Sunday, April 15, 2007

Gameday 4/15: Reds @ Cubs (W 1-0)

In response to last night's question, no, the Reds could not hit Ted Lilly. But I guess it didn't really matter, did it?

I love a good pitcher's duel. Sometimes even more than a good slugfest. But I know I'm in the minority here. Still, when the Reds win, anything looks good.

When your pitcher is painting the black like Kyle Lohse was today, you don't need much offense to win a game. Castellini wanted to turn this team into one of pitching and defense. He seems to be succeeding at least in terms of pitching.

Kyle Lohse has been a nice surprise so far this year. Take away two bad pitches against the D-Backs, and he's been the ace of the staff this year. You can't have a much better day on the mound than he did today:

8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 K (career high)

He was toying with the right-handers on that outside corner all day today. The placement of his fastball was impeccable, and his slider had just enough break on it to pile up a mountain of strikeouts. His performance after giving up a double and single in the 6th was something that we would never have dreamed of seeing from a Reds pitcher before '06. Going into the heart of the lineup, he struck out Jacque Jones swinging (who made David Ross look good with his wild flail at a ball out of the zone), Derek Lee looking, and got Michael Barrett to fly out to right.

He did benefit at times from the umpire's big strike zone, but there's still no doubting that he probably had his best game of his career tonight. In the 7th, he was still painting the corners and hitting 93 on the gun.

This is becoming a trend for the Reds: Standout pitching, mediocre hitting.

Ted Lilly looked just as sharp today as he did when he came into GABP. His curveball is devastating, and when he placed it well, the Reds had no chance, even if they would have been feeling good at the plate. Thankfully, he had a little trouble finding the zone at times, and had mounted up 101 pitches by the end of the 6th, leading to his early exit. Here's his line:

6 IP, 2 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 10 K

Only three baserunners all game. Thankfully, the Reds handled the one walk well. Lilly is the prime pitcher to run on, with his sharp breaking ball and with Michael Barrett behind the plate. Even Conine stole a base without a throw. But the only one that mattered was Phillips' steal of second in the 4th. He would have even stolen third easily had Conine not hit it through the hole in the left side of the infield for the only run of the game.

Still, that was the Reds' last baserunner. After 12 games, the Reds have only four starters with a batting average over .250: Conine, Gonzalez, Griffey and Dunn. Hopefully, coming home will help the Reds turn it around at the plate. But with a lefty going for the Brewers tomorrow night, it doesn't look likely.

The Reds gave me a few scares, too. Phillips and Freel both looked like they could have suffered injuries today. They played through them (with Freel's looking to be more serious), but you never know when these kinds of things could pop up later in the season and just get worse.

The Reds come home to play the Brewers tomorrow night at 7:10. Eric Milton takes the hill against Chris Capuano. Let's see, a lefty on the mound for the Brewers that had a magnificent season last year against a struggling Reds offense that never seems to hit lefties well?

One tack into the loss column.

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