With Bronson Arroyo on the mound Sunday afternoon, the Reds finally won a game, and are now 2-4 in May thus far. The Reds produced well offensively in all three games scoring 21 total runs, but as usual, the bullpen ruined the first two games of the series. A decent pitching performance by Matt Belisle, who along with Kyle Lohse have been welcome surprises in the rotation, was squandered late by the bullpen and two of the NL's top hitters, Todd Helton and Matt Holliday, could not be contained.
On Saturday, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Freel combined for 7 hits, but Aaron Harang gave up 5 runs early and the lead proved to be insurmountable. Hamilton had two homeruns on Sunday, a sweet over-the-shoulder catch, and an outfield assist in the win Sunday.
It is unfortunate that Josh Hamilton will probably not make the All-Star game because he was not an Opening Day starter, but he should be getting serious contention for NL Rookie of the Year. He is hitting over .300 with 8 HR and plays an outstanding Center Field. The fan favorites in Cincinnati have typically been the hard working bench players that don't start every day - Hamilton, Freel, Javier Valentin, Wily Mo Pena, etc. - and Josh is no exception. He's definitely my favorite player on the team and is exciting to watch. I was at the games on Friday and Sunday, and Hamilton got a curtain call on Sunday after his 2nd homerun - it was pretty awesome.
The downfall that may ruin my prediction of a 3rd place finish from the Reds will be the bullpen, which is downright horrible. Jerry Narron left Bronson Arroyo in well past the 120-pitch count after throwing a 48-pitch 6th inning; Arroyo was visibly fatigued, and this goes to show Narron's and pitching coach Dick Pole's (what a name!) lack of confidence in the bullpen staff. Every reliever is near 5.00 except the closer Weathers, with high honors going to Mike Stanton at 7.71. I thought at the beginning of the season that it would be the starting pitching, seeing that the bullpen has a lot of veteran guys, a solid closer, and three lefties; however, every starter except Eric Milton has faired pretty well thus far. I would not be the least bit surprised if Homer Bailey is called up to replace Milton by the end of May.
One final comment - hey Reds marketing staff, I'll always come out to the ballgame because I love the Reds and the stadium, but you guys need more all-fan giveaways. I missed out the foam finger Friday because I was above 14 and the sweet tote bag on Sunday because I am not a mom. All but one of the Dirty T-Shirt giveaways are for kids as well. This is clearly segregation and I won't stand for it.
Twins 1-2 v. Red Sox (16-15, 3rd in AL Central)
Brewers 3-0 v. Pirates (3-1 in series; 21-10, 1st in NL Central)
Reds 1-2 v. Rockies (14-17, 3rd in NL Central)