CINCINNATI —If ever there was a way to make a clean break from a 10-game winning streak, the Cincinnati Reds displayed it best Monday night against the San Diego Padres — make no doubt about it.
How bad was it? If you are a masochist who delights in watching batters trot to first base, your tongue would have been hanging out Monday night watching Cincinnati pitchers walked 11 San Diego Padres.
There was no doubt early in the game, even that this was a night to forget, though the Reds took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Starter Mike Leake pitched only 1 ½ inninghs and gave up five runs, five hits and three walks. Alfredo Simon came on to sprinkle kerosene on the flame and before the night mercifully concluded the Reds had lost, 11-5.
Adding to the mess was catcher Devin Mesoraco, who made his own mess by bumping umpire Chad Fairchild during an argument. Not only did it earn Mesoraco an immediate ejection, he most likely will draw a four or five-game suspension for his indiscretion.
THE STUNNER was that the Reds scored three in the first on home runs by Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce, but they lost to former teammate Edinson Volquez, who gave up five runs and six hits in his five innings. First baseman Yonder Alonso (remember him) had four hits, including doubles in his first three at-bats.
“It was a great start for us, then everything exploded and imploded,” said manager Dusty Baker. “Walks just isn’t like our guys, 11, that’s a lot. All good things must come to the end and we sure didn’t like the way it ended.”
WHEN IT COMES TO talking about possible trades and whether the Cincinnati Reds should or shouldn’t be a player in it before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline, manager Dusty Baker defers to the man above — General Manager Walt Jocketty.
Trades don’t fall under his job description and he says, “That’s not my department. I’m asked about them, but that’s why they have Manager of the Year, General Manager of the Year and Executive of the Year awars.
“I am the shop foreman,” he said. “You ever been in a shop. Where is it in a tall building? Always in the basement. Where are we? In the terms of this building (Great American Ball Park), I’m on the bottom floor. That’s how it is, dude. And this is what I like.”
But Baker does have an opinion on how trades can change dynamics on a team, in the clubhouse.
“What you have to understand about making deals and trades is that you might end up getting rid of some guys who are integral parts of what you have going on right now,” he said. “Or you can bring in some guy who is not on the same page as we are could be the bad apple that ruins the basket.”
Sounds as if Baker is copasetic with the status quo.
BRANDON PHILLIPS left Sunday’s game in Denver with leg cramps but was back in the lineup Monday.
“It was what we thought, just a cramp,” said Baker. “It is easy to get cramps up there in Denver if you’re not drinking enough water. I saw it happen on his swing and I just hoped it wasn’t a knee or a hamstring or he pulled anything. It wasn’t. Just a cramp. So it’s all good.”
When asked about his leg, Phillips said, “I feel good. I’m playing. A scare? I don’t know. I’m playing.”
But when somebody asked him about the 10-game winning streak, the ever-present smile on his face dissipated and he said, “Nope, I’m not talking about a winning streak. Not talking about it.”
About facing former teammate Edinson Volquez Monday, the smile re-appeared and he said, “I like facing that guy. You never know what to expect. He can be lights out or he can be wild and be hitting everybody. Hopefully tonight he is on the wild part, but not hitting everybody.”
THE SUBJECT of clubhouse chemistry and its importance came up, with somebody suggesting that the Oakland A’s of the 1970s were always fighting amongst themselves and with owner Charles O. Finley.
Said Baker, “The teams that win without good chemistry have to have a heck of a talented team, like those Oakland teams. They had Hall of Fame superstars everywhere.
“But it makes it so much easier when guys are pulling for each other, when they stay together with no envy or jealousy because that can eat up a clubhouse, eat up people.”
RYAN LUDWICK SAID the Reds clubhouse is the best in which he has ever put on a uniform, no bad eggs or bad apples, a fun place to be.
“Ryan said it right,” said Baker. “Whoever is not playing is pulling for the guys who are playing.”
Baker said he likes to keep his team’s clubhouse activities under the radar, but said, “Now that it’s out there (Ludwick’s comment), you try to stay out of cliques and groups.”
And a lot of it comes from the manager’s office, too.
“You have to obtain and keep trust, which is difficult to do with young people these days,” said Baker. “You can’t misuse your power and authority. You be honest. You tell them the truth, you tell them you don’t want anybody talking behind anybody’s back, if you have a problem with a guy, you deal with him.”
THERE ARE INDICATIONS that Joey Votto might be available by the time the Pittsburgh Pirates hit town Friday and Baker said, “Joey is an exceptional athlete and an exceptional person who is in great shape. He is so strong and the injury was found so quickly that the leg didn’t have time to atrophy so his leg is still strong.”
Votto worked out on the field before Monday’s game, his first baseball activity, and passed all the tests.
After some on-field drills, Votto said, “I’m not pain-free. If I was pain-free I’d be playing. And I haven’t hit yet and don’t know for sure when I will.”
The Reds are 11-2 without Votto and when Baker was asked if he could ever dream of his team accomplishing that he said, “You can dream it, but that doesn’t mean it is going to happen. I dream all the time. You just hope that we can continue to play well.”
With a large dose of honesty, Baker said, “Not to take anything away from the teams we were playing but it helped that at the time the teams we were playing were strugglings (Arizona, Milwaukee, Houston, Colorado).”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The outcome was perfect but we didn’t play perfectly. But we’ll take the outcome because you always search for the perfect road trip.” — Manager Dusty Baker on the team’s 6-0 road trip to Houston and Denver.Tweet