2013 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: The Astros — Good for what ails ya’

Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Houston 0

W: M. Leake (14-6)
L: J. Lyles (7-8)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–Outstanding starting pitching by our old friend Mike Leake. Leake went eight shutout innings, surrendering just five hits. He picked up his 14th win and lowered his ERA to 3.21. Not a bad season for the kid.

–Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce. Jay Bruce went 2-4 with two runs scored and 5 RBI. Four of those RBI came on Bruce’s second career grand slam. Bruce now has 30 HR and 100 RBI on the season.

–Zack Cozart was 2-3 with 3 RBI. Brandon Phillips and Xavier Paul had two hits, including a double for each of them. Todd Frazier had two singles, a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored.

–In his return to the Reds, Sean Marshall pitched a beautiful ninth inning, striking out two of the three hitters he faced.

NEGATIVES
–None.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–I miss having the Astros in the NL Central. That was Houston’s 100th loss of the season.

–Cincinnati scored four runs in the first, and the game was pretty much over at that point.

–Get used to it: we are huge fans of Sean Marshall here at the Nation. So happy to see him back.

–Joey Votto has hit in 23 straight games at Minute Maid Park. No player has had a better streak.

–Probably the greatest moment of the Reds season, as described by the AP:

The bottom of the first didn’t go any better for Houston. Jonathan Villar hit a leadoff single, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. But it wasn’t just that he was thrown out, but the way he was thrown out that was embarrassing.

Villar slid into second base, but Phillips already had the ball before he began the slide. The always flamboyant Phillips reached backward between his legs to apply the tag as Villar crashed head-first into Phillips’ backside.

Perfect material for a GIF. Just wonderful.

–Ummm…Cozart has been pretty good at the plate lately, hasn’t he?

–That FanGraphs chart at the bottom of this post is a thing of beauty.

–Reds will go for the sweep tomorrow, with Greg Reynolds on the mound.

Source: FanGraphs

74 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: The Astros — Good for what ails ya’

  1. Biggest start of Reynold’s career tomorrow, we MUST SWEEP the Astros. Hopefully the Pads and Rockies can help us out the next 2 days. I really hope Jay Bruce is at the beginning of one his patented HOT STREAKS and it lasts the rest of 2013, including a deep run into the postseason. Starting the Houston series, it was the FIRST time all year that our projected opening day roster has been healthy and together, now would be the PERFECT TIME to get RED HOT. Very nice to see Cueto and Marshall back. Only 1.5 games behind Pitt and 2.5 behind the Cards, we can do this thing.

    • @Josh: If he can go 8IP, 3ER, 0BB at Coors Field (with the extra pressure of him facing the team which drafted him), I feel awfully confident throwing him against this Houston club. With a well-rested bullpen, off-day coming up on Thursday, Dusty being able to give the bench some playing time tonight… hopefully the starters get the starts tomorrow and tack on some runs early, like they were able to do tonight.

      • @dc937: Right, in the Rockies series Reynolds made the best outing of any of the Reds starters and got the Reds their only win there. He pitched well in his start before that also.

        One way to look at it: He’s been getting AAA hitters out all season, so why not now ?

    • @Josh: Agreed that a sweep is seriously needed. Also while I think the Reds are capable of holding off the Nats on their own it would be nice if the Bravos can get that magic number another game for the Reds on the 2nd WC spot so the Reds can focus solely on the Buccos without looking over their shoulders at all.

        • @Johnu1:
          Cards are the ones that might need to worry, 3 games against them. I believe their magic number is at 5, Nats keep winning, Cards lose 2 or more then it gets interesting.

    • @Josh:
      Agree, taking an unnecessary chance when Latos gives the Reds a huge advantage today.
      Setting yourself up for some second guessing. But I like the all in strategy vs. the Pirates.
      That start in Colorado was a huge win because Leake got rocked the next day and Arroyo was not so great the previous game. Reynolds is probably the 15th pitcher and has no chance to make the playoff roster so this is a huge chance to audition for someone.

  2. FWIW: Brantly was dropping lots of hints that he doesn’t think Marshall is ready for prime time. Sort of likened him to Cueto on his two abortive attempts to return prematurely. Mentioned that he sees signs that Marshal is “protecting” his should and that as one who has been down that road, it is in no way a good thing.

  3. Cozart has been hitting well recently. Maybe Brook Jacoby has been working with him and Jacoby isn’t so bad after all.

    • @RedsAk19: Mark Sheldon put a piece up on MLB.com about Cozart’s new approach. The good: he’s going opposite field more with good results. The bad: apparently this is the first time IN HIS CAREER that he has quote “focused on his approach.” Sheesh

  4. My apologies for this digression . . . Monday’s TOOTBLAN with Ludwick and Cozart . . . Was one or both of them at fault for not watching Mark Berry? Was Berry doing all the right things? All I saw was a glimpse of the postgame with Ludwick standing between second and third. I haven’t heard any discussion, but I assume we’re all glad to have a healthy Mark Berry back at third and Speier back in the dugout, not coaching third base.

    • @RedInIN: Logic suggests Luddy should have gone to third. The problem was that Cozart thought that was going to happen and didn’t pay attention.
      First rule of baserunning is to not do too much thinking and a whole lot more paying attention.
      Somehow, I blame Hatcher a little too. “Hold the bag, Zach!” might have worked.

      • @Johnu1: Cozart made a damaging blunder not long ago when he ran to 3rd with a base runner already there. He’d run with his head down, not looking at what was going on ahead of him. He admitted after that game that he’d screwed up but now he essentially makes the same mistake.

      • @Johnu1:
        Someone should tell Cozart, teamates cannot occupy the same base.

        If you see your teammate runner toward the base that you are on, there are no prizes for the not getting called out, run the opposite direction.

        It probably won’t work, but I am sure that standing there gets you out 100% of the time. Perhaps Zack does not know the rules?

        • @vicferrari: My take on it is that Ludwick’s not going to third was so mind-bogglingly inept that we should give Cozart some pass for this one. Yes, Cozart should have paid attention, and should have known that Ludwick is a worse baserunner than Stevie Wonder, but the principal blunder was Ludwick’s.

  5. The AAAstros are proving they can’t score any runs.
    So we won’t need many tomorrow so long as Reynolds brings his game.
    Here’s hoping we put the hammer down and not play like Friday is more important.

    • @Johnu1:
      Not that this matters what you or I think, but do not underestimate the Astros.
      They hit a little funk the past 4 games, but they probably outscored the Reds line-up the past month. They have scored 6 runs or more 7 times from 9/2 to 9/13. A series @ Oakland during this stretch, they also scored 5 during in their one win against the smoking A’s playing them tough.
      A sweep against any MLB team is tough and we have seen impressive pitching even if we cannot appreciate it.

  6. Dusty has to manage like every game is Game 7 of the WS and that means having Chapman ready in the 8th if NECESSARY and the Brewers game the other night was def a situation that I am talking about, we’d be ONLY .5 game behind the Pirates. 10 games left, I would like to see 8-2.

    • @Josh: I have to say that had Dusty used Chapman every time we at RLN thought he should have, the missile’s arm would no longer be attached to his body. Dusty has taken a lot of grief for his management of the pitching, and I will only note that, late in the season, it is largely in great shape.

  7. It felt so good to see Marshall on the mound. The 3 hitters he easily retired in the 9th were all RHed hitters. Nice to have a lefty set up man who is also tough on righties. If he can show he’s healthy, he’ll be on the postseason roster.

  8. At least Villar didn’t fumble when he crashed into BP’s hind end.

    …Yes, ESPN drew that comparison tonight.

    • @TraviXDM: If I were Villar I’d be pissed off. I’m a big fan of BP and the way he plays, but the the blind under the legs tag did not look necessary or smart to me. For one thing he missed the tag. And Villar’s neck snapped back, he could have gotten hurt.

      • @pinson343: If I were Villar, I’d be more concerned with my decision making process on the bases. It was an awful decision and he deserved what he got.

      • @pinson343: I agree with you, really, but am not certain BP had time–or at least thought he did–to turn around. It did seem significant that he didn’t even look at the base runner, though. The heat he would be taking if Villar hadn’t been called out…!!!

        • @greenmtred: The thing that gets to me with BP on this play is, it was entirely un-needed if not even disrespecting the opponent. It wasn’t fancy; it didn’t require talent, and it certainly didn’t show intelligence. Shoot, I could easily see the runner being safe on the play. When BP does stuff like this, it isn’t baseball anymore. Or, it’s making fun of the game of baseball. BP just can’t tag the runner out. No, he has to bend over and put the ball between his legs, thinking I will just take the runner automatically when he comes in, which almost didn’t happen.

          I like BP when he plays baseball. This wasn’t baseball.

        • @greenmtred: Honestly, it was a series of lucky events for the Reds. Phillips had no way of knowing that tag could be applied. Villar was probably safe and he made the only slide he could make. 9 in 10 plays, he’s called safe on that. The rest about the head butt is for humor, but BP hardly had an intentional hand in any of the play. He just got a lucky call against a team that is struggling. Losing teams just always seem to have that misfortune.

        • @Johnu1: I just read an article that said Phillips didn’t know Villar was coming to second until he heard the crowd noise. It seems he took a chance and got lucky. Of course BP is a hotdog, but I don’t really think he did it to show Villar up as much as just to make the play. Didn’t hurt my feelings.

        • @preach: Didn’t bother me much either but I’d rather not see some angry Peacock decide to plunk our 2B just because he didn’t think it was funny. I would guess Villar didn’t make much of a deal of it.

  9. I feel Reynolds will pitch OK but Wednesday’s game is not likely to be as easy as the first two. Peacock is a decent pitcher and has pitched well his last 2 starts.

  10. Mlbnetwork showed an interesting stat tonite. Among all major league pitchers with more than 100 innings, Mike Leake has the 5th best road ERA.

    • @pinson343: If I was a GM with a team playing in a massive stadium out west and needed starting pitching, I would be calling WJ every morning to try and set up what it takes to pry Mike Leake away from the Reds this offseason. Leake is a 4th or 5th starter for the Reds but he could be a legitimate, top-of-the-rotation starter for someone else. Maybe WJ could get Broxton and his contract include as a coup de grâce in the transaction.

        • @Sultan of Swaff: This is also why I expect Bronson to be pitching for the Giants next season. I think the pool of teams likely to sign him is pretty small: no AL, no small ballpark NL teams. The Dodgers don’t need pitching, and I’m not sure Bronson will be willing to go to a bad San Diego team unless they blow him away with their offer. So I think it’s Reds–unlikely–Giants, or–gulp–Pirates.

        • @Eric the Red: The Giants do indeed need to do some work with their pitching but it’s currently confined to some older less-effective guys and a lot of young power arms with unreliable career data. Bronson would be an OK fit in the Bay, I think.

          I don’t know if San Diego would be an especially bad place to land.

  11. It’s a good think we’re playing the Astros because the hottest team in baseball is right behind us. IMO: this weekend series will feel like the playoffs already started. Gotta pass those Buccos as George Grande would say.

  12. What would be the reason the Braves would rather have the Nats in the playoffs than the Reds? Watching yesterday’s first game(9th inning) was like the early 1980′s Jai Alai games, they eventually shut them down for fixing the outcome of games. 2 runs without a ball hit out of the infield off of the best closer in the game. Hopefully the Reds will get to play them in the NLDS.

    • @caseybe: The Reds are 4 games ahead of the Nats in the loss column, but they are also 4 games behind the Braves in the loss column for the best record in the NL and home field advantage. Time is running short, but if Bruce and Votto both heat up now with Dusty finally capitulating and resolving to hit them back-to-back and if the pitching staff gets completely healthy with the addition of Cueto and Marshall…well we can dream and we all know, sometimes dreams come true.

    • @caseybe:
      c’mon, the Braves want to beat the Nats. I live in the area and everybody is talking about the collapse 2 years ago.
      The Braves magic # is 4, Reds 7 not much difference.

      Lot easier to make up ground when you are whooping the team limping to the finish line. Nats got a better chance at catching the Cards than the Reds

  13. Hey though, seriously. Washington is coming like a freight train. After tonight while the Pirates and Reds play each other 6 of the 9 remaining games, all the Nationals need to worry about is 3 with the Cardinals. Otherwise, they have 3 with the Fish and 3 with the faltering Snakes. It is VERY likely the Nationals will sneak in the back door while the Reds and Pirates are clubbing each other on the front lawn.

  14. Anyone hear Chris say on last night’s game that Dusty had Robinson/Paul were in the lineup last night to get “all these guys” some ABs before the team has to make playoff roster decisions? I hope Chris was wrong (though I doubt he was). If Dusty’s playing guys to get them ABs rather than playing their best people to win every game possible between now and the 29th….

    • @Bill Lack: Yep, the Old Cossack’s ears picked up on Chris’ comment too and that was accompanied by a big ol’ :roll: while I repeated to myself, “Dusty being Dusty.”

    • @Bill Lack: Obviously, the team needs up-to-date information before making the roster decisions and, obviously, all of the guys on the playoff roster have to be ready to play. The Reds were playing the Astros and using a dh–a great situation for spreading playing time around. I think that your implied criticism of Dusty is reflexive.

        • @Zabka84: I know that they haven’t locked it up, but their probability of doing so is high, and they won’t be playing the Astros again, so with 10 games left, it seems a sensible approach.

    • @Bill Lack: What exactly is wrong with using left-handed hitters, especially Paul, against a right-handed pitcher? Paul has an OPS of .783 against RHs, whereas Ludwick is .688 (in limited ABs, but it was only .759 in 2010-12), and Heisey is .592. Paul was the correct choice at DH.

      Robinson is a bit more iffy, but remember Robinson had an injury much of the year that hindered his ability to swing left-handed, and he is now past that. But he is in any event the best defensive left fielder they have, and Dusty likes to use him when Arroyo or Leake pitch. These guys all need at-bats, because Robinson may be called upon against the Pirates, even if he won’t make the post-season roster.

      • @greenmtred: @Big Ed:

        This is not the time to play the “B” team, every one of these games is paramount. This team is still trying to win a division title. What would you be saying if they’d have lost last night, rather than won? Just because a decision works, doesn’t make it the right decision. Paul has been horrible since the end of June. Robinson was sent to AAA, which shows what the team thought of his value.

        IMO, it shows how, even at this point in the season, Baker still doesn’t understand the importance of individual games, over being ready for tomorrow or the day after.

        • @Bill Lack: I think you are way over-reaching on that. I’m not a fan of Baker’s at all, and I liked the lineup. If you didn’t, so be it, but that doesn’t mean yours is the only explanation. I think the lineup was right for last game, based on being able to put all those lefties in a row.

          It’s only one game, and if they had been shutout, I probably would feel differently. Thing is, my perspective has the numbers on its side, and the Reds won 10 to nothing. So, yeah.

      • @Big Ed: Agreed. When I saw the lineup, I didn’t think “Dusty being Dusty,” I thought, “Wow, Dusty finally decided to stack his LH hitters vs a RH pitcher.”

        Clearly, the third time through the lefties was too much and Bruce hit a grand slam. Seems like it worked out ok to me.

    • @Bill Lack: Could be, Welsh just felt compelled to have some comment about why some guys were in the lineup. The lineup, as I saw it, was as automatic as a toaster. The difference: If it was before the September callups, Heisey would probably have been the LF.

  15. —The Phillips play was bush league. Exhibit A in how not to receive a throw. It makes for a funny blooper, but would it be funny in a playoff game?
    —Marshall’s offspeed stuff looked tremendous, but none of his fastballs were >88. That’s 4mph below his norm, which could be what Brantley was alluding to. I still think he’s gonna need surgery, but maybe he can hold out.

    • —The Phillips play was bush league. Exhibit A in how not to receive a throw. It makes for a funny blooper, but would it be funny in a playoff game?—

      Agreed. In a particular scenario, I could see myself laughing at it all day long. But, the scenario we have right now? Bush league. If I was the other manager, I’d consider plunking him.

        • @Kyle Farmer: This is going to be one of the worst things about replay. A lot of calls that no one argues about today–because people generally accept the the idea that “if the ball beat him there he’s out even if the tag isn’t applied cleanly”–are suddenly going to be looked at and overturned.

          Tagging techniques are going to have to be changed. Mark my words–if replay goes through, a team that really puts energy into this in spring training is going to have a competitive advantage next year.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: I didn’t see him throw last night but I really trust Brantley’s take on pitchers. I’ve feared all along that we’ve got another Massett situation on our hands here.

  16. I was pleasantly surprised Dusty pulled Leake to get Marshall in. (I was actually rooting for the Astros to get one run in the 8th to increase the odds of Dusty letting Marshall pitch the 9th.). That’s a rare thing–Dusty putting the team’s interest in front of wanting one of “his guys” to accomplish something like a complete game shutout.

    In his post game comments it sounded like Leake’s pitch count, and the impact it might have on his next start, weighed at least as much in Dusty’s mind as getting Marshall in the game. I wish he’d shown that same attitude in some other starts this year, especially with Cingrani and Bailey.

    • @Eric the Red: Well, I guess that’s the difference between the stretch and the run. I think Dusty has the scenarios in the regular season down okay. As far as the postseason, I hope he manages it like the postseason and not the regular season.

      YOU’VE GOT A HOOK, DUSTY. USE IT THIS YEAR!

  17. I don’t much know how the dugout staff and the pitchers handle their approach to the late innings but the data is fairly conclusive: The 6th inning on, Reds starters tend to falter. Not many exceptions. Maybe it’s all teams, I dunno.

    But if that’s proving true, do the pitchers talk to Price about this … say, after the 5th inning? “Yeah, my pitches are up,” they might confess.

    Do the catchers say anything? Does anybody say anything? Do the coaches care or are the pitchers and catchers trained (military protocol) to go on out there and buck it up, at any cost?

    Latos, Arroyo, Leake ALL tend to run out of fuel in the 7th inning after sometimes brutal 6th innings.

    Dusty insists on giving them one hitter in the next inning before he goes to the bullpen. Why does he do that? Is this in the pitchers’ contracts?

  18. The Nationals aren’t “in the thick” of the postseason race yet. Time is running out on them. If they win every single one of their remaining games (Braves, Cardinals, Diamondbacks) they’ll finish with 92 wins.

  19. Thank you Astros, for just being you. So nice to have a chance to rehab Cueto and Marshall against the minor leagues even though their season is technically over.

  20. Sure, I laughed at BP’s tuchus tag last night. But when an Astro pitcher plants a fastball in that selfsame anatomical feature tonight, is anybody gonna be upset?

    Because if I managed the Astros, that would totally happen.

    • @RC: The great thing about BP is that he knows exactly what he’s doing, and exactly what the price is. He likes to play the game in a flashy, show-boaty way, but he also knows the traditionalists won’t like it and will probably hit him with some pitches.

      He always seems to take the beanings with a smile and heads to first. Seems like a reasonable tradeoff to me.

      • @al: So long as he doesn’t have to sit out 3 games with another sore wrist and come back at .190. Honestly, if Dusty has a clue, BP will not even play tonight.

      • @al: Agreed. I’m old school (not dead or senile, no matter how much the stat guys think otherwise), but you just take the fasball in the ribs and go on. Heck, since we are in such a new school environment, he probably won’t be hit at all. New school dictates just whining about what happened and being mad when the old school guys come to pretty much the same conclusions you do in the end without using a protractor. Ooops, did I say that?

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