As soon as this team gets their heads above losing waters, the Phillies roll into town for four games. Does it have to be four? That's at least four too many. Due to some malignant scheduling formula, the Reds play the Phillis 8 times in 2011, more than any other non-NL East team. There's no way to avoid getting horns from a Phillies staff that features three pitchers who could finish Top 5 in Cy Young voting, a 123 ERA+ as a whole and 126 ERA+ from its starters - especially since Vance Worley is somehow also good. They should really be forced to have at least one mediocre starter in there; I don't know why Selig isn't stepping in. As Mark Sheldon notes, Cole Hamels has a 1.23 ERA in nine career starts against the Reds, including his complete game in last year's NLDS.
The biggest story in Redstown, other than a 4-game win streak that's lifted the team above .500 for the first time since Independence Day weekend, is that Yonder Alonso will be making his debut tonight at 3B. His professional debut. This will be the first time Yonder has ever made an appearance at 3B in professional baseball and it's coming in the major leagues against a World Series contender. The whole sequence of events is very hard to figure: Jonny Gomes is traded in part to make way for Alonso to come up and play LF. After four starts and five appearances out there, he's pulled back, used strictly as a PHer, starts taking grounders at the hot corner and makes his world premier there just two days shy of September call-ups. Alonso, whose best scouting reports have him as an adequate first-baseman, now may well have his best shot to see significant time with the Reds at 3B - a position where the team has an All Star/Gold Glove veteran signed through next year.
All of this really happened and is not the plot to a madcap silent movie called Base-Ball Follies starring the Keystone Cops and Marx Brothers and the Kid from Rookie of the Year's grandfather. It's also not as crazy as it sounds, especially if you concede that Alonso doesn't have a future as an outfielder. As Ken pointed out this morning, there have been plenty of offensive-minded players better suited to 1B who started their careers over at third. And while the Panda Express had made 90 starts there in A ball, no one was optimistic about a player with Pablo Sandoval's build sticking for any length of time there in the major leagues.
Beyond adding some much-needed intrigue to the waning season, they might as well get some new blood in against Hamels and Co. There's only up to go from total domination - and them old blooper reels are hungry.
Lineup after the junk.
|2011 - Homer Bailey||7-5||17||16||0||0||0||0||95.1||97||49||47||13||25||67||4.44||1.28|
|2011 - Cole Hamels||13-7||25||25||2||0||0||0||172.0||135||50||50||10||35||155||2.62||.99|
Alonso 3B (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
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