We win; they lose
The Reds completed another sweep yesterday in beating the Mets 3-1. They're a season high 11 games over .500, four games up on Pittsburgh and five on St. Louis, who lost in 15 to the Royals yesterday. They're getting key hits from Wilson Valdez. This is fun.
Derek Lowe won't need to worry about getting buzzed by the Reds tomorrow
Since he's more than capable of getting buzzed on his own! HA! Also: since they're playing in an American League park, each team will employ a Designated Hitter to bat for their moundsman. I thought I had read everything on last week's Baker-Lowe feud, but I missed the part where Dusty explained his finger-wag: "[Dikembe] Mutombo didn't shake his finger to say 'I had nothing to do with it.' That means don't mess with me, or my team. That's what that means. He better learn sign language." Who wants to bean Dikembe?!
Mat Latos faces Lowe (again) tonight. He went deep against Cleveland last week, allowing 2 runs over 7 1/3 while striking out 7 against just 1 walk. And no long balls. He's catching Cleveland at an opportune moment. After losing to Pittsburgh 9-5 on Sunday, they've dropped 7 of 10. Another Reds sweep will help not only their cause in the standings, but the league's embarrassing interleague deficit.
But are they now Todd Frazier's Reds?
Scott Rolen is set to return today. He blasted a 438-foot HR in a rehab game on Saturday for Louisville, so his shoulder appears in order. How many swings like that he has remaining in his quiver remains the question. Dusty said that he'll continue to play Todd Frazier at both the hot corner and the outfield. My guess is that Frazier gets the start at 3B tonight, which lets Ryan Ludwick start against Derek Lowe (9-21, 4 HRs). Plus, the aforementioned Designated Hitter gives Dusty a way to ease Rolen back into playing. It's certainly hard to deny Frazier consistent playing time. Fay notes that the Reds are 21-11 with Frazier starting at third base this year and 9-13 with Rolen.
Joey Votto is literally having a Babe Ruth-type season, according to Jason Stark
Reds-land is keeping an eye on Votto's doubles tally (28; currently on pace for about 72). His walks total is just as mind-boggling. He led the league last year with 110, and he's already received 54 free passes this year. Stark notes that "If he can keep that up, he'll be in ridiculously rarified territory -- because only one player in history has ever drawn that many walks in a 200-hit season. And I'm betting you've heard of him." I wrote a while back that the Reds haven't had a 200-hit season since 1977, when Pete Edward Rose rapped 204 hits. Votto's currently just ahead of the 200 pace. And he's currently running away in the race for the NL MVP.
- 65 years ago today, Ewell Blackwell no-hit the Boston Braves
The Whip was in the midst of his breakout season, when he'd go 22-8 with a 2.47 ERA (168 ERA+). He led the league with 193 Ks, tallied 8.3 WAR, and certainly would've won the Cy Young Award if it was available. Blackwell settled for second in MVP voting behind the Braves' Bob Elliot, which surely would've raised my hackles if I was around back then.
- Reds' defense on the mend?
An article at reds.com notes that the team's fielding percentage (.986) and errors (32) puts it in second place in the NL, behind Arizona on both counts. About a month ago I wrote that the team wasn't fielding as well as recent years, perhaps because its pitchers were allowing a lot more line drives. Since then, the Reds' Defensive Efficiency has crept up fro .689 to .699 to put it within a few points of its marks in the past two seasons. Meanwhile, the rest of the league has seen a rise in BABIP (and therefore a fall in DEF, as Redleg Nation notes here). So has the defense markedly improved over the last month? It's possible, though having a larger sample size and better starting pitching are likely significant factors. In any event, the defense is about to improve some more with the return of Rolen. What happens with the to the suddenly hot offense remains to be seen.
- Hal's Top 5 Reds' defensive 2Bs puts Phillips at the top of the list
The Reds defense at the keystone certainly hasn't been one of the concerns this year. In fact, it hasn't generally been a concern for some time, as far as Hal McCoy's concerned. A PERSONAL RATING of the defensive second basemen for the Reds in my 40 years: 1. Brandon Phillips, 2. Pokey Reese, 3. Bret Boone, 4. Joe Morgan, 5. Ron Oester. That shows how good Reds’ second basemen have been because Oester was outstanding. When Reese played second base and Dmitri Young played first base, Young once asked Reese how much ground he should cover between first and second and Young said Reese told him, "Any time a ball is hit to the right side, you just go to the stands and buy some nachos, I’ll take care of the baseball."
- Another Chapman article, but this time it's in the Times
For those of you worried that Chapman's not going to get a chance to start, don't worry. The Times is on it. I suppose this article was inevitable with the Reds visiting New York. Chapman has clearly been asked the question a few times: When he's asked about starting, Chapman's voice sounded tired, as if his answer had been worn out .... "Maybe, one day, I will have the opportunity."