While Jay Bruce will return to the Cincinnati Reds lineup, Scott
Rolen might not be ready to do the same and Joey Votto certainly
A day after learning Votto will be out longer than expected,
Cincinnati hopes Bruce begins getting back on track in the finale
of a seven-game road trip Sunday against the Chicago Cubs.
The Reds (68-46) have stayed atop the NL Central with a major
league-best 21-8 record since the All-Star break despite losing
Votto to a torn meniscus July 15. The 2010 NL MVP rejoined the team
for this road swing, and it was believed he would be fully
recovered from surgery to play next week.
That hope went away with Votto returning to Cincinnati on Friday
to undergo another procedure. He had cartilage removed after
feeling soreness in the knee, pushing back his return at least
another seven to 10 days.
Rolen had been helping fill the void, batting .358 since the
All-Star break. However, a sore back has forced him to miss the
last four games, and he remains day to day.
“If we’re going to go deep (in the playoffs), we’re going to
need Scotty and we’re going to need Joey,” manager Dusty Baker told
the team’s official website. “I’d hoped we would get Joey back
pretty soon here.”
Baker now hopes Bruce can get going as he sticks the slugger
back in the lineup. He was given the last two days off – both Reds
wins – after going 1 for 16 with seven strikeouts to start the road
Bruce has a team-high 21 homers but none over his past 10 games.
He’s homered once in his last 20 at Wrigley Field.
Ryan Ludwick has stepped up, batting .380 with 19 RBIs over his
last 14 games. He’s driven in five through three games of this
series after delivering the go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth
inning of Saturday’s 4-2 victory.
“I think everyone in here is praying and wishing (Votto) can get
back as soon as possible because we definitely need him on our
team, but I think some of the guys have taken it as a challenge to
pick one another up,” Ludwick said.
Also delivering in this series are Todd Frazier, 7 for 11 with
six RBIs, and Brandon Phillips, 8 for 15 with four runs scored.
They’ll look to keep producing for Johnny Cueto (14-6, 2.58
ERA), who had won five straight starts before allowing three runs
in seven innings of a 3-1 loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Cueto has given up three homers in two starts this month after
not allowing one in 11 consecutive outings.
He’s 5-6 with a 3.55 ERA in 15 starts against the Cubs. The
right-hander won the only time he faced them this year,
surrendering one earned run in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 road victory
Chicago’s Brooks Raley (0-1, 15.75) gets a second start in place
of the injured Matt Garza. He had an awful major league debut
Tuesday, yielding seven runs and eight hits in four innings of a
7-4 defeat at San Diego.
“You’d have to say I was definitely nervous,” said Raley, the
Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the month for July. “It was a good
experience, a good one to get out of the way.”
All-Star Bryan LaHair is in a 3-for-34 slump for the Cubs
(44-68), losers of 10 of 11.
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has saved the last two games,
converting 19 straight chances with 44 strikeouts over 20 2-3
scoreless innings. He’s pitched on three consecutive days only once