Results: 7-6 loss to Pirates; 5-2 win over Pirates; 5-4 win over Pirates (13 innings); 2-1 loss to Mets; 2-1 loss to Mets (13 innings); 7-2 loss to Mets.
Record // Run differential // Place in NL Central: 34-40 // minus-17 // fourth, 16.5 games back of the first-place Cardinals.
Notable performances/trends: The Reds’ first inning against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole on Wednesday was maybe the most impressive one-inning show the team’s bats have delivered against an elite starter in 2015. Billy Hamilton led off and worked an eight-pitch walk, then stole second and third. After Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Joey Votto were retired, Todd Frazier fisted a tough 2-2 pitch to right field to score Hamilton. Jay Bruce followed with a searing double into left-center field to plate Frazier. Then, Marlon Byrd—who was clearly expecting a first-pitch heater—turned on a 97 mph fastball from Cole and deposited the offering into the center field stands. Cole ended the inning with four runs allowed—the big righty had not yielded four runs in an entire start since Sept. 7—and threw 38 pitches in the frame, which contributed to Cole only collecting 4.2 innings on the night. A job well done by the Reds. … With Aroldis Chapman on paternity leave, J.J. Hoover notched his first save since May 16, 2013 on Wednesday. Hoover has not allowed an earned run since April 21, a span of 31 appearances. Over that period, Hoover’s ERA has plummeted from 7.94 to 1.31. … The Reds cranked out a season-high 17 hits on Thursday. … Saturday/Sunday’s game was the Reds’ third game of at least 13 innings in the past 12 days, and each extra-inning affair also contained a rain delay. (I weep for the poor beat writers.) … The Reds’ collective mediocrity is reflected in the numbers: they rank 15th in the majors in all-inclusive offensive stat wRC+ and 25th in FIP, a pitching metric that removes the role of defense and luck.
Roster notes: Josh Smith made his first start as a Red on Tuesday, and it did not go well: three innings, four (earned) runs, six walks, and three strikeouts. However, the 27-year-old righty will stay in the rotation until Raisel Iglesias (oblique) returns. … High-A Daytona starter/2012 Reds first-round pick Nick Travieso is on the 7-day disabled list with a wrist contusion. Travieso suffered the injury after a comebacker struck him during his last start on June 15. … Kris Negron was optioned to Triple-A Louisville on Thursday when Chapman rejoined the club. … Barrett Astin, a 23-year-old pitcher who was acquired from the Brewers in the Jonathan Broxton trade last August, was promoted to Double-A Pensacola from Daytona after a strong first half of the season (74.2 innings, 2.36 FIP.) … Louisville outfielders Yorman Rodriguez and Kyle Waldrop—who was recently promoted from Pensacola—as well as Daytona starter Amir Garrett were chosen to represent the Reds organization in the Futures Games on July 12. … Chris Dominguez was sent to Louisville to make room for outfielder Jason Bourgeois, who has missed most of the season with a shoulder injury. … Brandon Phillips is beginning to accumulate injuries again.
Reason for optimism/PESSIMISM: The Reds put forth some positive vibes in Pittsburgh, winning two out of three to get within three games of .500. Then, the club was dusted by the Mets in New York, scoring a total of four runs in 31 innings. Sell! Sell! Sell!
Movie scene that sums up last week: Offensively, Eugenio Suarez (.288/.339/.385 slash) has done a fine job while taking most of the reps at shortstop in place of the injured Zack Cozart. It’s another story defensively, as Suarez has already committed six errors in 66 chances—including five in the team’s last four contests. Mistakes like that can fill a man with regret—sort of like when Stu drunkenly married a stripper in The Hangover. (Torch it? Who are you?)
Who’s next?: Today, the Reds are back home to face the surprising Twins (40-35), who will square off against Cincinnati for the first time since 2012. (The last time the Reds played in Minneapolis was from July 6-8, 2001, in the old Metrodome; the Reds have never played at Target Field.) After a trio of games vs. the Twins and an off-day Thursday, the Reds welcome the Brewers for three weekend tilts. Milwaukee’s 29-48 record is second-worst in the majors.
All-Star voting story of the week: I helped my mother fill out her All-Star Game ballot last week. She voted for deserving (Frazier, Votto) and undeserving (Byrd, Hamilton) Reds, and also refused to vote for any Cardinals (sorry, Jhonny Peralta) or Dodgers. (My mother grew up in the ‘70s, so L.A. players are as unsavory to her as present-day Cardinals.) I also managed to get her to vote for Brandon Crawford, Josh Donaldson, Jason Kipnis, Mike Trout, and a few other deserving non-Reds players. She insisted on voting for former Red Shin-Soo Choo, though.
Relevant Reds video clip: In the seventh inning of Saturday/Sunday’s game, left fielder Skip Schumaker made the first two outs of the frame in spectacular fashion: a diving catch for one out, and a bullet of a throw to nail Lucas Duda at second base for another one.
Not-so-relevant Reds video clip: How about George Foster scoring the winning run on a wild pitch to clinch the 1972 NL pennant vs. the Pirates? Yep, that’ll do. (The Reds eventually lost to the Athletics in seven games in the World Series.)
Notes from around the National League Central: Cubs phenom Kris Bryant tallied his first career multi-homer game Monday night. … Tuesday at Wrigley Field, a dad stole a foul ball away from Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez—while toting a baby. … Cubs manager Joe Maddon went off on baseball’s replay system following a defeat Wednesday. … After throwing seven innings Thursday, the Pirates’ bullpen had logged 26 innings over its last five games. … Cardinals starter Lance Lynn registered six scoreless frames in his return to the rotation Thursday. … St. Louis tallied six doubles in winning its sixth consecutive game Sunday night. … The Cubs have lost five straight, and the offense should bear the crux of the responsibility for the slide. … Acquired for blossoming starter Shelby Miller in the offseason, Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward is beginning to heat up, bumping his slash line to .277/.322/.441 with a recent hot stretch.
Notes from around Major League Baseball: Oh, Pete. … The way the first-place Rays have maximized their starting rotation exhibits the power of innovative thinking. (And a pliable bullpen.) … The skies above Fenway Park Tuesday evening possessed an end-of-days beauty. … Holy shit, what a catch by Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. … Braves outfielder Nick Markakis’s MLB-record 398-game errorless streak was terminated Thursday. … The scoreless stretch by Nationals starters peaked at 48 innings last week. … Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg resigned Friday, with Pete Mackanin taking over on an interim basis. Mackanin was the Reds interim manager in 2007 after Jerry Narron was fired. … Mets starter Steven Matz made his major-league debut in style Sunday, becoming the first pitcher to drive in four runs in his first start. Matz also allowed two runs over 7.2 innings, striking out six and walking three in a win over the Reds. … Dodgers starter Zack Greinke increased his scoreless streak to 20.2 innings after blanking the Marlins over 7.2 frames Sunday. … Last week, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado smacked seven home runs and drove in 14 runs. … Once again, the Home Run Derby is mixing things up. This year, the competition features timed rounds and bonus time awarded for prodigious home runs.