As the Reds entered the month of June, there was a sense of a tide changing. Not so much with the Reds, but who would come knocking on the door for the top spot in the NL Central: the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not like we hadn’t seen this before. There was a general consensus that the Pirates would simply go away. They didn’t…at first.
When play began on June 1, here’s what the division looked like.
That lead would evaporate some over June. It didn’t help that the Good Guys began the month by going 4-5 in their first nine games. After taking the Houston Astros for two of three games, the Bucs came into GABP and did the same to the Reds. The Pirates were becoming a nemesis to the Redlegs and there was plenty of chatter from the Steel City.
That lasted longer than it did in 2011…
The Detroit Tigers headed into GABP and this series was a good one. The results were all one-run games including the Reds scoring a win in the series first game, a 10 inning affair won when…
Question: Who’s going to be asked to do this with Valdez gone?
Well, the Tigers would take the next two games even though Bronson Arroyo outpitched Justin Verlander in the second game of the series. Sure, only once, but you have to admit it kind of jolted you a little.
The final game of the series was on ESPN and was an absolute downer. There’s honestly o other way to describe it. The Reds surrendered an eighth inning, 6-3 lead…with Aroldis Chapman on the mound, no less. And Dusty Baker‘s managing acumen was called into play after this one. Chappy had a meltdown (not of this caliber) three days previous when the Pirates got to him the the tenth inning. Now this? Back-to-back blown saves? There would be more for him in June, too.
Not only was this loss a downer, it also allowed the Buccos to forge a tie atop the division. Maybe that was a kick in the pants that was need as Cincy would run off six straight wins with a pair of three game sweeps over their instate rival Cleveland Indians and the New York Mets. After the Mets sweep, the Tribe would gladly return the favor including a blasting of Mat Latos, both on and off the field and another blown save chance by Chapman.
After being swept at Progressive Field (and being swept in the process of that visit), the Good Guys returned home to face the Minnesota Twins. This ought to be a series win, right? Wrong. The Twins would take two of the three games including almost Red Josh Willingham taking an Aroldis Chapman fastball and depositing it in the left field seats for a two-run, game-winning homer. To make matters worse, former Red Jared Burton would pitch the bottom of the ninth and record the save to give the Twins the final game of the series and the series win.
Chappy wasn’t Chappy in June. I’m sure you know that, but here’s a look…
The month finished on a decent note with the Reds going 4-2 over the last 6 games of June. Here’s how the division looked as the month ended.
Still in first place, but the lead and the team in second had changed. The Pirates were challenging for the division and there was some trepidation as the word got out that Joey Votto was nursing a bum knee. Would that newsline take a change for the worse.
Player of the Month: Joey Votto
Despite the details finally emerging that Votto had the bad knee, he posted one of the best months by any Red…ever. Former staff writer Justin Suer took an in-depth look into Reds history and came away with this.
I scored the performances using a simple formula: Production Score = (Runs + RBI’s) x OPS.
Using that formula, Votto’s month of June ranks 19th among the NL Player of the Month winning Reds performances since 1958. Despite not winning the NL Player of the month, Votto’s August 2011 ranks 15th on the list.
Justin looked at all Reds that have ever won a Player of the Month honor. He even notes that June was not even a top-three month in Votto’s career. It’s a nice read and I suggest giving it a look when you have the time.
Pitcher of the Month: Johnny Cueto
Johnny was up to his old tricks in June. After posting a less than stellar May, he bounced back to record arguably his best month of the 2012 season. I hear you talking about his August (which we will cover on down the road), but if you are one to glance at tOPS+ (55) and sOPS+ (43), June was his best.
Cueto was 4-1, posted and ERA of 1.72 and a WHIP of 0.927. He also rediscovered the strikeout as his SO/9 of 8.1 was matched only in August. His SO/BB ratio of 4.71 was his second best of any month.
His best performance for June came against the Indians when the Tribe visited GABP. It would also be Cueto’s second best outing of 2012 as he held Cleveland in check for a 7-1 complete game victory. In the game, he would allow only one run on six hits. That run would come in the game’s first inning. After that, Cleveland could only manage four more hits against the Reds ace.
And Cueto would get one of his six hits on the season in this game, too.
Next up is July and we will see something we could not have imagined for this team.
Other posts in this series: