Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reds shrink magic number to eight after completing sweep of Pirates



It was a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel in Cincinnati on Wednesday night as Homer Bailey (11-9) put together one of his better Great American Ballpark performances and put away Pittsburgh, 2-1. The win inches the Reds closer to October as their magic number continues to shrink. It now stands at just eight after St. Louis fell to San Diego, 3-2. For more details on the series finale, read on.

The Good
-We saw the “good” Homer Bailey again as he was able outduel AJ Burnett (15-7), tossing seven innings of one run ball. It’s not much of a secret that Bailey has struggled at GABP, but he posted an excellent line tonight, walking two while striking out four and lowering his season ERA to 3.93.
-It’s starting to feel final now. With the win, the Reds’ magic number to clinch the NL Central lowered to eight as the Cardinals lost again (ha!) at San Diego.
-J.J. Hoover got his shot at the back end of the bullpen with Aroldis Chapman shut down and Jonathan Broxton needing a day off. Hoover worked around a two-out single and posted a shutout ninth inning for his first career major league save.
-The offense was just enough tonight. Burnett has stymied many offenses this year, including Cincinnati’s, but an RBI ground out from Wilson Valdez in the third and a sac fly from Scott Rolen in the sixth gave Bailey all he needed.
-Sam LeCure tossed a perfect eighth inning for his sixth hold.
-The Reds sniffed out a suicide squeeze play put on by the Pirates in the sixth inning. Ryan Hanigan held on to the bunt attempt by Clint Barmes and applied the tag to Alex Presley. The game was tied, 1-1, at that point and the Pirates really never threatened again.

The Bad
-The offense continues to sputter. Luckily tonight Bailey was outstanding against a sputtering (to put it nicely) Pirates lineup, but the offensive woes of the past couple weeks are something to continue watching if not become overly concerned about right now.
-Valdez batted second and played short again with Zack Cozart continuing to miss time with his oblique injury. This is nothing new, and Cozart is likely still at least a week away, but this team desperately needs a healthy Cozart in October. Luckily, a positive report came out about Cozart today as he worked out in pre-game and said he felt much better.
-The Pirates. OK, so the Buccos being bad helped the Reds to a series sweep, but am I the only one who finds their epic collapse (again) sad to watch? Maybe not. Still, the Pirates have now lost six straight and appear completely out of the playoff picture.

The Notables
-An announced crowd of 21,203 took in the festivities.
-Bailey’s pitch count was a touch high; he finished with 78 strikes on 116 pitches for the night.
-The Reds are off Thursday before beginning a series in Miami on Friday. Bronson Arroyo (12-7, 3.66) goes for the Redlegs against Marlin rookie right-hander Jacob Turner (1-3, 6.44) who has struggled since being acquired in the Anibal Sanchez trade earlier this summer.

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