The Road Trip from Hell Continues

After getting swept in Cleveland, the Reds lost three out of four in Philly. Thank goodness for Jay Bruce; otherwise it might have been a sweep. And now they have to go to Atlanta, where they haven’t played well in the past. (Example: the monumental collapse last May that ended with a walk-off home run off of Laynce Nix’s glove). Their pitching staff is in chaos, and certain people in the batting order just aren’t hitting right now. They are in 3rd place for the first time since early May of last year and only one game over .500 after being seven games over just a week and a half ago. The lone bright spot is Jay Bruce who has had a sensational May and just owned the Phillies in this past series (I think Phillies fans might be booing the wrong person haha). Something needs to change. Let’s hope this series in Atlanta can be a starting point.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be negative. I want this team to turn it around as much as any other Reds fan. (Well, except for those bandwagon fans who have decided to be done with them after the road trip. And believe me, I have seen a couple of those fans on Twitter. They can just leave anyway; no one wants them if they’re going to be like that.)  I’m trying to be optimistic, but in a cautious way. I’m sick and tired of all the people who think this team is done.  It’s not even Memorial Day yet! Yes, they are four games out, but it could be worse: you could be a Twins fan.  Just to prove that I am still optimistic, I’m going to list the bright spots first, and then the issues.

Positives:

#1: Jay Bruce. The guy is on fire right now. After starting slow in April, he has really put it together in the month of May. His average is now up to .289, he leads the league in home runs, and is tied for second in RBI with Ryan Howard.  He has the Reds’ last 4 homers and 6 of their last 7. And he is coming through in the clutch. He had that 2-run double in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game to take the lead, put the Reds ahead 4-3 in the top of the tenth of that marathon 19-inning game, and tied the game at 4 yesterday with a two-run home run. I only hope that he continues his hot hitting when the Reds start winning too.

#2: Bill Bray. This guy has been the shut-down reliever of the bullpen. He’s pitched 18.1 innings and has a 1.47 ERA. He’s given up 3 earned runs, with six walks and fourteen strikeouts. He’s been dominant so far this season.

#3: Joey Votto. He’s not performing at his rate from last year, but honestly, who thought he would.  He still gets on base, and is being walked more times this year. He doesn’t get as many good pitches to hit, and a lot of times will take what I call the unintentional intentional walk. Yet, he is still third in the NL in batting average and OPS, and second in OBP. (The only one better than him in most categories is Lance Berkman, who I personally think will cool down as the season goes on. He’s old and is playing outfield everyday. He’ll get tired.) Anyway, Votto just has to start realizing that when he gets that one pitch to hit, he has to take advantage of it. That and being patient at the plate, and he will continue to do what he has been doing.

Negatives:

#1: The shortstop position. Between Renteria and Janish, nobody is hitting anything. So many people wanted Janish to play everyday last year, and now that he has that chance, he’s struggling to hit. Yes, he’s great with the glove, but if he can’t hit on a consistent basis, why would Dusty put him in the lineup? It’s just an automatic out. Renteria got a couple hits in Philly, but they all came at the wrong time. When he was up with runners in scoring position, he failed to get them in.

#2: Left field situation. I think that anybody not name Jonny Gomes is good at the moment. Though I love him as a person and a player, Jonny can’t hit worth a lick right now. He swings at bad pitches and lets good pitches go by for strikes. That’s the essence of his problem.

#3: Starting pitchers. I don’t know what happened here. During that stretch of NL Central opponents earlier this month, Reds’ starters were dominating. Now, in the last week, they are having a really hard time not giving up runs.  Bronson Arroyo, the veteran of this staff, has even struggled, and he’s an innings eater. Johnny Cueto has been okay, but the best pitcher this month has been Homer Bailey. He had an outstanding game in Cleveland, and would have pitched longer yesterday if he didn’t have spasms in his shoulder. I really hope it’s nothing because they can’t afford to put him on the DL right now. Mike Leake is up in the majors again, even though he has struggled in Louisville his last two starts. And the supposed “ace” of the staff is in Louisville trying to fix his issues. I can see why Lance Mcalister, sports talk radio host in Cincy, said last night that this pitching staff is in chaos. At the moment, it really is. And I don’t agree with him most of the time :O

Now, for some random stuff:

  • I was listening to WLW after the Reds game yesterday, and Tracy Jones was on. He’s a former MLB player who played for the Reds in the 1980’s. He was talking about Brandon Phillips, and just ripping on him for getting picked off second Tuesday night. He said that because of this stupid stuff that Brandon does, he’s not the greatest 2nd baseman like everyone thinks he is. He even went so far as to say that the Reds should trade for Jose Reyes. Now, everybody knows that if the Reds were to trade for Reyes, they will not have the money to re-sign Phillips the year after next. I don’t know if I like that; Brandon Phillips is a great player with a great smile (the best in baseball :) ) and is one of those “catalyst” players. You take him out of the lineup for a couple days, and the team changes dramatically. Just look at when he was out of the lineup in April for a week. It’s a different team without Phillips in the lineup. He’s also a huge fan favorite and he wants to be in Cincinnati. If the Reds wouldn’t resign him, it might be the equivalent to the Aaron Boone trade.
  • During this same conversation, some guy called in and said that Phillips was better than Jeff Kent. That frustrates me because everyone who is a baseball fan knows that Jeff Kent is a Hall of Fame 2nd baseman. Phillips is good, but not Hall of Fame material, at least not yet ;) So, to say that is just plain ignorant. I don’t like ignorant people.
  • Nice article about Brandon and his love of connecting with fans on Twitter. http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110522&content_id=19444734&vkey=news_cin&c_id=cin
  • Joey Votto is a beast. http://blog.imgacademies.com/2011/05/17/video-of-joey-vottos-offseason-workouts-at-img/
  • I love this! It’s really nice to see Cincinnati finally get some national recognition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc_N0kFFq0M
  • A former UC Bearcat made his MLB debut last week. He joins Kevin Youkilis as the only two current Bearcats in the majors. Way to represent the C! http://www.gobearcats.com/blog/2011/05/tony-campana-a-dream-come-true.html

And, finally, I am so so happy that this man is back from injury:

I literally yelled out loud when I saw on Gameday that he had hit a home run in his first game back from the DL.

And then to have Nelson Cruz hit a home run too was just the icing on the cake. Having these two guys back is huge for the Rangers. Now hopefully they can get on a winning streak.

Well, this post was way longer than I thought it was going to be. My posts might be scarce for the next week because it’s the end of the quarter and I have finals coming :/ But after that, I should be able to update more frequently and I’m hoping everyday.

As always, GO REDS!  AND RANGERS!

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