The Reds concluded their opening home stand this weekend with a resounding 3 to 1 victory over the rival Chicago Cubs. This was a big win and really salvaged the team’s opening home stand. A record of 2 and 4 sounds much worse than a record of 3 and 3. And lets face it, the Reds faced 2 of the best pitchers in the game during this home stretch and were still able to walk away with 3 victories. Carpenter and Wainwright are 2 of the best the MLB has to offer and the Reds survived the 6 game stretch.
It is always nice to get the first few games under a players belt. Masterful scheduling by the Reds to bring in two NL Central rivals for the first week of play. This really got the fans excited from the gecko and kept them coming all week even after all the opening day hoopla. Now let’s be honest, and I am included in this, nobody likes when the Cubs come to town. Chicago fans buy a ton of the tickets and really travel with their team. This leads to not only having to deal with obnoxious Chicago baseball fans, but also you generally have to pay more for tickets, and getting a ticket is much more of a struggle.
Some pros of the first week for the Reds. Mike Leake went out and put on a masterful performance in his professional debut. He went 6 and 2/3 innings, only gave up 1 run, and struck out 5. We will give him a break on the 7 walks and say that it was nerves. Not to mention the guy had 2 hits. Could Leake be a future top of the rotation guy for the Reds? Bronson Arroyo picked up right where he left off from the 2nd half of last season and threw a masterpiece. The man had it going in every way. Also, our Cuban phenom, threw 9 strikeouts in his first outing in the minors. Chapman will be something to look forward to as the summer progresses. So the arms are looking pretty good. Minus a few blimps from the middle relievers and Aaron Harang, our pitching looks better than it has for some time now.
Hitting is a completely different story though. Other than Chris Dickerson and Ramon Hernandez, who have not even started all of our games thus far, nobody is batting .300. Our team batting average is a combine .230. This is a problem. I know it is early, but this could be an ongoing trend throughout the season similar to last year. Not one player on our roster has hit more than one HR and no player has knocked in more than 5 runs yet. A lot will hinge this year on whether our offense can provide our revamped pitching staff and bullpen some run support. Can Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips really lead our lineup into at least being an average run producing team? If the Reds can learn to manufacture runs, this team could really ride its arms into the playoffs.
So a decent first week for the Reds. They head down to Florida for their first series away from home. Hopefully the bats can start to wake up so that this team can be in contention come September. All I know is, this could be a very exciting year for a team that is flying under most folks’ radars.
Do not sleep on the Reds.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.