters last season, it’s nice to see someone get scored upon pretty hard in the first and then go back out there and pitch some effective innings afterward. Go Lizard!
Of course, after the offense got it to 4-2, the bullpen came out and proceeded to give up – you guessed it! – 5 runs. Mets win, 9-2.

15 runs over the last three games that the ‘pen has been used. Fifteen runs. Over… dunno. Like 8 innings. I have no desire to go check and find out the exact numbers, I know it’s a horrible stat. Enough! …Uncle!

So now, Rick White is gone, Jason Standridge is up in his place, and has yet to make an appearance. He was up and throwing at the same time as Weathers was last night, but Narron opted to bring in Weathers, who decided that giving up 4 runs would be his contribution to the game.

I don’t know whether to hop on the "Run Narron out of Town" bandwagon or to feel sorry for the guy. Throughout April it seemed that every single move he made worked out perfectly in the team’s favor. May, not so much, but then he got his golden touch back during that 8-game-win-streak. Now, well, it’s absolutely gone, but look who the man has to work with… The ‘pen has some horrendous arms in it, and we’ve got 16 catchers and 37 shortstops. That said, however, I’m tempted to join the "Run Narron out of Town" bandwagon simply because of his continued use of Quinton K. McCracken in late-inning PH situations. What a waste of a roster spot.

So where are we? Five games behind the Cardinals, who were absolutely pounded, 20-6, by the White Sox last night, and two games ahead of the Astros who have Roger Clemens starting for them tomorrow. What does all of that mean? Beats me, those are just the facts. I’m not making any more predictions.

Royals cast-off Joe Mays is starting for the Reds tonight. Again, not making any predictions. Just swearing, a lot. 🙂

Upcoming in the blog:

  • A look at the minor leagues; my take on Denorfia, Votto, Bruce, and Bailey
  • A review of the new 1975 World Championship DVD
  • A giveaway of said DVD. 3 copies! Details coming soon!
  • A review of ‘Clutch Hits’

So much to do… Aargh!!

Go Redlegs!

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$%*&

Tonight is one of those nights where watching this team is the equivalent to banging your head against a brick wall for three hours.

This is the team I remember from 2005.

Pathetic.
_____
Three hours later…

I’ve been thinking.
If you lose seven of eight games and are still the Wild Card team… things ain’t that bad.
Don’t get me wrong – tonight’s loss was a *grotesque* mess, but it still is only one game. (There is a "but.") BUT, if things don’t start to change right now, this team is going to slowly but surely see other teams pass them by. If someone does decide to step up or take charge or light some kind of fire under this team’s butt, then I see no reason why, especially if what Castellini says about making acquisitions if necessary is true, we can’t have another month (or two, or three!) like April.

What needs to be done to make a long-term run at the postseason?
Here’s my take:

  • Trade Jason LaRue. I know for this to happen we’ll have to eat a large chunk of the contract he signed this past offseason, but why not? He’s not catching anymore… I can’t even remember the last time he started behind the plate (keep in mind I’ve missed a few games recently). There are some teams out there that need a catcher, and he’s a decent defensive backstop, and he might be ice cold this season in terms of offense, but he’s still a career .260 hitter, and he’ll make it back there, if not for the Reds, then somewhere, before season’s end. Right now he’s a guy on the bench, and so long as Narron is bringing in K. McCracken to ground out, er… pinch hit, there’s one less opportunity for LaRue to contribute.
  • DFA/trade/lose-on-the-plane-to-New-York Quinton K. McCracken. Please raise your hand if you’d like to see his roster spot occupied by ANYONE ELSE. …too bad Narron seems to despise RayRay. Everyone, hands down now.
  • ACQUIRE SOME PITCHING. Yeah. I’m a master of the obvious.
    *this is not a complete list, it’s just what I can think of off the top of my head at this moment*

The starting pitching continues to get it done. The offense continues to get it done… every other game. The bullpen continues to get it done for the other team.

Ooh! Just got off the phone with a friend who was given two Scout Seats for tomorrow’s game. I had to rearrange my work schedule, but it’s done, and I’m going. If we can win this game, great! …it’ll mean we put a crappy loss behind us. I’m not going to suggest what might happen if we lose…

To my Reds: Don’t let this one miserable loss (two, actually, but who is counting?) stick in your minds and affect you tomorrow. Show some poise and resilience and go out tomorrow, and play like you’ve got nothing to lose. Aaron Harang has shown himself to be a fanstastic pitcher, and I’m glad to see that he will be on the mound tomorrow. I can almost guarantee that you give him some decent run support, and we’ll come away from this with a victory. And then we can build from there.
And please, baseball gods, let Harang have a good… say… 9 innings in that arm.
😉

Go RotBeines! (I think I just skewered the heII out of the German language. My apologies! Entschuldigen Sie!)

Yet more bullpen *******…

I’m not too thrilled with how this game is unfolding right now…

It was 5-3, and then Weathers came in and gave up a run in the 7th. Chris Welsh had the audacity to say that "Weathers did his job…" PLEASE, explain to me HOW YOU FIGURE THAT!? And then Chris Hammond came in and gave up a homer in the 8th. Milton pitched six, gave up three, and gets the no decision. Contreras, who, shockingly, left in line for the loss, gets the no decision. It’s a bullpen game now, and guess whose team has the better bullpen.

Jesus.

Two runners on and Narron pinch hits for Milton. Quinton K. McCracken… Ks.

Jesus.

I am ready to pull my hair out. Here’s Coffey in to pitch in the top of the 9th.

::shakes head::

I don’t want to see this go into extras…

<EDIT>
It doesn’t matter anymore.
8-5 Sox going into the bottom of the 9th.
Jesus.
</EDIT>

Ugly.

Brandon Claussen pitched a horrific ballgame tonight. Oh, wait, I’m sorry, he threw a lot of pitches, but it wasn’t what you could call "pitching." A lot of balls, a lot of full counts… 62 pitches in 2+ innings… 9 earned runs in all. Geez.

This was one of those games where you didn’t seem to mind paying $6.50 for beer, and you were getting the attention of the beer vendor literally every time he came up or down the aisle. That is, if you stayed after the score made it to 10-3 in the third inning. (It hurts me to type that.)

I’m being completely serious when I ask this question: Did Eric Milton transfer his cruddy 2005 mojo to 2006 Brandon Claussen? Not so serious: Is this like a virus? Is this the kind of thing that you can only get rid of if you pass it on to someone else, like in ‘The Ring’? ’cause if so, Claussen needs to stay the heII away from any Reds pitcher in the minors. Perhaps he could go have dinner with Roy Oswalt…? ::wrings hands Devilishly::

Alright, alright, enough silliness… Tomorrow it’s The New Eric Milton vs. the Jose-Contreras-who-has-won-his-last-15-straight-decisions, and is 7-0 on the season. Yes, that’s right. 7-0 with a 2.62 ERA. ::gulp:: On the bright side… Theoretically, Milton could get his ERA under 4 tomorrow. (I am so thrilled to be able to write that!)

I’m too tired to come up with some sort of a witty close, so I’ll just ask for a favor… Please, dear Reds, don’t make me have to write a post after tomorrow’s game that has the word "ugly," or some other similar adjective, in the title.

Go Reds!

Claussen, Reds try to turn it around vs. Sox

*deep breath*

Well, the White Sox are in town for the weekend, and starting for the Reds tonight is Brandon Claussen.

I have no idea how this is going to go. Absolutely no idea.

The Reds have lost six straight to the Sox, and our starter with an ERA over 5 and a 3-7 record is pitching. The Sox counter with Freddy Garcia who is also sporting a 5+ ERA, so… perhaps we’ll score some runs? Maybe? …please! Let’s just say that tonight is not the night to wait until a late inning to score.

I’ll have the radio on tonight at work.
Go Redlegs!

Bengals, and Trash Bags, and Walk-offs, oh my!

Before I get to yesterday’s game, I have a question. Has anyone seen the commercial where Eric Gagne pitches to a trash bag? We’re talking several pitches… at a trash bag. I saw this for the first time on the same day that Gagne was placed back on the DL. Not only did the trash bag win, apparently it also assisted in injuring him. Sorry, Dodgers.

______________________________________

If I would have said before the game that Elizardo Ramirez, along with a couple of pitchers from the ‘pen, would combine for an 11 inning shutout, would you have laughed in my face? Yup. Believe me, I would have done the same thing had anyone suggested that we’d see three scoreless from anyone in the bullpen.

I like Elizardo Ramirez, but for whatever reason, I keep waiting for him to get lit up. I was thinking I’d be unlucky enough to have to witness it yesterday, but I was wrong. He pitched an absolutely amazing 8 innings, giving up only 5 hits, one BB, and recorded a career-high 10Ks in the process. Unfortunately for him, the offense took 10 innings off, and he was left with the no decision. Perhaps best of all, he only got stronger as he went along. 4 of the 5 hits came in the first three innings, and although the last hit – a double to Prince Fielder – led off the 7th inning, he didn’t let it touch him AT ALL, and proceeded to strike out the side. He had great control and command, and his fastball made it up to 92 mph. He had a good change in the low 80s as well. I was impressed.

It’s amazing how the performances of the two teams matched up as the game went along: The first batter of the game for each team struck out swinging. The second innings were identical – A lead-off K, followed by a single, followed by a 5-4-3 DP. Each team had a lead-off double, and the runner was left stranded on second without advancing. Each team had a lead-off walk that didn’t make it to second. Each team had an error committed by the shortstop. The lines were identical after 9 – 0 runs, 6 hits, 1 error. Another odd thing about this game – there were six foul-outs, three to the catcher. I don’t think I’ve seen that many foul-outs in a week, much less one game. I also saw three Reds batters strike out on three pitches. Junior, Dunn, and BP all committed this unholy sin, and that pisses me off.

The new Frontgate Party Suite plaza-area-thing that was introduced recently was full of Bengals yesterday. Several Bengals took batting practice before the game, and they were the leaders of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ during the seventh inning stretch. It was nice to see them all hanging out, wearing Reds hats, enjoying the game. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me smile. I’d love to see the Reds have the kind of success turning the franchise around like the Bengals have had over the past two seasons.

Some people enjoy nice, long pitcher’s duels. I don’t mind them, but I much prefer an 8-4 ballgame, so long as it’s the Reds doing a majority of the scoring. This worked out, though, because I got to see a towering three-run drive from #44. Until then, I can say, without any hint of exaggeration, that it seemed like this game would go on FOR-EV-ER. The 11th inning started off with Felipe striking out, and looking bad doing it. Dan Kolb, who had pitched a 1-2-3 10th, was still in there, so I figured it would be more of the same. Then Junior singled through the screwed-up shift the Brewers had on. And then Rich Aurilia singled, and the fans finally had something to cheer about. We were all standing, watching Dunn, and then he fouled off a pitch and swung through another one, and the count was 2-2. Every single Reds fan anywhere in the world was thinking the same thing I was right then: "He’s either gonna strike out, or hit a long, deep drive." And he swung, and he launched the ball a long, long way. Finally, the five-game slide was over, and there was much joy in Reds-ville. After Dunner was mobbed at home plate, Junior ended up on his back, and he started running around before letting him off – that made me laugh hysterically.

All in all, it was a beautiful day at Great American. It was one of those nice, warm, sunny, slow days that makes you appreciate being there and being a Reds fan.

Go Redlegs.

Bullpen *******, Part Deux

The Reds lost 6-4 today. The ‘pen gave up 2 runs. Do I really need to say that those were some important runs?

This is getting really, really old.

Perhaps the best thing about this game is that I was not around to watch it.

Well, The Lizard is pitching tomorrow, and I have every intention of attending the game. I sincerely hope to see a winner. (That was a bonehead sentence – When don’t I want to see a winner?)

🙂

Anyway, um… go Reds!?