Welcome to the first of many installments of my rumblings and grumblings in the world of Reds baseball. This will now be a routine fixture of this blog and despite the majority of this site's traffic being brewers fans, I remain confident that this forum will in some way broaden the discussion of this board beyond the ususal topics of discussion.
First of all, last night's game was something else. Arroyo continued his Cy Young campaign with an amazing 8 inning, 6 hit, shutout performance. This guy continues to baffle right handed hitters with his curveball with a dropped-down arm angle. That thing looks like a fastball coming out of his release and then suddenly gets a late break and drops away from both the hitter and strike zone. His command has been downright outstanding thus far and it only amazes me how this guy could still miss playing for the BoSox in the toughest division in baseball. The game seemed like any other Arroyo outing--and was especially reminiscent of the fantastic showing he had at Miller Park last month. I could accept the lack of power and the sudden reliance on the running game from Lopez and Freel--despite the spawning of my later beef with Mr. Freel--as long as Arroyo kept making everyone in that Nationals lineup look like Royce Clayton clones.
But then Narron pinch hit for Arroyo in the bottom of the eighth and somehow everything to be fine for the intimidating David Weathers for the save. Weathers has his worth and might be a solid fantasy option but in all honesty he's the same pitchers as Danny Graves. He's a groundball pitcher that can really smear his team when he decides to challenge hitters with pitches high in the zone. God I want Ryan Wagner to develop and get the closer job ASAP. But for now I must sit back and accept the propencity for what happened last night.
But that was far from the most annoying moment of the night. After the collapse of the bullpen to a 4-1 defecit, the Reds got their shot in the bottom of the 11th. With Lopez on first base and no one out Ryan Freel decided to insanely stretch a base hit into a double--for what reason I haven't a clue--and the result was a tag waiting for him at second that fatally wounded any momentum the team was building with the heart of the lineup on its way. Let me make this perfectly clear, Freel wasn't even the tying run. The score was 4-1 and his only job after making contact was to not make an out on the basepaths. I swear I wanted to kick a dog I was so angry at him. Of course this includes the other blunder of Narron which was replacing Dunn in left field with the terrible Quinton McCracken. Who for some reason decided to steal second and after avoiding a tag ROUNDED the base and shocked everyone before he stabbed his foot back to the bag before the Clayton caught on. But now I'd like to pose a discussion question for you all before I progress any further: should someone who stupidly gets himself thrown out stretching a single into an extra-base hit even get credit for a hit? In my opinion someone shouldn't receive credit for a hit of any kind unless he is safe on a base when the play is rendered dead. That stupid little hustler almost cost us the game.
That is until my boy Griff Dog stepped to the plate after the anticipated pitching change by Frank Robinson--lefty-lefty matchup--and crushed a mamoth Dunn-like blast into the right-centerfield stands. I could hardly contained myself and was happily proved wrong by Jimmy and Matt who told me there still was a chance for the Reds. I was ready for the channel to be changed during James' ribbing about Freel's mistake and not being able to teach hustle. My only refuse at that point was to try to choke myself with a deluge of Miller Lite cascading down my throat. It turns out I was wrong and quite frankly I think all of you Brewer fans would agree with me that occassion is one of the few instances where being proved wrong is delightful.
I am very excited that the Reds could save that victory and not lose that series--at home--to the lowly Nationals. And now they welcome the streaking Philadelphia Phillies to town for a weekend fling. Tonight's matchup is Elizardo Ramirez (1-2, 3.18) against Cole Hamels who will be making his season debut tonight. Supposedly this kid has great stuff but I'm doubtful he's faced a lineup like this juggernaut Narron has at his disposal. Ramirez has been quite suprising this season both with his improve command and the addition of a changeup thanks to the mentoring of former Red Mario Soto. The remaing games of the series pit Dave Williams (2-2, 7.85) against Jon Lieber (2-4, 6.60), which should be very entertaining with the promise of a lot of homers, and Brandon Claussen (2-4, 5.79) against Brett Myers (2-1, 2.96). This is a very winnable series for the Reds and should be very entertaining. Lopez and Kearns are hitting piss rods all over the field, Hatteberg continues to foul pitches away until he draws a walk, and Encarnacion and Phillips stir the drink. The lineup only gets stronger with Griffey back andthe Big Donkey will break out of this semi-slump any day now. The pitching needs to keep the Reds in the game and not give up big innings and this lineup can always be two walk and one swing away from jumping on top. It's quite simple.
Well, there you have it. Expect another installment in the near future--especially if Griffey gets hurt standing up from his recliner in the clubhouse. GO REDS!