Cozart Swnging Hot Bat Since Lineup Move
The Reds and Marlins played a 13-inning contest yesterday with the Reds coming out the winning 3-2. Joey Votto plated both of their runs in regulation but the Marlins refused to let him deliver the game-winner and intentionally walked him before Shin-Sin Choo scored on Brandon Phillips’s sac fly. Zach Cozart entered the game with a hot bat but left with a hand injury after going 0-6.
The Reds took the third game of their home series against Miami last night with a 3-2 win in thirteen innings. Joey Votto plated the first run of the game with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the third. He struck again the next inning to add on another run with an RBI single before the Marlins rallied in their next at-bat to tie the score at two. That’s the way it remained until Shin-soo Choo led off the thirteenth with a ground rule double. Zach Cozart injured fingers on a foul while attempting the lay down a bunt which required a pinch-hit by Cesar Izturis who advanced Choo to third with a fly ball. The Marlins refused to let Votto knock in the winning run and intentionally walked him before Brandon Phillips ended the contest with a sacrifice fly.
During the extended game the Reds had a considerable amount of offense for a team that scored three runs and left a season-high seventeen runners on base. Choo was no stranger to first base after stroking three hits and coaxing three walks. Votto had a season-high four hits and one free pass. Devin Mesoraco had a couple of hits, a walk, and scored his team’s second run. Chris Heisey added a couple of singles and Jay Bruce reached safely via a double and a walk.
Bronson Arroyo got no decision, but he got the job done on the hill by going deep into the game and holding the Marlins to two runs on six hits over eight innings while striking out six and walking one. After allowing the game-winner the previous night Aroldis Chapman got back into form and again retired the side in order in the ninth while striking out two. Sam LeCure, J.J. Hoover, and Alfredo Simon combined for four scoreless innings of relieve with Simon finishing the contest for the win.
It was a tough night for Cozart who went 0-6 before his removal, but subsequent X-rays on his hand were negative. His comment after the game indicated he’s hopeful to return to action the next day, but he has a couple of swollen fingers and it would not be surprising to see manager Dusty Baker rest him for a game or two. Coming into the contest Cozart was riding a torrid streak, hitting .342 over the previous nine games. Perhaps not coincidentally that run started after a lineup change that moved him into the second spot.
Baker has been making adjustments to the top of the lineup since an opening day injury to Ryan Ludwick pulled Phillips back to cleanup. Phillips has answered the call brilliantly while a couple of options have been tried in the second hole that he left. Perhaps Baker was reluctant at first to use Cozart at the top of the lineup because he struggled while leading off most of last season and finished with an on-base percentage under .300. However, in his two-plus years at the MLB level Cozart has thrived in the two-hole with a .324 average in almost 200 plate appearances. Of course the big advantage for any Reds hitter batting second is the presence of Votto in the on-deck circle. Cozart is an aggressive hitter, thus far walking in less than 5% of his career MLB plate appearances. Votto himself is again leading the league in BB and opponents can’t walk everyone. Improved offerings with Cozart’s approach at the plate may provide a nice solution for the Reds until Ludwick is ready to return.
Of course the Reds were aware of the effect Votto has on their lineup when they signed him to a $200+ million/10 year extension last year. Not only does he bring one of the top bats in the league hitting third, he provides collateral benefits that ripple throughout the lineup. The Reds thought they’d found an elusive right-handed hitter to clean up behind him and free Phillips to return to the top of the lineup in Ludwick who finished last year strong and re-signed with the Reds during the offseason. With Ludwick on the DL for virtually all season Phillips has slugged .542 with four homers and twenty RBI in seventeen games.
Cozart isn’t the only Reds hampered by a finger injury. Mesoraco caught Arroyo for the first time this year with his regular catcher Ryan Hanigan nursing a thumb injury. He recently made comments that it’s slow to heal and a continued absence will likely soon force a call-up for a replacement. Cincinnati currently has only two catchers on their 40-man roster. On their AAA roster are long-term farmhand Corky Miller and Konrad Schmidt who was signed as a minor league free agent this offseason after catching eight MLB games for the Diamondbacks. Either option would add an impressive mustache to their active roster.
News from the Farm:
Chad Reineke threw five plus scoreless innings and picked up a win as Louisville shut out Indianapolis for a 3-0 win. Reineke allowed five hits and two walks while striking out five. Billy Hamilton plated Josh Fellhauer for the first run of the game with an RBI single in the third inning and scored later along with Schmidt on a two-run double by Felix Perez. Perez, Fellhauer, and Schmidt each had two of the Bats’ seven hits while Hamilton reached safely via a hit and a walk. The Louisville bullpen was solid with three-plus hitless, shutout innings from Clay Hensley, Justin Freeman, and Kevin Whelen with Whelan picking up the save.
An RBI groundout by Devin Lohman in the eleventh inning was the difference in a 4-3 Pensacola win at Jackson. Lohman had previously drove in the first run of the game with a bases-loaded walk in the first inning and struck again in the seven with a two-run homer that regained the lead for the Wahoos. He and Ryan LaMarre each crossed the plate and had two of the seven fish hits. The other run was scored by Bryson Smith who singled and walked twice. On the mound minor league Rule V pickup Ryan Dennick got no decision from a quality start, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks in six innings while striking out eight. He left with a lead that was blown when Wilkin De La Rosa allowed a run in the seventh. Curtis Partch and Lee Hyde combined for three scoreless innings of relief with Hyde getting the win.
Bakersfield ended a three-game win streak with an 11-4 loss at Lancaster. Juan Perez had another multi-hit game with two of the Blaze’s six hits and scored a run. Carlos Contreras allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings and took the loss after striking out six without a walk. Jimmy Moran and Mike Dennhardt allowed four runs each.
Dayton scored four in the eighth inning to come back and win 6-3 over visiting Bowling Green. They had previously tied the contest at two with two runs in the fifth inning which was led off with a solo home run by Junior Arias and included a couple of errors by the Hot Rods. Jeff Gelalich started the eighth inning rally with a single and scored from a double by the next hitter, Seth Mejias-Brean. Jesse Winker stroked his second hit of the game for the go-ahead run and advanced on Arias’s second hit before scoring an insurance run. Robert Stephenson was lifted in the fifth and got no decision after allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out seven but threw three wild pitches. Tony Amezcua relieved him with two-plus scoreless innings and five strikeouts. Bennet Klimesh allowed a run in the eighth, but was the pitcher of record when the winning run scored in the bottom of the inning. Sean Lucas retired the side in order in the ninth for the save.