Saturday, June 12, 2010

Upcoming Schedule

While I'm thinking about it, I should make a post about the Reds' upcoming schedule.  Between now and the All-Star break, the Reds play the Royals (2 games), Dodgers (3), @Mariners (3), @A's (3), Indians (3), Phillies (3), @Cubs (4), @Mets (3), and @ Phillies (4).  That's 28 games remaining, with 16 against teams with a .500 or better record.  Only the Royals, Mariners, Indians, and Cubs are below .500, and three of them play in the stronger American League.

At the same time, the Cardinals upcoming schedule includes the @Diamondbacks (3 games, including tonight's game), Mariners (3), A's (3), @Blue Jays (3), @Royals (3), Diamondbacks (3), Brewers (3), @Rockies (3), and @Astros (3).  They've got 27 games remaining, with only the Blue Jays and A's being above .500, and the Rockies right at it.  Not only that, but their games remaining against the teams below .500 include some really bad teams.  Arizona, Cleveland, Seattle, Kansas City, Houston, and Milwaukee all have winning percentages of .426 or less.  That means the Cards play 18 of their 27 remaining games against six teams that have among the eight lowest winning percentages in the league.  They should really clean up.

When you combine the talent disparity between the Cardinals and the Reds with the difference in the upcoming schedule, the Cardinals have a chance to open up a nice lead in the Central before the break.  On the other hand, if the Reds can finish the first half strong, avoid any long losing streaks, and stay within a couple of games of the Cardinals, they can maintain their new found swagger and position themselves very nicely as legitimate contenders for the Central for the rest of the year.  This is an important stretch, and there's little room for error here.  A few more losses like tonight's 6-5 extra inning affair may really cost the team down the stretch.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Reds Lose in Extras

The Reds lost a tight one tonight, 6-5 to the Royals in 11 innings.  The Reds couldn't get the big hit when they needed it - a rarity for this team this year.  The Reds jumped out to a 4-0 lead after 4 innings, but the Royals rallied back with three runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth to take a 5-4 lead.  Somehow, Yuniesky Betancourt was the offensive star for the Royals, collecting three big hits on the night.  His double in the fifth plated the Royals first run.  His homer in the sixth gave the Royals their first lead.  Then he singled in the winning run in the eleventh to cap off the scoring.  If tonight's not the greatest night Betancourt will ever have on a baseball field, I'll be stunned.

For the Reds, Bronson Arroyo struck out 4 and walked 3 while giving up 6 hits in 7 innings.  He threw 108 pitches.  Logan Ondrusek, Francisco Cordero, and Daniel Ray Herrera each worked a 1-2-3 inning before Micah Owings surrendered the go-ahead run in the 11th.  At the plate, Scott Rolen had four singles and Jay Bruce doubled and homered.  Joey Votto's 0 for 5 night hurt, especially the fly out with runners on the corners and just one out in the eleventh.  Tomorrow's a new day.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reds Win

OK, one last post as I catch up from the computer struggles of the last week.  The Reds won tonight, taking a half-game lead on the Cardinals for first in the Central (pending the outcome of the Cards-Dodgers game tonight).  The Reds got a good outing from Aaron Harang, who went seven solid innings to get the win.  He threw 114 pitches.  I wasn't following the action, but Harang appeared to leave the bases loaded in the seventh despite not allowing any runs in the inning.  It looks like the Reds got away with it tonight, but I wouldn't have minded seeing Harang come out a bit earlier myself.  The offense bounced back from a rough outing against Matt Cain the night before, plating 6 runs behind big nights for Orlando Cabrera (single and three doubles) and Scott Rolen (single and two doubles).  Drew Stubbs homered for the Reds as well.

The Reds conclude the series tomorrow with an afternoon game against the Giants.

Recap of Reds-Nationals at Nationals Park on June 4

I'm posting this very late because of some computer problems, but I actually got to see the Reds play last Friday night.  (You'll also have to forgive me if some of the details were a bit blurry.)  The Reds were in town to play the Nationals in their only trip to DC this year.  (I hate the unbalanced schedule!)  The Nationals won 4-2, but I was long gone by then.  Five-year-olds can only take so much.

The pitching matchup for the night featured Aaron Harang and Livan Hernandez.  In the sabermetric community, Livan has been the poster-child for luck this season, and on this night, he was only OK.  Of course, Harang was much less than that.  He was just awful, despite allowing only two runs.  In the second inning, with 2 out, Harang walked Hernandez in what I recall was just an atrocious at bat for Harang.  Christian Guzman made Harang pay when he followed with a single, plating Ian Desmond from second.  Walking the pitcher is just inexcusable.  For what it's worth, Harang learned his lesson.  The next time Hernandez was up - leading off the fourth - Harang threw him a meatball that Hernandez promptly hit right back up the middle for a single.  I'd have felt a lot better about the run scoring in the second had it been because Hernandez got a hit, instead of giving him a walk.

If I recall, Harang had thrown an astonishing 80 pitches in just 3 innings when he came to bat in the fourth.  He was so bad that my uncle and I had a very serious discussion about whether the Reds should pinch hit for Harang at that point.  The discussion lost some of its luster when Ramon Hernandez, hitting in front of Harang, killed a great scoring opportunity by grounding into a double play.  With two out and Johnny Gomes on third, Harang hit for himself.  He got through the fourth inning and finished the night with 98 pitches in only 4 innings, yet exiting with the score tied at 2 (after the Reds scored to tie it up in the top of the fifth).  His stat line just did not do justice to how bad he was.

On the other side, Livan Hernandez was solid, but not spectacular by any stretch of the imagination.  He threw nothing but junk, but the powerful Reds offense really struggled against it.  I saw him hit 87 on the ballpark gun one time (as he struck out Jay Bruce to end the third, if I recall correctly), but I saw him drop down as low as 61 with a stunning array of absolutely nothing.  For six innings, it worked like a charm.  He got ground balls when he needed them.  He allowed just a single extra base hit (a double to Gomes).  It felt like he was stranding runners all night long.

All in all, it was hard to watch.  Especially for a certain five-year-old I know.

Ultimately, it wasn't a

Long Layoff

Sorry for the long delay.  I've had a pretty tough time with my computers lately.  In the last two months, I've had a netbook fly off the roof of my car, an iPod Touch thrown into a drink by my little girl, and a desktop infected by a virus that three different anti-virus programs (including one I was paying $50 a year for) didn't even recognize, let alone fix.  I think I may be getting back on track here, but I'm not going to get my hopes up.

In the meantime, I've realized that there's actually life away from the computer.  Who knew?!  I'll get back to blogging, but it will likely be less common than those first few weeks.  I would like to do more research too, so if you have any good ideas for me to explore, send them my way!