Saturday, June 30, 2012

Giants hopes of raising Cain spoiled as Bruce, Reds use Leake

The Reds (42-34) entered Friday's tilt against the Giants (44-34) at AT&T Park badly in need of a win. The club was coming of a stretch of seven losses in 10 games which included being shutout with only one hit on Thursday. And is if their recent run of futility wasn't reason enough to panic, their division lead over the upstart Pirates had dwindled to one. Luckily, the boys from the Queen City prevailed victorious as they jumped all over SF ace Matt Cain early to propel themselves past the home squad by a tally of 5-1.

Mike Leake went the distance and added a pair of hits to help lift his season record to 3-5. Meanwhile, the offensive charge was led by none other than the club's two biggest bats in Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. The dynamic pair of left-handed sticks combined to rip seven hits and account for all but one of the Reds' runs.

And now for the good, the bad and the notables from Friday's funktastic affair on the West Coast:

The Good:
- Leake came into Friday's game riding a stretch of some major tough luck. However, that didn't phase him in this one as the right-hander hurled nine innings of nine-hit, one-run ball to claim the victory. He needed only 111 pitches to do so -- 76 in which were tossed as strikes. He also helped his cause by going 2-4 at the plate, including his second homer of the year in the sixth (solo). All in all, Leake provided a huge boost for his club tonight.
- Votto busted out of a mini slump by collecting three hits, one of which was a 33 on the year. That total leads all of MLB and is the most ever by a Reds player during the first half of a season.
- San Francisco pitching couldn't find a way to get Bruce out as the outfielder went a perfect 4-4 with two doubles (19) and three RBI (54). His solid effort helped raise his batting average to .258 overall.
- Zack Cozart leadoff the contest with a home run on the very first pitch he saw from Cain. That obviously ignited the offense from that point on.
- The Reds pounded out a total of 13 hits after mustering just one the night before.
- Cincy managed to record a number in the "run" column other than "0". By doing so, they effectively snapped a string of four straight shutouts by Giants pitching. Take that San Fran!
- Leake's complete game outing helps keep the relievers' arms in the bullpen fresher.

The Bad:
- Scott Rolen failed to get on base in four plate appearances. Two of those resulted in strikeouts. The 37-year old Gold Glover just isn't getting it done at the plate this year, hence his .184 average.
- Drew Stubbs was hitless in four tries, but did manage to score a run after drawing a walk.
- There's nothing else to really complain about other than those two points. The Reds picked up a win on the road over a very good ball club who trotted out their ace. You'll take that in any form or fashion on any day of the week.

The Notables:
- The complete game performance marked the first of such in Leake's career.
- A packed house of 41,960 took in the contest on a brisk, 59-degree night in Northern California.
- Injured reliever Nick Masset, who's been on the disabled list all year with a bum shoulder, hopes to toss a bullpen on Saturday. If that goes well, the next step for the right-hander would be to go to Goodyear, Arizona to face live hitters.'s Mark Sheldon was recently quoted in saying that a reasonable estimate for Masset's return would be sometime in late-July.
- The Reds now move to 20-25 all-time at AT&T Park.
- Up next: The Reds and Giants hook up again in game three of the series on Saturday. Dusty Baker trots out Mat Latos (6-2, 4.77) to counter San Francisco's Barry Zito (6-5, 4.00). First pitch is scheduled to begin at 4:05et.

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