Cincy Manager Jerry Narron can relax now that he has Everyday Eddie.
The Reds used a 10-hit onslaught in the second inning Friday night to help beat the Braves and put the skids on a six-game losing streak that had threatened to remove them from the NL Central race.
Thankfully for Cincinnati, the Cards have also been struggling, so the Reds remain just two games back and very much alive as we head into the second half.
Cincy rode a season-best eight-run explosion in the second inning to grab a 9-0 lead and ultimately a 10-5 victory over Atlanta, which had been playing better of late, but is a club still very much in trouble.
Not much is going right for the Braves this year. But Chipper Jones has continued his hot play, enjoying a 2-for-4 night that included his 11th dinger of the year to stretch his hitting streak to 11 games. Don’t look now, but Chipper, batting just .275 on June 25, is now hitting .309. If that foot of his can stop from tearing apart, Jones is in line for a huge second half.
The Reds got to show off their shiny new toy, Eddie Guardado, just acquired Thursday for a minor league hurler. Cincy was in desperate need for some relief for its relief corps. With 13 blown saves and a collective ERA of almost five and a quarter, Everyday Eddie’s presence is most welcome, indeed. So Manager Jerry Narron wasted no time in getting him in there, bringing him in to protect a 10-5 lead in the ninth. Guardado responded with a perfect inning, fanning lead-off man Marcus Giles to end the game.
Giles, by the way, is having a very forgettable season as the new lead-off hitter for Atlanta. That’s 60 times he’s fanned now, and with a BA under .250, he really needs to get his act together. He’s admitted he hates batting at the top of the order, but Atlanta really doesn’t have anybody else suited better for the job at this time.
Edgar Renteria, on the other hand, has provided a huge boost to the Braves. Having happily escaped the American League, he’s had a triumphant return to the Senior Circuit. On Friday he smoked a double to extend his hitting streak to a dozen games. Renteria has now moved into the NL top 10 in hitting.
That 10-hit display by the Reds in the second inning marked the most hits they’ve had in an inning in 17 years, since a 16-hit, 14-run inning in August, 1989, which marked the most hits any team has had since 1900.
Thanks to jumping out to a huge early lead, the Reds were able to get Ken Griffey, Jr. some rest, putting DeWayne Wise in as a defensive replacement in the fourth inning. Griffey was the only starter for Cincy who didn’t have a hit by the end of the second inning. Hell, even pitcher Eric Milton, a .167 hitter, smoked an RBI single in the big inning.
Milton was the beneficiary of all that scoring, going to 5-4 with the win. But he didn’t exactly pitch a gem: six hits and five runs allowed in 6 1/3 innings. Milton’s control this year has been excellent, but he’s still coughing up those long balls, so his ERA is now up to 5.24. He’s started to lose his value even in deeper NL-only leagues.
Back to that huge second frame, though. The Reds opened the inning with six straight hits and that was enough to knock out Horacio Ramirez (4-3). Ramirez owners must be going batty. He’s now bookended two horrific outings with a run of three fantastic starts in which he won two, had one no-decision and gave up just four earned runs. Friday’s debacle (1+ inning, seven hits, seven runs), pushed his ERA from 3.47 all the way up to 4.83. In recent weeks, Horacio has been a decent pickup, even garning interest in very large mixed leagues.
Take solace in the fact that a hamstring tweak at the end of the first inning was affecting his location. So before you give up on Ramirez, watch another start.
After Oscar Villarreal came in to surrender another four hits in the second inning, which included a two-run jack by Rich Aurilia, Kevin Barry got in some great work. It’s hard to believe in a game in which your team surrenders 10 runs and 13 hits that you could have a pitching highlight. But Barry threw four hitless innings, walking just one and striking out five. In three games since being recalled, he has now racked up nine shutout innings, giving up a mere two hits. In a Braves’ pen where opportunity knocks for anyone who can record outs, Barry could rapidly find himself in a key role. Watch and act accordingly.