Volquez effective, Reds close in on postseason
He’s healthy after Tommy John surgery and his easy demeanor should suit him well for a Cincinnati Reds’ club that’s about to learn about postseason pressure for first time in 15 years.
Volquez continued to make his case that he should be a big part of the postseason rotation by allowing one run over eight innings, and the Reds held on in a 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.
“I don’t know when they’re going to decide the rotation, but I hope I’ll be there,” he said after dismissing his translator and speaking in English.
Closer Francisco Cordero(notes) converted his 38th save, but two runs scored with two outs on a pair of errors when right fielder Jay Bruce(notes) made a wild throw that also went through Cordero’s legs.
“Hey man, if you’ve been following this team, nothing’s achieved easily,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “It got a little hairy at the end there. We kind of panicked, threw the ball to no man’s land.”
The Reds moved eight games ahead of St. Louis, which lost 5-2 to Pittsburgh, and now just need any combination of four wins or four losses by the Cardinals to clinch the NL Central.
Volquez (4-3) faced the minimum number of batters through the first five innings before losing his command a little by walking four in his final three frames.
“His fastball was consistently 95, 96 today. I feel like he used to pitch more 91 to 93, but today he was throwing hard, his changeup was just as good as ever,” Brewers slugger Ryan Braun said. “I think all their starting pitchers are gearing up for the postseason and it shows.”
Cincinnati, looking for its first playoff berth since 1995, could finish the task this weekend in San Diego to conclude a nine-game road trip. That would give the Reds the final week of the regular season at home to set their postseason rotation.
Volquez is certainly pitching as if he wants to be a big part of Cincinnati’s plans.
The 27-year-old right-hander posted his third consecutive quality start and has a 1.64 ERA over the span in his bid to pitch after Bronson Arroyo(notes) (16-10) and Johnny Cueto(notes) (12-5) in the postseason rotation.
“The more he pitches, the more he fits,” Baker said.
Volquez benefited from four double plays and struck out six.
Edmonds, who has made nine trips to the disabled list in his 17-year career, took a few awkward steps between second and third and limped badly into the dugout after his 393rd career home run.
“Something popped when I was running around the bases,” said Edmonds, who has had a lingering Achilles’ tendon injury most of the season that started when he was with the Brewers. “It felt like it tore.”
Braun, his close friend on the other side, had another thought.
“I think he was just waiting for an opportunity to hit a home run and call it a career,” Braun said. “He’ll be back for the postseason, I think.”
With two on and two out in the ninth, Casey McGehee(notes) singled to right field, but Bruce’s wild throw and Cordero’s error scored Rickie Weeks(notes) and Braun and left McGehee on third before Gomez’s strikeout.
“I saw everybody keep running around the bases and I was like, ‘Oh no, that’s enough.”’ Baker said. “I told Coco, ‘Hey, we’ve got this, no problem.’ … He threw some quality pitches to Gomez.”
The Brewers were formally eliminated from postseason contention on Sunday and now won’t post a winning record for the second straight season after winning the 2008 NL wild card. Still, they’ve played a big part in the NL Central race: Milwaukee is 1-9 against the Reds this season and 8-7 against the Cardinals.
“It’s been miserable,” Braun said. “They dominated us.”
Notes: Reds manager Dusty Baker improved to 1,400-1,279 in 17 seasons as a manager after previous stops with the Giants (1993-2002) and Cubs (2003-06). “You always like excellence, you always like records,” Baker said. … Reds 1B Joey Votto(notes) (sinus infection) was a late scratch.