Pretty impressive couple of days at Great American Ball Park for the Reds, beating Roy Oswalt and Andy Pettitte. After the impressive road trip, the next question was: How would this team do against the two teams that have given them the most trouble the past several years? So far, so good.
I’ve been impressed for the past couple of weeks by how patient the Reds hitters have become. They drove up Oswalt’s pitch count Friday. Same story on Saturday (eventually) with Pettitte. Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns drew walks, Edwin Encarnacion had a good at-bat, fouling off pitches before his big double, and the offense began to flow. The Reds hitters seem to be going to the plate with a plan, and they’ve been able to execute that plan. John Fay told us in the second inning Saturday he’ll have a story about Chris Chambliss, the Reds hitting coach, in the Enquirer Sunday. Chris deserves a lot of credit for all his hard work with the Reds? (mostly young) hitters.
The other thing that jumps out at me, watching this team every day, is the speed factor. Adding Brandon Phillips to a lineup that already includes Ryan Freel and Felipe Lopez, and suddenly the Reds can score in ways that they couldn’t do as easily in the past. It’s not just having speed, but having more than one or two guys with that speed that can create havoc on the base paths, as we’ve seen with Brandon the past couple of days.
Also, the starting pitching is so critical. The first couple of weeks of the season it was very good, then things got shaky for several days. Of late it’s been strong. For the Reds to truly contend, it’ll have to continue to get better. The team era is still around 5; if they can get it down in the mid-4s or so, then with this offense, they’ll have a chance against the top teams.
It’s still so early, but with each win, especially over very good pitching, the confidence continues to build. Sunday it’s Elizardo Ramirez’s turn again. He was outstanding last Monday night in his 2006 Major League debut. Can he do it again? Or at least keep his team in the game and give them a chance? If he changes speeds they way he did in Washington, he’ll be fun to watch. Houston puts young Taylor Buchholz on the hill, and he’s enjoyed success this year too.
Regarding some of the questions and comments some of you have left (and I appreciate them), I found out there’s more than one way I can answer them. I can post under one of your questions, or I can just answer you in a blog entry like this one. So I’ll answer a few of them now, and more in the next few days.
Someone suggested the team call up outfielder Chris Denorfia. If the Reds had a place for him to play every day, I’d second that motion. But right now, with things going well here, there really isn’t a place. But the good news is: He’s playing everyday (and playing very well) at Louisville. We’ll see him at some point this year, and the way he plays the game, I would think he could be a starter at some point in the future. But right now he’s playing — and still developing where he is.
Someone asked about Cody Ross, the player the Reds acquired from the Dodgers this past week. He was hit in the hand Friday night, which might have cost him a start on Saturday. He’s seen as especially good against left-handed pitching, so with Pettitte starting, the thought was he might be in there. The good news is X-rays were negative.
To the person that asked about Joe Nuxhall and having him around: I’m glad he’s around. No one’s treated me any better than he has. I’m glad he’s still on the air with us. On occasion I have the chance to broadcast games with him, which I really enjoy. And I know folks still like to hear Marty and him together, and on those days, I enjoy listening just like you. And, no, I haven’t tried your aunt’s hangover cure…. (yet).