UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, counting the hours until Nadine and I leave Thursday for five days in Temicula, Calif., wine country not far from San Diego.
While most people can’t spell Albuquerque, the Cincinnati Reds showed they could beat the Albuquerque Isotopes on Monday night, 8-2. But it wasn’t easy for five innings.
Like a jar of olives, the Reds couldn’t get that first olive out of the jar for five innings, but once the first one rolled out a bunch came rolling out, eight runs in the last four innings against an LA team that has lost 12 of 15.
The schedule said the Reds were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Dodgers lineup was filled with players who not long ago were playing for the Class AAA Isotopes.
But the starting pitcher, Chad Billingsley, a beefy right hander from Defiance is a big-leaguer and he showed it for five innings, shutting down the Reds completely and leading, 2-0.
But Billingsley’s breaking ball deserted him in the sixth and the Reds banged four hits and scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead.
HOMER BAILEY, after a wobbly start during which he gave up a home run in the first to Jerry Hairston Jr. and a run on a sacrifice fly in the second, took it from there. His fastball touched 97 miles an hour several times. For his eight innings he gave up two runs and five hits on a 115-pitch night.
At one point, Bailey retired 14 of 15, giving up a single to Billingsley and nothing else through the sixth.
The Reds added two runs in the eighth against former Cincinnatian Todd Coffey to make it 5-2.
The big men at bat this night were catcher Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier, each with three RBI. After Frazier’s single in the sixth cut LA’s lead to 2-1, Mesoraco pulled a two-out, two-run double down the third base line to give the Reds a 3-2 lead.
Frazier drove in his second run of the night with a triple in the eighth and Mesoraco struck again with a two-out single. It was his third RBI of the night after driving in only one run in all of June and that was on a solo home run.
Aroldis Chapman cleaned up in the ninth and gave up a hit, but he struck out Tony Gwynn on a 102 miles an hour fastball.
And remember the ball Jay Bruce misplayed Sunday that gave the Giants a walk-off win? Bruce made up for it Monday. When the score was still 3-2, the Dodgers had a runner on second with two outs in the seventh. Luis Cruz drove one deep to right. Tie game? Nope. Bruce chased it down with a sprinting backhand stab near the fence.
WHILE THE DODGERS were missing starts Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, Reds manager Dusty Baker was severely strapped, too.
Neither Joey Votto (knee) nor Scott Rolen (back) was available and there was a scare in the fifth when Billingsley hit Zack Cozart on the batting helmet with a pitch and Cozart left the game with what was diagnosed as a mild concussion.
That left Baker with two position players on the bench, Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Hanigan. Just in case, he had pitcher Mike Leake, an accomplished hitter, sitting in the dugout with his spikes on in case he was needed to pinch-hit.
Baker is missing one other player, too. Drew Stubbs doesn’t have a hit on the trip yet and is 0 for 20 and struck out three times in five at-bats Monday.
THE VICTORY WAS a necessity for the Reds to hang on to first place by themselves because the Pittsburgh Pirates won again, remaining one game behind the Reds. And the Cardinals won to remain 2 ¬Ĺ behind.
AND HERE ARE some of the strangers populating the LA/Albuquerque lineup:
—Leadoff hitter Elian Herrera played nine years in the minors before his first big league chance this year.
—Jerry Hairston Jr. batted third for the Dodgers, a guy who a few years ago was a utility player for an average Reds team.
—Scott Van Slyke, son of former big-leaguer Andy Van Slyke, was a recent call-up and was playing left field for the first time Monday night.
—Luis Cruz was making his major-league debut Monday night.
AND WHEN MONDAY’S game began the Dodgers had lost seven of their last eight, seven straight before the won a game Sunday. In those seven losses they scored two runs and were shut out five times.
THE FIRST TIME I visited Los Angeles, a friend invited me to lunch at a place called The Pacific Dining Car. I thought, “Oh, sounds like a place for a burger and fries, a cheap lunch.”
I knew I was in trouble when I saw the ambience of the place and it was double trouble when I received the bill — $78 for lunch, just for me. That’s one I couldn’t hide on the expense account.
OF COURSE, those were the days when the Dodgers put this team on the field: Steve Yeager, catcher; Steve Garvey, 1B; Davey Lopes, 2B, Bill Russell, SS; Ron Cey, 3B; Dusty Baker, LF; Rick Monday, CF; Reggie Smith, RF — and they couldn’t beat The Big Red Machine.Tweet