We’ll begin our countdown of the best Reds performances for 2012. We’ll denote a position player and starting pitcher that performed well within a single game. Sure, there’s some objectivity attached to each of these games. Some of you may have another game or two that you feel is deserving of mention. If you feel so inclined, leave yours within the comments.
No love for the relievers, you ask? Well, we know that closers attract a lot of attention. We’ll see if we can sneak a reliever’s performance in as well.
Position Player: Drew Stubbs, 7/25 @ Houston
This game started out quietly. After seven innings, the Good Guys held a slim 1-0 lead. The only run plated up to that point came in the top of the third when the man of the game, Drew Stubbs, hit a double off Astros starter Bud Norris to score Devin Mesoraco.
The Reds would follow with a run in the top of the eighth off Fernando Rodriguez. Scott Rolen would go the opposite way to score Stubbs and provide the Reds with a 2-0 lead. It wouldn’t be enough. When the Astros cam to the plate in the bottom of the inning, they were greeted by Logan Ondrusek…and the shenanigans would commence.
Ondrusek was rudely welcomed into the game by Jose Altuve who started the Astros inning with a double. After a Jason Maxwell flyout (with Altuve advancing to third), Ondrusek got Chris Johnson to lineout to Rolen. Runner on third and two outs. No problem, right? Hardly.
Scott Moore took a 1-1 Ondrusek offering and doubled to score Altuve. Still a 2-1 lead. There were two outs, so no biggie.
Not so fast. J.D. Martinez, who was a bit of a thorn in the side for the Reds in 2012 (11-for-33 with 5 RBI), sent an Ondrusek pitch into the left field corner. Moore would score, but the throw to second base was off and as Martinez was advancing to third, another errant throw would allow Martinez to score as well. Astros 3, Reds 2 after 8 innings.
But fear not, Reds fans. The Astros sent former Red Francisco Cordero to the mound to close out the game.
Pinch-hitter Xavier Paul would start the winning rally as he would double. Another pinch-hitter, Chris Heisey, would strike out. Brandon Phillips would coax a walk from Cordero (have we Reds fans seen that before?), but Coco would bounce back to retire Zack Cozart by way of a whiff.
That would bring Stubbs to the plate. Two on, two outs, top of the ninth against his former teammate…
Jay Bruce would follow with a single to score Stubby and the Reds would take the lead for good in securing a 5-3 win in Houston.
Stubbs would finish this game with a pair of doubles, scored two runs and drove in three of the five the Redlegs plated. Oh, and I know some of you are wondering…he only struck out once.
Starting Pitcher: Homer Bailey, 9/1 @ Houston
It’s not the game you think…
The game we just covered, Bailey started that one in Houston and he appears as the 5th best starting performance of 2012…in Houston.
And Homer would start the game in a groove. Over the first three innings, all Homer allowed was a single to Fernando Martinez in the second. The fourth inning would be the only inning where Bailey allowed a run…on a Jason Maxwell homer. That would tie the game at 1-1. He wouldn’t face more than three batters in any inning after until the eighth when the Astros threatened.
Scott Moore let off the Houston 8th with a single. After a Jose Altuve flyout, Bailey walked Jason Castro giving the Astros with runners on 1st and 2nd with only one out. In the past, we may have seen Bailey cave under this type of situation. This was not one of those as Homer would then strikeout Jimmy Paredes and coax a flyout from Tyler Greene.
The down side was that the Reds would lose this game, 2-1. In the top of the 8th, Brandon Phillips was ejected for arguing a strike call. He was replaced by Wilson Valdez. The rest, well, you know…
I know, hard to fathom a great pitching performance would come in a loss, but Bailey may have been gearing up for what was to unfold later in September. For the game, Bailey hurled eight strong innings allowing only the one run and surrendering only three hits.
Another note about this game is that is one of the minute hiccups Sean Marshall would have during the last two months of the season…and it wasn’t completely on him either.
Relief outing: J.J. Hoover, 9/10 v. Pittsburgh
It was a 14 inning affair, the longest game of the 2012 season as far as innings in a game. There were a couple of nice relief performances from this game. We’ll visit one later.
Hoover entered the game in the top of the 12th. He was scheduled to face Andrew McCutchen, Chase d’Arnaud and Pedro Alvarez. Cutch put a charge into a Hoover offering, but Jay Bruce managed to haul it into his glove. d’Arnaud would get under a Hoover offering, but once, again, an out. Alvarez was the victim of a strikeout.
In the 13th, Hoover would retire Jose Tabata and Gaby Sanchez before walking Michael McKenry. That left Starling Marte as the potential Pirate hero. Sure it would. All Hoover did was strike our the budding Bucs star on three straight pitches…on pitches of 92.1, 91.7 and 92.3 MPH.
Hoover would toss two full innings in this affair allowing only that walk to McKenry to go along with two strikeouts.
As far as the outcome of this game? I will reveal that in a couple of days as we will return this nail-biter.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a couple days later, Hoover would record his first MLB save against these same Pirates.