By Danny Mehigan
The Reds came back from the recent 10-game road trip – the season’s longest – clearly tired of hotels, flights, buses and evidently, winning. Los Bravos de Hot-lanta were not very friendly to the hosts this weekend. They clearly could not star in a reprise of Houseguest. Oh, Sinbad, you crazy sonofabitch!
Friday – Braves 4, Reds 3: Edinson Volquez should be credited with respecting his elders in his latest start, as he took a page out of Jeff Suppan’s Milwaukee playbook and completely forgot how to throw the ball over the plate. He only gave up one hit in five innings, but Jeff Francouer hit it a mile. Volquez walked seven, including two with the bases loaded. Most importantly, he took the lead in bench-clearing incitements after he drilled Yunel Escobar with a pitch early in the game. There was a lot of rabble rousing, but no fighting. Everybody loves a good rabble rousing. After two straight wins against the Cubs with a new-fangled lineup, manager Dusty Baker went back to Brandon Phillips in the cleanup spot, and he produced with 2 K and an 0-for-3 performance. Oh, wait. Damn. FAIL. Damn you, Dusty.
Saturday – Braves 10, Reds 2: After three straight wins, Bronson Arroyo wanted some time away from the limelight, so the humble guitarist/pitcher got knocked around by Atlanta. It got bad enough that I believe Ludacris even had two hits, though that has not been verified. To his credit, the Braves hit four balls in the general vicinity of leftfielder Chris Dickerson that he managed to screw up. Took a bad route here, made a funny-looking dive there, just plain missed it once – and he went 0-for-5 with 4 strikeouts at the dish. Tough day at the office for Mr. Dickerson. Thankfully, there was more rabble rousing as Jerry Hairston Jr. and Dusty Baker got ejected over a strike three call in the third inning. Derek Lowe forced the Reds hitters into dunce caps all day, going seven strong while allowing just four hits and notching eight strikeouts.
Sunday – Reds 8, Braves 2: The Reds finally figured out the ways of the Braves – you’re behind the times Cincinnati, John Smith had Pocahontas locked down ages ago – and got a win in Sunday’s series finale. It all came together as Micah Owings got his first win on the mound by giving up just one run in seven innings (and had a double among his two hits because he’s tight like that), Jay Bruce went deep twice and Joey Votto had two doubles (he has 9 already this year!) and three ribbies.
Hot Fire Player of the Series: For the first time this season, Jay Bruce takes home the hardware (Editor’s note: There is no hardware.). He went 5-for-10 with 2 doubles, 2 dingers, 2 walks, 4 runs scored, and 4 RBI against Atlanta. In fact, Jay’s on a six-game hitting streak since he took a day off against Houston about a week ago. While Votto has been on fire all season, he’ll need Bruce to step up and help him out if Cincy is going to contend in the Central. So it’s good to see him start to do that. He’s up to .286 on the year and is slugging over .600.
Weak Sauce Player of the Series: While I wanted to rip on Bronson Arroyo some more, I’m out of guitar-playing hippie jokes for a few days, so this anti-award goes to Edwin Encarnacion. He will not be pleased for the general public to find out he went 1-for-11 with only a measley single over the weekend and is hitting a pitiful .136 so far this season. Also, I distinctly remember him fielding an easy groundball on Saturday (good job) and throwing it to some guy in the third row (bad job). Friendly, yes, but good for the team, no. Quit being selfish, Edwin, and get your game up.
Records: 10-8, 3rd in the Central. 3-5 at home.
Next up: Three games at home against the Astros. Johnny Cueto vs. Roy Oswalt on Monday night (oooh). Aaron Harang vs. Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday (aaah). Edinson Volquez vs. Felipe Paulino on Wednesday (booooo!).