Cincy steals Steel City series with Sunday surprise
Sluggish sluggers continued to plague the offense as the Reds scored just two runs combined on Friday and Saturday. Going into the 9th yesterday, it looked like the lethargic offense was going to cost the team another close loss. That wasn't the case thanks to some heavy hitting from Xavier Paul, Ryan Ludwick, and Zack Cozart.
The Pirates commemorated the 40th anniversary of Clemente's final hit before yesterday's game
Roberto Clemente became just the 11th player to reach 3,000 hits when he lashed an opposite field double in the final regular season game of 1972. His tragic death en route to aid earthquake victims in Nicaragua that winter would cement his iconic status, and he was surely appreciated by Pirates fans by the end of his career. But it's hard to believe that 3,000 hits doesn't even get you the lead in your local paper. "In the greatest journalism misjudgment of my lifetime, the lead story that day was a loss by Pitt, falling to 0-5 and on its way to a 1-10 season, to Northwestern."
Of course, the big talk from this weekend is Homer's no-hitter
Much inked was spilled on the topic, but Fangraphs analysis of Homer's pitch selection and location, and especially the receiving skills of Ryan Hanigan, was the freshest take which didn't invoke Mark Rothko.
Talkin' about respect
Even in the afterglow, Homer vents about the treatment of the Reds - by the media, and fans: "No one's even paid attention. You don't hear about that on ESPN. We keep hearing about (the Reds in the 70s). Nobody's talking about this team, this rotation, the things we've done, the amount of quality starts, the innings." Hi, guy! We're paying attention! And I'm actually pretty okay with the Reds riding under the radar while Washington hogs the headlines.
There is the housekeeping matter of finishing the scheduled games
The Reds conclude the regular season with three in St. Louis starting today. Brandon Phillips may sit out after possibly tweaking his groin yesterday while hitting a slippery spot rounding second. Ryan Ludwick, who's hit off the bench (and hit well) in the last two games, might return to the lineup. But the biggest addition will be Dusty Baker's return to the bench. With at least the second seed wrapped up, there's not a whole lot to play for. St. Louis is also fairly certain of capturing the final wild card. Their magic number sits at 2.
The dangers of small sample tunnel vision
The case for starting Homer Bailey in Game 2 - on the road - gathered momentum with his gem in Steel City. I don't agree, but fine. Reasonable minds, blah blah blah. But this? "I'd slate Cueto in Game Three. Regardless of how the first two games go, knowing that a potential 20-game winner is set to go in the third game would be a tremendous confidence builder for the Reds." Johnny Cueto has been the best starting pitcher in the National League this year. He was among the best last year as well, discounted from the CYA only because he missed the first month of the season. He's quite easily the best pitcher on the team, and any Manager would pitch him in Game 1. Sometimes, the wisdom is conventional for a reason. "One might argue that pitching the Reds ace for much of the year in the third game is crazy." Count me as one.
Awards preview - Silver Slugger (Pitcher)
Mike Leake has struggled through a disappointing year and may be left of the postseason roster as a result. But as a small token of redemption, he may collect the Silver Slugger. He's built a great case, accumulating the most hits and offensive WAR for Pitchers and tying for the lead in HRs (2). He would have 3 had his ground rule double in Pittsburgh on Saturday been hit in just about any other park. Quirky WAR stat alert: Leake has tallied 1.3 pitching bWAR in his career, but nearly doubled that (2.5) with his bat.
Leake didn't come close to 200 innings this year, but thankfully the rest of his rotation mates did
The health and durability of the starting pitchers has been nearly unprecedented. If Bronson Arroyo throws at least three innings in his final start today, the Reds will have four pitchers with 200+ innings for the first time since 1943 (HT to FSO and presumably Slyde). It hasn't happened in baseball since the '06 White Sox.
There's a Melky Cabrera-esque situation with the NL OBP title
RSCWKRP mentioned in the recap of Saturday's loss that Joey Votto's .477 OBP exceeds that of Wilson Valdez and Miguel Cairo combined. You know who else is well behind Votto? Everybody. Buster Posey, the current PA-qualified NL leader, sits a gaping 67 points behind Votto. Andrew McCutcheon's .401 OBP is the only other qualified mark above .400. Even if Votto went oh-fer his next 39 PAs (to get to 502), he would still finish with a .440 OBP. That's tops in either league.
A down year in Boston has compelled Sox fans to reflect on better times
To close out Fenway Park's 100th birthday festivities, the Red Sox last week staged a celebration of their '04 championship. Bronson Arroyo, one of the few active players from that team, obviously couldn't show but delivered a fitting video tribute where he "hoisted a shot of Jack Daniels purportedly from a bottle that Millar had given him when they won it all." Whatever your poison is now, Bronson, let's hope you can raise a glass of it in eight years when you reflect on your second ring.