Reds avoid sweep thanks to Arroyo and Gomes

With the first series of the season now in the books, I ask the question made famous by Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman…

How we lookin’?

The Reds avoided a sweep yesterday thanks to a great pitching performance by Bronson Arroyo and a walk-off home run by Jonny Gomes. They currently sit and 1-2, but my answer to the question would be…

Not too bad.

I often question some of the moves that Dusty Baker makes, especially when it involves the pitching staff. However, as Jamie Ramsey so eloquently states, the Reds’ skipper has been managing a long time and has been successful.

The Reds faced two of the best starting pitchers in the National League to begin the season. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright won 17 and 19 games last year, respectively. Yesterday’s starter for the Cardinals, Brad Penny, is no slouch either.

However, the Reds need to be a little more disciplined at the plate. Early in yesterday’s broadcast, Marty and Jeff Brantley discussed the difference between the offensive approach of the Cardinals versus that of the Reds. Cardinals’ hitters consistently made Reds’ pitchers work and go deep into the count, while the Reds’ hitters often impatiently swing at a pitch early in the at-bat.

Two examples from yesterday’s game explain this point.

With one out in the first inning, Orlando Cabrera singled and Joey Votto walked. Brandon Phillips jumped on the first pitch of his at-bat and flied out. Scott Rolen followed Phillips by swinging at the second pitch he saw and grounded into a force play. Inning over.

In the fifth, the Reds rallied with two outs to take the lead. Ryan Hanigan doubled and was singled in by Arroyo. Drew Stubbs then worked a walk. After a coaching visit to the mound, Cabrera swings at the first pitch and grounds out to shortstop.

Now, I will admit that I hate the phrase “take a strike”. If the pitcher throws you a fastball right down broadway to begin the at-bat, take a hack at it. However, if you are struggling to put runs on the board, working the count a little can help. Obviously, it causes the pitcher to fatigue for the simple fact that he is throwing more pitches. Also, it increases the chance that he will make a mistake.

As far as the Reds pitching goes, Monday was not good. Wednesday was better. Yesterday was outstanding.

Arroyo pitched eight innings yesterday despite being hit on the calf by a Colby Rasmus line drive early in the game. His next start is scheduled for Tuesday and there may be some question as to whether he will make it. Arroyo has never missed a start in his career.

The Cubs are in town over the weekend. Tonight will be Carlos Silva against Homer Bailey.

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