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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Reds Lose 12th Straight To Playoff Bound Cubs

The 107th rookie start and 61st in a row was handled by John Lamb against the playoff bound Cubs.

Lamb comes into the game 1-4 and has been plagued by one bad inning or one bad pitch..

Austin Jackson hit the one bad pitch in the third inning for a three-run home run that followed one-out walks to Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler. Lamb rebounded to strike out Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo but the damage was done. The stage was set for a 5-3 Cubs victory, a sweep that gave the Chicago team a 13-6 season series record against the Reds..

Jason Hammel started for the Cubs and pitched around a leadoff double by Jason Bougeois in the first inning, and two on, one-out jams in the third and fourth.
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Anthony Rizzo hit a ground rule double to score Fowler with the fourth Cub run to chase Lamb after 4 2/3 innings. Chris Denorfia's infield single scored Jackson to make if 5-0.

Brandon Phillips bonehead play cost the Reds a potential run in the sixth. He led off with the 300th double of his career. Phillips then stole his 22nd base of the season to put himself on thirdbase with no outs.  Todd Frazier hit a fly to short left that thirdbaseman Javier Baez fielded.  Phillips bluffed going home with no one covering third. He wandered down the line and slipped halfway between third and home and was tagged out to complete an improbable double play.

The Reds got on the scoreboard against Fernando Rodney.  Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart singled to open the seventh.  Ramon Cabrera pinch hit and hit a potential double play ball to Russell at shortstop, who booted the ball for an error to load the bases. Bourgeois hit a slow roller to Russell, who shoveled the throw to Castro at second but Bourgeois beat the relay to first as Saurez scored.  Cubs' manager Joe Maddon summoned Clayton Richard from the bullpen to create the lefty-lefty matchup with Joey Votto, who singled up the middle to score Barnhart. Phillips singled off Russell's glove to drive in Bourgeois.  The three unearned runs brought the Reds to within two runs at 5-3.

Votto has reached base in each of his last 47 games. He has reached base in 142 of his 155 appearances.

Hector Rondon, the seventh Cub pitcher on the day, earned his 29th save in 33 chances.

Reds Have Labor Pains Bryan Price Craves A Win

The Reds knew coming out of spring training that they had to stay healthy to compete.  The home schedule concludes today with the playoff bound Cubs in position to sweep.

That did not happen.from the beginning Devin Mesoraco, the starting catcher and projected cleanup hitter had a bad hip.  Homer Bailey made just two starts before it became necessary to operate on his elbow. Zack Cozart played in 53 games before his knee popped, requiring season-ending surgery.

"We knew we had to stay healthy to compete," Price said. "When that didn't happen the guys we had as backups didn't pan out."

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The Reds fell out of the race and traded starting pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, leaving the team with a stable full of young untested starting pitchers.

"We started to retool and it's been painful," Price said. "We have labor pains and the delivery of the baby won't be this year."

The Reds wanted to finish strong but after two nine-game losing streaks earlier in the season, the Reds are currently on an epic 11-game slide. The Reds last losing streak of 12 games was in September of 1993.

'We're banged up right now," said Price before the game as he was waiting to see who was available for the starting lineup. Todd Frazier sat out on Wednesday with a tight achillies tendon.  Joey Votto was out with soreness around his shoulder blade.

"We know its ugly right now;" said Price after the 10-3 loss to the Cubs Wednesday night. "There is no satisfaction from playing this poorly."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Anthony DeSclafani Ends His Season On A Sour Note

Anthony DeSclafani will end up leading the staff with nine wins but his last three starts were a struggle.

On September 12, the 24-year old righthander defeated the Cardinals 5-1 with six strong innings. His ERA was a season-low 3.67 after the game and his record was 9-10.  Since that night, DeSclafani pitched 15 2/3 innings and allowed 14 earned runs (8.04) to finish the season with a 9-13 record and a 4.05 ERA as the Reds bowed to the Cubs 10-3.

The playoff bound Cubs added the last five runs in five innings against the rookie who made 31 starts this season after being the key piece in the Reds' trade with Miami that sent Mat Latos out.

DeSclafani started strong against the Cubs, retiring the first eight batters before the inexcusable walk to Cubs' starting pitcher Jon Lester, who had three singles in 59 at bats. Kyle Schwarber singled up the middle and both scored on Austin Jackson's double.

The hit erased the Reds' early lead.  Newcomer Tyler Holt blooped a single to right off Lester, one out into the first inning. Brandon Phillips back in the lineup after sitting for two days dropped a double down the rightfield line.  Jay Bruce hit a long fly to centerfield to give the Reds the advantage.
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Anthony Rizzo doubled to open the Cubs' fourth.  Addison Russell's two-out single scored Rizzo.

Lester singled to open the fifth and waltzed to third on two wild pitches by DeSclafani, making it easy to score on Jackson's second double of the game.  Starlin Castro's 11th home run leading off the fifth was followed by a walk to Jorge Soler, that concluded DeSclafani's season.

The Cubs added three runs in the eighth inning off Tony Cingrani with Jackson's two-run bases loaded single capping the inning.  Jackson's five RBI for the game set a career high.

Collin Balester allowed a single to Rizzo and doubles to Castro, his fourth hit, and Russell to net two more runs.

Brayan Pena hit a double with one out in the second inning.  Lester retired the last 20 batters he faced before leaving after the eighth inning. He struck out nine and allowed three hits and no walks.

Jason Bourgeois broke the string with a single off Neil Ramirez. Holt walked and both advanced on a wild pitch. Phillips drove in Bourgeois with a fly to right. Bruce hit his second sacrifice fly to score Holt.

The Reds lost for the 11th straight time, the most since 1998. They have not lost more than 11 since the had a 12-game losing streak in 1993.

Brayan Pena Wants To Come Back In Spite Of Disappointing Season

Sunday could be Brayan Pena's last game in a Reds' uniform but he wants to return.

Pena sees good things ahead for the Reds. He had front row seats to Kansas City's rise to the top of the American League.

"I was in Kansas City when (Mike) Moustakakas, (Lorenzo) Cain and (Alicides) Escobar were rookies," Pena said.  "Look at them now."

Pena sees the Reds rookie pitching staff the same way.  He would like to come back even though the Reds are in a 10-game losing streak. Pena's two-year contract with the Reds runs out on Sunday.
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"In one word this was disappointing," Pena said. "It is no secret we had high expectations and didn't live up to them. It is nobody's fault. It's not the front office or Bryan Price or the coaching staff.  It is us, the players. Each one of us has to look in the mirror. We have to look to see how we can make ourselves better. This losing streak has been tough on us."

Pena doesn't exclude himself  He is hitting a respectable .274 with no home runs and 18 RBI.

"I am committed to losing 25 lbs and making myself more valuable," said Pena, who weighs in currently at 240lbs. "I have already contacted a nutritionist in Orlando. I want to be able to play firstbase more or outfield to be more valuable."

Pena would like to play in Cincinnati, not only because he sees an upside to the team but because he likes the area and loves the fans.

"Hopefully, I can come back here," Pena said. "That would be my dream. I love my teammates and the fans. I want to thank the fans and the media. You've been really good to me. I understand its a business. I haven't talked to the Reds' front office yet. I want to focus on finishing strong.


Tyler Holt Gets First Reds Start

Tyler Holt was sitting at home in Florida after the Columbus Clippers finished their season.

The Clipper's parent club, the Cleveland Indians, designated Holt for assignment to add Adam Moore to its roster.

"I didn't get called up in September," Holt said. "They told me to go home and wait."

A team has to decide in 10 days whether to put a player on waivers, trade him, release him or ask him to accept assignment to the minor leagues when a player is removed from the 40-man roster.
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Holt, the Indians 10th round choice out of Florida State University in 2010, spent part of two seasons with the Indians, splitting time between them and the Clippers. He hit .302 with the Clippers in 101 games with non home runs and 28 RBI. Holt stole 25 bases in 30 attempts and was named the best outfielder in the Indians organization.

The Indians decided to put Holt on waivers and the Reds selected the 26-year old.  Even with expanded rosters the Reds have been strapped for position players. Ryan LaMarre has a pulled hamstring.  Joey Votto is sitting out Wednesday with a sore shoulder.

"They could have told me to take it easy and see you in February," Holt said. "I got lucky. It's hard to describe the feeling. To be in a big league locker room is good for anybody. It is great to be wearing a big league jersey. I got lucky."

Holt will start in centerfield for the Reds against the Cubs. He appeared in 45 games for the Indians the last two seasons, hitting .231 with no home runs and two RBI.  Holt had two hits in 20 at bats over nine games this season with Cleveland.

Cubs Send Soggy Reds To 10th Straight Loss

As if the Reds' spirits couldn't be dampened anymore, rain delayed the meaningless game with the Chicago Cubs for 2:31 before a painful 4-1 loss .

If a meaningless and winless trip to Washington on Monday was a "kick in the nuts" as Bryan Price called it, this soggy delay was a golden shower.

The loss marked the Reds' longest losing streak since it dropped 11 in a row June 14 through June 24 in 1998.

Then, when the game started, Josh Smith, the 59th straight rookie starter, gave up three hits, walked a batter and hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch as the Cubs scored four times.  For Rizzo it was the 30th time he's been plunked.  Only Don Baylor in 1986 has been hit 30 times and hit 30 home runs in the same season, as Rizzo has this season.

Dexter Fowler opened the game with a ground single past Ivan De Jesus Jr., who started at secondbase in place of Brandon Phillips for the second straight day. Kyle Schwarber walked.  Smith struck out Kris Bryant before hitting Rizzo to load the bases. Tommy La Stella appeared to hit into a double play, a one-hop to Joey Votto, who threw home and took a return throw but the ball hit off La Stella's foot in the batter's box. After a mild argument by Price, La Stella hit a fly that Jason Bourgeois misjudged but speared before it got over his head. Fowler scored. Miguel Montero doubled to drive in two runs. Javier Baez hit an RBI single and reached third as Jay Bruce drew two errors for fumbling the grounder and throwing it past everyone.

"It was big to get through five innings after that debacle in the first inning," Smith said. "The bullpen has worked a lot lately. I wanted to go six innings. It would have been nice to get out of that inning but Bryan told me it did hit his foot."

The Reds got one hit off Cubs' starter Dan Haren. Eugenio Suarez singled with two outs in the second. Haren retired everyone else through five innings. Bourgeois beat out a slow roller to short with two outs in the sixth inning.
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Smith lasted five innings and settled down somewhat after the first, still he walked five batters. He managed to strike out seven batters but allowed seven base runners, including three in the third and two in the fourth even though the Cubs stranded them all.

The Reds got a lovely parting gift from Cubs' rightfielder Austin Jackson. Bourgeois easy fly glanced off his glove for a three-base error.  De Jesus Jr. hit a groundball to Rizzo at first to send Bourgeois home.


Joey Votto struck out twice and flied out to shallow right, including a foul bunt with two strikes in an attempt to extend his on-base streak to 46 games.  Votto struck out for the first out of the seventh inning. He needed one base runner to be stranded or score to get a fourth and final attempt.  Tucker Barnhart's double gave Votto the chance.  Votto drew a walk in the ninth from Carl Edwards Jr. to reach base in his 46th straight game, two short of Pete Rose's team record set in 1978.

Votto appeared to be in discomfort in the first inning.

"It is a muscular issue in his back but he wanted to stay in there," Bryan Price said. "He's dealt with it before. He wanted to fight through it. It was just the streak either it was about grinding out the season. It says a lot when a veteran wants to grind it out."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Zack Cozart Works Toward Opening Day

Zack Cozart's 2015 season ended on June 10 with a misstep running out a ground ball.

Cozart tore ligaments and the biceps tendon in his right knee and had it surgically repaired. Cozart was off to a good start, hitting .258 with nine home runs and 28 RBI when the injury occurred.

"The positive was I worked my tail off last winter working on my swing and I know it paid off," said Cozart, who hit a career-low .221 with career-low four home runs and 38 RBI in 2014.

The Reds were 27-31 at the time he was injured, having suffered a nine-game losing streak in mid-May. The Reds defeated the Philadelphia Phillies the day he was hurt to complete a four-game winning streak.
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Cozart's fortunes and the Reds went downhill from there.  The Reds are 36-62 coming into the last six games of the season.

It has been hard for the 30-year old to be on the sidelines.

"It's been a tough year in general," Cozart said. "I don't like to see my teammates go out there and struggle. I like to compete."

Cozart has had over three months to rehab his knee.

"The only thing I'm limited on is hard cuts," Cozart said. "I am running and doing agility drills. I am in on a full weight lifting program. I'm throwing. I should be able to do everything mid-November or early December. I will have a knee brace before Thanksgiving. I don't know how much I'll use it. Some guys like it and others feel like they don't need it once the knee stabilizes."

"I'm confident I will be full go by spring training," Cozart said. "It will be close to nine months since the surgery."

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mets Celebrated Division Title But Reds Played Hungover

The Mets used their hangover lineup that resembled the Brewers, not the Milwaukee Brewers, the Wiedemann Brewers, against Keyvious Sampson but they hit him hard in an 8-1 win over the reeling Reds..

It was the Reds' eighth straight loss and 92nd of the season. The Reds are one game short of its longest losing streak of nine games which they've done twice. Cincinnati lost nine in a row from May 16 through May 25 and again from August 14 through August 23.

Kelly Johnson singled and Michael Conforto, who played in the Future's Game at Great American Ball Park in advance of the All-Star game in July, doubled to the gap in left centerfield to give the Mets and early lead.
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Eric Campbell singled and trotted home on Dilson Herrera's third home run of the season.  Mets' starting pitcher, Jacob deGrom and Juan Lagares singled but Sampson escaped further scoring in the second.

The third wasn't so kind.

Joey Votto kicked a groundball by Kirk Nieuwenhuis with one out. Campbell singled to right just out of Brandon Phillips reach.  Herrera hit a bloop single to right.  deGrom dropped a bloop hit in front of Ivan De Jesus Jr. in leftfield for a two-run single to give the Mets a 5-0 lead.  Sam LeCure ended the inning by striking out Lagares for the final out.

Sampson lasted 2 2/3 innings. He allowed nine hits and five runs, three of them were earned.

An error in leftfield by De Jesus Jr. off a line drive hit by deGrom allowed Campbell, who walked, to score and extended the inning for Lagares, who singled home the Mets' seventh run.

Skip Schumaker opened the game with a double off the glove of Conforto but deGrom retired the next 14 Reds, eight by strikeout until Eugenio Suarez singled with two outs in the fifth.

Kevin Plawecki hit his third home run off Michael Lorenzen in the sixth.

The Reds broke through in the sixth.  Schumaker and De Jesus Jr. singled with one out.  Votto grounded an RBI single past Herrera at secondbase.  Votto has reached base in 44 straight games.

Reds Get One Last Kick In The Nuts

The Reds will leave players behind when they travel to Washington for one day to make up a rain out from July 8.

If the Reds could have won one or two games against the New York Mets this series, the game in Washington would have impacted the Eastern Division race. Now it is a meaningless exhibition.


Bryan Price summed it up, “Last kick in the nuts? It really is. From a weather standpoint it just exasperates an already challenging season. Having to play 17 straight to end the season is like rubbing your face in it. There’s no way around it. We have to go there and play to win. We can’t roll it out there like it’s a spring training game because it’s not.” .

The Reds will leave Josh Smith and others that have training room commitments behind.  The team has shut down Sean Marshall, who was trying for a miraculous comeback before the end of the season.  That won't happen.
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“We shut him down," Price said. "He’s having some recurring tenderness in his shoulder. He’s had some very productive bullpens (about a dozen) but hasn’t been able to get over the hump and go an extended period of time without some discomfort. He’ll probably throw the weekend in Pittsburgh, just because we want to finish this off and give him a chance to go into the off season with a chance to get things right”.

Raisel Iglesias will not go to Washington and will not pitch the rest of the season.

"There are some things we need to see before he would pitch, like his range of motion," Price said. "There won't be enough time."

The travel party will be light.

“We have some end of season physical, some follow-up stuff that we can get done tomorrow," Price said. "Not taking (Josh) Smith because he’s going to pitch the next day.  Plus some of the DL guys we’ve had with us to continue their rehab, they’ll stay here. Obviously Hamilton’s having surgery on Tuesday. There’s probably five or six pitchers and a couple position players that aren’t going.”

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mets Come To Town For Playoff Clinch Duda, Duda

Lucas Duda struck an emphatic blow with a grand slam home in the first inning off rookie John Lamb in the Mets division clinching 10-2 win.

The Mets reached the playoffs for the first time since 2006..

"It's a lot harder to watch a team clinch if you're in the race and you're the ones affected. I'd rather it not happen in our ballpark but you have to acknowledge the Mets have done. They had a great yea<" Bryan Price said..

It was the eighth grand slam of the season allowed by the Reds' "baby boomer" pitching staff. Curtis Granderson hit his 25th home run of the season off Lamb in the second.

"It was the lead in to the Duda at bat, then Lamb fell behind and Duda hit a criple fastball," Price said.

The Reds made an attempt to get back in the game and delay the Mets' celebration with two runs in the second off Matt Harvey.

Jay Bruce hit an infield single to open the inning.  Todd Frazier lined a single to right centerfield. Ivan De Jesus Jr, starting at shortstop, doubled into the rightfield corner to score two runs. Tucker Barnhart singled with one out. De Jesus stopped at third.  Harvey got out of the inning without further scoring.
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The Mets got those runs back with two off Carlos Contreras in the third. Yoenis Cespedes singled but Daniel Murphy forced him at secondbase.  Duda walked.  Michael Cuddyer doubled Murphy and Duda home.

Jason Bourgeois got every last vertical inch of his 5'9" frame and robbed Murphy of his 14th home run in the fifth inning.

Bruce and Frazier singled with two out but were stranded.  Joey Votto singled in the fifth but was erased on a nifty double play started on a nice stop behind secondbase by Wilmer Flores.

David Wright's three-run home run off Burke Badenhop in the ninth just iced the game. It was Wright's fifth home run of the season. The Mets players and coaches were all on the dugout railing in the ninth inning anticipating the end of the game that came when Jeurys Familia struck out Jay Bruce.

They were over the railing as soon as Bruce missed the final pitch.  The Reds strolled off the field with their 91st loss of the season.

"It stinks to have them clinch against you," Frazier said. "You look back on our year (2012). We've been there before and you want to get that feeling again. You're happy for them. You hate to lose but you're still happy for them at the same time it's a kick in the rear end."

Votto's three hits put him on base for the 43rd straight game. He has been on base with a hit or walk 308 times this season, eight short of his own team record of 316 in 2013.  Votto has been on base in 138 of his 151 games.

Homer Bailey Throwing After Surgery

Quietly, Homer Bailey started a throwing program on or about September 3.

The injured, $105 million pitcher, is now the grizzled veteran of the Reds' pitching staff at the advanced age of 28.

He is a good four years older than the next pitcher in the Reds' "Kiddie Korp" rotation.  Bailey is throwing 75 pitches at 75 feet, just to make "clean throws."

The Reds are looking to Bailey to solidify the 2016 rotation with his veteran presence.  Despite his young age he has been in the organization for 10 years and has authored two no-hitters. He will take a 58-51 record in 168 starts into next season.  Bailey started just two games before his current injury and lost his only decision of 2015.

"We have to have a veteran starting pitcher in our rotation next season," Bryan Price said. "As much as Jeff (pitching coach Picco) and I can have influence.  We need a veteran pitcher who is in the clubhouse with the younger guys. Like Bronson (Arroyo) who led with a soft voice, Homer can needle the guys into doing what they need to do."
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Bailey reported to Price that he feels like he never had surgery which he had in early May.  He feels like he can throw his breaking pitches but is restricted from doing so right now.

Barring setbacks Bailey expects to be ready to pitch by his 29th birthday, May 8.

"I should be ready by early to mid May," Bailey said. "It was weeks before I could do everything I wanted to do except throw.  There are days I'm more sore, like I do every time I start throwing after a break from it. It is nothing out of the normal."

Bailey will go to Austin, Texas near his home to continue his throwing program which runs through the end of November.  He will rest again until the end of December and start to throw to get ready for spring training.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Reds Loss Gets Mets Closer To Playoffs

The Mets threatened to celebrate its first trip to the playoffs since 2006 with a 6-4 win over the Reds.

Combined with the Washington Nationals loss to the Orioles Thursday afternoon reduced the Mets' 'magic number to win the National League Eastern Division to three games.  Any combination of Mets' wins and Nationals' losses that add to three gives New York the title.

It was a rematch of the June 28 meeting between the Reds' Josh Smith and the Mets' Steven Matz both rookies.

Smith gets the honor of making the 100th start by a rookie pitcher for the Reds this season.  Matz joins a young staff, whose average age is skewed by 42-year old Bartolo Colon.

The Reds struck first with consecutive singles by Ivan De Jesus Jr, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to produce a run.  Votto reached base in his 41st straight game, tying a career high.
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The Mets were quiet in the first two innings but Matz, who had three hits in his debut on the 28th, reached on an infield single. Matz advanced on a groundout by Curtis Granderson and scored on David Wright's double. Daniel Murphy's single moved Wright to third.  Yoenis Cespedes delivered Wright with a fly out to deep centerfield. Lucas Duda doubled home Cespedes to put the Mets on top 3-1.

Smith finished his night with two scoreless innings.

"He had a rough inning but he bounced back," Bryan Price said. "He's not a challenge guy who can rely on his fastball when he's behind in the count. He has to use his other pitches. He did more of that tonight."

Brandon Phillips second RBI single in the fifth followed Ramon Cabrera's pinch hit single and De Jesus Jr's second hit of the game. The Reds evened the score in the sixth. Eugenio Suarez split the right and center fielders with a line drive for a double.  Pinch hitter Adam Duvall singled off the glove of thirdbaseman Wright as Suarez scored.

Manny Parra allowed a single by Granderson and Murphy's third hit a triple, to put the Mets up a run in the seventh. Cespedes second single plated Murphy. Lucas Duda doubled Cespedes home to increase the lead and chase Parra.

Jay Bruce hit his 26th home run of the season off Hansel Robles. Bruce is eighth on the Reds' All-Time home run list with 208. Ken Griffey Jr. is seventh with 210.

"We're looking for things to feel good about," Price said.  "Jay getting to his power is one of those.  Anyone who has followed the Reds knows Jay can get hot and he's starting to show that right now."

Bruce has been disappointed in his season in spite of his power numbers.

"It's been embarrassing overall," Bruce said. "I've wanted to play a certain way and I haven't. Catching Junior would be cool but I told Rob Butcher it wouldn't be a fair comparison unless I went to another team and hit over 400 more."

Reds Hope To Follow Mets Example In Turnaround.

A Reds' rookie pitcher will start for the 100th game this season against the Mets', who are about to lock down the National League Eastern Division title.

The Reds traded three young but more veteran pitchers, leaving inexperienced hurlers to fill the void.  With Homer Bailey injured, rookies have been used exclusively since Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake departed to join pennant chases.

There will be tonight's rematch of Steven Matz, who defeated the Reds in his debut on June 28, against Josh Smith. Matz pitched \ 7 2/3 innings in which he allowed two earned runs on five hits.  Matz also had three hits against the Smith and the bullpen that followed Smith.

Smith gave up three runs, one earned on four hits and four walks against the Mets on June 28. He completed five innings in that game, which was his second career start.
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New York was 79-83 last season, 17 games behind the Washington Nationals.

Matz joined last season's Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom and rookie Noah Syndergaard in the Mets; 2015 rotation that included Matt Harvey, who was an All-Star in his rookie season in 2013 before his elbow reconstruction surgery prematurely ended that season and cost him all of the 2014 season.

The Reds hope to develop its stable of young starting pitchers as the Mets have in an effort to regain the franchise's winning ways.

“Absolutely. In certain ways, we did that in 2010 and 2012 when we saw some of our young pitchers flourish," said Bryan Price when asked about the Mets process.. "They’ve got guys they feel confident in. You saw Tampa Bay do that a few years when they turned it around. If you get good pitching, you have a chance to compete in the division and the postseason.”