Hit-happy Reds return to comforts of home

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Press Box at Huntington Park, home of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, watching grass roots baseball — the state high school baseball tournament and wondering where all the egos went.

Instead of limping home all bandaged and playing a fyffe and drum, the Cincinnati Reds came marching home proudly after taking three of four from the Colorado Rockies in the Coors Space Center, where small white spheroids are launched into outer space.

During the four-game series, the run-starved Reds hit 12 home runs, scored 33 runs and mauled a bunch of no-name pitchers for 46 runs.

HEY YOU HAVE TO take advantage of what is presented to you and Rockies pitchers kept tossing baseballs at Reds hitters that looked like prime rib.

At one point on the trip shortstop Zack Cozart was 0 for 18, but he was 8 for 18 in Denver. At one point Eugenio Suarez was 0 for 28, but he snapped to military attention in Coors and slugged three home runs, including a three-run rip in Thursday’s finale, an 11-4 Reds victory.

If Coors is what heals ailing hitters then Joey Votto swallowed the pills because suddenly he looks like, well, Joey Votto. Billy Hamilton entered the final game hitting .359 in his previous 13 games, including a couple of bunt hits and a few infield hits and a few singles stretched into doubles. The Real Billy Hamilton finally has stood up. Can he continue?

Adam Duvall continues to crush baseballs lopsided and mangled his 14th home run Thursday.

OK, OK, SO HITTING is not only expected in Coors, it is almost mandatory. So the biggest positive on the entire trip had to be the pitching in the final two games in Coors, two solid performances from two of the most unlikely suspects.

First, it was John Lamb on Wednesday. He entered the game 0-and-3 with a 6.85 earned run average. In his previous start in Milwaukee he lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs, seven hits and three walks. Not only did he resemble General George Armstrong Custer with his long blond hair, goatee and mustaches, he pitched as if he was making his last stand.

Then he held the Rockies to one run and six hits over seven innings, walking only one, in a 7-2 victory.

THAT WAS FOLLOWED by a stellar performance by Alfredo Simon, who was even worse than Lamb — 1-and-5 with a 9.60 earned run average. Major mayhem was expected. Instead he held the Rockies to four runs, five hits (three home runs) and walked three over his seven innings.

So, can it continue or is reality about to hit? The Reds are back home after the 6,700-mile three-city trip during which they went 4-and-6 after a 0-and-3 start in Los Angeles?

The first-place Washington Nationals stop by for the next three games, led by former Reds manager Dusty Baker. And the Reds will face some real pitching, beginning tonight when Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.53) faces Brandon Finnegan (1-4, 4.14).

There is a glimmer of hope, though. Before his last two starts Gonzalez carried a 1.86 earned run average. But over his last two starts he gave up 13 runs in only 9 2/3 innings and his ERA exploded to 3.53.

On the other hand, the Nationals are on a four-game winning streak and are 11-3 against left handers this year and 8-and-0 in their last eight appearances against left handers on the road.

Maybe Finnegan should pitch right handed.

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