Saturday, September 3, 2011
UNSOLICTED OBSEERVATIONS from The Man Cave after watching two teams with which I have close relationships get their helmets handed to them Saturday afternoon - but no unexpected.
I flipped back and forth to watch Akron-Ohio State (42-0) and Kent State Alabama (48-7). When I was a kid, I lived within blocks of the Akron Rubber Bowl and every Saturday when the Zips played there I sneaked in. The Buckeyes could have played Brutus Buckeye at linebacker and won this game.
And, of course, I attended Kent State, where football is a minor elective. They had no more business playing Alabama than I would have had playing Jimmy Connors in tennis.
FIRST, ON A positive note: Rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning, drove the first major-league pitch he saw for a double Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium. There will be many more to come.
But less than 24 hours after putting it solidly to the Cardinals, 11-8, the Cincinnati Reds reverted Saturday to the way they normally play in Busch Stadium.
They lost, 6-4, and it was ugly. And unless they can win Sunday they will have lost 14 straight series in Busch.
They built a 2-0 lead for Homer Bailey with a run in the first and a run in the second against lefthander Jaime Garcia, but Bailey was not able to hold it — although his friends from his own dugout didn’t help much.
THE CARDINALS scored three runs in the second and Bailey was gone by the fourth. And all three St. Louis runs scored with two outs.
With two outs and Lance Berkman on first via a walk, Skip Schumaker singled to right. Gerald Laird singled sharply to left and Chris Heisey charged to make a thorw. But he forgot to snag the ball and it whizzed past him for an error as two runs scored to tie it, 2-2.
Pitcher Garcia singled to center for another run and a 3-2 lead.
Jon Jay began the third with a liner to center that Drew Stubbs kicked around and Jay ended up on third with a generous triple. Albert Pujols singled to left and it was 4-2. Matt Holliday battled Bailey for 11 pitches before singling to center and Pujols then scored on Lance Berkman’s ground ball.
AFTER THEIR INITIAL assault on Garcia, the Reds shut it down — well, Garcia shut them down through the sixth inning, before he was replaced by Mitchell Boggs.
The Reds two biggest influences in the 11-8 win Friday, Yonder Alonso and Juan Francisco, both lefthanded hitters, did not start Saturday against the lefthanded Garcia.
Jay Bruce crushed a long two-run home run in the eighth inning, but all that did was slice a four-run St. Louis lead to a two-run lead.
FIVE FAVORITE HOME UNIFORMS:
TWO: New York Yankees. You might hate the team, but how can you not love the classic pin-striped uniform that hasn’t changed in nearly a century. They don’t wear their names on their jerseys because they smugly believe, “Everybody knows the Yankees.”
TWO: St. Louis Cardinals. Again, you might hate the team, but the two Cardinals perched on a baseball bat across the jerseys is a thing of beauty. Every time I see the uniform I think of Stan Musial, who wore the same uniform.
THREE: Los Angeles Dodgers. For some reason, LA’s home uniforms seem whiter than the white home uniforms of other teams. The Dodgers wore the same uniforms when they were the Brooklyn Dodgers and everybody but Tommy Lasorda looks great in Dodger blue.
FOUR: Detroit Tigers. Plain and simple. That wonderful Gothic ‘D’ on the front and nothing else. All Reds fans loved Sparky Anderson in a Cincinnati uniform, but he looked better in his Tigers uniform.
FIVE: Chicago Cubs. The ‘C’ on the jersey and the blue pin-stripes make them look spiffy, but they can’t seem to find the right players to put into them since Ernie Banks and Ron Santo.
Can you tell I’m an old-school classicist?Tweet
UNSOLICITED OBSEERVATIONS from The Man Cave while watching the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals celebrate the beginning of football season by running up a football-type score — an 11-8 win by the Reds.
If Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker had any qualms about playing his young players (and I don’t believe he has), they should be dispelled after Friday night’s game in Busch Stadium’s hothouse.
For the Reds, it was Kids Night.
YONDER ALONSO started in left field. Alonso’s lead-off double in the second inning torched a five-run rally that gave the Reds a 5-0 lead. Then, with the score tied, 6-6, in the seventh inning, he bludgeoned a two-run home run for an 8-6 lead the Reds never relinquished.
TODD FRAZIER pinch-hit in the sixth inning and broke a 5-5 tie with an opposite-field home run that crashed against the right field foul pole.
JUAN FRANCISCO started at third base and cracked a two-run double during the five-run second and then banged a game-breaking three-run homer in the ninth, pushing an 8-7 Reds lead to 11-7.
So, because of the Kiddie Korps, the Reds scored 11 runs in one game, six more than they scored in the entire four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
AND THIS wasn’t a game against the Houston Astros or Washington Nationals or Florida Marlins. This was a game against arch-rival and much-despised St. Louis, a team fresh off sweeping three games from division-leading Milwaukee, with hopes of still catching the Brewers.
In addition, the Reds showed some resiliency. They gave Johnny Cueto that 5-0 lead in the second inning and for the most part of this season with that kind of lead and Cueto pitching they could have turned out the lights and saved energy by not bothering to play the rest of the game.
But Cueto brought his ‘B’ game this night. He immediately gave up two runs in the bottom of the second, one in the third and two in the fifth and suddenly the Cardinals were even at 5-5.
This time the Reds didn’t act like desert nomads and fold up their tents. They kept at it.
Frazier, batting for Cueto in the sixth, hit his home run for a 6-5 lead.
The Cardinals didn’t quit, either. In the bottom of the sixth, David Freese hit Jose Arredondo’s first pitch over the right field wall to tie it again, 6-6, and wipe out a possible Cueto victory.
That only lasted until Alonso came to bat in the seventh after Jay Bruce singled. Alonso drilled his home run for an 8-6 lead.
St. Louis scored one in the eighth off Aroldis Chapman to make it a one-run game and there was the scepter of closer Coco Cordero facing Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman in the bottom of the ninth with a one-run lead.
Francisco took care of that problem after Joey Votto singled to open the ninth against former teammate Arthur Rhodes and Miguel was hit on the left wrist. Francisco, given the green light to swing at 3-and-0 against Kyle McClelland, fouled it off. He didn’t miss the next pitch, crushing it over the center field wall for an 11-7 lead.
Cordero, in a non-save situation in the bottom of the ninth, gave up a one-out home run to Holliday and a two-out single by Freese, but ended the game on a weak fly to right by Yadier Molina.
FIVE FAVORITE THINGS to do when I was a traveling beat writer:
WASHINGTON: Visit the Newseum, the Holocaust Museum, the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Memorial cemetery, the Vietnam Memorial — and find time to cover a baseball game or two.
DENVER: Travel up the mountain to nearly 8,000 feet to play low-stakes blackjack at former silver-mining towns Central City and Blackhawk — and the scenery up the mountain is spectacular.
SAN FRANCISCO: Cross the Gold Gate Bridge and visit Sausalito, a town inhabited by writers and artists and movie stars, whose homes are tucked against the hills with stilts supporting their sun decks — an earthquake disaster ready to happen. A meal at Scoma’s fits in nicely, too, while in Sausalito, with a fabulous view across San Francisco Bay of The City’s skyline.
HOUSTON: Lunch at Pappasito’s and an afternoon of puffing cigars at McCoy’s Fine Cigars. I tried to convince Mr. McCoy that we are related so I could get free cigars, but he wasn’t buying it, so I was buying cigars.