Time for a recap of tonight’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Cincinnati 2
Houston 1
WP: Masset (1-0)
LP: Valverde (0-1)
S: Cordero (3)
BOX SCORE

POSITIVES
–Roy Oswalt didn’t pick up his 24th career win against the Reds!

–Ramon Hernandez picked a good time to get his first homer as a Red: a 2-run shot in the top of the ninth, down 1-0.

–Great work by Nick Masset out of the bullpen. His ERA is down to 1.80. We can’t ask any more of this guy.

–Can’t forget to mention Mike Lincoln, either. One and a third of very effective relief pitching. It’s good to see Lincoln get a good outing under his belt. His ERA is now down to 17.36. 🙂

–Brandon Phillips had another walk. That’s 8 on the season, which is more than 20% of his career high walk total, set last year. The guy isn’t hitting worth a lick right now, and he hot dogs it sometimes, but his approach at the plate has been much better. It bodes well for when he comes out of this slump.

NEGATIVES
–The offense is just bad. That’s all there is to it. Seven hits, and the Reds really only threatened to score in one inning until Hernandez’s clutch homer.

–Five of tonight’s starting eight are hitting below .215. Four are below the Mendoza Line (.200). And Alex Gonzalez is on the interstate, “hitting” .087. Some of these guys need to start hitting soon.

ETC.
–I didn’t see it, but someone mentioned that Brandon Phillips didn’t run hard to first on the grounder that ended the top of the 8th, with the Reds only down a run. Did anyone else notice that?

–CoCo Cordero made it exciting in the 9th, but he nailed it down.

–In the ninth, with one out and two players on base, Jason Smith of the Astros hit a short fly that was caught by Alex Gonzalez for the apparent second out. But no, the ball had actually hit the roof, so it was declared a foul ball. In a very tense situation, that out could have been important…but he ended up hitting into a double play to end the game.

–Jay Bruce showed some signs of turning it around tonight, but he’s still struggling.

–Cueto was great, if you don’t look at the BB column. He walked 6 batters, but Houston couldn’t do anything with him when he was around the plate. If his command comes back soon, he is going to be tough to hit. He really had great stuff tonight, but his command was off.

–I don’t know who would put up better offensive numbers, given playing time, between Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan. What I do know is that both are better hitters than last year’s primary catcher, Paul Bako, and that’s a good thing.

–The Reds are now 3-1 on the road trip. They’re above .500 on the year, and they have a great chance at picking up another win tomorrow with Aaron Harang on the mound.

How great would it be to secure a winning record on this road trip, all against division rivals?

17 Responses

  1. Josh

    Per Brandon Phillips not running out the grounder. I noticed and was not pleased. Just once I’d like to see him run 10 feet past first base so I at least knew he was trying. It’s really getting very frustrating.

    Good win tonight. Didn’t give up and they pulled it out. Bullpen was solid. I think Cueto pitched better than his line indicates…the strike zone wasn’t very forgiving (unless you pitched for the Stros).

    Good win…lets keep it up.

  2. Y-City Jim

    Eddie extends his current errorless streak to two games.

  3. Sultan of Swaff

    Great win! Dick Pole looked like he was giving it pretty good to Cueto, and deservedly so. For me, Johnny has sucked ever since he quit featuring his changeup midway thru last year, and the stats bear it out. I was begging for Nix to PH for Hernandez, but it sure worked out well. The way the Cards and Cubs slug the ball, we might not be in that league, but we’re a lot better than everyone else in the division. Anything less than third will be a disaster. Taking 3 of 4 is a definite possibility.

  4. mike

    “–Jay Bruce showed some signs of turning it around tonight, but he’s still struggling.”

    I thought his AB against Oswalt where he got a hit looked great. And I’m not just talking about the hit. If I remember right he fouled off two nasty high and slightly outside fastballs and then pulled a breaking ball. Everything looked great that AB. Balance, timing, etc

    “–I don’t know who would put up better offensive numbers, given playing time, between Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan.”

    easy one….Hernandez. Hanigan I’m not sure even deserves to be in the bigs.

    “What I do know is that both are better hitters than last year’s primary catcher, Paul Bako, and that’s a good thing.”

    OK…now this is just stating something that’s too obvious. Without looking I dare you to name more than 5 hitters worse than Bako in the major leagues.
    I’m going to eliminate the obvious. Castro, Ausmus, and John McDonald.
    and a hint…..two terrible hitters. Patterson and Taveras are not worse hitters than Bako.

    ok, ok, do there aren’t 5…Even Jose Molina is a better hitter than Bako

    Bako is no Bergen or Matheny but he’s bad

  5. Jared

    While I appreciate BP picking up the walks, what stuck out to me is this:
    “The guy isn’t hitting worth a lick right now, and he hot dogs it sometimes, but his approach at the plate …”

    I read a comment at some point where someone suggested that he could be more patient at the plate, but it might not necessarily mean more production. You play to your strengths, and at this point it looks like it may be a wash.. I suppose we’ll see if he continues to walk once we get a bigger sample size.

    I’d say at this point we’ve been pretty lucky. The wins have been close, and the losses have been bad. “Gread teams win the close ones” is kind of silly, because they also win the blowouts. The Reds have only won the close ones.

  6. mike

    RE: “I read a comment at some point where someone suggested that he could be more patient at the plate, but it might not necessarily mean more production. You play to your strengths, and at this point it looks like it may be a wash”

    I don’t think it’s a wash
    Phillips OPS+
    99 2009
    92 2008
    87 Career

    the catch is he shouldn’t, walking or not, be batting 4th

  7. preach

    After watching the game tonight one thing is very evident: This team is hustling. They play hard. Rosenthal is mistaken (again).

  8. earl

    Looking up Jay Bruce versus Wandy Rodriquez, I think it might be a good day to give Bruce a day off.

    1-12 w/8K

  9. per14

    I understand part of it is the league catching up with them, but Voltron’s and Cueto’s regression is frustrating. Is Dick Pole doing anything to teach these guys to quit nibbling? I assume he is but whatever he is saying isn’t working.

  10. Bill Lack

    One thing on last night, Chris Welsh felt that West was squeezing the plate on all the pitchers last night (though he might be a big prejudice, being he’s an ex-pitcher)…my biggest complaint was the walk of Oswalt that started the problems in the 5th. He had 2 strikes on him, he’s got to get him out.

  11. zblakey

    153 more to go!

    Face, the offense is even worse than most of us thought, the starting pitching might not be as good as we thought, while the bench and relief pitching might hold up, the every-day portion of this team has to take it up a notch! That said, still 5-4 not a bad start, and most everyone still has a lot of room for improvement

  12. Chris W

    I also thought the walk to Berkman was close as well. I thought the slider on 2-2 was very close to a strike.

    Don’t forget that Joey Votto had 2 more hits last night. While the offense is abysmal right now, this guy continues to rip the cover off the ball!

  13. james

    I’ve always supported Phillips, but in the 8th inning with Votto on second Phillips grounder to the whole and his running to first was just pathetic. I wish Dusty was like Charlie Manuel. Last year when Rollins (who is a much bigger star than Phillips ever will be) didn’t run out a pop up Charlie benched him.

    But hey, the pitching held together for another win. And even though Oswalt didn’t give up the loss, it’s a start for the Reds to actually beat Houston when he pitches!

  14. Kurt Frost

    I think what people are noticing with Phillips is he stops BEFORE he gets to first when he grounds out. It seems like he is doing it purposely because I have seem him do it quite a lot after watching him dog it in person in Sarasota this spring.

  15. Fireball44

    I’m impressed so far with Dickerson, and Votto has been awesome. I’d like to see Bruce moved down in the order a little bit until he figures it out, and he will figure it out…

  16. Brian

    The thing about Volquez and Cueto that I find interesting with the high pitch counts is that when they came back from the WBC, yes they had good springs, but Volquez mentioned that in the WBC being around Pedro and talking to him Pedro made him understand that the first inning you should use your fastball and maybe one other pitch, but establish your fastball don’t nibble and make the first inning quick.

    However, ever since the season started the first inning both guys, Arroyo and Owings have started games going with three pitches out of the gate and not really establishing the fastball. Harang, however, who has located the ball has been a fastball guy in the first and focusing on that one pitch the whole way threw the lineup the first time and has in turn had better starts.

  17. Brian

    2 wins to start the year against Oliver Perez and Roy Oswalt is encouraging considering their past history against the Reds, obviously any win when Oswalt starts is a step regardless of if he takes the L or not.

    As for Phillips, he has always done that when running to first base, however, two years ago when he went for 30-30 hardly anyone complained and now that he struggled last year and isn’t hitting right now people are complaining. If you allow someone to do it, he will continue to until someone makes him feel its unacceptable and I don’t think Dusty is that guy, I would not be surprised however, if Walt spoke with him.