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Cincinnati Reds Win in Extras: Did You Catch What Sam LeCure Said?

Sam LeCure turned in the best start of his young career last night, allowing just one run on one hit over six innings. He walked two, struck out eight and left the game with the Reds leading 2-1. However, LeCure would not pick up the win because Nick Masset allowed the Padres to tie it in the eighth.

Cincinnati would come back to win the game thanks to a six-run rally in the 11th, all coming with two outs.

The point that I want to focus on here is the importance of Ryan Hanigan and the obviously strong connection LeCure has with his catcher.

If a pitcher is going to miss the strike zone, he needs to miss down. He needs to trust that the catcher will keep the ball from going to the backstop. This means the catcher has to be prepared to block balls in the dirt, something that Hanigan did repeatedly last night.

Blocking pitches is something that can be seen at the stadium or on television. Even though it is a very under-appreciated part of the game for many fans, it is still a visual occurrence. There is still so much more that goes into a successful pitching performance. Anyone that has been behind the dish knows that there is a lot more to calling a game.

“Hani does such a good job of making me feel like the game is slowing down. He feels like I need to take my time sometimes, so he’ll take a little longer giving the sign,” LeCure said. “I feel really comfortable with him back there.”

The pitcher’s mound can be a very lonely place. It is easy to get rattled, especially for a young pitcher like LeCure. Something so easy like taking a few extra seconds to hang the sign allows the pitcher to take a few extra breaths and calm down. Each pitch needs to have a purpose and the pitcher needs to remember that.

Last night, LeCure and Hanigan seemed to remember it just fine.

Are you in Reds Country?

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Cincinnati Reds Baseball: Rymon Hernanigan Is on Fire

I have never been a fan of platooning players in baseball. I always liked having a set lineup while giving the starter an occasional day of rest. Dusty Baker has a different idea when it comes to the Reds catching situation, and it has worked like a charm.

The combination of Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez has been more than productive both offensively and defensively. Hanigan catches Bronson Arroyo while Hernandez handles Edinson Volquez. The rest of the time, it usually depends on matchups and health.

Through the first three games of the 2011 season, the dynamic duo has put up some incredible offensive numbers. Here are the statistics (at least five at-bats), along with where they rank against the rest of Major League Baseball.

.750 AVG (1st)
1.500 SLG (2nd)
.769 OBP (1st)
3 HR (2nd)
7 RBI (2nd)
18 TB (T-1st)


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Jim Edmonds Bashes Cincinatti Reds Doctors, Brandon Phillips in Radio Interview

Apparently, Jim Edmonds didn’t exactly have the time if his life after joining the Reds last season.

According to’s Mark Sheldon, in an interview with a St. Louis radio station, he opened up a bit about what he thought of the Reds organization and how he regrets coming to Cincinnati. He also throws a verbal jab at Brandon Phillips.

Edmonds said, “They have a bunch of good guys…other than that one situation (fight with the Cardinals) and that one player (Phillips).”

Phillips replied via Twitter, but did not take any shots, even though he implied there were plenty to be taken.

Edmonds also whined about his foot injury.

He said, “It’s really frustrating. I don’t know the words to use towards the Cincinnati doctors.”

Give me a break.

Edmonds also said there were a few guys with chips on their shoulders and that the worst thing he did was accept the trade “for Walt.”

The worst thing Reds fans had to do was pretend to root for this jerk.

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Opening Day in Cincinnati Was Unbelievable, as Usual

Few experiences can top Opening Day in Cincinnati, Ohio. The parade, sold-out stadium and increased number of media members are just a few things that cause the first baseball game of the year to sometimes take a backseat to the pageantry that surrounds it.

Not this time.

We met up with a group of friends, affectionately known as the Power Stack Pack, on Fountain Square and found a place to watch the parade before heading down to the stadium. The walk to Great American Ball Park is always filled with excitement and anticipation, but Opening Day raises those feelings to a new level.

After the pregame ceremonies, it was time to get down to business. Edinson Volquez tested the patience of every Reds fan by surrendering back-to-back home runs to start the game. Dusty Baker stuck with his starter for six innings despite allowing five runs on seven hits. Volquez turned it over to the bullpen with the Brewers holding a 5-2 lead.

Around the seventh inning, many “fans” began filing out of Great American Ball Park. Most of these people attend Opening Day and won’t be back until the playoffs, if the Reds are fortunate enough to make it.

A friend of mine commented about the people leaving early, to which I replied, “Apparently, they forgot that this team came from behind to win so many times last year.”

Trailing 6-3 and heading to the bottom of the ninth, the Reds went to work.

Brandon Phillips led off with a single. After Joey Votto walked, Scott Rolen reached on a fielder’s choice when Phillips displayed some fancy footwork to avoid a tag on his way to third base. Jay Bruce struck out before Phillips scored on a sacrifice fly by Jonny Gomes.

That brings me to my question of the day. The Reds now had Rolen on first, Votto on second, trailed by two and were down to their final out. Ramon Hernandez was coming to the plate. What happens if Hernandez hits a ball in the gap? My guess is Rolen, the tying run, either gets held at third or takes the risk of being thrown out at the plate. The point is I would have liked to see someone run for Rolen.

None of that mattered thanks to Hernandez. He launched a ball into the Milwaukee bullpen for a three-run, walk-off funkblast!

Yes, it was one game…but it was a great game.

Baseball is back.

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Cincinnati Reds: Guys Like This Make the Team Easy To Root For

I have been meaning to post a “Hot Stove” update for several weeks, but the misery of watching and writing about the Bengals has taken its toll.  However, when I read this story written by Paul Daugherty, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to comment.

Jay Bruce generosity knows no bounds

Jay Bruce is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  I think he is primed to have a big season in 2011.  However, my growing admiration has nothing to do with his walk-off home run to clinch the division last year.  It is not influenced at all by his abilities with a bat, glove or the rocket attached to left shoulder.

Bruce is simply a good dude.

He (and all of the Reds for that matter) have always been receptive to my family.  Whether it be the season-ticket holder picture day, Redsfest, or a chance meeting on the street, the guys on this team all seem to be genuinely nice people.

I remember watching Bruce at Redsfest playing whiffle ball with disabled children.  I was amazed at his maturity and wondered how I would have responded to that situation at 23-years-old.  It was obvious that Bruce wasn’t putting on an act either.  He was enjoying himself.

Daugherty’s article mentioned that Bruce is taking over Aaron Harang’s program that provides free tickets to military families.  He is also adding a ticket program to benefit the families of special-needs kids.  Bruce said he has learned not to take things for granted through his sister, who is mentally disabled.

Another Red was exposed for his charitable contributions.  Apparently, Francisco Cordero donates “well into the six figures” to local causes.

Read more at Reds Country

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Cincinnati Reds: Is It Time To Harang ’em Up?

Aaron Harang has not been the “ace” of the Reds starting rotation for a long time. He has still been considered a key part of the pitching staff and a valuable veteran presence in the clubhouse. However, his ineffectiveness over the last couple of seasons may have finally reached its peak yesterday against the Rockies.

After the Reds jumped to a 4-0 lead early, Harang gave the lead right back. He failed to get out of the third inning, lasting just 2 1/3 while giving up four hits and four runs. He also walked three batters, including the opposing pitcher.

Since coming off the disabled list, Harang has given up five runs on 12 hits and six walks in just 6 1/3 innings. Harang did not pitch well during his rehab assignment in the minors, either.

So, what do the Reds do with Harang? Dusty Baker said a decision will have to be made sooner than later.

“Yeah, pretty soon,” Baker said. “We’ll discuss things and see. We can’t have these short outings. That puts pressure on my bullpen for the ensuing days after that.”

I got a chance to meet Aaron Harang earlier this season and he could not have been nicer. He has donated a lot of time and money to various charitable organizations. The media has always described him as a stand-up guy who will be honest and never duck a question, even after a bad outing.

This is the sad, but unavoidable aspect of professional sports. Fans can be passionate about a team or player without consequence. Decision-makers (managers, general managers, etc.) have to be able to separate the person from the player.

The Reds are in a pennant race. They cannot afford to allow Harang to make another start.

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Cincinnati Reds: Chapmania Comes To Ohio

The Cincinnati Reds are the hottest team in baseball.  They are playing well and getting contributions from everyone on the roster, in addition to have the National League’s best player in Joey Votto.  They entered the final day of August with a six-game lead in the NL Central.

And now they welcome a new member to the bullpen who consistently sends the radar gun into triple digits…

The long-awaited Major League debut of Aroldis Chapman took place last night at Great American Ball Park.  Ironically, fire alarms were sounded at the stadium shortly after he arrived.  Expectations were high and the man dubbed the “Cuban Missile” did not disappoint.

Chapman entered the game in the eighth inning with the Reds holding an 8-3 lead over the Brewers.  The first pitch he threw was a fastball clocked at 98 mph.  He topped out at 102 mph and retired the side in order.

Chapman throws as hard as anyone I have ever seen.  However, the actual velocity of his pitches is not the most impressive thing to me.  His off-speed stuff was flat nasty.  After seeing a fastball north of 100 mph, a breaking pitch that bites that much is almost impossible to hit.

Though Chapman admitted after the game to being nervous, you couldn’t tell during his time on the mound.  He threw eight pitches, seven for strikes.

Baseball can be a very humbling game.  It is important that Reds fans remember that this is a 22-year old kid.  However, he is as talented as anyone I have ever seen.

Read more at Reds Country.

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The Cincinnati Reds Are Doing It the Right Way

For someone with children eager to learn about the complexities of baseball, this Reds team is a dream come true.  My five-year-old son, who can rake by the way, constantly says, “Tell me more about baseball!” each time we watch a game whether it be on television or at Great American Ball Park.  Like most kids, he loves home runs, but is also interested in the intricacies of the game.

I have discovered his eagerness to learn is because of two main reasons.  The first, obviously, is because he loves the game and wants to play like the big-leaguers.  The other is his desire to find every possible edge when we engage in a titanic struggle of MLB10 The Show.

The 2010 Reds have provided me with many opportunities to teach my kids the proper way to play baseball.  Joey Votto is one of the best players in all of baseball and is having the season of his life.  It is a true privilege to watch the way he approaches every at-bat.  The way he spoils borderline pitches while waiting for one he can drive is absolutely incredible.

Brandon Phillips should definitely win another Gold Glove at second base.  His instincts and athletic ability allow him to make plays on balls that most infielders wouldn’t even get to.  However, I love to watch him make the routine plays.  It is absolutely textbook.  Phillips fields the routine grounders with two hands, and brings it right to his chest.  You can see the top of his hat as he looks the ball all the way into his glove.

Yesterday, Drew Stubbs started the bottom of the first inning with a double to left.  Chris Valaika sacrificed him to third.  Stubbs scored when Votto grounded out to first.  The next batter, Scott Rolen, lined out to center.  If Valaika doesn’t get the bunt down, the Reds don’t score.

Chris Heisey played a big part in yesterday’s win.  In the second, his hustle and speed turned a single into a double.  Ramon Hernandez singled, scoring Heisey.  The next two batters were retired. 

The Reds have made a point of going first to third on base hits.  With one out, Stubbs turned on the jets when Votto singled to center.  Rolen produced a sacrifice fly, scoring Stubbs.  The next batter grounded out, meaning Stubbs would have been left at third base had he not gone first-to-third.

In the eighth, it was Heisey’s turn again.  His attempt to go first-to-third on another hit be Hernandez caused an errant throw by Kosuke Fukudome, allowing Heisey to score the go-ahead run.

Read more at Reds Country.

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Aroldis Chapmania Is About To Be Running Wild!

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Reds plan to call up Aroldis Chapman either today or tomorrow.  That should help the mid-week ticket sales.

#Reds source: Team plans to call up Aroldis Chapman and his 105-mph fastball Monday or Tuesday. Pre-Sept. 1 call makes him playoff eligible.

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Joey Votto: A Fanadian of the Canadian

As I have gotten older, my views of the Reds have become more objective.  I can find fault with the team and logically investigate ways in which they can improve.  

The Reds’ representation on blogs and social networking sites has really exploded over the last year.  Some people are fanatical, which is great.  Others, including myself, love and support the Reds as much as anyone, but also try to mix in an analytical approach to following the team.

The rest of the baseball world is quickly becoming aware of what Reds Country has known for a long time—Joey Votto is good.  A member of the Reds Blogosphere, Diamond Hoggers, recently posted a very strong statement regarding the first baseman.

Today, Joey Votto cemented himself as the best Reds player of my lifetime. The 2010 Joey Votto is the most dominating version of an offensive player that a team that I’ve pulled for has ever had within its members.

My first thought was the post was just an excited reaction to the Reds extra-inning victory against the Giants in which Votto collected four hits, two being home runs.  However, after I thought about it, the exuberant praise for Votto isn’t overstated at all.

Votto is absolutely incredible.

If you want to teach a youngster how to hit a baseball, make sure all eyes are on the television when Votto comes to bat.  He clearly has a plan as he strides to the plate.  He has the unique ability to make adjustments during the at-bat based on the circumstances (count, runners moving, etc.).

I have pointed out to my family on more than one occasion the way Votto approaches an at-bat.  His ability to foul off borderline pitches with two strikes is remarkable.  The only Red I have ever seen do that so well is Barry Larkin.  If you want proof, look no further than the MVP-caliber at-bat against the Dodgers last Sunday.

Votto is putting up some ridiculous statistics this year, sparking legitimate discussion of his chances at the Triple Crown.  He is leading the National League with a .326 batting average, tied for second with 31 home runs, and in second place with 90 runs batted in.

More importantly, the Reds are in first place and hoping to make their first postseason appearance since 1995…and Votto is leading the way.

Read more at Reds Country.

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