HOUSTON,TX - JUNE 03: Chris Heisey #28 of the Cincinnati Reds complains to home plate umpire Dan Iossogna after he was called out on strikes in the seventh inning against the Houston Astros on June 3, 2012 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. Houston defeated Cincinnati 5-3. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
One hanging curve turned yesterday's outing from Good to Bad-royo
Justin Maxwell blasted a two-run oil gusher in the seventh to give Houston the insurance runs it needed to turn back the Reds. Bronson Arroyo said it came on a curve that he didn't want to throw: "It was a back and forth between me and Hanigan. I wanted to go sinker in. He wanted me to throw a sweeping breaking ball. I knew he didn't want me to throw the sinker. It was breaking ball. It was wasn't sweeping one." Arroyo doesn't come out and blame Ryan Hanigan for a poor pitch call, but he comes surprisingly close.
- No game today as the Reds prepare to host Pittsburgh tomorrow night. Thanks to the masterful pitching of the Mets, the Pirates now occupy second place in the Central, 3 games behind the Reds. Homer Bailey's lickin' his chops as he readies for his first start following his CG, four-hitter against Pittsburgh last Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Hal notices that Devin's bad luck behind the plate is starting to turn around
The Reds are now 8-0 in Devin Mesoraco's last eight starts after starting 1-10. Hal also predicts: "By the end of June the Reds will have a seven or eight-game lead. Book it — IF they start to do more situational hitting and rely less on the long ball."
Mysteries of Pittsburgh continue to cloud alleged robbery story
The mess involving the robbery of Aroldis Chapman's hotel room last week has gone from worrisome to eye-roll. Claudia Manrique, Chapman's accompaniment on the road trip, initially reported that she was bound and gagged after the perpetrator invaded the room under the pretense of hotel maintenance. The police have grown skeptical of Manrique's story, however: "A polygraph test showed she was not being truthful about the robbery, according to the report. Ms. Manrique eventually changed her story, saying the robber first approached her at a CVS pharmacy and threatened to harm her friend in Silver Spring if she did not give him her room number." Riiiiight. Aroldis might want to think twice about his choice of lady friends, not to mention carrying $200K worth of jewelry around.
Votto doubling his pleasures at a record rate
We're almost at the one-third marker of the season and Joey Votto's sitting pretty with a mathematically-pleasing 22 doubles, putting him on track to challenge Earl Webb's record of 67. It's stood for 81 years for a reason, though. The '30s depressed HR power but was a golden age for contact hitters. And Votto's fighting more than just his era. GABP enhances round-trippers but deflates all other types of hits, including doubles. The club record of 51 (shared by Frank Robinson and Pete Rose) is certainly within reach, but Webb's gem is going to be tough to outshine.
- J.C. Sulbaran continues to strike out a ton of batters, so why isn't he more dominating?
According to this writer, Sulbaran needs to develop better secondary pitches to prevent hitters from sitting on his fastball: Baseball America notes that Sulbaran increased his velocity in 2011 but still struggled with a fringy change-up and an erratic (but plus when on) curve. When Sulbaran’s other pitches aren’t working, it becomes easier for hitters to tee off on fastballs, which is particularly ineffective given that many hitters in the minors are still learning to hit off-speed pitches. If those off-speed pitches aren’t a threat for J.C., he’s going to run into trouble because his fastball isn’t overpowering enough to get by on when his other pitches aren’t working. Sulbaran has actually allowed HRs at a higher rate this year in Pensacola compared to Bakersfield last year, and he continues to give up too many hits and walks. The K numbers are still splendid, and something to keep an eye on going forward.
- Baker recounts squaring off vs. Astros' Richard
J.R. Richard might not be a household name to younger baseball fans, but from 1976 to the middle of 1980 he was one of the best pitchers in the NL. He notched two 300+ K seasons and led the league in ERA once. Richard's dominance suddenly ended in July of 1980, when he suffered a stroke and collapsed due to a blood clot in his neck. He never pitched again. Over the weekend,Houston inducted him into the Astros' Walk of Fame (no rush there, I see). Richard struck out Baker more than any other pitcher, but the two have remained good friends throughout the years.
- Rob Neyer asks "Is Edwin Encarnación The New José Bautista?"
In Elpidio's three full seasons as a Reds starter, he averaged a 106 OPS+ with a high of 108. He was then traded in his age-26 seasons and performed roughly the same - until the second half of last season. Since then: Encarnación's gone 283/362/541. Aside from belatedly moving him off the hot corner, have there been any changes? Or is it just a fluke? "Encarnación supposedly made one adjustment in the middle of last season, and another before this season. Just as Bautista reportedly made a big adjustment toward the tail end of the 2009 season.... When a player's numbers take a big jump, we must remain vigilant. Random variation is good at fooling us. But José Bautista didn't go from marginal major leaguer to superstar because of random variation. Sometimes -- not often at all, but sometimes -- players really do change. The tricky part is figuring out when."
- The WWL reflects on the Reds perch at the top of the Central
After another poor start on Saturday, fans in the Rhineland are getting restless with prized offseason acquisition Mat Latos. Dan Szymborski urges restraint: It's way too early to panic on a 24-year-old pitcher who is still striking out eight batters a game in the middle of a rather bland first couple of months.... Without the trade, the Reds had the looks of a team winning in the mid-80s, and that's just about the most profitable time for a team to try to swap some future wins for some current wins.
- Madson may not be closing, but he's close to closing on the sale of his California house
Finally some good news for Ryan Madson. A little more than a year after buying his 6,000 sq. foot estate, Madson's looking to sell his property for $2.2 million - over $400K what he paid last year. Profit!