When the Cardinals renew their rivalry with the Reds on Opening Day 2014, it will be the first time in nine years they’ll face a Cincinnati staff that doesn’t include Bronson Arroyo.
In winning three National League pennants during the last eight years (2006-2013), one constant for the Cardinals in their showdowns with the Reds has been Arroyo, the blonde-haired right-hander who flips breaking pitches that dart like Frisbees in an ocean breeze.
Arroyo, a free agent, left the Reds and signed a two-year contract with the Diamondbacks on Feb. 7, 2014. Though the Cardinals may face Arroyo in their two series with the Diamondbacks in 2014, it won’t be with the frequency of their duels when he played for the intra-division rival Reds.
In a 14-year big-league career with the Pirates (2000-2002), Red Sox (2003-2005) and Reds (2006-2013), Arroyo made more regular-season appearances (38) and starts (36) against the Cardinals than he did versus any other team. All except five of those appearances were with the Reds.
His regular-season record against St. Louis is 8-16 with a 4.64 ERA. He’s lost to the Cardinals more than he has against any other opponent. Arroyo also has pitched 229 regular-season innings versus St. Louis, allowing 245 hits. Both figures are career highs for him.
(Arroyo, who turns 37 on Feb. 24, 2014, has a career big-league record of 138-127 with a 4.19 ERA. He also pitched 2.2 innings of relief for the Red Sox against the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk.)
Albert Pujols is the player with the most regular-season hits (21), RBI (16) and walks (13) against Arroyo. Pujols and Matt Holliday each hit four home runs off Arroyo as Cardinals, and another St. Louis slugger, Rick Ankiel, hit three. (Ray Lankford, in 2000, was the first Cardinal to hit a home run off Arroyo.)
Among the 2014 Cardinals who have had the most success against Arroyo are Jon Jay (14-for-37, .378 batting average) and Daniel Descalso (11-for-30, .367).
But Arroyo also has flummoxed Yadier Molina (10-for-52, .192), Matt Carpenter (4-for-18, .222) and Allen Craig (also 4-for-18, .222). Molina, Carpenter and Craig have combined for no home runs and no walks versus Arroyo in their careers. (Departed Cardinals third baseman David Freese also was baffled by Arroyo. Freese is 2-for-17, .118 batting mark, against him.)
Arroyo was 5-4 versus the Cardinals in his first three seasons with the Reds; 3-10 in the last five. He was 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA against the 2013 Cardinals.
Here is a look at some of Arroyo’s best and worst performances against the Cardinals:
Good for Arroyo
_ May 1, 2006: Arroyo pitches a complete-game four-hitter in a 6-1 Reds victory over the Cardinals at Cincinnati. Juan Encarnacion’s home run prevents a shutout.
“He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he’s smart,” Cardinals left fielder John Rodriguez said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of Arroyo. “He knows where his pitches are going.”
Said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa: “He got a lot of outs in a lot of different parts of the (strike) zone. That’s good pitching.” Boxscore
_ June 12, 2008: Arroyo pitches six shutout innings and hits a home run off a hanging slider from Joel Pineiro in a 6-2 Reds victory at Cincinnati. Arroyo departs after experiencing cramps in his right forearm.
“He didn’t leave pitches over the middle,” Cardinals left fielder Skip Schumaker said. “He was effective pitching to the small part of the plate.” Boxscore
_ May 16, 2010: Arroyo tosses a complete-game seven-hitter and knocks in two runs in a 7-2 Reds victory at Cincinnati. Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus describes Arroyo’s assortment of pitches as “doo-doo” and “slop.”
Said Arroyo: “I could care less what adjective you put next to my pitch selection. The name of the game is to put a zero on the board as many times as I can.” Boxscore
Good for Cardinals
_ Aug. 10, 2006: Arroyo braids his long, blonde hair into cornrows in an effort to change his luck. But the Cardinals aren’t impressed. Arroyo yields three home runs _ solo shots by Jim Edmonds and Chris Duncan and a two-run blow by Scott Spiezio _ in the Cardinals’ 6-1 victory over the Reds at Cincinnati.
“I’m at the end of my rope with superstitions,” Arroyo told the Dayton Daily News afterward in the clubhouse. “Either I’m going to bring a live chicken in here, or just go out and pitch.” Boxscore
_ June 6, 2007: In the seventh inning, with the Reds ahead, 4-3, Ryan Ludwick ties the score with a pinch-hit home run off Arroyo. Then, with two outs, Pujols follows with a two-run blast off Arroyo that lifts the Cardinals to a 6-4 triumph at St. Louis.
“All the runs they scored were on mistakes,” Arroyo said. “With Pujols, I tried to freeze him with a heater in, but it wandered over the middle of the plate.” Boxscore
_ Sept. 26, 2008: Arroyo gives up a career-high 13 hits in seven innings but escapes with a no-decision in the Cardinals’ 7-6 victory at St. Louis. Arroyo reaches 200 innings pitched for the fourth consecutive season. Boxscore
_ July 5, 2009: The Cardinals pound Arroyo for 11 hits and eight runs in five innings and win, 10-1, at Cincinnati. Said Reds manager Dusty Baker: “Bronson got kicked around pretty good. He was a sacrificial lamb because my bullpen was in bad shape.” Boxscore
Previously: Cardinals, Reds stage star-studded brawl in 1967