Monday, June 25, 2012
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, playing stay-at-home dad tonight because Nadine is in extreme pain from back spasms. May have to put her on the 15-day DL.
Mat Latos lived up to his initials Monday night — M.L., as in Major League.
The 6-6, 245-pound right hander was as dominating as any Cincinnati Reds pitcher this year, Johnny Cueto included. He threw a complete-game four-hitter, 3-1, at the Milwaukee Brewers.
It started poorly. The first two Brewers reached on a walk and a bunt single by Nyger Morgan and everybody was saying, “Uh, oh. Not again.”
NO, NOT AGAIN, not this time. He retired the next three and for the rest of the game he fed the Brewers peanuts during his 108-pitch night. There have been games this year when he had 102 pitches by the fifth inning.
The only blip was a sixth-inning home run by Narichika Aoki when the Reds led, 2-0.
Other than that it was TD time for Latos, total dominance. He struck out a career-best 13 en route to his second complete game. He struck out Ryan Braun, NL MVP last year, three times.
At one point, while retiring 12 straight Brewers, Latos threw 24 straight strikes. No balls, 24 straight strikes.
THE BIG QUESTION arose in the ninth. The Reds led, 2-1, before they scored a run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 3-1.
That made manager Dusty Baker’s decision much easier: send Latos out for the ninth or bring in much-troubled closer Aroldis Chapman.
On Sunday, Mike Leake led, 3-2, after eight innings and had thrown only 86 pitches. But Baker brought in Chapman and he gave up a two-run home run to Minnesota’s Josh Willingham and the Reds lost, 4-3.
Latos had thrown 98 pitches after eighth, but he is bigger and stronger than Leake, and he was also pitching on an extra day of rest.
In order to separate soft-throwing Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake, Baker pitched Leake on Sunday, when it was Latos’ turn, and moved him back to Monday.
It worked. And Dusty trusted him, sending him back out for the ninth. The reward? A 1-2-3 inning, finishing with a flourish with his 13th strikeout, a swing-and-a-miss by Rickie Weeks.
Latos was dominant with a smoking fastball and diving sliders and curves.
And to add pudding to the pie, Latos, batting .050, mixed in two hits. “Swing hard in case you hit it,” said Latos.
In his last seven starts, Latos is 6-1, but most of the wins have been great escapes. In his last start, he gave up seven his in four innings against the Cleveland Indians. This one was a no-doubter.
And this was the guy general manager Walt Jocketty thought he was getting when he shipped Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger to the San Diego Padres to Latos over the winter.
AND SO MUCH for all the head-shaking because Drew Stubbs went 1 for 10 in three rehab starts over the weekend at Class A Dayton.
He returned to the Reds Monday night, returned to the lineup, returned to center field. And he was all over the basepaths.
He doubled in the fourth inning and after Joey Votto walked Stubbs and Votto both scored when Jay Bruce doubled over left fielder Ryan Braun’s head for a two-run double and a 2-0 lead.
And it was Stubbs leading the way in the eighth when the Reds scored a much-needed insurance run. He led the inning with a single, stole second and scored on a double by Brandon Phillips.
SCOTT ROLEN was fitted for a Golden Sombrero for his night, four strikeouts. When a player strikes out three times, it is said he took a sombrero. Four times? A golden sombrero.
Sombrero was borrowed from hockey, where three goals is called a hat trick. What’s bigger than a sombrero? A golden sombrero.
The first time I heard the term was my first year on the beat in 1973. Dave Concepcion struck out four times and when he arrived at his locker after the game there was a huge sombrero, black and gold, sitting on his chair and teammate Tony Perez said, “There it is, Davey. Your golden sombreroTweet