The Reds looked exceptional last night. They looked like a team poised to make a run at the pennant. They looked like a team on a mission. They looked like..
I could go on and on about last night and what the media has said about the Reds recently. And you know what, they are playing at a high level. Want to know why? They are playing fundamental baseball to a tee. This team is fielding, they have a lot of arms in both the starting rotation and the bullpen, and they are producing timely hitting. If you accomplish these three things, you will be hard to beat no matter who you have in your starting 9.
So last evening was even a bit excessive. Brandon Phillips and Orlando Cabrera turned a double play which was number 1 on Sportscenter’s top 10 this morning. Orlando Cabrera made an over the shoulder catch that also made the top 10. Last night’s game was a prime example of the new look Reds letting the fundamentals take charge. Johnny Cueto, traditionally known for his sporadic nature and lack of control at times pitched a gem. And in pitching this gem, threw 0 strikeouts. Yes, Johnny Cueto went 8 innings without tossing a K. But he also only walked 2 batters and let his defense do the work. And boy did they ever, making a handful of exceptional plays and of course all the plays they are supposed to make.
This team is very young and exciting. They have a strong nucleus of talent, with some experienced veterans speckled in. Guys such as Scott Rolen, a savvy vet, have been so crucial to these team’s success. Rolen is having his best year in a long time, and is batting over 300, with 17 HRs and over 50 RBIs (also congrats to Scott on hitting the 300th HR of his career last night). And we all know about the glove work of this guy. Brandon Phillips has finally settled in to his leadership role. He not only is fielding great, but he has cut down on his strikeouts and has turned into a very solid leadoff hitter. Brandon is batting over 300 with 9 HRs, and 10 stolen bases. Then lastly, Joey Votto has stepped up in a big way. This smooth swinging Canadian slugger is having a big time year. He is batting 312, with 16 HRs, and 51 RBIs. Votto is rapidly developing into one of the finest players in the game.
Then of course our rotation has been doing a solid job. Though Harang has struggled overall, he has done well as of late. Arroyo has provided his typical 4 decent starts mixed in with one horrible start pattern. Mike Leake has been very strong all year, really surprising many including myself on how quickly he has adjusted to the big league game. Cueto is having the best year of his career. Not to mention Volquez, who is capable of being an ace is on his way back from the DL. Then in the bullpen, Arthur Rhodes has been absolutely lights out and Cordero has done his job for the most part.
But really what the Red’s success all boils down to is fundamentals. This team has the best fielding percentage in the league. They have only committed 29 total errors on the year, with just 2 weeks until the All Star Break. They are hitting for average and have the best overall batting average in the League by far. And then their pitching has done just enough to get the job done with an okay 4.38 ERA. The Reds have so many arms though this year, there is no reason why they cannot continue to improve on that overall team ERA as the year progresses. With a plethora of arms, hopefully the staff will not be too fatigued down the stretch this year. Many teams have an exhausted rotation come September, which costs them during the last bit
of the season due to not having enough horses. If the Reds pitching staff does not tire too much and continues to improves, they will be a playoff team without a doubt in my eyes.
Want to know the most important thing though? It is not even July yet. A lot can change as we inch closer to the All Star Break. But if this team continues to produce timely hits, field the ball, and pitch well, they will be in the hunt come October. And boy would it be nice for the Reds to make the playoffs for the first time since 1995.
It all boils down to continuing to play fundamental baseball.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.