2012 Reds / Titanic Struggle Recap

Titanic Struggle Recap: Almost

Let’s recap today’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Detroit 3
Cincinnati 2

W: B. Villarreal (2-1)
L: S. Marshall (1-3)
S: J. Valverde (11)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–What more can you ask from Bronson Arroyo? He stared down Justin Verlander, pitched seven innings, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out four and walked none. I’m reminded tonight why Arroyo is my favorite Red. I love watching that guy pitch.

–Chris Heisey went 2-4 with a double, but only one Red reached base three times. Can you guess who it was? Obviously, it was Joey Votto, who went 1-2 with a double, a run scored, and two walks.

–Logan Ondrusek pitched a scoreless inning and a third.

NEGATIVES
–I should be accustomed to this by now, but it blows my mind that the Reds — in 2012 — are hitting two guys with sub-.300 OBPs in the top two spots in the order. Oh Dusty…

–Sean Marshall took the loss by giving up the winning run on two hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. He’s still a great pitcher, for what that’s worth.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–The Redlegs could have won this one, but with Verlander on the mound for Detroit, I doubt many of us were expecting a win.

–I’m so happy with the way Bronson Arroyo has pitched this year. You already know he’s my favorite Red; well, nothing has changed. A tweet posted during the game:

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–Have you noticed that Joey Votto is good?

–Let’s do this tomorrow, Redlegs:

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48 thoughts on “Titanic Struggle Recap: Almost

  1. Two major things I was happy with today:

    1. Bronson didn’t walk anyone. You don’t want to give free passes to that lineup. He certainly kept this game very winnable.

    2. All the pitches we made Verlander throw. It was certainly refreshing to work all those counts deep.

  2. Dusty Baker has had some very talented teams during his managing career. The best of the Cubbies, SF while Bonds was video game Bonds, and yet, he’s a .500 career manager. Lineups and in game decisions are a major shortcoming with Baker. Its the same story, over and over. The sad thing is he’s one of the best paid managers in MLB. Eventually Castellini will figure it out.

    • Dusty Baker has had some very talented teams during his managing career.The best of the Cubbies, SF while Bonds was video game Bonds, and yet, he’s a .500 career manager.

      Dusty Baker’s current winning percentage as a manager is .521. That’s better than Lou Pinella, better than Jim Leyland, better than Buck Showalter, better than Bobby Valentine. Calling Dusty Baker a .500 manager (21 points wrong) is like calling Pete Rose a career .280 hitter (23 points wrong.)

  3. “Almost” is right. Tie game with Verlander done made this one real winnable. Was proud of Bronson and the way the hitters were battling Verlander.
    The epitome of the “almost” was the 5th inning. Verlander had to throw 36 pitches even though he got a DP. A single, a double, and two walks (one intentional and then the long AB by Phillips), but no runs after Bruce Ks. Almost.

    In that long AB walk against Verlander BP shortened his swing, why doesn’t he do that more often ? The Reds also had Verlander on the ropes in the 4th after scoring twice, Haniagn’s 10 pitch AB had Verlander’s pitch count up to 30 for that inning, go ahead run on 3rd, but Hanigan strikes out on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt, unusual for him. Oh well.

  4. @D Ray White: Yes…but Dusty has 1,500+ wins, as Dustiers love to mention. I believe that has a bit more to do with the fact that any bozo with a bit of baseball sense could go .500 like Dusty Boy. Pretty sure only Jim Leyland, maybe one or two others have managed longer than Dusty. 1500 is more to do with longevity than ability.

  5. The Reds broadcasters keep talking about a huge advantage that the Reds have over the Tigers bullpen, and cite the 4.26 ERA of the Tigers bullpen (going into the series I guess). But I’ve seen nothing but impressive relievers for the Tigers, except the flamethrower who made his major league debut yesterday.

    Valverde has been lit up this season by LHed batters, but the Reds didn’t have one to face him in the 9th. The lack of a LHed bat off the bench hurt there, when is WJ going to address that ? (I mean with a good LHed bat.)

  6. A small point and who cares but Young should have been charged with an error on Joey’s double. The usual practice when an OFer loses a ball in the sun or in the lights is that it’s an error if it hits the OFer’s glove. And it did glance off Young’s glove. He’s a hard core DH.

  7. The Tigers having a legit number 3 and a legit cleanup hitter was the difference today. The Reds walk the number 3 hitter and lose the game to Fielder.
    The Tigers walk Joey and … (not blaming BP, it’s not his fault that the Reds don’t have a cleanup hitter).

  8. OK, I’m gonna say something that was *my impression” of the game today, and y’all can tell me if I’m wrong.

    It was nice to see some deep counts today, and it clearly got a Cy Young/MVP winner out of the game early. BUT, I’m not sure it was due to a difference in approach by Reds’ hitters.

    I still saw a lot of 1st pitch hacks. I saw hitters get behind early in the count, but able to spoil a fair number of strike threes, and extend their at bats. Plus, admittedly, some good pitch recognition on balls out of the strike zone with 1-2 or 2-2 counts. And I maybe saw a Verlander who wasn’t quite as sharp as he has been.

    I feel like this is somewhat uncharitable to the hitters, and maybe to Dusty, who I get tired of banging on sometimes. (Other times, less so – say, after his recent Chapman/slider comments.) But I’ll be surprised if this is the beginning of a trend. Pleasantly so.

  9. A couple of weeks ago someone posted that they thought Frasier should be the cleanup hitter. At the time I thought it might be too early to do that. (since he hadn’t been up long and the Reds were winning a lot) Now however, I think Dusty should put BP leading off to get a higher OBP ahead of Votto and put Frasier as cleanup. He isnt the perfect cleanup hitter but I think hes the best they’ve got for it right now. Besides, if he can do it (which I think he can) maybe he wont go back to rusting on the end of the bench when Rolen comes back.

  10. @pinson343: True, but it’s just one series. You have to look at season stats. The Reds bullpen is outstanding, even if they’re getting outpitched in this series.

  11. @RC: I don’t think this is the beginning of a trend either. As you point out, there was a lot of swinging at first pitches, some of which were not strikes. So some of the long counts were only possible because that first swing didn’t put the ball in play.
    But you’ve already said it: “I saw hitters get behind early in the count, but able to spoil a fair number of strike threes, and extend their at bats. Plus, admittedly, some good pitch recognition on balls out of the strike zone with 1-2 or 2-2 counts.”

    The Reds were ramped up for Verlander. It’s very difficult to not swing at his high fast ball, but Ludwick did it twice in drawing the 4 pitch walk. When BP batted against him in the 5th and drew a walk, he was in a deep crouch and taking shorter swings right from the first pitch. Can’t remember his doing that before, until there are 2 strikes.

    Verlander looked plenty nasty to me today. Hard to believe how he dialed his fsstball up to triple digits when he got in trouble in the 4th. Todd Frazier lined a 101 heater for the 2 run single.

  12. @Racine Red: I wasn’t so much complaining about the Reds bullpen as wondering where the Tigers’ relievers with inflated ERAs are, because I haven’t seen one, except Valverde. Maybe they’ve been released, I’ll look it up.

  13. @pinson343: Fair enough. They definitely have looked very good in the parts I’ve seen. Still could just be a flukey good series for them.

  14. I bash Dusty as much as anyone but a lot of what’s going on is Jocketty’s fault. WTF is Negron doing in the major leagues (notwithstanding his walk today) That’s the best they can do for a bench? If I was the GM I’d be ashamed of myself! You check for Reds bench and you see Meso and three guys whose best hope a lot of nights would be to get hit by a pitch…

  15. @Myles: I look at the Reds bench, then I look at Allen Craig on STL. That guy shouldn’t even be playing. He gets spot starts usually, for say Holliday, or Berkman. Both are hurt, I think, so he and his *1.167* OPS are in LF.

    This is the kind of player STL has on their bench usually.

    • @Myles: I look at the Reds bench, then I look at Allen Craig on STL.That guy shouldn’t even be playing.He gets spot starts usually, for say Holliday, or Berkman. Both are hurt, I think, so he and his *1.167* OPS are in LF.

      This is the kind of player STL has on their bench usually.

      It’s sickening!

      The other thing the Cards seem to be able to do (almost) year after year is get key results from fluky places, like having Anthony Reyes face up to Justin Verlander in the World Series and Reyes gets the win. One guy is currently residing in the “where are they now file” (having had a short injury plagued 13-26 career with a 5.12 ERA); the other guy is on a hall of fame trajectory. Kyle Lohse is a bum with an ERA+ of 132 this year.

  16. I’ve seen a lot of baseball games live the past few years. I can honestly say that Verlander did something today that was breathtakingly awesome. It’s already been pointed out (and was covered in the post game press conference with Baker) how Verlander increased his pitch speed when he needed a strikeout. It was right after Votto “doubled” to put runners on second and third with no outs. Right away, Verlander threw 98-99-100 then reeled off a half dozen pitches at 100. It’s like he was good and then amazing, like he could do it at will.

    I know he wasn’t perfect or unhittable, but I was still really impressed by his ability to take his game to the next level under pressure. Not many can do that.

    • I’ve seen a lot of baseball games live the past few years. I can honestly say that Verlander did something today that was breathtakingly awesome. It’s already been pointed out (and was covered in the post game press conference with Baker) how Verlander increased his pitch speed when he needed a strikeout. It was right after Votto “doubled” to put runners on second and third with no outs. Right away, Verlander threw 98-99-100 then reeled off a half dozen pitches at 100. It’s like he was good and then amazing, like he could do it at will.

      I know he wasn’t perfect or unhittable, but I was still really impressed by his ability to take his game to the next level under pressure. Not many can do that.

      Verlander: You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at 96-97. You’re on 96-97, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on 96-97 on your fastball. Where can you go from there? Where? What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?

      Marty DiBergi: Put it up to 101?

      Verlander: 101. Exactly.

  17. The Reds hitters approach to Verlander reminded me of the game when they faced Matt Cain from the Giants earlier this year. Cain was coming off some great performances. The Reds hitters — uncharacteristically, as we point out constantly — worked the count and made him throw a lot of pitches the first inning. I think he ended up pitching seven innings (too lazy to look it up), but the Reds seemed to have a different mentality.

    Same with today. Yes, they hacked at a lot of first pitches, still (sigh) but they also seemed to fight better to foul off pitches they couldn’t handle, even when they didn’t seem like they could hit it successfully.

    I wish they would have that approach every game.

  18. @Steve Mancuso: Good point. I didn’t see much of the game, but I saw Bruce bat after Phillips walk in I think the 5th. I’ll get on Bruce’s plate discipline more than anyone, but the guy actually had a pretty decent AB. What are you going to do when Verlander puts a perfect 12-6 hook right on the black, followed by a 99 MPH fastball right at the top of the zone (fouled off), then a bunch more good pitches that Bruce barely fouled off, and then a brutal change just barely out of the zone. He probably would have struck out 1990’s Bonds there too.

  19. I agree with the suggestion of moving Frazier to the #4 spot. Ideally, it would be Jay Bruce at #4. But as long as Baker is going to insist on a RH hitter between them, it should be Frazier.

    For one thing, he’s the third best hitter on the team now. That was some clutch hit today to drive in those runs.

    I don’t think Phillips is a great leadoff hitter, but he probably would be way better than what we have now. I’d like to see this lineup:

    Phillips
    Stubbs
    Votto
    Frazier
    Bruce
    Catcher
    Left fielder
    Cozart
    Pitcher

    Stubbs has actually done pretty well, both power and getting on base, hitting second. I’d leave him there for now.

    • @Steve Mancuso:

      I agree with the suggestion of moving Frazier to the #4 spot. Ideally, it would be Jay Bruce at #4. But as long as Baker is going to insist on a RH hitter between them, it should be Frazier.For one thing, he’s the third best hitter on the team now. That was some clutch hit today to drive in those runs. I don’t think Phillips is a great leadoff hitter, but he probably would be way better than what we have now. I’d like to see this lineup:PhillipsStubbsVottoFrazierBruceCatcherLeft fielderCozartPitcherStubbs has actually done pretty well, both power and getting on base, hitting second. I’d leave him there for now.

      It would appear that Frazier has earned a shot at cleanup. This roster doesn’t provide any better options. I don’t have ANY problems with Baker splitting up Votto and Bruce. Any potent lineup needs three big bats in the heart of the order. If an opposing team were to IBB Votto, do you have faith that Bruce won’t swing at junk out of the strike zone with men on base?

      Phillips has been providing much more production than he did at the beginning of the season (when he was hurt). Problem with moving him to leadoff: he has never been a high OBP guy.

      The other problem is having the Catcher bat sixth. Mesoraco is in a slump and doesn’t inspire much confidence there.

      Will Cozart get going again hitting in front of the pitcher?

      All that being said, one of my personal pet peeves is when posters say that a certain spot in the lineup should be changed, and then they don’t do the “work” and fill out the rest of the lineup. I appreciate the effort and understand much of the reasoning.

      You don’t come across as being much of a Dusty fan, but I would think that you would agree. Until this team finds a legit leadoff guy and a legit cleanup hitter, any Reds’ lineup is going to be fatally flawed.

      Billy Hamilton, can you steal a spot soon (one year, two years from now) on the ML roster?

      • Problem with moving him to leadoff:he has never been a high OBP guy.

        In 541 ABs in the leadoff role, BP’s OBP is .336. Last year it was .451 in 157 leadoff ABs. Problem solved.

      • Phillips has been providing much more production than he did at the beginning of the season (when he was hurt). Problem with moving him to leadoff: he has never been a high OBP guy.

        While true, the team can only improve by putting even a league average OBP guy over somebody in the .200’s in the leadoff spot.

    • Phillips
      Stubbs
      Votto
      Frazier
      Bruce
      Catcher
      Left fielder
      Cozart
      Pitcher
      Stubbs has actually done pretty well, both power and getting on base, hitting second. I’d leave him there for now.

      I’m good with this. Still want Hannigan hitting two, but I’ll take it if it means keeping Stubbs semi consistent in that spot.

      I just wish it wasn’t so hard for Dusty to try and move this. The Dusty apologists will say it’s just rearranging a bad roster put together by Jocketty… but my goodness, what isn’t worth trying to maximize the chances of this team winning as contructed? Why wouldn’t you try things out? How can a reasonable person justify the low OBP at the top of the lineup? It may only lead to subtle improvement, but sometimes that’s all the difference. A run here, a run there. Take everything you can get.

      Worst case, it demonstrates to Walt “Look, I’ve been a good solider and I’ve gone out of my comfort zone and put together these lineups, but you need to get me somebody to put at the top of the lineup or the 4 hole so I can move Brandon back up in the order.”

  20. @Steve Mancuso: I like your lineup a lot better than what we have. For one thing I like BP more in the leadoff spot than the cleanup spot. In the cleanup spot, he thinks he’s supposed to hit HRs and he gets into slumps. I’ve seen numbers that back this up.

  21. Frazier or Ludwick either one could be put in the 4 spot. They both are handling fastballs right now; and in that spot if Votto and somebody else are on that is what they will see a lot of.

    I think it is ironic that with Heisey and Ludwick both playing every day they are both responding positively.

    A move that needs to be but would be painful is that they need to bite the bullet on the catching situation and bring up Navarro for Meso’s slot. It is the right move for the MLB team at this point; and it is also the right move for Meso’s future to get him down to AAA and let him play everyday for a while.

  22. Following my comment above, I’ve checked out the Tigers bullpen. The stat about their bullpen having a high ERA (over 4.2) is misleading.
    Four guys who have relieved for them this season have very high ERAS, and all 4 are gone.

    Three guys that we know about have ERAs of 4+: Coke, Dotel, Valverde.
    Dotel’s ERA skyrocketed with 3 consecutive bad outings and he hasn’t pitched for more than a week.
    Valverde has had problems with lefties – lots of extra base hits – but that will only matter if the Reds get lucky.

    We’ve seen all the guys with low ERAs and excellent peripherals: J. Benoit, B. Villarreal, L. Marte, and D. Below.
    J. Benoit is the setup guy, of course, and he’s good, but Leyland didn’t want to use him today, due to recent overuse.
    B. Villarreal and D. Below are, so far, having their first good major league season.
    L. Marte has on;y pitched in 4 major league games.

    So a more accurate description than “bad bullpen” is some overworked veterans (Coke and Benoit) and some guys with little major league experience with good stuff who are having excellent seasons so far.

  23. I would like to quibble with the game summary calling Marshall a “great” pitcher. I really am doubting that. He hangs too many slow curveballs to be great.

    I think the Reds should call up Billy Hamilton at the end of the year as a designated runner.

    The Reds really need to make a move to upgrade their bench. The Bench, as pointed out by some, is not Dusty’s fault.

  24. Almost everyone seems to agree that BP should be leading off, Frazier should be hitting higher than 7th, Bruce should probably hit cleanup, and Cozart should definitely not hit in front of Votto. And yet, we all know Dusty won’t do any of this. I just can’t get over the fact that a business with tens of millions of dollars at stake would allow this sort of blatant (and very public) mistake to occur on a regular basis year after year after year.

  25. @Matt WI: And before someone points out the obvious… that no matter what the lineup is, it still needs improvements regardless of how Dusty uses it… yes of course.

    But it feels like Dusty is a “system” coach like in football… he keeps things a certain way despite his personnel strengths (or weaknesses) suggesting otherwise. Newsflash Dusty… we aren’t running a Tampa Two or a 3-4 scheme here: It’s all about getting guys on base in front of the guys that hit the ball hard. That’s the freaking system

  26. This was the first time I really watched a Justin Verlander game. Yeah, he didn’t go 7 innings, but he was absolutely dominant. His control was just a tick off which led to the short outing (still went 6 innings) and kept his SO number modest, but I’ve never seen any pitcher with the arsenal that guy has. I’d never heard of him throwing triple digits before, but he was putting them in at 100-101 for an inning and a half…AFTER his pitch count was well over 80. But whatever, Aroldis Chapman can do that too, right? Well Verlander was also painting 80 mph curveballs on the inside corner for strikes, missing bats with a nasty slider, and straight up making guys look dumb with his changeup. Joey’s SO in the first inning was maybe the worst swing I’ve ever seen Joey Votto take. I am VERY glad we barely ever have to see that guy. He’s as good as they get. Like I said in the game thread, I hope Aroldis was watching.

  27. Oh, and to top it off, he got robbed of a base hit by Votto and laid down a picture perfect sac bunt off an Arroyo curveball with 2 strikes.

  28. This team needs another bat. Dusty’s not going to change it around until another bat comes up. Simple as that. How bad is it that, except for Hanigan, the closest average on the team is 100 pts below Votto’s. Personally, Ill be the one to be negative, but Dusty simply is not putting these players in situations to succeed. And this contributes to the poor offense.

  29. You know, another problem with Dusty running this same lineup out there day after day is the messages he’s sending to the players.

    Hanigan: “Doesn’t matter how often you reach base, you’re staying at #8”
    Cozart: “Doesn’t matter how often you reach base, you’re staying at the top.”
    Phillips: “You’re a cleanup hitter.”
    Bruce: “Doesn’t matter how well you hit lefties, you can’t hit behind Votto.”
    Frazier: “Doesn’t matter how well you hit, I don’t trust you.”
    Ludwick” “Doesn’t matter how many times you swing at balls in the dirt, you’ll always hit higher than Frazier.”

    I understand the theory that players appreciate a manager’s loyalty and some of them seem to need consistency and predictability in their routines, but don’t they also need at least a LITTLE incentive to improve? Dusty’s message to most of these guys is basically “your performance is irrelevant.”

  30. @zippy: That’s a really good point. For better or worse (and it’s worse, in my opinion) the managers who are considered “players’ managers” don’t challenge the players with incentives. That’s considered disruptive of the professional relationship. Baker prefers leaving things the way they are, settling in.

    Contrast that with Joe Maddon of the Rays, who will shuffle the lineup around based on who is performing. You can’t tell me that he doesn’t have an effective managerial style. No one gets more out of his team than Maddon.

  31. @Steve Mancuso: I don’t really follow the Rays, but with just a few seconds of research I can see you’re right about that. Just taking a quick glance at a few of their big-name players, I see Zorbist has hit everywhere from 1-6, and had quite a few ABs at 1, 2, 4, and 5. Upton has most of his ABs at 2, but has also hit 6 and 7. Pena has hit everywhere from 1-7,with significant ABs in several different spots. And it’s obviously impossible to say the Rays can’t hit because of all this shuffling around. It seems like Baker treats all his guys like delicate flowers who might wilt and die if he does anything that might change their routines or in any way suggests dissatisfaction with their performance.

  32. The reds need to really be making hay while the WLBs are down looking more like a MASH team than an MLB team.

    Because when all is said and done; the Pirates may or may not fold; the Brewers may or may not get their act together; but you can about bet on it that the WLBs still have a run of some sort in them.

    • The reds need to really be making hay while the WLBs are down looking more like a MASH team than an MLB team.

      Because when all is said and done; the Pirates may or may not fold; the Brewers may or may not get their act together; but you can about bet on it that the WLBs still have a run of some sort in them.

      Good point, and further, I think it’s fair to say the WLBs will be active at the trade deadline if they’re anywhere near contention. By then, enough teams should be out of the postseason mix that the Reds should be able to find useful bench players, and if Castellini is really willing to play for this year, maybe a bigger move??

      Incidentally, has there been any update on Stubbs and when he will be available? Our bench struggles enough without having to play a man short these days …

  33. Yeesh…Lose tonight and Pittsburgh ties for first place. PITTSBURGH. Tonight’s a big game. If we lose, we will have lost 3 of our last 4 series and any momentum from May is officially gone. Win and we stay alone in first place, 4-2 in inter-league play against two of the better AL squads. Tough stretch coming up with 6 games against the Indians. Tonight’s a big game…

    • Yeesh…Lose tonight and Pittsburgh ties for first place. PITTSBURGH. Tonight’s a big game. If we lose, we will have lost 3 of our last 4 series and any momentum from May is officially gone. Win and we stay alone in first place, 4-2 in inter-league play against two of the better AL squads. Tough stretch coming up with 6 games against the Indians. Tonight’s a big game…

      Just a thought—this game isn’t even against a team in the NL. I’d say it’s about as important as playing a definite non-playoff team in the NL, say the Cubs or Pads.

      In the context of 162 games, a single game is almost never critical or big. Games against playoff teams are the most important, though.

  34. @Racine Red: Lose and you give up sole possession of first place and you’ve lost 3 out of 4 series in a row. Seems pretty big to me. As big as any game in June can be.

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