UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, wondering if I’ve ever seen anything like Aroldis Chapman. The answer: No, not even close. Never have I seen any pitcher make every batter he faces look totally and completely helpless. They should make Chapman pitch from 70 feet.
THE HOUSTON ASTROS didn’t fool the Cincinnati Reds by showing up in disguise Friday night, wearing those hideous orange, yellow, blue and white uniforms with hats that looked like oranges on their heads.
The Reds knew these were the 2012 Houston Astros, not the 1970s version that was loaded with talent but forced to wear Halloween costumes for uniforms.
The Reds jumped early on J.A. Happ, who is J.A. Hapless against the Reds, especially Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto, the held on for a 4-1 victory.
And although Mike Leake’s pitches were here, there and everywhere, they were good enough to slap a seventh straight loss on the Disastros.
The Reds have now won 31 of the last 44 they’ve played against Houston — and they’re certainly going to miss them when the Astros flee to the American League next season.
HAPP HAD two outs and nobody on in the first inning, but moments later it was 2-0 because he had to face Votto and Phillips.
Votto went into the game hitting .405 for his career in Minute Maid Park with 19 doubles and four homers in 30 games, with an 18-game hitting streak.
Now it’s 19. Votto singled to left field.
Then it was Phillips, who was 5 for 9 with three homers against Happ. He didn’t homer. He only doubled, but that made it 1-0 for the Reds. Jay Bruce followed with a single and it was 2-0.
APPARENTLY, Houston manager Brad Mills doesn’t pay close attention to what Votto does to his Astros.
Zack Cozart led the third inning with a single. When Drew Stubbs flied to deep center, Cozart tagged up and took second.
Wasn’t that a bad idea? Didn’t that mean that the Astros would walk Votto intentionally? Not Mills. He elected to pitch to Votto and he singled to center field for another run and a 3-0 lead.
Leake gave up a run in the sixth and it could have been a lot worse. The first two Astros, Jose Altuve and Jed Lowrie, singled to put runners on third and first with no outs.
The run scored while Carlos Lee was grounding into a double play to rescue Leake and keep a two-run lead, 3-1.
Leake pitched seven innings and gave up one run and only four hits, but walked three while striking out seven, his most strikeouts this season.
Logan Ondrusek replaced Leake in the eighth and encountered some trouble when he gave up a leadoff single and a walk and had to face Houston slugger Carlos Lee, the go-ahead run.
Ondrusek hung a high curve ball and Lee dented the viaduct down the left field line, a few feet foul of a three-run homer. Then he hit into his second double play, pulling his hamstring in the process.
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth and, as always, it was child’s play. He struck out Chris Johnson with a 101 miles an hour fastball, struck out pinch-hitter Matt Downs on a 100 miles an hour fastball and ended the game by striking out J.D. Martinez with a 101 miles an hour fastball.
THE OFFENSE? Not real good. The Reds had three hits in a row in the first inning, but only six for the game. From the fourth through the eighth, five innings, they had one hit.
Jay Bruce provided some breathing room in the ninth with a two-out home run. Ah, the home run. The Reds have relied on the home run to score 41 per cent of their runs, tops in the majors.
AND REMEMBER when the team’s record was 1-10 with Devin Mesoraco catching? Well, in his last eight starts the Reds are 8-0.
RYAN LUDWICK started in left field instead of Chris Heisey, which will bring howls from the Heisey faction. They shout about Ludwick’s low batting average.
But consider this. Ludwick has had less plate appearances than Heisey, but Ludwick has more homers (5 to 1), more RBIs (20 to 11) and more walks (12 to 6).
THE REDS now own a 2 ½ game lead in the National League Central after New York’s Johan Santana threw a no-hitter at the St. Louis Cardinals.
Prediction: By the end of June the Reds will have a seven or eight-game lead. Book it — IF they start to do more situational hitting and rely less on the long ball.Tweet