Reds Review/Preview: Week 15

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Results: 3-2 win over Nationals; 5-0 win over Nationals; 2-0 loss to Marlins; 1-0 win over Marlins; 14-3 loss to Marlins; 8-1 loss to Marlins.

Record // Run differential // Place in NL Central: 39-47 // minus-48 // fourth, 15.5 games back of the first-place Cardinals.

Notable performances/trends: After finishing second in last season’s Home Run Derby, Todd Frazier became the first Red to win the Derby on Monday evening, feeding off a cacophonous Great American Ball Park crowd by winning each round in his last at-bat, including a walk-off shot in the championship round to beat Dodgers rookie slugger Joc Pederson. (Thumbs up to the new Home Run Derby rules, the fun-loving Frazier Bros., and Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez randomly being the second player to congratulate Frazier (after Aroldis Chapman) post-Derby. … Frazier will be the lone Red to start in tonight’s All-Star Game, but he will be joined on the National League squad by Chapman, who was selected as a reserve for the fourth straight season. Starter Johnny Cueto was one of the five candidates for the NL’s fan-voted final roster spot, but he lost out to Martinez. . … Last Monday, Brandon Phillips led off an inning five different times. …Last Tuesday, Joey Votto notched a run-scoring double, a solo home run, and a run-scoring single against Nationals ace Max Scherzer. … The Reds are 5-0 against the NL East-leading Nationals this season. (Cincinnati is also 7-2 vs. the Pirates, who own the NL’s second-best record. Go figure.) … During an eight-run seventh inning Saturday, Marlins hitters established a new club record with nine consecutive hits vs. Reds pitching.

Roster notes: Shortly after the Week 14 edition of this column went live, the Reds called up outfielder Yorman Rodriguez from Triple-A Louisville and optioned pitcher Josh Smith to Double-A Pensacola. … Rodriguez was sent back down to Louisville Saturday to make room for Raisel Iglesias, who started in place of Anthony DeSclafani (glute strain). Iglesias made his first start since May 30 after recovering from an oblique strain. … Louisville’s Tony Cingrani, David Holmberg, and Sam LeCure combined to no-hit the Toledo Mud Hens on Sunday.

Notable quote, Part I: “He was great, so great he could have fun. That’s a rarity in this game where you’re playing so well you get to laugh and goof around on the mound.” Votto to the media after what was likely one of Cueto’s final tour-de-force pitching performances as a Red on Tuesday night. (See below).

Notable quote, Part II: “The last two games were disastrous. It was just not good baseball, and not the way we want to go into the All-Star break.” Reds manager Bryan Price post-game Sunday after the Reds were outscored 22-4 in two losses to the Marlins to cap the first half of the season.

Rant of the week: Friends don’t let friends slide into first base. Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon slid headfirst into first base Saturday, dislocated his left thumb, and will miss the All-Star Game.

Amended ‘Who Dey’ chant of the week: Frazier engaged in an altered version of the popular Bengals battle cry with first base coach Billy Hatcher prior to Sunday’s tilt.

Pitching duel—that wound up being a one-sided beatdown—of the week: Last Tuesday was billed as one of the top pitching matchups of the season—and on paper, it should have been. Scherzer, who has been the best starting pitcher in the National League through the first half of the season, was on the hill for the Nationals. Cueto started for the Reds. However, the Reds’ bats battered Scherzer in the first inning—much like they did two weeks ago against Pirates ace Gerrit Cole—and knocked the right-hander from the game after Scherzer allowed five (earned) runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. Cueto, on the other hand, was masterful, blanking Washington over nine innings and 122 pitches. The righty fanned a season-best 11 hitters and walked just one. Cueto also apparently hopped out of his hotel bed Tuesday and turned his swag on, because he frequently implemented an extra shimmy or two into his windup Tuesday evening.

Baseball nerd observation of the week: Phillips and Votto reached base to lead off Sunday’s game. Frazier came up and lofted a ball into short left-center field, and Phillips displayed keen baseball instincts by taking off immediately from second base and scoring easily, knowing the ball was going to drop. That sequence sounds like small potatoes, but there are many big leaguers who lack the often-preternatural gift of forecasting where batted balls will fall.

Who’s next?: The All-Star Game is tonight (in Cincinnati, if you haven’t heard). The Reds begin the second half of the season Friday at home with a weekend series against their fellow underachieving Ohio brethren, the Cleveland Indians (42-46).

Relevant Reds video clip: Oh, you know, just Billy Hamilton doing what Billy Hamilton does on the basepaths: cause hell in unique ways, like stealing third base on a return throw from the catcher to pitcher.

Semi-relevant Reds video clip: It wouldn’t be an All-Star weekend in Cincinnati without a startlingly intense (and cruel) reminder of the deciding play of the 1970 Mid-Summer Classic when Pete Rose crashed into Ray Fosse.

Notes from around the National League Central: The Cardinals led the NL Central with six All-Star selections: Martinez, catcher Yadier Molina, shortstop Jhonny Peralta, outfielder Matt Holliday, starter Michael Wacha, and closer Trevor Rosenthal. … Cubs pitcher Jon Lester recorded his first career hit Monday, snapping an MLB-record 0-for-66 stretch at the plate. … Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez bested his father-in-law’s team Monday with a walk-off single. Alvarez is married to the daughter of Padres manager Pat Murphy. … The Cubs outscored the Cardinals 12-7 in sweeping a doubleheader Tuesday, Chicago’s first doubleheader sweep at Wrigley Field in nearly 12 years. … A few Pirates players came to the aid of what was an overmatched-by-Mother-Nature PNC Park grounds crew Tuesday. … With the Cardinals trailing 5-4 on Wednesday in the ninth inning, Peralta lined a two-strike, two-out home run into the wind and over the left-field wall at Wrigley Field to push the Cardinals ahead 6-5. St. Louis would win by that score. Cardinals gonna Cardinal. … The Pirates completed a sweep of the Padres Wednesday, already the club’s 10th brooming of the season. It wasn’t all good news for Pittsburgh on Wednesday though, as the team learned third baseman Josh Harrison will be out seven weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ulnar ligament in his left thumb. … Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen walloped a walk-off homer to bring the Pirates from behind and past the Cardinals in the 14th inning Saturday. On Sunday, fellow Pirate outfielder Gregory Polanco had a walk-off hit of his own. Pittsburgh (53-35) enters the break 2.5 games behind St. Louis (56-33). … Cubs starter Jake Arrieta twirled a complete-game, two-hit masterpiece in beating the White Sox Sunday.

Notes from around Major League Baseball: The Royals paced the American League with seven All-Star selections. … Marlins starter Jose Fernandez remained unbeaten in 22 career home starts Thursday by blanking the Reds over seven innings. … Dodgers starter Zack Greinke extended his consecutive scoreless streak to 35.2 innings (and lowered his ERA to a near-first-half-record 1.39) after shutting out the Phillies over eight frames Thursday. The major-league record of 59 straight scoreless innings is held by former Dodger ace Orel Hershiser. … Twins second baseman Brian Dozier launched a pair of walk-off round-trippers last week. … Sunday, Kirk Nieuwenhuis became the first Met to hit three home runs in a single game. … After dropping six straight games to end the first half of the season, the Astros were overtaken by the Angels in the AL West and are now in second place by a half-game. … The U.S. team dominated the World Team 10-1 in Sunday’s Futures Game, with Cincinnati native and Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber earning MVP honors.

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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