Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cincy pummels Houston to increase division lead

Cincinnati rolled into the Lone Star State as winners of 11 of their past 13 games and hoped to continue that trend against the last-place Houston Astros on Monday night. As fate would have it, their pursuit of another victory was a successful one after they downed the host Astros (34-63) by a tally of 8-3 at Minute Maid Park. Thus pushing their overall winning streak to five and their record without Joey Votto in the lineup to 6-2.

Mat Latos delivered a less-than-stellar yet gritty performance to earn him his eighth win of the campaign. Meanwhile, the middle of the Reds lineup came through in a BIG way en route to the lopsided outcome.

As always, here's the inside track on the good, the bad and the notables:

The Good:
+ The heart of the order brought their heavy lumber on this night. The 2-5 hitters accounted for 11 hits and seven runs scored in the onslaught.
+ Two of those hits and two of those runs came from Drew Stubbs. Ryan Ludwick boasted three hits and two runs along with two RBI (43) as well.
+ The real man of the hour was Todd Frazier who continues to fill in nicely at first base in Votto's absence. The rookie pounded out three hits, scored twice and drove in a pair (33).
+ His partner in crime on the right side of the infield, Brandon Phillips, also whacked three base knocks to raise his season average to .297. Phillips now has three straight multi-hit games.
+ Jay Bruce came off the pine to drive in a run (60) in a pinch-hitting role.
+ Chris Heisey chipped in a couple of singles starting in place of Bruce in right.
+ The bullpen held down the opposing offense to just one run over their four innings of collective work.
+ The offense pounded out 15 hits.
+ Dusty Baker's club takes care of business on the road. Anything less than a series win against the hapless 'Stros should be viewed as unacceptable.

The Bad:
- Zack Cozart reached base just once in six plate appearances out of the leadoff slot. Cincy continues to stuggle in finding production out of the 1-hole. Perhaps a deal at the trade deadline is in the works to solve this very concern?
- The inevitable outcome of this game took seemingly forever. The affair lasted well over three and a half hours and coupled with its relative late start time of 8:05et for us East Coasters, it took way too long to complete.
The Notables:
+ Latos appeared to suffer an ankle injury during the fifth inning. He stayed in the game and allowed two runs before exiting in favor of Jose Arredondo in the sixth.
+ Cincy is now a whopping 33-2 when Stubbs scores at least one run in a game. Getting the Texan native on, over, and in appears to be the secret recipe to the Reds' success.
+ Pittsburgh suffered a 2-0 defeat to Chicago and fall 1.5 GB behind the Reds for first.
+ The Reds announced the passing of minority owner Mrs. Louis Nippert on Monday. Mrs. Nippert, along with her late husband (Louis), boasted an ownership stake in the team since 1966 and presided over some of the best moments in club history, mainly The Big Red Machine Era. Mrs. Nippert was 100 years old.
+ The Reds rank fourth in the latest MLB Power Rankings by ESPN.
+ The division rivals clash again for game two of the series on Tuesday. Right-hander Mike Leake (3-6, 4.25) will oppose Astros rookie Lucas Harrell (7-7, 4.24) in a pitching matchup that features youth. The first pitch is slated to be uncorked at 8:05et.

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