The Cincinnati Reds, despite the injuries to their starting rotation, have started the season 5-1 and sit atop the National League Central standings. Despite Edinson Volquez’ struggles to start the season, the Reds offense has picked him up. He allowed four runs and five walks on Wednesday, but the Reds came back to beat the Houston Astros 12-4.
Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood, and Mike Leake have been solid. Arroyo allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings while not walking a batter. Wood allowed just one run on four hits over seven innings while not walking a batter, but striking out seven. Leake allowed two runs on three hits over six innings. All three picked up wins. Sam LeCure followed them all up with a solid effort on Thursday, going five innings while allowing two runs on three hits (he struck out six).
The Reds bullpen has been just as stingy. The combined eight relievers have allowed just three runs over 17 innings of work (though they took the team’s first loss on Thursday). The bullpen has given up 15 hits and five walks while striking out 19 batters. Helping out the pitching staff has been the stellar defense, as they have committed just one error.
Offensively, the Reds are hitting. Catcher Ryan Hanigan is hitting .714 with two homeruns and four RBIs (though in just two games). The top of the Reds order (Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillips) have a combined 17 hits, 15 runs scored, and eight RBIs. Shortstop Paul Janish is hitting .444, first baseman and reigning NL MVP Joey Votto is hitting .389 (with five walks and zero strikeouts), and catcher Ramon Hernandez is hitting .357. Despite only hitting .200, third baseman Scott Rolen is leading the team with seven RBIs.
The Houston Astros are sitting at the bottom of the NL Central, as they were 0-5 until they took the final game of their series in Cincinnati. The Astros have been struggling in all facets of the game. Their starting pitching has been awful, their bullpen has not been good, they have not been able to score runs consistently, and has not been stellar (six errors, with three going to shortstop Angel Sanchez).
Brett Myers pitched well in Philadelphia on Opening Day, as he allowed two runs (one earned) on just three hits in seven innings. He actually left with the win. Since then, the starters have had a hard time reaching the fifth inning. Wandy Rodriguez allowed seven runs on nine hits in just four innings. Bud Norris allowed five runs on six hits in four innings. JA Happ allowed seven runs on seven hits and five walks over four innings. On Wednesday against the Reds, they were staked to an early 4-0 lead, but starter Nelson Figueroa could not hold the lead. He allowed ten runs (six earned) on 11 hits over 5.1 innings.
The bullpen has not been much better. In Myers start, closer Brandon Lyon allowed three runs and six hits while only recording one out as the Phillies walked off. He has bounced back to not allow a run in his next inning of work. Overall, the bullpen has allowed ten runs, 25 hits, and seven walks over 16 innings. Mark Melancon has been a bright spot, going 3.1 shutout innings, while striking out four with no walks. Wilton Lopez and Fernando Abad have also been good in their 3.1 combined innings (no runs on three hit and no walks).
Offensively, the Astros have been stagnant. They have hit just two homeruns and only have five doubles. The Astros have also struck out a lot, 45 times (not counting pitchers) in 160 at-bats. Hunter Pence, Angel Sanchez, and Jason Bourgeois (though Bourgeois only has three at-bats) are hitting over .300.
However in their first win of the season, the Astros received great starting pitching from Myers and solid bullpen work from Melancon, Abad, and Lyon. With the score tied at 2-2 (pinch-hitter Scott Rolen hit a homerun to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning ending Myers day), Matt Downs gave the Astros the lead in the 9th inning with an RBI double with two outs off Reds reliever Nick Masset. For their first win, the Astros got good starting pitching, a solid bullpen effort, and clutch hitting.