Valentin: “We Need the Fans”
As great as Javier Valentin’s clutch RBI single was to win the game, as well as Jason LaRue’s sacrifice bunt, the pitchers deserve a ton of credit.
Even without Pujols/Edmonds/Rolen in the lineup, Dave Williams deserves credit for his best outing of the year against the team almost everyone has picked to win the division: St. Louis. His 6 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs, kept the team in the game. The Reds then got good relief work from Rick White and Todd Coffey. Credit also goes to Bronson Arroyo, whose complete-game effort the night before meant that Jerry Narron’s bullpen was fresh.
The Reds’ pitching staff is 11th in team ERA in the National League, with the team ERA down to 4.59. And with the good performances the past few days, the Reds are moving very close to that "middle of the pack" range that should allow them to stay competitive when combined with Cincinnati’s productive offense.
I asked Javier on the radio after the game, ?What’s the difference between last year?s squad and this year?s team?? His answer would have warmed the heart of his manager.
"We do the little things now," he said. "Our offense, our defense — we’ve started pulling everything together. If one hitter doesn’t do his job, the next batter, he’s ready to go. Winning teams do that, play with each other. And we’re confident."
He only made one request. "The only thing we need: we need the fans. We need the fans to cheer for us because we’re going to be giving the best we can everyday — 120 percent in the field every single day." Nice to know "giving 110 percent" apparently just isn’t enough for these guys.
The Reds now open a five-game road trip, beginning with two here in Colorado. The warm weather left town just in time for this series, but then it’ll be in the 90s in Arizona over the weekend. Cincinnati now plays the next 11 games out of their division. Impressively, while playing 21 of their first 27 within the NL Central, the Reds went 14-7 against their divisional rivals.