Being a Chicago resident, I cherish the few times a year when I can walk down the street from my apartment and watch the Reds play real live baseball. This weekend was one of those times, and I went to both Saturday and Sunday’s game. Here’s what I saw.
Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier just keep producing
You probably already know this, but Ryan Ludwick is having an outstanding season. He is currently 5th in slugging percentage among NL outfielders with at least 300 plate appearances. In the 8th inning of Saturday’s game, with the Reds down a run, he came through with a monsterously clutch double, driving in what would be the deciding run. He then responded with a solo shot on Sunday. If anyone expected this out of him coming into the season, you’re a liar.
Here’s a neat one for ya: Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart are 1 and 2 among NL rookies in fWAR, and while Cozart gets it done with stellar D, Frazier seems to come through with a big hit almost every series. He’s provided stability in the middle of the order, which has been crucial during Joey Votto‘s absence and Jay Bruce‘s streakiness, and he’s got major league power. So far he’s been everything Reds fans hoped he could be coming into the season, and more.
Take that, Cubs fans
One of my biggest pet peeves as a Reds fan is going to GABP when the Cubs are in town. Honestly, it’s admirable that the Cubs have such a loyal, noisy following. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Well, walking around Saturday before the game, my buddy and I saw A LOT of Reds fans. We were excited, but reminded ourselves that this is typical, as you generally see opposing teams’ fans, and in this case we were going to take extra notice because our team was in town. It wasn’t until we got to the game that we noticed this time was different… red everywhere. Sitting in the bleachers, we had plenty of Cincinnati fans around to high five, and felt unencumbered when it came to getting up and cheering at the appropriate times.
The best, however, was the 8th and 9th innings, when the Reds strung together a couple of hits, came back to take the lead, and then here comes Aroldis Chapman struting in from the bullpen. Half the crowd down the first base line was standing as he took the mound. The stadium was rocking, and the Cuban Missile did not disappoint. This was hands down my greatest experience at Wrigley.
Back in the driver’s seat
After a five game losing streak, and losing the first game of the series to the lowly Cubs, you couldn’t blame Reds fans for getting a little worried. Three wins later, and you gotta be feeling good again. It’s easy to forget how many ups and downs accompany every baseball season. Yes, the Reds lost five in a row, but even after that streak they had won 22 of their last 30. They were 15-9 without Joey Votto.
But now there’s no need to talk yourself into feeling good about the Reds’ position. They currently stand five up on the Pirates, and seven up on the Cardinals. Yes, there’s still a month and a half left, and we only need to go back one year to remind ourselves what can happen in a month, but you gotta admit, right now it feels pretty good to be a Reds fan.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronjlehr