Believe

Eight months ago

Last September, the LA Dodgers strode into Cincinnati having won 36 of 46 games after the All-Star break. The Reds themselves began the series with a bit of momentum, having won three out of four at home from the first-place St. Louis Cardinals. The series fell on Joe Morgan weekend that featured the emotional reunion of the Great Eight, including Pete Rose.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Cincinnati Reds

All three games of the series were broadcast on national television.

Sept. 6: Reds 3 Dodgers 2

Joey Votto and Mike Leake led the Reds to victory in the first game (box score, RN recap) of the series. Leake pitched 7 2/3 innings, giving up only five hits and two runs. Votto, who reached base in all four of his at bats and scored two runs, put the Reds ahead for good with a fifth-inning, two-out, two-run homer after Brandon Phillips had hit into a double play. Aroldis Chapman struck out the heart of the Dodgers order in the ninth to earn the save, including whiffing fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig on three pitches, the last a 102-mph fastball.

Sept. 7: Reds 4 Dodgers 3

Mat Latos faced Zack Greinke the next night (box score, RN recap) in a game that was decided in extra innings. Joey Votto reached base in all five of his AB, scoring a run in the first inning. Cesar Izturis, batting second (!) and filling in for an injured Brandon Phillips, was an unlikely hero, with three hits and doubling in Shin-Soo Choo (sigh) with a game-tying double in the seventh. In extra innings, Zack Cozart made a superb defensive play robbing Andre Ethier of a hit in the tenth inning with a runner on base. Billy Hamilton played a key role in this Reds win. Pinch running for Ryan Ludwick, Hamilton stole second and scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the tenth on a Todd Frazier single.

Sept. 8: Reds 3 Dodgers 2

The Homer Bailey-Clayton Kershaw series finale (box score, RN recap) represented the high-point of the Reds’ 2013 season. Jay Bruce hit two home runs off of Kershaw, who was on his way to a second Cy Young award. Bruce’s second-inning homer was the first given up by Kershaw in 58 innings and the first Kershaw had allowed to a left-handed hitter in more than a year. Homer Bailey retired the first eleven batters he faced, including seven on strikeouts. Bailey pitched seven innings, giving up two runs, no walks and striking out nine. In the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Hanigan lined a first-pitch double down the left-field line scoring Zack Cozart from first base.

The Reds’ sweep of the Dodgers was the first at home since 1992 and produced this picture:

bench

10 thoughts on “Eight months ago

  1. Those two series were great and reminded me of the Big Red Machine era, when the Reds feared no one. The interesting question is what happened later in September when we tanked the final week against the Mets and Pirates? When it occurred I, like many people, blamed Dusty Baker for his lack of “urgency.” In retrospect it was not so much Dusty’s fault (although he had plenty of faults) but more a reflection of the “schizophrenic” nature of this team…hot one day and ice cold the next, for no apparent reason. This team, going back to the 2012 playoffs is simply not as good as we thought. There is a lot of talent there but not the mental toughness of the BRM.

  2. YEA!!! The Big Lutz is on the 25-man roster and now has 18 PA in the past 10 days with 0 PA in the past 3 days. Whenever Bryan decides to give Lutz a PA, that’s some serious rust to knock off for a young hitter trying to prove himself at the major league level.

    During the past 10 days:

    Lutz: 18 PA (all @ AAA), .800 OPS, 1-HR, 2-BB, 1-HBP, 2-SB, 5-SO
    Heisey: 23 PA, .733 OPS, 2-BB, 1-SB, 7-SO
    Schumaker: 23 PA, .638 OPS, 2-BB, 1-SB, 4-SO
    Bernadina: 10 PA, .633 OPS, 1-BB, 1-SO
    Ludwick: 25 PA, .628 OPS, 1-HR, 2-BB, 8-SO
    Pena: 30 PA, .483 OPS, 1-BB, 1-CS, 2-SO

    I love what Pena has provided this season, but I hope no one mistakes him for an major, everyday contributor. I just don’t see anyone playing 1B (not named Votto) or LF who has produced at an acceptable level this season or in the past 10 days. Why not plug the kid into the lineup every day or at least start him against every RHP and bring him in off the bench as the 1st LH pinch hitter? Find out what the kid can do. Give him a chance to succeed of fail, but give him a chance.

    The Reds have no proven, viable option for LF in 2015 on the major league roster, unless Lutz proves he’s ready. Now is the time to promote those minor league players with the most potential to contribute at the major league level by 2015 (Winker, Waldrop, Mejias-Brean, Silverio, Navarro, maybe even Smith) and find out how close they are to being ready to contribute at the major league level by playing them at the upper levels of the minor league system. Jettison the baggage off the 25-man roster to clear space for anyone who may be able to contribute at the major league level now (Gotay, Diaz). The same can be said regarding the minor league starters (Lorenzen, Moscot, Stephenson, Lively, Travieso, Wright, Guillon). 2014 is looking more and more like 2011. The Reds simply must get some minor league players producing at the major league level or find real, viable alternatives for 2015. They can not simply sit tight again while trying to land major league contributors from other team’s minor league rejects.

    • I am not understanding why Lutz hasn’t been put in yet myself. comparing the wrc+ of all available players to play either first base or LF and Lutz is smoking them in that stat.

  3. Winning three games in a row? Nearly unthinkable nowadays. Winning three one run games in a row? Now that’s just crazy talk.

  4. Wow. I had rough memories from last season. Then I watched those highlights and felt a sense of nostalgia. It really exposes my secret worry that this team is in steep full-on decline.

    One other observation: Jim Kelch needs to improve his home run calls. “That ball disappears” is simply not going to cut it.

  5. From what I am reading across all blogs the hope, excitement, the enthusiasm, the joy, the love of the game has been sucked out of the majority of folks that write about Reds baseball. Well I’ll love my losers all the same at least now the pressure is off to expect a win and I cheer on individual players and hope that we start trading players for young talent and see what a rebuild and or a reboot will do for this team and organization.

    I think if we go into this road trip and sweep across the boards that is our only hope of a turnaround. So my own positive attitude is based upon the next game. We win I”m there! We lose… I give up the expectation of a winning team for the remainder of 2014.

    GO REDS!!!!

    • Either that or we get some unexpected great news on Votto. My heart wants the 2014 season to still offer post-season hope; my brain tells me the sooner we get started on the rebuilding process, the sooner we will finish it. I’d guess in 10 days or so, we will know the verdict.

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