The Louisville Bats are off to a hot start post All Star break. The Bats have taken two of three from the Gwinnett Braves and have won three of four overall. There’s a lot to get caught up on, so let’s get right to it with YOUR Bats Sunday Notebook.
Record Breakers and Slammers
The past two nights have been full of excitement for the Bats. Friday they set a franchise record with 22 runs scored in a 22-1 drubbing of the Braves. The explosion was highlighted by two grand slams, one from Denis Phipps and one from Chris Valaika. The Bats outdid themselves Saturday when Dioner Navarro’s ninth inning grand slam sent the Bats to a 10-8 walk off win. In their first eight games of July, the Bats scored a total 21 runs. In their three games since the break, they’ve scored 37.
Though there was no baseball being played during the break, plenty of things were happening at Slugger Field in the form of transactions. After Kristopher Negron was placed on the disabled list with a torn ACL, Didi Gregorius, a top prospect in the Reds organization, was called up to replace him. Scott Carroll and Joey Gathright were released while Bill Rhinehart was transferred to Double-A Pensacola, making room for the newly singed Xavier Paul to join the Bats as well as Chris Valaika to come off the DL. Thursday, Brian Peacock was placed on the DL and Willie Harris was activated. There’s still one more, but that gets its own section:
Janish traded to Atlanta
Before Saturday’s game the Cincinnati Reds made a bit of a splash on Twitter when they sent Paul Janish to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Todd Redmond. Funny thing was, both players were with their respective Triple-A clubs, so they merely swapped clubhouses at Slugger Field before the game. The official word out of Reds camp is they want more depth at starting pitcher in Triple-A. It is being reported that Janish is heading to Atlanta and will not be with the G-Braves very long.
“(Janish) is a great guy and solid player,” Bats manager David Bell said. “I think it’s a good situation for him and he’ll fit in well there.”
Redmond is 6-6 with a 3.58 ERA this season. He last pitched against the Bats Thursday giving up five runs on ten hits in five innings of work. On May 28, 2010 Redmond threw a no hitter against the Bats.
Paul joins the Bats
As noted earlier, Xavier Paul was released by the Washington Nationals after opting out of his contract. He signed with the Reds during the break and has been assigned to the Bats.
“It was time to move on (from Washington)” Paul said. “They have a lot of young outfielders there. I was just looking for a better opportunity and I think I’ve found that here.”
Paul has been red hot all season. In 60 games with the Syracuse Chiefs, Paul hit .315/.376/.512 with 17 doubles, eight homers, and 44 RBIs. In his three games with the Bats, he is 6-for-13 at the plate, including a three run homer in the Bats’ 10-8 win Saturday.
Phipps enjoying new role
Before the All Star break, David Bell made a decision to put the struggling Denis Phipps at the top of the order in an attempt to shake things up. It appears to have worked out pretty well. In the three games since the break, Phipps is hitting 7-for-15 including a five hit night Saturday—the first of his career.
“I’m thankful for Bell to put me in the leadoff situation,” Phipps said after Saturday’s 22-1 win. “It helped a lot last year, too. I think it helps me.”
Phipps has been in a monumental struggle all season. He’s hitting just .181 in 49 games with the Bats. Phipps was very successful after moving to the leadoff role last season, hopefully it helps him this year as well.
“(Putting Phipps at leadoff) was me just trying to mix it up,” Bell said. “He’s a guy that easily can hit in that spot.”
The road ahead
The Bats are in the midst of a stretch of 27 of 37 games being played at home, including 18 of 28 at home in July. After completing their four game series with Gwinnett, the Bats travel to Columbus for a four game set before returning home for four game series with the Pawtucket Red Sox and Buffalo Bisons. After that eight game homestand, the Bats head for Toledo for a four game set to round out July. The Bats are looking for their first winning month of baseball since April of last season.