Wednesday, June 15, 2011
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while watching the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers wearing throwback uniforms (1944). Suggestion. If teams are going to wear old-time uniforms, they should make the players wear their pants just below the knees with socks showing and forbid necklaces and Oakley sun glasses.
As Phil Collins sings in Against All Odds, “Take a look at me now.”
That should be the theme song of the Cincinnati Reds as they came marching home from a west coast trip where many thought their pennant hopes would go to die. Instead, they won five of seven, including Wednesday afternoon’s 7-2 annihilation of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Defiance native Chad Billingsley, 5-2 with a 3.85 ERA for his career against the Reds when he took the mound Wednesday, was walked all over like an old throw rug — seven runs and nine hits over four innings.
MANAGER DUSTY BAKER, celebrating his 62nd birthday, chose Wednesday’s day game after a night game prior to an off day to give Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce and Paul Janish days off.
Chris Heisey was in center and batted leadoff, Fred Lewis was in right field and Edgar Renteria was at shorstop, with Jonny Gomes in left.
Lewis had two doubles and walked with the bases loaded with two RBIs. Heisey? Not so good — 0 for 5 with three strikeouts.
Gomes? The man who is beat over the head with a two-by-four about his defense, made what may have been the best defensive play of the year by a Reds outfielder. With two on and two outs in the third, James Loney sliced one to left. Gomes made a long run, made a stretched-out dive and caught the ball while in mid-air, belly down, then slid on his stomach across the foul line and into a barrier, holding on to the ball and saving two runs.
Starter Travis Wood needed all the big batwork and superlative defense, because he was about as dull as a razor blade on its 100th day of use — lucky to give up just one run while yielding five hits, five walks and hitting a batter. He needed 114 pitches to stagger through six innings, ending the streak of starters pitching into the seventh inning at nine straight.
Wood wobbled in the first inning, needing 30 pitches to get through it, but only gave up one run. He walked three that inning (one intentionally), including a walk with the bases loaded for the only run off him.
Jose Arredondo, who struggled on most of the trip, gave up a run in the seventh during his one inning of work.
STUBBS’ DAY OFF came a day after he had three hits, two stolen bases, a sacrifice bunt, an RBI and a run scored. But Baker told Stubbs, who hadn’t missed a game this year, BEFORE his big game Tuesday that he was getting Wednesday off.
But it didn’t matter because the Reds can do little wrong these days as they climbed back to four games over .500 for the first time since May 31.
SCOTT ROLEN, who has struggled most of the season with his bat and his ouchy shoulder, is swinging the bat with astute authority. Even his outs are loud, but on Wednesday he had hits his first three times up, including two doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored.
After going 2-2 in San Francisco and sweeping three from the Dodgers, the Reds come home to interleague play, needing to guard against a letdown this weekend for a three-game series against Toronto and three pitchers who are household names only in their own households.
One wonders who many home runs Toronto’s Jose Bautista will launch during his three games in Great American Small Park. He is tied for the lead in the majors with 21 home runs, tied with Curtis Granderson of the Yankees.
Then it’s three against the New York Yankees, who won’t have Derek Jeter because he is on the disabled list. And now many homers with Granderson hit?
The Reds are off Thursday after playing in 33 of the last 34 games during which they went 17-16 and that included road series at Cleveland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
SPEAKING of the Dodgers, do you know why they are called the Dodgers? Well, when they played in Brooklyn, street car tracks passed Ebbets Field and fans had to dodge the trolleys as they crossed the street to the ball park, hence ‘Dodgers.”
And how difficult is it these days for the Dodgers to play when they wonder if their pay checks might bounce? Beleaguered owner Frank McCourt, involved in an ugly public divorce, may not be able to make his $30 million payroll at the end of the month, which would force MLB to step in.
Former Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey supposedly is trying to put a group together to purchase the team, if McCourt is forced to sell.
And it is so sad to see row after row of unoccupied seats in nearly empty Dodger Stadium, where 40,000 a game used to be automatic. It’s a hard fall for a great franchise.
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UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while wishing I was a close friend to Manny Ramirez when the Los Angeles Dodgers (or somebody) pays him the $8 million in deferred money they owe him this month.
ANYBODY WHO believes the Cincinnati Reds are dead and nearly buried for the 2011 season needed to watch their 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday night.
ANYBODY WHO believes Drew Stubbs is not a viable leadoff hitter needed to watch him Tuesday night — three hits, a sacrifice, a run scored, an RBI and two stolen bases.
ANYBODY WHO doesn’t believe in Johnny Cueto needed to watch him Tuesday night pitch his second straight game without giving up an earned run — seven innings, one unearned run, five hits.
ANYBODY WHO doubted the Reds starting pitchers and keep asking/pleading for the team to acquire a No. 1/ace needed to watch Tuesday’s game when Cueto pitched seven innings — the ninth straight game in which Reds starters pitched into the seventh inning. In those nine games, Reds starters are 6-1 with a 1.97 ERA.
ANYBODY who continually boorishly scream that Dusty Baker be fired, well, Super Glue your lips together and just go away, because it isn’t going to happen.
For those who jumped off the bandwagon and sprinted down the street when the Redes fell to third place, 5 ½ games behind — well, the bandwagon stops this afternoon at Third & Walnut in Cincinnati for all the front-runners to scramble back aboard.
With their 3-2 win Tuesday, the Reds are only 2 ½ games out of first place and they’ve clinched a winning west coast trip. They are 4-2 with the final game this afternoon in Dodger Stadium.
Cueto shut out the Giants, 3-0, last Thursday and didn’t give up an earned run Tuesday, either.
The Dodgers scored an unearned run in the first inning after Cueto gave up a leadoff single to Dee Gordon and walked Jamey Carroll.
Andre Ethier hit a double play grounder, but the relay throw from Brandon Phillips was wide and ticked off first baseman Joey Votto’s glove and rolled away as Gordon scored from second. The error was charged to Phillips, but should have been charged to Votto, who did not come off the bag to snag the throw.
Cueto pitched out of the mess by getting the next batter, Matt Kemp, to hit into a double play.
The Reds tied it in the third when Stubbs led with a single, stole second and scored on Scott Rolen’s single.
And it stayed 1-1 for a long time, with Cueto making a heads-up defensive play to help himself. With one out in the fourth, Kemp blooped a single to right over Votto’s head. Votto chased down the ball as Kemp made a big turn at first. Unbeknownst to Kemp, Cueto sneaked behind him to cover first base, enabling the Reds to nail Kemp in a rundown.
ON MONDAY, Stubbs was invisible — 0 for 5 with three strikeouts. On Tuesday, he was as visible as the Hollywood sign on that cliff in the Hollywood Hills.
Stubbs singled for his second hit with one out in the sixth. And he again stole second — 20 for 22 this year, second most steals in the league. But Phillips struck out and Votto flied to left against tough LA left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
KERSHAW WAS lifted after seven innings, much to the delight of Votto, who was 0 for 3 and made the defensive boo-boo. The Reds scored a run in the eighth off Blake Hawksworth when pinch-hitter Migeul Cairo started the inning with a single — and how valuable to the team is that guy? Stubbs, the man who struggles trying to bunt, put down a sacrifice bunt that put Cairo on second, from where he scored on Votto’s single for a 2-1 lead.
Cincinnati added what proved to be a gargantuan run in the ninth after Ramon Hernandez walked with one out. Pinch-hitter Fred Lewis singled and Stubbs drove home the team’s third run with his third hit, what turned out to be the winning run.
That run was huge when Coco Cordero performed one of his death-defying saves in the bottom of the ninth when he was handed a 3-1 lead.
With one out he walked Matt Kemp. Kemp stole second and scored on a single by James Loney. After a stolen base put the tying run on second with one out, Cordero struck out pinch-hitter Casey Blake and ended the game by getting Rod Barajas to pop up.
So put those coffins away and save those eulogies, the Reds are alive and kicking again.
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