Before I proceed with this week's wrapup, I'd like to start with a prayer:
Who art in Cincy
Hallowed be thy bats
Game will be done
With another W in the column
Give us this game our daily win
And forgive us our errors
As we forgive Lopez for committing his
And lead us not into a loss
But deliver us from Cardinals
Reds (17-8, first place tie with the Deadbirds)
Whew! What a week! First a sweep of the Nats, then wins over Roy O and Pettttitttte. The Reds won a franchise record number of wins in April. Unfortuantely, so did the Albert Pujols show. Still, the Reds sit on top of the NL Central, causing some people to scratch their heads and wonder what is going on with this division.
The Reds played small ball this week, with only David Ross, Rich Aurilia, and Dunn (finally) hitting some of those trademark dingers. Speed has turned out to be a key part of the early success, as the Reds are third in the Majors in stolen bases, with Felipe Lopez (9) second and Ryan Freel (8) fourth in the rankings. Brandon Phillips swiped three this week and adds speed at the lower part of the order.
I was at RFK for the three game series verses the Nationals, buying the cheap seats and moving into much better seats around third base each game, as the stadium was sparsely populated for the series. Plenty of Reds fans attended the games, but that didn't stop one woman from telling me I could only root for Bronson because he was so good looking. That, of course, made me cheer even louder. I had a record of my own this year, attending five games in the month of April, three in which I did not purchase a single beer! (Going to three games in a row necessitates not spending exorbitant amounts of dough.)
The bullpen has been adequate, but I feel like it's like putting bandaids on a leaky dam. I have no confidence in any one of them but Todd Coffey, and he had a shaky week. Foul ball grabbing brats aside, David Weathers makes me nervous every time he stands up in the bullpen.
Reds player of the week: This was a tough one, because these wins were a total team effort. I'm going to have to give Bronson Arroyo player of the week honors for his gem on Wednesday, where he held the Nationals to one hit over 8 innings. Our savior had 8 Ks in the game, bringing his total to 30, which ranks him number 11 in the Majors. (Aaron Harang is number 3 with 33.) Bronson is undefeated at 4-0, and his ERA is sitting pretty at 2.34.
Nats (8-17, fourth place)
Yes, the Nats were swept by the Reds this week and were pummelled by Sir Albert and Co. three more times, but this team is not as bad as everyone is saying. I saw many comments about how the team should have beat the Reds, giving the Reds no love, but maybe since the Reds beat Roy O and Pettttittttte, people will realize that you shouldn't hang your head for being defeated by the Reds. It's pretty trendy these days!
I had a tough time rooting against the Nationals this week in the three game series against the best team in baseball right now, but it had to be done.
¡Livan! pitched brilliantly Saturday, even in the first inning. Is he back? Without him, success is not possible. This week, he was 0-1 with an ND, giving up a four spot against the Reds in the first inning of his loss and pitching well after that.
We lost John Patterson to the DL, but he should be back by the end of next week with a strong arm, poised to compete for that ML strikeout leader's position. Tony Armas, Jr. has proved to be a solid third starter, so once we get the pitching in order, as seems to be happening, the Nats will be a formidable opponent. I still maintain my idea that they are reversing last season's good first half bad second half, and hey, in the second half, we'll have an owner!
The bats, oh, the bats, something we didn't have last year. It is vitally important to do well in May so we don't lose Alfonso Soriano to a trade. The season is not lost; we should not throw it away.
Nats player of the week: Michael O'Connor. Hey, why not? This kid made his Major League debut against one of the scariest lineups in all of baseball. He only made one mistake, and it cost him the game, but he kept Sir Albert in the yard, kept him hitless, as a matter of fact. For that reason alone, he deserves player of the week honors. If we can get performances as decent as this from him, we could have a fifth starter, and that, dear parishioners, is the key to the season.
Giants (13-10, 2nd place through Saturday's games)
710! 711! BB. BB. BB. BB. BB. BB. BB. BB...
The Giants dropped two of three to the sizzling Mets (I can't wait until they're fizzling) and came back to take two from the D'Backs, so it wasn't too bad of a week. Jason Schmidt finally got his first win. If he's back on track, look for the Giants to put Ws up a bit more frequently than they have been doing.
One of the highlights of the week was Kevin Frandsen's Major League debut in which he went 3-4 with three runs scored. Frandsen was filling in for Ray Durham, whom the Giants put on the DL this week with a strained left hamstring. He grew up in San Jose as a Giants fan, and it sure was fun to watch him live his dream. The excitement that filled his eyes was magical.
I've just seen the Giants marketing campaign, and I have to say, it's brilliant. Players are put into scenes of San Francisco as giants, literally.
Randy Winn webgemed to save the game Saturday at Mays Field and Moises Alou continued his current torrid streak by launching a bomb to win the game.
Giant of the week: Moises Alou. This one was easy. Moises began the week at a respectable .294 average. Through Saturday's game, he had raised it to .366. going 11 for 20 (.550) with 3 homers, 12 RBI, and 4 runs scored. He is making teams pay for walking Barry, especially on Monday, when he hit a three run bomb and a two run single after Bonds walked. Alou says the walks have less to do with strategy and more to do with trying to prevent Bonds from getting the record. He may have a point, because it certainly has proved to be a poor strategy.
Around the Horn
Seven homers in seven games? Kevin Mench's streak ended yesterday at seven, but it was quite a run. Since the streak began, he's gone 10-32 (.313) with 22 RBI and 10 runs scored.
Why is this guy not playing every game? Ben Broussard started three games for Cleveland this week, going 9-13 with 4 homers, 12 RBI (including 8 in one game), and 6 runs scored. He's hitting .413 on the season with 9 multi-hit games (verses 4 single hit games in his starts).
The Rockies are off to a surprising start this year, led by a bunch of guys you've never heard of, including Garrett Atkins, who played last year for the team when no one was paying attention. Atkins is hitting .363 with 18 RBI.
What's up with those Tigers? Jim Leyland must be a miracle worker. Through Saturday's games, Leyland's club was 15-9, just 1.5 games off of Guillen's defending World Champs.
Goat of the Week
Keith Hernandez. When Hernandez spotted Kelly Calabrese, the Padres' full-time massage therapist, high-fiving Mike Piazza in the dugout after he hit a home run, he said "Who is the girl in the dugout, with the long hair? What's going on here? You have got to be kidding me. Only player personnel in the dugout." When he was told that Calabrese was with the Padres training staff, he said, "I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout." This coming from a guy who treated women as objects during his playing days, a known womanizer. What a jerk.