UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, watching the magnificent view of downtown Pittsburgh when the camera aimed above the center field stands in my favorite ball park, PNC. Unfortunately, there are nearly always more empty blue seats than fans inside the place. The Primanti Brothers sandwiches are enough of a lure to get some fans into the park.
The Cincinnati Reds had a decision to make before Monday’s game in Milwaukee — and it should be no decision at all. It is as clear as an empty champagne glass.
Miguel Cairo is scheduled to come off the disabled list, so the Reds had to rid somebody off their roster. The easy decision, but wrong one, would be to send Todd Frazier back to Class AAA Louisville — because he has options.
IF THEY DO THAT, then somebody needs to come up with a solid reason — and there is no solid reason. The evidence as to why Frazier should stay was as solid as a smoking gun in an assassin’s hand Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Frazier started at third base and what did he do?
(A) Starting pitcher Mat Latos was in a first-inning mess when he hit leadoff batter Jose Tabata and walked two guys. With one out, Nate McLouth blasted one toward left field. It never got there. Frazier snagged it, saving at least two runs.
(B) Frazier homered on the first pitch he saw in the game, giving the Reds a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
(C) After lining hard to deep right in the fourth, Frazier doubled in the sixth.
And that’s just Sunday’s work. Frazier has been solid as a pinch-hitter and a top-shelf replacement at third base when Scott Rolen rests.
LET’S GO ONE step farther. Everybody loves Scott Rolen, especially his glove, but his bat right now is feeble. Doesn’t Frazier deserve more starts at third — and not just on day games after night games when Rolen rests his weary bones?
Who should go instead of Frazier? That’s easy. Willie Harris. And let’s not save him because he is the only left handed bat on the bench. He is 3 for 35 this year, so left, right or in the middle, he isn’t helping this team. And if they want to keep Harris for some inexplicable reason, Wilson Valdez is another non-contributer who can go.
Harris and Valdez don’ts have options. So what? Do the Reds really want to keep non-performers around?
AFTER A SHAKY first inning (hit by pitch, two walks), Mat Latos was not only lights out, he never permitted the the Pirates to tug on the light switch to turn it on.
For six innings, Latos gave up no runs, only two singles, the two walks in the first inning, the one hit batter in the first and he struck out a career-high 11. Rerds pitchers struck out 18.
The Reds were facing Charlie Morton, who was 4-0 against them last year and gave up only three total runs in those four games.
But this wasn’t the same Charlie Morton, who appears to have altered his delivery. The Reds scored five off him in six innings and won, 5-0.
DRES STUBBS, who had three hits, including a home run, and a stolen base, walked with one out in the first, only his sixth walk this year. Morton tried to pick him off and threw the ball away and Stubbs sprinted to third, scoring on a single by Joey Votto — the 18th straight game in which Votto has reached base at least once.
Frazier’s home run with two outs in the second made it 2-0.
It was Stubbs again in the third after Zack Cozart walked. Didn’t the situation call for a sacrifice bunt? Nope. Manager Dusty Baker permitted Stubbs to swing away and he cleared the right-center wall with a home run to make it 4-0.
And it was Stubbs in the forefront again in the fifth when the Reds made it 5-0. He opened the inning with an infield hit to shortstop — for him, it is hit slow rollers to the left side and it is a base hit.
Stubbs stole second on the first pitch, then took third on Joey Votto’s fly ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Phillips — smallball at it’s finest.
LATOS, WHO NEEDED 26 pitches to travel that shaky first inning, left after six, but the bullpen of J.J. Hoover, Aroldis Chapman and Alfredo Simon finished the shutout, giving the Reds bullpen 21 straight scoreless innings. Chapman contributed 1 1/3 perfect innings — four hitters, two strikeouts.
Now it is off to injury-wrecked Milwaukee for a three-game series, beginning Monday night in Miller Park.
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