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Archive for March 28th, 2019

Lots of drama, key plays in Reds Opening Day win over arch-rival Pirates, 5-3

One of the perks of being Major League Baseball’s oldest team, is that the Cincinnati Reds always gets to open the season at home. Back in the day, when I was a kid, the Reds were the first team to open the season. But over the years, that has not been the case. But they still open at home.

There is a lot of excitement in the Queen City this season for several reasons.

It is the 150th anniversary for the Reds, having been in existence since 1869. They are the oldest professional sports team in North America.

The Reds have retooled their starting rotation with the additions of pitchers Alex Wood, Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark. In the bullpen, they brought back a former Red, LHP Zach Duke. To improve an already potent offense, they have added outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig. The bench has improved as well with Jose Iglesias and Derek Dietrich.

To the fans delight, there is a new manager and coaching staff.

Enter the picture is David Bell. The 46-year-old Cincinnati native, grew up a Reds fan, played for the Reds and comes from a famous and popular family. His granddad, the late Gus Bell, and his dad, Buddy Bell.  They too played for the Reds, wore uniform number 25 and so will David.

Getting to the game, the Reds opened against a familiar foe, the arch-rival Pirates, who are also a Central Division foe. It is the 29th time the two teams have opened the season against each other.

Jose Iglesias, subbing for injured Scooter Gennett, went 2-3 with a double and an RBI

Cincinnati got on the board first in the 2nd inning when recently acquired Jose Iglesias, doubled over the leftfielder’s head to score Jose Peraza from second base for a 1-0 lead.

That lead held up until the 6th inning as Reds started Luis Castillo, although not dominating, made pitches when he had to to keep Pirates hitters at bay by striking out 8. But today was a day when the Reds young ace was not pitch efficient and Bell took him out at 91 pitches and two outs in the sixth. Entering the game was the Reds middle reliever Jared Hughes, who had command issues and blew the hold allowing the Pirates to take a 2-1 lead on a hit by Jung-ho Kang. But Kang’s single to left centerfield was played lackidaisically by LF Jesse Winker, who threw it in to second base instead of the cutoff man. That gaff allowed Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli to score all the way from first base without ever breaking stride. Scouting reports say that Winker is not a good outfielder.

The crowd went silent until the Reds batted in the bottom of the 7th.

Jose Peraza tied the game by flying a Jameson Taillon pitch into the left seats to tie the game at 2-s. The Reds improved bench paid dividends next as Dietrich, an Ohio native from Cleveland and a graduate of St. Ignatius High School turned a reliever Richard Rodriguez pitch into the game-winning 3-run homer to put the home team up 5-2. Dietrich was excited and got the crowd going as he rounded the bases. He is the first Reds player to hit a homer in his first appearance with the team since Scooter Gennett did it back in 2017 when he was picked up from Milwaukee.

In the 8th inning, Bell showed that he will be doing things differently than the previous two regimes of Bryan Price and Jim Riggleman. He inserted Michael Lorenzen, who entered the game as a pinch runner in the 7th, into centerfield and moved Scott Schebler to left replacing Winker. Lorenzen played outfield and closed games in college for Cal State-Fullerton where he was an All-American. He has told the Reds that he is willing to play outfield, pinch run, pitch hit in addition to relieving. Bell also brought in closer Raisel Iglesias in the 8th inning to get the last six outs. It would be a tough haul for the reds closer. He had trouble all of Spring Training and it continued. He gave up a homer to annual Reds-killer Corey Dickerson to cut it to 5-3. It continued in the 9th where Bell had to lift him with 2 on base and 1 out.

LHP Amir Garrett was brought on to face Pirates 2B Adam Frazier and he blew him away with ease for the 2nd out in the ninth.

Derek Dietrich had the game winning pinch hit 3-run homer in the 7th

Bell then calls in veteran David Hernandez to close the game and he too added drama to the game. The veteran walked  LF Pablo Reyes on four pitches to load the bases and bring up the dangerous Dickerson, who is no doubt the best hitter in the Pirates lineup. His at bat was full of drama as well. Here is each pitch of his 12-pitch at bat:

1. Ball 1-0

2. Strike 1-1

3. Swinging strike 1-2

4. Foul Ball

5. Ball outside 2-2

6. Foul into seats

7. Foul into seats

8. Foul into seats

9. Foul to right field

10. Foul into seats

11. Foul into seats

12. Ground ball out

Hernandez finally induces Dickerson to end the game by grounding out to 2B Jose Peraza.

The largest crowd at 16-year-old Great American Ballpark of 44,049 goes home happy.

Winning pitcher was Zach Duke (1-0). Losing pitcher was Jameson Taillon (0-1).

Save goes to Hernandez, his first as a MLB pitcher.

GAME NOTES:

Homers: Peraza, Dietrich for Reds; Dickerson for Pirates

Doubles: Iglesias, Votto for Reds

RISP: Pirates 1-for-6; Reds 1-for-5

LOB: Pirates 6; Reds 5

PITCHING

Pirates 7 hits, 5 earned runs, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts, 2 homers allowed

Reds 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 7 walks, 11 strikeouts, 1 homer allowed

First pitch: 4:12 pm

Time of game: 2:54

Weather: 70 degrees, Partly Cloudy

Wind: 15 mph, R to L

Umpires: HP Joe West; 1B Eric Cooper; 2B Andy Fletcher; 3B Will Little

Kluber sharp, Indians bats silent in Opening Day 2-0 loss to division rival Twins

 

Corey Kluber was his usual sharp self, 7 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits allowed (2013 photo by Keith Allison via wikipedia commons)

A new season is upon us and the Cleveland Indians are the team to beat in the American League Central Division eventhough, they have had several key players leave due to free agency, trades or waivers.

Key subtractions gone include LF Michael Brantley, DH Edwin Encarnacion, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Cody Allen, C Yan Gomes, 1B Yonder Alonso and 3B Yandy Diaz.

They did bring back popular 1B-DH Carlos Santana, who spent one season with the Philadelphia Phillies. Other key addidtions include OF/1B Jake Bauers, DH Hanley Ramirez and OF Carlos Gonzalez.

After Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis, fans, even after one game, are probably saying, the team made a mistake subtracting those key players.

Jose Berrios stymied the Indians offense allowing only 2 hits

It is was obvious that this 2019 team will be relying on starting pitching to go deep in games and will have to manufacture runs with bunts and stolen bases.

Mr. Reliable, Corey Kluber, started his fifth straight Opening Day Game, was his usual self. He pitched 7 innings, allowed 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. He retired the first 14 batters before walking Marwin Gonzalez in the fifth inning. He gave up his first hit, with one out in the sixth, a double to Byron Buxton. And Gonzalez entered into the equation again in the sixth, by putting the Twins on the board with a two-run double to center field. That was all the runs the Twins needed.

The Indians offense, which had only 2 hits, could not solve the pitching of  24-year-old RHP Jose Berrios. Dubbed the ace of the staff, Berrios pitched into the eighth inning (7.2 IP), allowing the two hits and struck out 10 hitters. He was in command all game. Taylor Rogers, who came on in the eighth to get the final out, picked up the save with a clean ninth. He struck out 3 batters. All told, Cleveland with 27 outs in the game, had 13 where they never put the ball in play.

Reds mourn loss of first African American player in team history, Chuck Harmon

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY REDS MEDIA RELATIONS; COURTESY MLBpressbox.com

 

 

Chuck Harmon at bat (Reds photo)

Chuck Harmon signing an autograph 2008 photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Keith Bryska, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cincinnati Reds offer condolences to the family, friends and former teammates of Chuck Harmon, the first African American to play for the team. He died yesterday at age 94.

“The entire Reds family is saddened to lose one of its great ambassadors. The first African American to play for the Reds, Chuck Harmon was much more than a ballplayer,” said Reds Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini. “He represents a pivot point in Reds history. Chuck’s positive attitude and disposition helped diffuse the adversity he faced, and set the tone for those following in his footsteps. He was beloved by his teammates during his career and remained a treasure to this franchise and its fans throughout his life. He will be missed.”

Rick Walls, Executive Director of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, said, “The Reds Hall of Fame and Museum joins Reds Country in mourning the loss of one of our great icons. Chuck Harmon was a symbol of greatness and inspiration, and his life story will live on forever in the museum, being told countless times to generations of Reds fans.”

The native of Washington, Indiana, made the Reds’ roster as a utility player in 1954. When he pinch hit on April 17 against the Braves in Milwaukee, 7 years after Jackie Robinson of the Dodgers broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, Harmon became the first African American to wear a Reds uniform in a regular season game.

Harmon was dealt to the Cardinals early in the 1956 season and closed out his Major League career with the Phillies in 1957.

One of Cincinnati’s greatest ambassadors, Harmon’s standing as the first African American player in Reds history has been immortalized on a large bronze plaque located near the entrance to Great American Ball Park. In 2014, he was the recipient of the Reds Hall of Fame’s Crosley Award for his many contributions to the organization. A statue of Harmon was dedicated at the main entrance of the P&G MLB Cincinnati Reds Youth Academy on July 10, 2015. In 1997 a street in his Golf Manor neighborhood was renamed Chuck Harmon Way.

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Phillies’ Bryce Harper, with new team, starts MLB season with most popular player jersey

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY MLB MEDIA RELATIONS; COURTESY MLBpressbox.com

 

Bryce Harper at Phillies introductory press conference (courtesy Phillies)

Mike Trout continues to have one of the most popular jerseys in the U.S.

 

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper enters the 2019 Championship Season with the most popular player jersey in Major League Baseball, becoming the franchise’s first player to top the list. Upon signing with the Phillies, Harper’s jersey also set professional sports records for most jerseys sold in both the first 24 & 48 hours, respectively, after joining a new team, according to data across Fanatics online shops.

Immediately following Harper on the list is fellow All-Star outfielder Aaron Judge (#2), whose jersey sales led MLB in each of the last two seasons. The list is based on sales of Majestic jerseys from MLBShop.com, the official online shop of Major League Baseball, since January 1, 2019.

Rounding out the top five on the list, released jointly today by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, is reigning American League MVP and World Series Champion Mookie Betts (#3), seven-time All-Star Mike Trout (#4) and nine-time All-Star catcher Yadier Molina (#5).

Trout has now appeared in every one of these rankings since his professional debut in 2012 and for the fifth time his jersey is one of the five most popular in the country. Players representing nine different Clubs make up the top ten most popular player jerseys, while the top 20 overall includes nine outfielders, nine infielders, one pitcher and one catcher.

Sixteen of the 20 players on this list are in their 20’s, while 12 of the top 20 are 27 years old or younger. Also making their debuts on the most popular player jersey list are reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich (#8) and reigning All-Star Game MVP Alex Bregman (#17). Additionally, Manny Machado (#12) becomes the first member of the San Diego Padres to make the most popular player jersey list.

MLB Most Popular Player Jerseys of 2019

Based on sales from MLBShop.com of Majestic jerseys since New Year’s Day 2019

1. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

2. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

3. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

4. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

5. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

6. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

7. Javier Báez, Chicago Cubs

8. Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

9. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

10. Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves

11. Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals

12. Manny Machado, San Diego Padres

13. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners

14. Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers

15. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

16. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

17. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

18. Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox

19. Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees

20. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

 

New York Mets give Jacob deGrom five-year contract extension

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY METS MEDIA RELATIONS; COURTESY MLBpressbox.com

 

Jacob de Grom dealing plateward 2015 By Arturo Pardavila III on Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

The New York Mets announced earlier this week that the club has signed 2018 National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom to a five-year extension. The deal will run through the 2023 season with a club option for the 2024 season.

“This is a tremendous day for Jacob, his family, our fans and the entire Mets organization,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said. “Last year, Jacob had one of the most remarkable seasons in baseball history and we are excited to be able to reward him. Mets fans can celebrate knowing their ace will remain in Flushing.”

Last season, deGrom joined Tom Seaver (1969, 1973 and 1975), Dwight Gooden (1985) and R.A. Dickey (2012) as the only pitchers in team history to win the NL Cy Young Award.

“Jacob has proven that he is one of the best pitchers in baseball and we are excited that he is part of the short-term and long-term future of this organization,” Executive Vice President & General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “I’d like to thank Jacob and his agents as well as Jeff and the entire ownership group for coming together to make this happen. We look forward to seeing him in the blue and orange for many more years to come.”

The right-hander led the majors last season in ERA (1.70), opponent’s slugging (.277), opponent’s OPS (.521) and home runs per nine innings (0.41). He finished second in the majors in innings (217.0) and fourth in the majors with a career-high 269 strikeouts. DeGrom ended the year holding opponents to three runs or fewer in 29 straight starts, the longest single-season streak in major league history (min. 50.0 combined innings in those starts) and hurled 24 consecutive quality starts to end the season, the longest single-season streak in major league history.

DeGrom was named to his second All-Star team in 2018 (also 2015) and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was just the 10th time since 1920 that a pitcher had at least 200.0 innings and an ERA of 1.70 or lower in a season. He’s the only pitcher in modern MLB history (since 1900) to have a season with a sub-2.00 ERA, at least 260 strikeouts, 50 or fewer walks and 10 or fewer home runs allowed.

In 2014 deGrom took home Rookie of Year honors after posting a 9-6 record with a 2.69 ERA (42 earned runs/1401. Innings) with 43 walks and 144 strikeouts.

The DeLand, FL native owns a 55-41 career record with a 2.67 ERA (266 earned runs/897.2 innings) with 222 walks and 1,000 strikeouts. He was originally drafted by the Mets in the ninth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Stetson University.

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