Cleanup hitter Phillips raking in the RBIs
Second baseman has thrived as middle-of-the-order run producer
NEW YORK -- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has spent much time lately at or near the top of the National League leaderboard in RBIs. After two more in Wednesday's 7-4 victory over the Mets -- including the game-winning RBI double, albeit on a check swing -- Phillips leads the league with 40 RBIs.
Phillips doesn't fit the typical physical mold many look for in a cleanup hitter, but he's performed a key job required of the spot by driving in runs.
"You don't gain RBIs all at one time," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I was told it's like collecting pennies. The next thing you know, you get 100 and you have a dollar. We'll take them in bunches, but you'd rather have them consistent and on a regular basis."
Phillips' career high is 98 RBIs, set in 2009. He moved into the cleanup spot the second game of the season when left fielder Ryan Ludwick went down with a serious right shoulder injury. Ludwick isn't expected back before the All-Star break.
"He takes pride in driving in runs. He uses the whole field," Baker said of Phillips. "He gets upset if he leaves guys out there, especially if he leaves them with less than two outs and a guy on second base. That's how you're supposed to be. You want to be a clutch man. That's what he's been, a clutch man. Every good team, they have one or two clutch men."
Along with Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, Phillips has been one of the Reds' hottest hitters of late. He now has a season-high 10-game hitting streak (13-for-42) with one home run and nine RBIs.
Marshall unavailable with left shoulder discomfort
NEW YORK -- Reds starter Mat Latos encountered a two-out jam in the bottom of the seventh inning on Wednesday while trying to preserve what was then a 4-2 lead over the Mets. As he neared 100 pitches, Latos faced left-handed-hitting Daniel Murphy and gave up an RBI single. Another lefty hitter, Rick Ankiel, then hit a game-tying RBI triple off Latos.
The situation would normally call for left-handed reliever Sean Marshall.
"Marshall wasn't available," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Otherwise, I would have brought in Marshall for Ankiel. That kind of hurt us, not having Marshall."
Marshall said his shoulder did not respond well to pregame throwing, and he believed there was some inflammation.
"We were kind of erring on the side of caution. I told them I was a little bit sore," Marshall said after the Reds' 7-4 win. "I did a little bit of exercise after the game. With this extra day of rest [Thursday], I will be back to how I've been feeling."
Marshall, who has a 2.57 ERA in 11 appearances with 21 of 27 batters retired, began the season battling left shoulder tendinitis and was on the disabled list from April 8-26.
This situation now is not much unlike the previous one.
"I'm getting a better understanding of when my shoulder feels good and maybe when it needs a little bit of rest," Marshall said. "Today, when I was warming up and doing my usual routine to get my shoulder loose, I felt a little bit of crankiness in there. ... It needs a little extra time to recover than it has in the past."
Latos, Bruce shrug off apparent argument
NEW YORK -- Television cameras from the Mets' broadcast caught a brief moment of apparent disharmony in the Reds' dugout in the midst of their 7-4 victory on Wednesday afternoon.
Following the bottom of the fifth inning, when the Mets tied it at 2 on Daniel Murphy's sacrifice fly, Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos and right fielder Jay Bruce had an animated discussion at the far end of the dugout.
Neither player would go into detail what was said between them.
"Next question," Latos said tersely.
"That's not really important," Bruce said. "But no, it was not about the sac fly."
On the sac fly, Bruce had to make the catch on the run, and he made an off-target throw up the third-base line.
Bruce discounted the situation between innings as not a big deal.
"Everything is fine," Bruce said. "It happens all the time. It's a non-story, really."
"I was on the other end of the dugout if they did [argue]," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It happens all the time. If they did, it's certainly nobody's business but ours."
Choo the man of the hour at Citi Field
NEW YORK -- Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo has been warmly welcomed at Citi Field throughout this week's three-game series vs. the Mets. New York has the nation's second-largest Korean population, with many living near the stadium in the Flushing section on Queens.
Choo hails from Pusan, South Korea. Before games, he has spent time on the top step of the visiting dugout signing a lot of autographs. Some fans were hurling multiple baseballs at once for him to sign.
"It's amazing," Choo said of his reception. "Even when I didn't play [Tuesday], they still came into the stands and were cheering for me and calling my name. It's special."
After getting a day off on Tuesday against a lefty starter, Choo was back in the leadoff spot and starting on Wednesday.
Against tough righty, Baker goes with Hannahan
NEW YORK -- Reds third baseman Todd Frazier did not start in Wednesday's series finale vs. the Mets, replaced in the lineup by Jack Hannahan. Manager Dusty Baker often gives players a rest to combine with a scheduled off-day on Thursday, but that wasn't the reason for this break.
Since the Reds were facing right-handed Mets phenom Matt Harvey, Baker wanted to go with the left-handed-hitting Hannahan.
"Today is the day you want to stack the lineup with lefties," Baker said. "Today is a day where Jack has to play some time. He was going to play first base soon, but Joey [Votto] is hot. It's hard to take him out when you're that hot."
Reds' road record on the upswing
NEW YORK -- Tuesday's 4-0 Reds win over the Mets had a little added importance to manager Dusty Baker. It helped Cincinnati reach .500 on the road, where the Reds are now 12-12 after starting the season 1-8.
The Reds' first three road series were against the Cardinals, Pirates and Nationals, three teams that are often tough at their home parks.
"We lost a couple of real tough games at Pittsburgh we probably should have won," Baker said. "Sometimes [it depends on] when you play them [than] on how you're doing or not doing.
"It's impossible to win big without winning on the road."