Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reds Return Ready

It was a thankful bunch of Reds that returned to Great American Ball Park Thursday afternoon. First of all, they were thankful for an All-Star break that came after a grueling stretch of games. “Monday afternoon I was supposed to go fishing and I couldn’t because I had to take a nap,” said Reds Manager Dusty Baker. “I felt like I was eight years old again. I hadn’t taken a nap in years.” The Reds suffered four one-run losses in the final week before the break. “You don’t realize the mental and physical energy you are exerting, especially in close games,” continued Baker. “Especially when you’re losing close games.”
The stretch of close games was especially tough on Reds closer Francisco Cordero. He had three blown saves in the final week, after having blown just two the entire season. “It’s not a new start but I got my mind clear and just ready to go for the second half,” said Cordero. Cordero said it helped spending the All-Star break with family and friends. “I know I have to do a better job. Everybody goes through a tough time, but you’ve got to be able to continue and do a better job.”
Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo battled mononucleosis in the first half of the season so the break was a welcome relief to him too. But he is also thankful the Reds aren’t buried in the National League Central Division race. They begin the second half just four games behind first place Milwaukee and St. Louis. “I think we’ve played bad enough that we could have been back 8 to 10 games in another season,” said the veteran starting pitcher. Arroyo continued, “To be where we are is not too bad and hopefully we’ll just get off to a good start and feel fresh about the second half and go forward.”
A good start would do wonders for the Reds. They open the second half with a three-game series at Great American Ball Park against the Cardinals. While Cincinnati fans approach the Cardinals with disdain, the Reds approach them with respect. “Any team that gives you as hard of a fight as the Cardinals do, I mean, we never feel like we’ve locked a game down with those guys until you get the final out,” said Arroyo. “You can’t say that about every ball club.”
The Reds and Cardinals both had workouts Thursday at Great American. The four Reds players who played in the All-Star game were excused for the workout and will report Friday. Pitcher Johnny Cueto will start the opening game of the three-game series for the Reds on Friday night.

Here are the pitching matchups and game times:
Fri vs StL:RHP Johnny Cueto (5-3, 1.96) vs RHP Jake Westbrook (7-4, 5.34)7:10 p.m.

Sat vs StL:RHP Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 5.58) vs RHP Chris Carpenter (4-7, 3.85)7:10 p.m.

Sun vs StL:RHP Homer Bailey (3-4, 4.13) vs LHP Jaime Garcia (9-3, 3.22) 1:10 p.m.

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