Monday, May 21, 2012

Pockett aces: A pitcher's duel

Pockett aces: A pitcher's duel:
Nathan A. Hellweg

Sunday’s matinee at Yankee Stadium featured baseballs top two aces Johnny Cueto and CC Sabathia. The Reds entered the Bronx after a hard 9-4 loss to the New York Mets the day before Friday’s series opener with the Yankees. The opener was more of the same when the Yanks shut out the Reds 4-0 as New York hurler Andy Pettitte tossed eight shutout innings allowing only four hits. The Reds bounced back Saturday night with a nail-biting 6-5 win after the 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto belted a three run homer in the fifth and Reds pitcher Homer Bailey struck out seven batters over 6 1/3 solid innings. The Yankees rallied and came up a run short after pinning two runs on Arredondo in the bottom of the ninth, earning his first save of the year. Sunday’s afternoon rubber match was a day perfect day in the Bronx as two of the games finest pitchers took the mound for their respective teams.

Johnny Cueto still retains a microscopic 1.97 ERA with 5 wins and only 1 loss. Cueto has already started 9 games, one of which he pitched for 9 innings. New York Yankee ace CC Sabathia is the owner of a 3.78 ERA with 5 wins and 2 losses. Sabathia has also notched 9 starts with 64.1 innings pitched compared to Cueto’s 59.1 innings. Johnny Cueto has yet to pitch over 200 innings in a season, a feat that every ace aims for. CC has pitched over 200 innings in his last three Yankee seasons.

Sunday’s rubber match went scoreless until the bottom of the sixth when Cueto left one over the plate for Raul Ibanez to belt a two-run blast over the fence. Cueto finished the sixth without further damage and hoped the Reds’ bats could respond to the Yankee threat; and they most certainly did.

Ryan Ludwick kicked off the seventh with a first pitch home run that took Sabathia deep into the stands. Ludwick who was batting in a DH spot during this interleague game had just come off a two day break after elbow soreness and bearing a depressing .183 batting average. Still in the top of the inning, Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan blasted a beyond-the-fence solo shot tying the game 2-2. The Reds offense kept pounding away at the Yanks ace when Cozart shot one up the middle, just off the glove of the pitcher. With one more out needed to escape the inning, Sabathia walked Drew Stubbs and Joey Votto, with a runner on each bag Phillips came to bat and fell behind in the count early. Phillips stuck it out and took ball four, forcing in the go-ahead run.

The starting pitchers each battled out of jams late in the game as each side turned to their bullpens. Reds’ skipper Dusty Baker turned to Sean Marshall and Logan Ondrusek to hold the game while Chapman was preparing for the ninth. Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce both singled when Ryan Ludwick again came through with a two run double. Chapman entered the ninth with a 5-2 lead and gave the Yankees nothing to work with. Chapman closed the game when he struck out Andruw Jones with a 98 MPH fastball. Chapman had pitched in four of the Reds last five games. No doubt Chapman has proven he’s got the stuff to earn a spot in the rotation. His command and control have improved immensely over the off-season. Chapman retains a flawless 0.00 ERA over 22.1 innings. Chapman has 3 wins, 0 losses, and 1 save after Sunday’s bash in the Bronx.

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