With July now firmly behind us, the main emphasis was taking the NL Central title. The Reds began the month of August with a 3 game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates…and they were headed to GABP. If one team gave the Reds fits in 2012, it was the Pirates.
Cincy began August with a pair of wins against the San Diego Padres as the Bucs were set to invade the Queen City. But the best of the Pirates-Reds was yet to come. Before the first pitch of the three-game series was tossed, I had this little tidbit…
And you make ask yourself…Is this series important? Yes and no.
For those that believe it is, if the Reds can take 2 of the 3 games, they will even up the season series with Pittsburgh. That can go toward building even more on the confidence this team has constructed. A shift in the momentum could follow. The lead within the NL Central would increase by a game from 3.5 to 4.5 games. A bigger cushion is (almost) always a good thing.
The first game of the series would certainly provide the means for chatter between the two teams.
Mat Latos pitched the first 7.1 innings and Jonathan Broxton finished off the 8th inning and left the game up to Aroldis Chapman. The Reds held a 3-0 lead in the game. The 9th inning began innocently…
There was a lot said about this. Many on the Pirates side of the ledger felt Aroldis Chapman intentionally hit McCutchen. The situation would dictate they had casue to question that. I mean, putting McCutchen on base would certainly not put the tying or winning run on base. It wouldn’t even bring the tying or potential winning run to the plate. Even if the following hitter, Garret Jones in this case, were to hit a home run, the Pirates would still be in a 3-2 deficit.
Didn’t happen as Jones struck out on three pitches, swinging at all three.
It did fire up the Pirates, but there were two other events this “beaning” overshadowed…
I love the reaction from the Pirates fan after Latos hit his first homer as a Red.
Going back to my thoughts before the series began, the Reds needed to take two of the three games. They did that. The Good Guys did drop the series finale after Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle re-worked his starting rotation to have his ace A.J. Burnett pitch the third game. McCutchen would extract his revenge in that game with a home run. The Pirates win would send the Redlegs on a five-game losing streak.
They were swept in three games in Milwaukee and dropped the first game in Chicago against the Cubs. The lead in the division was down to 2.5 games…and that lead would never get any smaller for the remainder of the season.
The Redlegs reeled off three straight against the Cubbies and two against the New York Mets to bring the division lead back up to 7 games. Yes, the Pirates were in a freefall. After taking the last game on the three-game series at GABP, the Bucs would go 3-7 over their next ten games. By the time the calendar read August 22, the Pirates were in third place in the NL Central.
The Reds would go 10-6 over the rest of August. They would never be threatened even after dropping two of three to the Cardinals. They even managed to win a game (actually, two games to gain a series split) at Citizens Bank Park against the Philadelphia Phillies. During that series, Todd Frazier made an appearance with this…
Watch that again. Antonio Bastardo threw an excellent pitch! The ToddFather was simply up to the task.
After the games of August 31, the NL Central looked like this…
For the month, the Reds were 19-11 and headed into September and October on a four-game winning streak.
Player of the Month: Todd Frazier
This was a tough one to pick.
Ryan Ludwick could have easily gone back-to-back as he duplicated his 7 HR, 19 RBI effort of July, but Frazier gets the nod from BRM. He had 6 HR and 25 RBI, his highest RBI of any month during the 2012 season. Same for his 6 big flies. He would also score 19 runs while producing a triple slash of .330/.393/.587.
And the talk grew louder of Frazier and the NL Rookie of the Year.
Pitcher of the Month: Johnny Cueto
Could make a case for Chappy, but Cueto turned in a month which solidly placed his name into strong consideration for NL Cy Young mention. As good as Cueto was in June, he may have been better in August. His triple slash against: .192/.236/.305, best of any month (except SLG) for 2012. He was 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA and 0.850 WHIP. Unless you hit a home run off him (he did surrender four in August), your chances of scoring on him decreased as he simply wasn’t letting runners get on base.
Want to relive the previous months? Here ya go!