Apr. 29, 2012: Bruce launches his game winning home run during the eighth inning v. Astros at Great American Ballpark. The Reds defeated the Astros 6-5. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

Votto, Bruce, Bullpen Lead Reds to 6-5 Win

It’s easy to look at the usual suspects, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, when you consider the Reds 6-5 win. I mean, Votto drove in four runs. Hitting a two-run homer to go along with his two-run double, some would say he was easily the star in the victory. You could look at Bruce’s solo shot in the bottom of the eighth to provide the final scoring in the contest and say he won the game.

Both were instrumental. Both were critical. Both are correct. The bats looked more alive in the series against Houston. But dig a little more.

In this come-from-behind win, look at the Reds bullpen. Starter Mat Latos was touched for five runs in 6.1 innings. Not the start we had hoped for, but the end result was. Latos stated after the game that he was feeling a little under the weather. Easy to understand considering the climate didn’t cooperate too well for the first two games of the series.

The bullpen shone brightly for all three games in the series. Only one inherited runner scored in 10 innings of pitching. That run scored when Jose Altuve doubled off of Alfredo Simon in the series opener, a Reds 6-4 loss. After that “hiccup”, the Reds relievers were practically unhittable.

The only other bullpen “blemish” in the series came last evening when Aroldis Chapman loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a single in the 9th. For the whole series, the Reds bullpen was as solid as anyone could expect: 10 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 5 BB, 10 SO. Maybe we should say beyond solid. The Reds ‘pen completely shut down the Astros bats.

Coming into the 2012 season, just as much hope was placed on the Reds bullpen as was placed on the starting staff. The additions of Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall had many a Reds fan (and even those outside of the Cincy fan base) raving about the changes and naming the Reds as owning the best ‘pen in the National League.

Well, we all know we most likely won’t see Madson pitch as a Red. Marshall was placed into the role of closer, the role Madson had inherited when he was signed as a free agent. That’s worked well. The blown save was a bump. He did record the save today.

Seems like the bullpen’s record of 4-4 is misleading when looking at other stats. Heading into today’s game, the ‘pen was sporting a 2.92 ERA, third best in the NL, and a BAA of .214, good enough for second in the NL. After today’s performance (2.2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 SO), those will drop to 2.81 and .210. Can’t say the ‘pen’s not doing their fair share.

Maybe the best kept secret (to some) might be Logan Ondrusek who was awarded the win in today’s game. With all the early season accolades being heaped on Chapman, Ondrusek is getting lost in the shuffle. He shouldn’t. In the 12 games in which he’s appeared (including today), Ondrusek has surrendered nary a run. Opponents are only hitting .158 against him and his WHIP is 0.909.

With word of Nick Masset expected to be out for around another month (maybe even longer), Ondrusek will become a key member among the relieving corps. He has earned the right to have such responsibility placed upon his shoulders.

The Cards dropped a 3-2 decision to the Brewers today. Three games out despite being a .500 team. We’ll cover that tomorrow…

Now… let’s sweep those Cubbies.


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Tags: Baseball Cincinnati Reds Logan Ondrusek MLB Reds Bullpen

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