By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Reds have spent the past month trading away veteran position players for pitching prospects, but they may have secured one of their most promising pitchers for next year back in May and it didn't cost them a thing.
Left-hander John Bale, signed as a minor-league free agent May 8, provided the Reds with another strong performance Friday.
Bale, who had been released by the New York Mets, worked six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, and the Reds ended a five-game losing streak with an 8-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park in a game delayed 38 minutes by rain.
The win was Bale's first as a Red. He has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his five starts with the Reds and has a 2.78 earned run average in his six appearances with them.
"He knows how to pitch," said Reds manager Dave Miley. "It was nice to get him a win. He's pitched well enough to win a couple of games."
Bale credits Reds pitching coach Don Gullett with making some minor adjustments in his delivery, "Little things, just minor adjustments that maybe coaches I had in the past didn't say or I didn't hear. It sets off a little light in your head."
It was just a matter of getting the right opportunity with the right team. He believes he has found that with the Reds.
"I always knew I had it in me," Bale said. "When you're down in the minor leagues watching games on TV you get frustrated because you know you can do it. You have to be in the right place at the right time."
Danny Graves, making his first relief appearance since leaving the starting rotation, shut out the Cardinals in the eighth and ninth innings to record the save.
Afterwards, he, too, was feeling as if he had landed in the right place again after being miscast as a starter. His velocity, which had fallen off to the high 80s as a starter, was back into the low 90s. His slider and curve were more effective and his demeanor was definitely more upbeat.
"That's where I belong," Graves said. "I think everybody realizes that this is me. I wasn't thinking about mechanics or making the perfect pitch and my velocity was back where it needed to be."
Bale was the beneficiary of a long-awaited offensive breakthrough from the Reds. Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning, they batted around to score five times, chasing Cardinals starter Danny Haren.
"It's been awhile," Miley said of the offensive outburst. "But you've got to give these guys credit. They kept plugging away."
Each center fielder turned in a highlight-reel defensive gem early in the game.
In the first inning, the Reds' Ryan Freel robbed Jim Edmonds of an extra-base hit. As the ball carried deep into straightaway center field, Freel got turned around as he sprinted after it, but righted himself in time to make a leaping catch just in front of the yellow line at the top of the fence. He fell face first onto the turf as Bale stood on the mound and applauded.
Edmonds, a five-time Gold Glove Award winner, extracted his revenge with an even more remarkable catch in the second, timing his leap perfectly and reaching over the eight-foot high right-center field fence to snatch away what would been a home run off the bat of Kelly Stinnett.
"I guess that's why he's got all of those Gold Gloves," Miley said.
Right fielder Ruben Mateo left the game in the fourth inning with a sore right hamstring and is expected to miss couple of games.
LOB-St. Louis 9, Cincinnati 8. 2B-Rolen (39), EduPerez (14), Renteria 2 (39), DJimenez (9). HR-DJimenez (4), off Fassero; Rolen (26), off Riedling; Branyan (6), off Haren. RBIs-Rolen 3 (93), Renteria 2 (80), Freel (5), DJimenez 2 (16), Casey (67), Branyan (15), Stinnett (19), Hummel 2 (2). SB-Robinson (6), Renteria (27), Cairo (2), DJimenez (6). CS-Freel (3). S-Olmedo. GIDP-Renteria, Casey.
|Haren L, 3-5||5 2/3||6||6||6||3||4||99||4.57|
T-2:57. A-27,121 (42,263).
|Bale W, 1-1||6||7||2||2||2||4||105||2.76|
|Graves S, 2||2||2||0||0||0||2||25||5.24|
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