Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Atlanta 1
Cincinnati 4

W: M. Leake (1-5)
L: M. Minor (2-4)
S: S. Marshall (8)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–Mike Leake was brilliant tonight. In his best start of the year, Leake went 8 strong innings against the second-best offense in the league, allowing only one run on two hits. Leake struck out six and walked one, and only threw 98 pitches. And hey, he got his first win of the season, too!

–Did I mention that Leake hit a homer, too? In the fourth, Leake homered to left. Zack Cozart promptly followed suit, then Drew Stubbs drilled his second homer of the game for back to back to back homers.

–Cozart and Stubbs were the only Reds with two hits (and Cozart had a beautiful defensive play at shortstop). Stubbs also walked; Joey Votto reached base three times, as well, with a hit and two walks.

–Sean Marshall, of all people, got the last out of the game with two runners on base, picking up the save. You know, because this team’s closer can’t pitch three days in a row. (#startaroldis)

NEGATIVES
–Jose Arredondo walked two in the ninth, and was unable to close out the game.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–A beautiful start to the homestand. Just a fun, fun game. Cincinnati is now three games over .500, and remains a half-game behind the Cardinals in the division. Slowly but surely, this team is turning things around.*

–If you hadn’t done the math already, all of Cincinnati’s runs scored on solo homers tonight. The four homers marks a season-high for the club.

–After our old friend Juan Francisco homered, Leake retired fourteen straight Braves. (And, in a wonderful summary of his career, Francisco promptly followed up his homer with an error at third base in the top of the following inning.)

–Evidently, the same guy caught both Leake’s and Cozart’s back to back home run balls out there in the left field stands. That’s crazy.

–Friends and neighbors, that is a good win against perhaps the best team in the National League. Let’s keep it going tomorrow, Mat Latos.

*Blind optimism provided for free!

47 Responses

  1. Kurt Frost

    Francisco then cleaned three plates at the post game buffett for the trifecta.

  2. Steve Mancuso

    Cozart had a couple nice defensive plays and so did Drew Stubbs in the ninth inning. I hope Stubbs wasn’t hurt on the play (did they say or show anything on the TV broadcast?). He was very, very slow getting back to his position after the catch.

    Total black hole in the Reds lineup – Ludwick, Frazier, Mesoraco. Bruce would be in this list, too, except he at least walked once and was victimized by some bad strike calls.

    I love watching Mike Leake play the game of baseball. Such a great athlete and competitor.

  3. Steve Mancuso

    I think I’d have let Leake start the 9th inning. He was really cruising along. I’d have had Arredondo or Marshall up throwing at the start of the inning, though. I say that without knowing what Leake may have told Baker about how he was feeling. I’d have given the guy a chance for a complete game. Short leash though, if he let’s one runner on base, I pull him.

    • dn4192

      I think I’d have let Leake start the 9th inning. He was really cruising along. I’d have had Arredondo or Marshall up throwing at the start of the inning, though. I say that without knowing what Leake may have told Baker about how he was feeling. I’d have given the guy a chance for a complete game. Short leash though, if he let’s one runner on base, I pull him.

      Had Mikes previous performances been stronger I would agree but with the struggles he has had, I liked pulling him there on a strong postive performance. 8 strong dominate innings, a homerun and the lead, let the dominate bullpen close things out and get Mike some positive vibes.

  4. pinson343

    Definitely a fun game. Leake can be so good when he gets into a rhythm, working quickly.

    I agreed with Dusty’s bullpen moves in the 9th, given that Chapman was not available. It’s kind of funny that Dusty is being forced to make bullpen decisions in the 9th inning, when he’d rather automate the process.

    Arredondo’s splitter was so nasty to the first two batters and then it was scary how quickly he lost it. He was squeezed on a couple of high strikes that should have ended the game, but just the same, he lost it.

    Over the last few days Marshall has really struggled with command of his fastball. When he’s on, he gets a couple of strikes with breaking stuff and then throws a high fastball for strike 3. He tried to do that tonite, and the fastball barely reached the plate, if at all. Chris Welsh said that happened because he tried to throw it too hard.

    • Steve Mancuso

      pinson343: I agreed with Dusty’s bullpen moves in the 9th, given that Chapman was not available. It’s kind of funny that Dusty is being forced to make bullpen decisions in the 9th inning, when he’d rather automate the process.

      I agree. If Baker was going to pull Leake, Arredondo was a fine choice. Then going to Marshall after the two walks also seemed like the right move.

  5. pinson343

    @Steve Mancuso: Leake was cruising, maybe I let him face one batter in the 9th, but I didn’t oppose Dusty taking him out when he did. He’d thrown 98 pitches, and when he loses it, the damage can happen very fast.

  6. pinson343

    @Steve Mancuso: You could see that Stubbs was going all out to make that catch, I liked that. The tv announcers just said that his wrist (I think) seemed to be bothering him.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Leake said post game that his back was tight and it was his call to come out.

      OK, good to know.

  7. Racine Red

    Props to Leake. I wonder if that was the best game he’s ever pitched. Didn’t see much of it, but he looked good in the little bit I saw.

    Still think it’s overreacting to declare a guy’s back after one great start. We’ll see. I am still very skeptical. Lots of guys pitch a good game here and there.

    Great hitting by Leake. I’d think it was idiotic to say he should be pinch hitting ahead of Costanza, but I don’t know…Costanza is pretty bad.

    I don’t get the whole thing how everyone loves Baker’s bullpen management today. People are projecting what they want onto Baker. Y’all must know that he didn’t pitch Arredondo because it was an easy save chance. He pitched him because Chapman was unavailable. If anyone thinks that Chapman will do anything besides pitch the 9th, you haven’t paid attention to Dusty Baker’s managerial career.

    I saw Ludwick’s AB in the first. He swung at all pitches out of the strike zone.

    Stubbs is pretty strong. I didn’t think he hit that first one enough to get it out.

    Also, whoever said that Marshall’s lost his fastball because he threw one fastball in the dirt, isn’t that a bit of a stretch?

    • Steve Mancuso

      I wonder if that was the best game he’s ever pitched.

      That’s what Brantley said on the radio after the game. He thinks it was the best game Leake has pitched since he’s played for the Reds.

      • pinson343

        Steve M.: That’s what Brantley said on the radio after the game. He thinks it was the best game Leake has pitched since he’s played for the Reds.

        That’s the best I’ve seen Leake pitch. He did have a comparable outing on June 11, 2011 at SF:
        8 innings, no runs, 4 hits, 8 Ks, 1 BB (got a W)

        His other top outings, also 2011:

        September 6 at Cubs:
        9 innings, 2 runs, 3 hits, 6 Ks, 0 BBs
        No decision, 2 runs allowed were on HR by LaHair with 2 outs in the 9th.
        (Reds won in extras.)

        September 13 Cubs at home:
        8 innings, 1 run, 6 hits, 2 Ks, 2 BBs
        Got the W.

    • RiverCity Redleg

      I don’t get the whole thing how everyone loves Baker’s bullpen management today. People are projecting what they want onto Baker. Y’all must know that he didn’t pitch Arredondo because it was an easy save chance. He pitched him because Chapman was unavailable. If anyone thinks that Chapman will do anything besides pitch the 9th, you haven’t paid attention to Dusty Baker’s managerial career.

      @Racine Red: Yes, but what I am happy about is that although Dusty has annointed a new closer, he didn’t didn’t run him out there just b/c it was a save situation. Instead, he used his best, freshest arm available. And that, my friend, is a very good sign that he can be flexible. Dusty gets alot of criticism, rightfully so, on his bullpen use. He should also get praise when he does the right thing.

  8. pinson343

    Tonite’s “Mike Leake – He Only Does Everything” reminds me of how we talked about him after his first half dozen or so major league starts. He’d pitched well in every outing, and his hitting, base running and defense amazed us. We were making jokes based on the “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials.

  9. Racine Red

    @pinson343: OK, so that was you. So we’re analyzing pitch by pitch now? Should we analyze Arredondo’s pitch by pitch too? I just think it’s a bit overboard. Guy threw a couple of fastballs a bit too low against the Yankees and now we’re sure that he’s lost his fastball?

  10. pinson343

    @Racine Red: I didn’t say that Marshall has lost his fastball, I said he’d had trouble commanding it the past few days.
    I referred to Chris Welsh’s comment that he tried to throw tonite’s fastball too hard, so it ended up in the dirt. That’s a comment about ONE PITCH. I’m sure Marshall will be fine.

  11. Steve Mancuso

    I checked the PitchFX on Bruce’s AB vs. Hernandez late in the game. Both of the called strikes were out of the zone. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Bruce stand and argue a call like that. Seemed like both teams had some gripes about the strike zone.

  12. Racine Red

    @Steve Mancuso: I think Arredondo was fine also, because it was a low leverage situation. The unfortunate part is that Baker thinks of it as a high leverage situation, in that if Chapman was available, he’d have been in there. (And it would be similar with a lot of managers, I realize.)

    Poor job by Arredondo nibbling with 2 outs and a 4-1 lead there though.

  13. pinson343

    @Racine Red: Just because Dusty handled the bullpen well tonite doesn’t mean that he’ll use Chapman in a flexible way as closer, for example using him for a 2 inning save. He won’t.

  14. pinson343

    @Racine Red: I’ve already replied to your comment. With all due respect, you’re going overboard on my original comment.

  15. Racine Red

    @pinson343: I wasn’t trying to, but I just looked it up, this is what you said:

    “Got too interesting in the 9th. Arredondo’s split stopped dropping. And Marshall has lost command of his fastball.”

  16. pinson343

    No, I said: “Over the last few days Marshall has really struggled with command of his fastball. When he’s on, he gets a couple of strikes with breaking stuff and then throws a high fastball for strike 3. He tried to do that tonite, and the fastball barely reached the plate, if at all. Chris Welsh said that happened because he tried to throw it too hard.”

    That’s a comment about a few pitches. How does it say that “we’re sure that he’s lost his fastball” (quoting you) ?

  17. YoungRedFan4

    I know that we are looking for a division title and we feel that is our only ticket into the post season. BUT! the Reds are only .5 games out of the wild card spot also. But believe me i would much rather see the Redlegs win the division.

  18. pinson343

    Tonite Dave Johnson pulled his closer in the middle of an AB. Love the way he manages.

  19. Racine Red

    @pinson343: Yes, you said that here. On the game thread, I quoted you. Go back and look at what you wrote. I was responding to that. You’ve clarified the statement, no big deal. But I did not misquote you. To me, when someone says “And Marshall has lost command of his fastball”, it means that the writer thinks that Marshall has lost command of his fastball.

  20. pinson343

    Oh OK, got it, sorry. I won’t look back at what I said on the game thread, I believe you that I overstated there. My bad.

    I spent a lot of time yesterday saying and even analyzing how Marshall is pitching OK this year. He’ll be fine.

  21. pinson343

    Watching Leake tonite reminded me of the one time I saw him pitch in person. It was one of his first major league starts, in Houston. I was sitting right behind the Astros dugout, so I had a close-up look. He looked like a kid who was about to go to his senior prom. He pitched 7 innings and allowed only 1 run. The Astros could not square up on him, apparently because of late movement combined with throwing strikes (in different locations) with 4 different pitches.

    Michael Bourne was also leading off that nite, and Leake struck him out 4 times. The best Bourne could manage was a foul tip, and the other lefties were also even having more trouble with him than the righties.

    Astro fans all around me were asking who this kid was.

  22. earl

    “I think I’d have let Leake start the 9th inning. He was really cruising along.”

    Have you ever seen that old Star Trek episode where ‘Evil Spock’ with the goatee shows up? I think we are getting ‘Evil Dusty’ a bit now with him working without a contract past this year. He knows not to trust what he would “usually” do and starts going into other options.

    Dusty remembers starting Leake in the 9th and leads evaporating, but he doesn’t go to his closer, so he goes to some other guy who fades but instead of leaving him out there to get it together, he pulls the pitcher.

    Hey, they won. Mark it in the book.

  23. hermanbates

    Not too many people mention it, but some people criticize him-and rightly so, he hasn’t hit well-but I like what I’ve seen out of Mesoraco. When he first got to the minors he really struggled and think it was for the same reason-he went from managing his high school pitchers to managing a professional baseball team’s pitching staff, from the starters through the whole of the bullpen. He focused on being the best catcher he could be, and once he figured that out, his hitting turned around.

    I like when he plays. He’s got two consecutive great outings from Leake and two consecutive great outings by Bailey. And I do like most of his at bats, he gets his cuts in and makes some hard contact. He’s going to hit. And when he does, the reds will have the most complete backstop in the game.

    It says a lot that he’s immersing himself in becoming a guy who our pitchers can trust. I think Dusty’s gotta get some starts for him from Cueto and Latos, seeing as he’ll be catching them for the majority of the rest of his career(hopefully because we keep those guys around a while, not because Meso’s career is short). He’s gonna be a heck of a player and I’m glad he’s ours. If Mesoraco get’s us ten homers this year, and maintains an .OPS over .650, we should be happy. I really am very excited for him still. He’s gonna be a star in this league for awhile, and stud catchers aren’t around too often.

    Finally, I’m excited about the draft. I’ve been hearing the Reds want a college arm, but I would rather see them go after Shaffer from Clemson or Piscotty from Stanford. One of them will be around when the Reds pick. With the emergence of Cingrani, the Reds have a deep stable of arms in the pipeline, including Corcino, Sulbaran, Renken, Joseph, Stephenson, Cingrani and Lotzkar. Seeing as Joseph is the only one of this list that doesn’t start, we’re pretty solid pitching wise. Plus, I don’t foresee too many rotation spots opening up anytime soon, that is under the assumption that Chapman is made a starter.

    Big things.

  24. Matt WI

    @hermanbates: FWIW, Sutcliffe went out of his way last night to praise Mesaraco several times last night in terms of how he approached his catching… I’m not the biggest Sutcliffe fan, but he’s a pitcher, I’ll tip my cap if he sees good catching work going on.

  25. Johnu1

    A couple of thoughts on pitching.

    I think Leake has always known what he needs to do to win at this level. Achieving that brings positive results.

    As for the bullpen, it was nice to see them buck it up and win the game. Regardless of how it’s done — ugly or not — you have to win a game like this one at home. Getting that done really mattered.

    And the solo home runs — Dusty’s idea of small ball, I suppose. But it’s hard to drive guys in when you are the third in a row to dinger.

    What are the odds that one person could catch two consecutive balls hit into the seats? He wasn’t the only guy sitting in that section.

    I’d put that guy’s picture in the Hall of Fame — seriously.

    • Racine Red

      A couple of thoughts on pitching.

      I think Leake has always known what he needs to do to win at this level. Achieving that brings positive results.

      What are the odds that one person could catch two consecutive balls hit into the seats? He wasn’t the only guy sitting in that section.

      I’d put that guy’s picture in the Hall of Fame — seriously.

      If Leake knows how to be successful, it’d be nice if he starting putting up better numbers.

      The chance of a particular fan catching two home run balls in a row is worse than 1 in a million but probably better than 1 in 100 million.

  26. cliff

    If he had sent leake out and allowed a hit, let’s say a solo homer, some people on this blog would criticize him for leaving mike leake in.

  27. pinson343

    @cliff: Most people on this blog were OK with his taking Leake out after 8. It was even pointed out that Leake wanted out after 8 because something was bothering him. Whatever decision is made, there will be some disagreement among blog members.

    • Johnu1

      @cliff: Most people on this blog were OK with his taking Leake out after 8. It was even pointed out that Leake wanted out after 8 because something was bothering him. Whatever decision is made, there will be some disagreement among blog members.

      Leake didn’t need a CG. The Reds needed a win. The attachment to personal statistics is one thing but CG is really no measure of a pitcher these days.

  28. pinson343

    If you look at the game and recap commnents, there was overwhelming support of Dusty’s taking Leake out after 8. Comments about Leake’s 9th inning leads evaporating in the past, “I would have used the bullpen just as Dusty did”, etc.

  29. RC

    Re: Marshall, all the hits he gave up on Saturday in New York were on fastballs or sliders that slid right into the center of the plate. I don’t think he has much confidence in either of those pitches right now, hence he possibly either loaded up on that fastball, or purosely didn’t want it anywhere near the plate.

    Either way, kudos to Dusty for putting him in last night – we need him to get this stuff worked out, regardless of whether he’s closing or not. He’s very important to this team.

    And IIRC, one of the ESPN dudes mentioned something about Leake maybe having been trying to throw too hard and losing some action on his pitches, and that he may have fixed that problem. No idea where that came from, but if it’s true that this was a reason for Leake’s early struggles, maybe we can hope for a many repeats of last night’s performance? Fingers crossed.

    PS – I turned to ESPN when I saw the dreaded Thom was doing the game on FOXSP. And I have to say, those ESPN guys were extremetly dull IMO. Maybe I don’t appreciate what I’ve got…

  30. hermanbates

    Dave Schoenfield over at espn.com from the sweetspot blog offered up this brilliant nugget. How about he switches Bruce and Stubbs in the order? Sure, Votto won’t still wont see any pitches…but imagine what Bruce could do with the pitches he sees batting second? I’d be okay with you batting Bruce third and Votto fourth to be honest. I don’t want to give Votto less ABs, but if he’s gonna be walking 160 times this year, I could handle dropping him a spot.

    I think that’s a good idea.

  31. hermanbates

    @hermanbates: code talk: he in my second sentence is Dusty Baker. and the first won’t is to throw you off the scent of my code talk.

  32. al

    @Racine Red: um, hasn’t he started putting up better numbers? 15 IP with 2 ER? That’s a 1.20 ERA if I’m not mistaken.

    I know the guy is young, but people seem to give Leake no credit. He has been the Reds second best starter over the past 2 years. He’s got enough of a track record that it would be way more surprising for him to totally flame out than for him to pull it together.

  33. al

    Reds starters have gone 60.2 innings over the last 10 starts, with a 3.71 ERA. Not stellar, but steady. With the way our pen has pitched, that should be good enough for a winning record.

    We’re 6-4 over that span.

    That seems about right for how we’ve been playing. If we’re going to be a legit playoff team, we’re going to need more offense from somewhere. The pen is pitching better than I thought they would, and the starters have rounded into form right about where expected (though with Latos and Arroyo’s numbers reversed).

    The Reds are on pace for 87 wins right now, and that passes my eyeball test. That’s about what they look like to me. A team that’s just short of playoff caliber.

    You have to wonder what impact bats will be available this year, and what the Reds have left to get one.

  34. al

    Also, I think it’s time the fans turned their attention to Brandon Phillips. His .654 OPS is the lowest of any Reds regular not on the DL, and he’s actually be worse in May, so if anything, he’s going the wrong direction.

    He’s got more track record, so I get the fans not turning on him immediately. But for all the complaining about Stubbs, Cozart, and the leftfielders, they all have better season stats than Phillips at this point.

    If there’s a blackhole in the lineup, it’s in the 4-spot right now.