The Reds continued their run atop the Central Division with a 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, a day after they wrestled first place away from the St. Louis Cardinals. The Reds are passing all of the tests coming their way right now. The latest was to see if the team would let down after the jubilation of capturing first place had settled down.
It would have been easy to overlook Milwaukee. The Brewers have great offense, but their pitching is struggling. Rarely are their starters making it out of the 6th inning. They have just four wins at home all season, and they begin their current road trip in Cincinnati on a 6-game losing streak.
Make it seven. The Reds stayed focused and took game one of the series with great defense and an old fashioned rally. The Reds twice threw out Brewer runners at the plate. Orlando Cabrera did it in the 1st inning on a hard hit ball to short. Drew Stubbs did it in the 4th on a fly by Yovani Gallardo.
The rally came against former Red Todd Coffey in the 7th. In a 1-1 tie, Chris Heisey banged a leadoff pinch-hit triple to deep center to start it off. It was the first of four consecutive hits in the inning. Scott Rolen ended the string with a sacrifice fly to right, and Coffey was ordered to intentionally walk Jay Bruce to get to Jonny Gomes. Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with Gomes.
“We’re competitors out here. When you see that guy in front of you getting intentionally walked – not really to set up a double play, just for a matchup – it fires you up,” said Gomes. “I had four pitches to think about it, and I put a good swing on a good pitch.”
That he did, sending a three-run homer to left-center field, giving the Reds a 6-1 lead.
There were some hairy moments in the 9th, but Francisco Cordero was brought in to close the door on Milwaukee.
What impresses me is the way the Reds are responding to pressure. The out of town scoreboard plainly displays all the scores in the National League when the Reds bat. They can score-watch all they want. They could see that the Redbirds put up a four-spot on Washington in the bottom of the 1st in St. Louis. They kept playing well anyway, waiting for their moment to capitalize on offense and win the game. Past Reds teams seemed to wilt under pressure. This team seems to thrive on it.
They know they’re in a battle.
“I think it’s going to be a lot harder to stay there than it was to get there,” said Gomes. “Everyone who comes in now and everywhere we go, we’re going to have a target on our backs.
“We’re just following Dusty and staying positive. We’re just going to bring it every day.”
And being in first is something to be proud of, no matter if it is the middle of May.
“For us, it’s a great moment,” said Cabrera. “We have to keep the momentum and keep winning, and take advantage of our pitching staff right now. They are throwing the ball really, really well.”
“The good thing about this is that the guys are liking it. They’re not surprised. They worked hard all through spring training, and we know that this is our moment. We just have to keep doing it. Don’t lose the grip. Just keep winning.”
It also can help change some teams’ perspective of the Reds, as this is something Cincinnati earned directly on the field by beating the Cardinals. “I think it’s important,” said Rolen. “We got here by playing good baseball. We’re in a nice spot because we played good baseball and made good pitches. We had good at-bats. It didn’t just happen overnight. We struggled early, but we started playing a lot better.”
“We can’t lay down. We’re going to keep trying to make good pitches and play good baseball. I think we have a pretty good team.”
The Reds are 15-5 since that horrible game against San Diego and the closed door meeting that followed afterward.
“The main thing in this game is that you can’t (let yourself) get too high if things are going good,” said Baker, “and you can’t (let yourself) get too low if things are going poorly. You gotta try to remain as consistent as you can in your personality, outlook and demeanor in order to be consistent. Because, if not, you’ll be up and down depending on how things are going, and that’s not conducive to winning in the long run.”
NOTES: The Reds have signed Cuban outfieler Felix Perez. Perez inked a $3.5 million deal with the Yankees in 2009. That deal was voided because Perez lied about his age. He made the Yankees believe he was 20 when he was actually 24. MLB also suspended him. The suspension was lifted in October. The Reds signed the now-25-year-old for $550,000. He’s an outfielder, and can play all three outfield positions. “He’s got all five tools,” vice-president of scouting, player development and international operation Bill Bavasi said. “Nothing stands out. But he’s a baseball rat. He loves to play. He’ll do anything you ask.” The Reds will evaluate him in Arizona before deciding where he’ll play. “He may end up at Dayton or Lynchburg,” Bavasi said. “But because of his age, he needs to get to Double-A quickly.”… Former Red Ryan Freel called it a career Monday afternoon. Released from four different MLB teams in 2009, Freel was playing for the independent league team in Somerset, Massachusetts this year. The 35-year-old Freel was batting just .265, and decided he was done playing pro baseball. He was one of my favorite Reds, but it appeared he lost a step after his injury in 2008. I have two Freel replica jerseys in my closet that I still wear – a red one and the famous “Dirty Shirt,” a 2007 giveaway item. I wish him well.
About the Author
Written by Dave Allen
I'm a lifelong Cincinnati sports fan who has been following the Reds and Bengals ever since I can remember. My first Reds game was Game 6 of the '72 World Series and my first Bengals game was an October 1975 clash with the Steelers. I've been involved in sports media since Junior High, when I assisted with scores for Bob Trumpy SportsTalk in 1979 on WLW Radio. My biggest Reds highlight came in 1998 when I was chosen to be the public address announcer at Riverfront Stadium (then called Cinergy Field) for Opening Day and the entire first homestand. I am thrilled to be involved with PSB and I hope you enjoy my entries!