Reds Review/Preview: Week 11




Results: 6-4 win over Phillies; 11-2 win over Phillies; 5-2 win over Phillies; 6-3 loss to Cubs; 5-4 win over Cubs (10 innings); 4-3 loss to Cubs; 2-1 loss to Cubs (11 innings).

Record // Run differential // Place in NL Central: 28-34 // minus-17 // fourth, 13 games back of the first-place Cardinals.

Notable performances/trends: Ivan De Jesus Jr. hit his first major-league round-tripper Monday night off Phillies starter Cole Hamels. … Last week I noted that the Reds were “rather rude” to former Cincinnati starter Aaron Harang. Well, the Reds cranked up the rudeness again last Tuesday, bashing out seven hits—including four home runs—while racking up seven (earned) runs vs. the big right-hander in six innings. … Tuesday, Joey Votto joined Johnny Bench as the only Reds in franchise history with three three-home run games. … The Reds registered first-inning three-run home runs on Tuesday (Zack Cozart) and Wednesday (De Jesus Jr.), jumping out to a 4-0 advantage after one frame in each game. … Brayan Pena notched four hits in Wednesday’s game, the second time the catcher logged four base knocks in a single contest. … Eugenio Suarez—Cozart’s replacement at shortstop (see Roster notes)—plated the go-ahead run in Friday’s win. … Billy Hamilton tied a Reds record with five steals Sunday, becoming the first player since Jacoby Ellsbury in May of 2013 with five swipes in a single game. Hamilton also reached 100 career steals Sunday, and his 31 thefts in 2015 pace all of baseball. … Votto has reached base in 23 straight games. … There were three replay reversals during Sunday’s contest. … Todd Frazier’s 38 extra-base hits (19 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs) lead the majors. … For those wondering about former Reds big league reliever Sam LeCure, the 31-year-old righty owns a 5.66 FIP in 27.2 innings for Triple-A Louisville.

Roster notes: The Reds selected Georgia prep catcher Tyler Stephenson with their first-round pick (11th overall) in the amateur draft Monday. Stephenson—who is massive by catcher (and normal human) standards, measuring in at 6-4, 210 pounds—will report to the club’s rookie ball affiliate in Billings, Montana … In makes-you-want-to-wave-the-white-flag news, the Reds announced Cozart tore the ACL, LCL, and bicep tendon in his right knee after the shortstop awkwardly landed on first base trying to leg out an infield single Wednesday afternoon. Cozart—who was playing the best baseball of his career and was a legitimate All-Star candidate—is expected to be out nine months. Suarez—acquired in the Alfredo Simon trade over the winter—was called up from Triple-A. The Reds also recalled infielder Chris Dominguez from Louisville and sent down reliever Pedro Villarreal. … Hamilton missed three games last week with a wrist ailment. … Brandon Phillips (groin) left Tuesday’s game early and didn’t start again until Sunday. … For now, the Reds have ended the Left Field Experiment for Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco played parts of three games for Louisville.

Notable Reds quote: “I am certain he’s going to do that again. He’s an extremely unique talent when it comes to speed. He should play in the NFL in the offseason.” — Cubs manager Joe Maddon after Hamilton’s thievery-filled night Sunday. Hamilton was slated to play football for Mississippi State before he was drafted by the Reds in the second round of the 2009 draft.

Reason for optimism/PESSIMISM: Seriously, who at Great American Ball Park has been disrespecting the baseball Injury Gods? The margin of error for contention was small these past two seasons, to be sure, but it’s a damn shame that health-related problems will contribute to a lack of meaningful baseball in August and September for the second consecutive campaign. Last year, Mesoraco, Phillips, Votto, Aroldis Chapman, Homer Bailey, Jay Bruce, and Mat Latos either missed major time due to injury or had their performance suffer by playing through an ailment. (That’s four everyday players, two starters, and an all-world closer.) This year, Bailey, Cozart, Mesoraco, and Marlon Byrd have either had their seasons wrecked by injury and/or have/are going to miss major time. Hamilton and Phillips have battled multiple injuries. Raisel Iglesias is out with an oblique issue. That’s two starters and five regulars. When will this madness end?

Wrigley Field memory of the week: I attended Friday’s Reds-Cubs game, my first foray into the Friendly Confines. In the bottom of the first inning, Hamilton was completing his warm-up tosses with left fielder Skip Schumaker before he spotted three friends of mine decked out in Reds gear in the center field bleachers. Hamilton made eye contact with them, and then upon completing his warm-up, flung a perfectly-thrown ball right at a buddy of mine. My friend saw the ball all the way, lifted up his left hand to snag Hamilton’s toss…and then dropped the ball—both literally and figuratively—because not only did my friend fail to catch the ball, he knocked over multiple beverages, which sent suds flying sky-high and allowed the ball to find its way to a Cubs fan. Almost immediately, my friend was mercilessly (and rightfully) booed by the entire center field bleacher section for a good 15 seconds. Wrigley, I shall return.

Who’s next?: Frankly, the Reds have a strange week ahead of them. Cincinnati is in Detroit today after its Sunday Night Baseball clash with the Cubs last night, but the club will only stay in the Motor City for two games. The Reds will fly home Tuesday night and play two games against those same Tigers before welcoming Mat Latos and the Marlins for a weekend series.

Relevant Reds video clip, Part I: As kids these days would say, Tyler Stephenson’s bat flip game is fireeeeeeee.

Relevant Reds video clip, Part II: In the second inning last Monday night, Billy Hamilton stole second, stole third, and then flashed some doctorate-level base-running acumen by advancing home on a walk after Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz threw to first base, mistakenly believing the play was a dropped third strike.

Semi-relevant Reds video clip: Between losing Cozart for the year and dropping a pair of one-run games to the Cubs, it was another bummer-filled week for Cincinnati. So, let’s look back on a happier moment in club history: Eric Davis’ shocking first-inning home run off Athletics ace and 22-game winner Dave Stewart in Game 1 of the 1990 World Series.

Notes from around the National League Central: The Cubs inked veteran reliever Rafael Soriano to a minor-league deal Tuesday. Soriano has a career 3.31 FIP to go along with 207 saves. … I recommend reading about the tale of Cardinals reliever Mitch Harris, the first graduate of the Naval Academy to play in the majors since 1921. … St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday is out indefinitely with a quad strain. … 2011 first-round pick Taylor Jungmann was brilliant in his MLB debut for the Brewers on Tuesday evening, throwing seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball. … Powered by three-run home runs from Chris Coghlan and Miguel Montero, the Cubs scored a season-best 12 runs Wednesday. … Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina is one of seven qualified hitters without a single home run on the season. … Pirates starter A.J. Burnett hurled nine scoreless innings on Sunday. Burnett’s ERA of 1.89 is just behind teammate Gerrit Cole (1.71) for the NL lead. … Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro recorded the game-winning hit Saturday and Sunday night against the Reds. Bryan Price helped out Castro and Chicago Sunday (and Saturday) by failing to use Aroldis Chapman. (Certain managers consider it a crime against baseball humanity to pitch their closer in a tie game on the road, apparently.)

Notes from around Major League Baseball: Monday, the Diamondbacks made Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson the first overall pick in the draft. … After Swanson, the Astros selected LSU shortstop Alex Bregman and the Rockies nabbed Florida prep shortstop Brendan Rodgers, the first time in the 51-year history of the draft that three shortstops were selected to begin a single draft. … During Day Two of the draft, the Nationals selected Mariano Rivera Jr. in the fourth round. The son of the Greatest Closer Ever registered a 2.65 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched this season as a starter for Iona College. … Giants rookie Chris Heston made it four no-hitters in as many years for San Francisco Tuesday night vs. the Mets. Heston hit three batters—most-ever for a no-no—and also produced a two-run single in the Giants’ 5-0 win. … Tigers’ outfielder Rajai Davis made a righteous catch to rob Cubs’ catcher David Ross of a round-tripper. … Twins’ outfielder Torii Hunter angrily removed articles of clothing after his ejection Wednesday. … A centenarian named Myrtle threw out the first pitch prior to Thursday’s Indians-Mariners game. … Max Scherzer’s complete-game, one-hit shutout masterpiece that also featured 16 strikeouts was actually rarer than a perfect game. … One week after Carlos Correa—the No. 1 pick of the 2012 draft—made his debut for the Astros, Byron Buxton—the second selection in 2012 draft—did the same thing over the weekend for the Twins, scoring the eventual game-winning run Sunday. … The Red Sox—who forked over $183 million for Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez this winter—own the American League’s worst run differential (minus-60) and second-worst record (27-37). Boston has allowed more runs (307) than any other team in baseball.

Grant Freking is a Nuxhall Way and Cincinnati Magazine contributor, and also writes for Redleg Nation and The Ohioan. You can follow him on Twitter at @GrantFreking.

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