Homer, sweet homer for Reds
April 12, 2006
BY MIKE KILEY Staff Reporter
Left-hander Glendon Rusch was supposed to be one of the bridges that carried the Cubs over troubled waters until Kerry Wood and Mark Prior complete their rehabilitation from injured right shoulders.
Instead, that bridge is sagging, weighed down by an 0-2 record and an 8.00 ERA.
The Cincinnati Reds have hammered Rusch twice this season, the latest a 9-2 slamfest Tuesday at Wrigley Field in which the Reds hit four solo home runs against Rusch in the first four innings -- including two by Adam Dunn -- and finished with six homers against Cubs pitching.
"Just a sad day on the pitching side,'' manager Dusty Baker said.
Injuries also intruded on what had been an optimistic start for the Cubs. Right fielder Jacque Jones left with a strained left hamstring that trainer Mark O'Neal hoped was moderate, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez took himself out late in the game with a sore left hamstring.
"We certainly don't need to start having this now,'' Baker said.
Ramirez said he will determine this morning whether he can play today. Neifi Perez is the likely backup.
"We'll see when I come in,'' Ramirez said. "There was a little pain when I swung the bat. First time it ever happened to me, especially on a swing. But I'm all right.''
Jones is likely to miss some time and will be replaced today by Angel Pagan. The Cubs were awaiting MRI results to determine the severity of the strain. They didn't consider it serious enough to be a disabled-list possibility unless the MRI proves otherwise.
"It happened on a play he was backing up Juan Pierre on one of the homers,'' O'Neal said. "I'm not anticipating [a DL move]. Aramis over-rotated on his front hip on one of his swings.''
While the wind was blowing out, Baker refused to offer that as an excuse for Rusch, who gave up four runs in four innings in an 8-6 loss last week to the Reds.
"Other than the second home run by Dunn, the rest were legitimate,'' Baker said. "He missed location all day. That's the first time I have seen four solo home runs in each of the first four innings.''
Things got even worse after Rusch departed. Reliever Will Ohman served up a grand slam to Edwin Encarnacion and a solo homer to Austin Kearns without getting an out in the sixth. The back-to-back blasts gave the Reds a 9-0 lead.
Pitching prospects Angel Guzman and Rich Hill are a phone call away at Class AAA Iowa, and both are off to strong starts. Rusch is likely to get another chance, but he can't continue to have these results and stay in the rotation for long.
"We'll stick with him,'' Baker said. "At this point, we are a little thin. It'd be different if we didn't know what he could do.''
Reds starter Bronson Arroyo will have a special place in his heart for Rusch for the rest of his career. Arroyo (2-0) not only has outpitched Rusch twice this season, but he also has homered twice against him.
"I couldn't believe where that pitch was,'' Arroyo said of his shot to left on a 2-2 count to open the third inning.
Like Baker, Rusch downplayed the wind.
"It's irrelevant,'' he said. "Look at the way Arroyo threw the ball -- seven shutout innings. Same mound, same field.''
Unlike Rusch, Arroyo consistently kept his pitches down.
"I had a better sinker than ever,'' Arroyo said.
Catcher Michael Barrett hit a solo homer in the ninth after Arroyo had departed.
"He may be a guy we need to see a few times before we get used to him,'' Barrett said. "You don't see a lot of guys using their breaking ball this early. He uses more breaking balls than anything else.''
It put a definite crack in the Cubs' start.