When this past Monday morning rolled around, there was one prevailing question concerning the Cincinnati Reds. Did the Sunday night meltdown change their season for the worse? After all, the Reds unraveled before an entire nation in dropping a 7-6 decision to the Detroit Tigers. Some might have thought that game could be a defining moment for the 2012 Reds.
If you watched any of the three games from this past sweep of the Cleveland Indians, you saw a Reds team determined to right the wrong of Sunday. Even with an illness zapping some from playing, starting and even changing the starting rotation, you would be hard pressed to find a series where the Good Guys appeared more determined. They took what was a losing homestand and made it a winning one. The Reds needed a sweep of Cleveland to pull that off…and that’s what the Good Guys did.
The first game for the battle for the Ohio Cup dealt an ace, Johnny Cueto. The Reds #1 tossed a complete game gem surrendering only one run on six hits with no walks and seven whiffs. And he got the offensive help exactly from where you would expect it: Joseph Daniel Votto.
Heading into the bottom of the 7th, the Reds held a precarious 2-1 lead. Last minute substitute Wilson Valdez softly lined a single into center. Indians manager Manny Acta brought in a lefty, Tony Sipp, to face Votto-matic. I saw the move and said “Are you freakin’ serious? That’s Joey Votto. It does NOT matter, lefty or righty.” True to my words, Votto promptly deposited a Sipp pitch into the left field seats, some 402 feet away. Votto would also drive in a run with a single in the bottom of the 8th. 2-for-4 with 3 RBI. Just another day at GABP for the 2010 MVP.
Reds take game of the series, 7-1.
Wednesday saw a change in the rotation as Mat Latos was moved up a day (but still on his normal “rest”) due to Mike Leake being added to the list of those afflicted with a sickness spreading throughout the roster. While not on the level of Cueto’s outing, Latos would deliver one of his best efforts of the season. Seven innings, two runs, one walk and seven strikeouts. The best part of the outing? Latos only tossed 99 pitches and only the one walk, two areas where he has struggled thus far in 2012.
Latos got a little offensive help, too. No, no, it wasn’t Votto this time. It was former Indian and current Gold Glove and Silver Slugging second baseman Brandon Phillips. Again, the Reds were holding on to a one-run lead. Bottom of the 7th with the score 3-2, Votto did lead off the inning with a single. BP would take a 94 mph fastball from Nick Hagadone and launch it 409 feet into the night. Reds 5, Tribe 2.
The final: Reds 5, Indians 3. Reds take the second game of the series.
Today, Leake got his start, but he struggled. Perhaps still feeling the effects of whatever illness gripped the righty. He surrendered a pair runs in the first, but that was erased by, yes, Joey Votto. The world’s hottest hitter took a Josh Tomlin offering and put the Reds up 3-2. They would never trail again in this game.
BP added three hits, including his second home run in two days, and drove in four runs. Ryan Ludwick cranked his 9th home run of the season. Both BP and Ludwick were 3-for-5 in the game. The only starter to not collect a hit: Jay Bruce. His batting average is now down to .252.
Sweep complete as the Reds take the final game, 12-5. For the series, the Reds outscored Cleveland 24-9. The bats were awake for these three games.
On to the Big Apple and three with the Mets and then to Progressive Field and the final three games against the Indians for the Ohio Cup.
That should be interesting. I’ll cover that (and more!) in tomorrow’s The Utility Player.