Entering games of May 8th, the Reds’ minor-leagues held a 73-57 record, good for fifth-best in baseball.
Record this week: 3-4. Overall: 19-15, 3.5 games behind Toledo (DET).
5/1: Louisville held on to win a slugfest over Richmond (ATL), 11-8, with four runs in the ninth inning while Jim Brower held the Braves to just two. Offensive contributions were all over the board in this one, with no one driving in more than two runs or picking up more than two hits. RF Luis Bolivar scored three runs from the leadoff slot, while 1B Kevin Barker socked homer #4. CF Jay Bruce finished 0-for-3 with a pair of sacrifice flies. Starter Tom Shearn picked up the win (W 4-1, 4.60, 5.1 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) despite a very hittable outing. Gary Majewski set down four straight with a double play ball and cut his ERA to 6.23 (1.2 IP, 2 K) in the process! Todd Coffey’s first AAA outing of the year saw him serve up a pair of run-scoring grounders after allowing the first two to reach.
5/2: The R-Braves beat up Matt Maloney (L 2-2, 7.24, 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HR) as well as Justin Mallett (5.40, 1 IP, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K) and Tyler Pelland (5.79, 0.2 IP, 2 ER) in an easy 9-1 breaking of the Bats. Maloney had allowed just one run through the first four innings, but Joe Borchard’s three-run homer pretty much ran him off the track. Majik set down three more batters in a row (5.79, 1 K) and Scott Sauerbeck returned from the DL (take two) with a scoreless frame. CF Chris Dickerson cracked the .250 mark with two hits and a RBI (.253).
5/3: After Louisville scored two in the eighth off Scott Williamson (yes, that Scott Williamson) to tie the score at 3, Jon Adkins served up a two-out game-winning double to Richmond’s Wes Timmons to lose it, 4-3. Adkins has pitched so well this season (L 0-1, 0.95, 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) but couldn’t get it done this time. Dickerson drove in two of the three Bats runs and Adam Rosales poked a key pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth. Borchard homered again in this one, off starter Adam Pettyjohn (4.42, 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K).
Did I mention that the Braves also feature ex-Red Reggie “Rally Time” Taylor? RT was last seen in 2006 in the independent Atlantic League and last season in the Mexican League, putting up a Herculean .345/.420/.562 mark with 19 homers and 28 steals in 95 games (!). This year’s he’s over .300 to start as well.
5/4: The Braves take the series with another walk-off win, beating Coffey on Josh Anderson’s infield hit in the 11th, 5-4. Rosales got the start after his clutch hit the night before and picked up two more knocks, a triple and his first AAA homer. He’s up to .220 after a no-good, terrible, horrible, very bad start. LF Drew Anderson was 2-for-3 with two walks to climb to .279 (although he was caught stealing twice). Starter Justin Lehr was a little less spectacular than he was a couple of weeks ago (2.75, 6.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 K) and the relief corps was spotless (Herrera 1.1 IP, Brower 1.1 IP, Pelland 0.2) before Todd showed up.
5/5: Our Man Homer! OMH on the road to face Norfolk (BAL). His mates staked him to a 1-0 lead before he took the mound, as slumping RF Jolbert Cabrera (4-for-40 coming in) slammed homer #2 off Tides started Hayden Penn. An also-slumping Bruce (5-for-32 coming in) whiffed in his first at-bat directly afterwards. He did get two singles later (.292). That Cabrera bomb was all the Bats would get, though, and Norfolk got to OMH for a run in the second, two more in the fifth and one in the sixth. Bailey finished strong (L 4-3, 2.72, 7 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, BK) with 71 strikes in 112 pitches. Majik made it seven straight appearances without an earned run (5.40, 1 IP, 2 H, 1 K). Four losses in a row for Louisville.
5/6: The Bats snapped that four-game losing streak, stemming the Tides 7-2 behind starter Tom Shearn’s six steady innings (W 5-1, 4.34, 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR) and Rosales’ 3-for-4 night (.242). Good thing Tom was able to get back from Montana in time! (See below.) 1B Andy Phillips hit his first Reds-system homer and added a double and walk (.305). Bruce got in on the act as well, tripling and singling in four trips with two RBI (.299). Danny Herrera retired six batters straight in the seventh and eighth (0.00, 1 K) and Jon Adkins finished up.
5/7: Has Matt Maloney turned a corner? The struggling lefty gave up two runs in his first three innings, but settled down to shut out the Tides over his final four (W 3-2, 6.29, 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 9 GO/10 FO, 110 pitches, 81 strikes) in Louisville’s 8-4 victory. Bill Bray retired just one of five (3.00, 0.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 BB) but Coffey (0.2 IP), Pelland (0.1 IP), and Adkins (one pitch for a double-play grounder, save #5) finished it out. Phillips homered again, a three-run blast, and added a RBI single as well (.314). That put him on a ten-game hitting streak. Barker also hit a three-run homer (#5) and Bruce was 4-for-5 with three singles and a double and two runs scored (.320). So much for the slump.
Notes: OF Chris Dickerson compiled a 10-game hitting streak between April 22nd and May 3rd in which he was sixteen for forty (.400) with three triples, six RBI and six stolen bases. 5/2: LHR Scott Sauerbeck back from the DL for the second time, RHS Tom Shearn temporarily transferred to the Billings roster (paper only) and RHR David Weathers moved to Dayton. 5/6: RHR Justin Mallett was DLed with a calf strain and Sauerbeck was released. With Bill Bray coming back down, Louisville didn’t need three lefthanders.
Record this week: 2-5. Overall: 18-15, 5 games back of Huntsville (MIL), fourth in division
5/1: Chattanooga blew a 6-2 lead after seven and a half innings to Mississippi (ATL), as Mike Hrynio (11.57, 0.1 IP, 3 ER) allowed three of the four men he faced to reach base, Derrik Lutz allowed both of his inherited runners to score, and Josh Roenicke (L 4-1, 4.15, 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB) blew his fourth save of the year in the ninth. Ugly, yes. Starter Ramon Ramirez was again steady (3.71, 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) and Robert Manuel fired two more hitless innings, striking out four (0.00). Prior to the meltdown, CF Jerry Gil (2-for-4, 2 RBI, .200), 1B Tonys Gutierrez (.287, 2-for-3, 2 2B, 2 BB) and RF Cody Strait (.276, 2-for-4, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI) led the Lookouts.
5/2: Four runs in the seventh chased Daryl Thompson (0.72, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) and pinned a defeat on Carlos Fisher (L 0-3, 4.20, BS #4, 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER) as Mississippi came from behind again, 6-4. Gutierrez was 4-for-4 with three runs scored (.321), C Craig Tatum 3-for-4 with two RBI (.244) and CF BJ Szymanski 2-for-4 with two RBI (.297). Chattanooga collected fourteen hits- six more than the Braves- but stranded ten men on base.
5/3: Three Brave pitchers outdueled James Avery (L 0-1, 4.91, 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) and three relievers, 2-1. 2B Michael Griffin was the only Lookout with multiple hits (2-for-4, .267). LF Sean Henry’s third homer was the only good guys’ run.
5/4: The Lookouts piled up four runs in the first, then stacked on four more in the eighth to turn a five-run game into a nine-run one. The Braves’ Jason Perry hit a three-run bomb off Hrynio in the ninth to end it at 10-4. Ben Jukich got the win (W 2-1, 2.41, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) and Lutz and lefty Lee Tabor pitched scoreless relief. RF Shaun Cumberland led a balanced attack with a three-run homer (#5); he also singled and scored a run and is batting .355. Henry was 2-for-5 with two RBI; he’s hitting .340 and has earned his spot from what might have been a temporary callup.
5/5: Sam Lecure had just one bad inning, but it accounted for five of the Tennessee (CHC) Smokies’ six runs in a 6-1 loss. Lecure (L 1-2, 6.22, 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR) was better than his last time out, at least. Pedro Viola threw a scoreless sixth and seventh (7.11, 1 H, 2 K) and Manuel gave up an unearned run (0.00, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 K).
5/6: Ramon Ramirez had his best start, yet, a one-hitter over six innings (W 2-1, 3.58, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) and 2B Jerry Gil (#1) and RF BJ Szymanski (#6) hit two-run homers off Smokies starter/prospect Donald Veal in a 5-2 Lookouts victory. Good bullpen work, too- Carlos Fisher whiffed four in two scoreless (3.71) and Roenicke picked up save #6 with a blessedly uneventful ninth (3.86, 2 K).
5/7: Daytime action in TN with ace Daryl Thompson on the hill. Daryl gave up two quick runs in the first, but his team regained the lead for him on two run-scoring Craig Tatum base hits as well as one by Mike Griffin. Again the Smokies got to Daryl in the fifth to grab a 4-3 lead, but Jerry Gil slammed a three-run homer (#2) to put Thompson in position for the win after six (1.45, 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K). Cody Strait pinch-hit for the hurler in the sixth and homered (#4) to make it 7-4 Lookouts with Derrik Lutz in to pitch the seventh. He was, er, Smoked- to the tune of five runs (just three earned due in part to a Gutierrez throwing error) while retiring just one of six batters faced (3.55, 0.1 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB). Manuel came on and let both of his inherited runners score, but was still not charged with a run (0.00, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 K). Chattanooga was shut down in the seventh and eighth. Justin James returned from the DL to pitch the ninth, and he suffered serious control problems. An error on 2B Drew Anderson didn’t help. Six more runs crossed the plate, only two earned (11.37, 1 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 1 K), giving Tennessee a 15-7 advantage that they maintained through the ninth. Lutz got the loss (1-2) as well as the blown save.
Notes: 5/7: SS Chris Valaika and SS Jose Castro switched places, reflecting the starts each player has gotten off to in the young season. RHR Justin James came off the DL. LHR Lee Tabor moved back to Sarasota, despite not allowing a run in 4.1 AA innings.
Record this week: 3-4 . Overall: 18-15, two back of Tampa (NYY).
5/1: Tampa (NYY) chased Alex Smit (L 2-3, 5.81, 4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) in the fifth and beat the Reds, 5-2. SS Chris Valaika socked homer #6, a two-run shot, in the first for the Sarasota offensive output.
5/2: The Yankees hammered on Rafael Gonzalez (L 1-1, 5.63, 3 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) in an 8-0 whitewash. Valaika kept things going with two hits (.392).
5/3: Palm Beach (STL) won it in the bottom of the ninth off Ruben Medina (L 0-3, 4.24, 1.1 IP, 1 ER), 5-4. Starter Daniel Guerrero was solid (6.97, 5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR) and Logan Ondrusek struck out four in 1.2 innings of scoreless relief (4.12). Valaika’s two-run homer (#7) accounted for half the Reds offense, while LF Carson Kainer (2-for-4, .209) drove home the other two.
5/4: Sean Watson continued his human tightrope act in the closer’s role, but Sarasota held on to snap their losing streak, 2-1. Watson walked the first man he faced in the ninth; that runner stole second as Sean struck out the second. RBI single, but C Justin Tordi threw that runner out stealing. A second free pass and then a force out ended it and gave Watson his seventh save despite a 7.94 ERA. That preserved the win for Travis Wood (W 3-2, 2.05, 7 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K) who was masterful in his longest start of the last two seasons. Kainer again drove in a key run (up to .225 on another 2-for-4) and Tordi scored the S-Reds’ first run on an error after singling his way aboard.
5/5: Palm Beach took the game and the series, 2-1, by again scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. This time Misael DeJesus (L 0-1, 4.72) was the victim. It ruined yet another great pitching performance by Reds ace Jordan Smith, who allowed one run over eight innings (1.52, 5 H, 0 BB, 2 K). DH Juan Francisco’s first-inning double plated the only Reds run.
5/6: Six runs in the top of the ninth turned a 3-2 game into a 9-2 Reds rout! Camilo Vazquez (W 3-1, 6.85, 1 BB, 1 K) pitched three hitless innings of relief for the win. 1B Jason Louwsma (.275, 3-for-4, 3 R, RBI, BB) and Kainer drove in three with a double and triple (.228). CF Drew Stubbs went hitless, but walked three times and notched steal #14. Starter Alex Smit allowed a bunch of baserunners again (5.17, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 2 HB) but helped himself by picking two runners off first base.
5/7: Gonzalez returned to form, firing five shutout innings and missing a couple of bats this time (W 2-1, 3.46, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 4 K) and DH Michael DeJesus rapped three hits (.301) in Sarasota’s 5-1 win over Daytona (CHC). Logan Ondrusek (3.74, 2 IP, 1 H), Ruben Medina (4.00, 1 IP, 1 R, 0 ER) and Sean Watson (7.30, 1 IP, 2 H) completed the win. 3B Juan Francisco socked homer #5 (off ex-Dragon and ex-Sarasota Red Marcos Mateo, incidentally). No sign of young Mr. Frazier in this one.
Notes: SS Chris Valaika was accorded the FSL Offensive Player of the Week for the period ending 5/4. He batted .480 (12-for-25) with three homers and six RBI. A few days later (5/7), Chris was promoted to Chattanooga, with his replacement from AA being SS Jose Castro.
LHS Travis Wood was simultaneously named the FSL Pitcher of the Week for the same timeframe, winning both of his starts and permitting just two runs in thirteen innings.
Also 5/7: The Reds released RHR Kevin Gunter, 24, their 13th-round pick in 2006 out of Old Dominion. Gunter pitched decently in ’06 at Billings (4.67 ERA, 44.1 IP) and ’07 (3.08 in 19 G for Dayton, 1.93 in 7 G for Sarasota). This year he was at 8.68 in six appearances between the two A-ball squads.
Record this week: 4-1 . Overall: 18-12, one ahead of West Michigan (DET).
5/2: Matt Klinker pitched seven great innings (W 2-1, 2.49, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) after Rehabbin’ David Weathers cruised through the first on seven pitches. Dayton got a pair of doubles from RF Denis Phipps and RBI knocks from C Jason Bour, 2B Kevyn Feiner and 3B Brandon Waring and beat Burlington (KCR), 3-1. Tyler Rhoden retired three straight for his first save.
5/3: The Bees swarmed Luis Montano (L 4-1, 1.69, 3.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR) for seven runs in the fourth inning to turn a 5-2 Dragons lead on its ear. They held on to win, 10-7. Jamie Arneson pitched three innings of one-run relief (8.50, 3 H, 3 BB, 2 K) but the bats made their noise early. 1B Todd Frazier was 3-for-5 (.307) and Feiner the same (.344, 2 R, RBI, SB #5).
5/4: Scott Carroll made it back-to-back shutout starts, this time going seven strong (W 1-1, 2.97, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K) in a 2-0 Dayton victory. Joe Krebs got save #3 (0.47, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB). CF Justin Reed’s two-run homer, #1, accounted for the only runs of the game.
5/5: Reed followed up that key homer with a 4-for-4 performance the next night against the Quad Cities River Bandits (STL, formerly known as the Swing of the Quad Cities), helping Dayton to an easy 9-2 rout. That perfect night included homer #2, a solo blast, three runs scored, and a steal of third (#8). Waring slammed a three-run homer (#8) and drove in a total of four (.299), while Phipps was 3-for-4 with two RBI (.298). Starter Curtis Partch finally got his first victory on his sixth try (W 1-4, 5.64, 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) despite three wild pitches. Jeremy Horst went the last three for the long save (#2, 1 ER, 3.66).
5/6: Firing on all cylinders, the Dragons swamped the Rhombi 11-1. First place! Starter Enerio Del Rosario pitched six innings and recorded exactly zero outs by fly ball; eleven grounders, a pickoff, and six strikeouts (W 2-1, 1.38, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K). Rhoden threw three hitless for save #2. Phipps (#4) and SS Zach Cozart (#2) homered, while C Jason Bour was 3-for-4 with two RBI (.243) and 1B Michael McKennon, still scuffling badly, tripled twice (.182). Frazier singled three times in five trips (.321) in what may turn out to be his final Midwest League game.
5/7: Rained out.
Notes: 5/2-5/3: David Weathers (Imperial Garb) pitched in two games to finish up his rehab assignment before returning to Cincinnati. 5/7: INF Todd Frazier was promoted to Sarasota. His replacement was none other than C Devin Mesoraco, the Reds’ 2008 first-round draft pick. 1B Logan Parker also joined the Dragons roster after rehabbing an injury in extended spring training. INF Brett Bartles returned to extended spring training.