Billy Hamilton‘s debut couldn’t have been scripted any better. The Reds defeated the Cardinals 1-0 on Tuesday night with Hamilton scoring the lone run in the ballgame.
Hamilton entered the game in the bottom of the 7th as a pinch-runner for Ryan Ludwick. The Cardinals picked off three times but couldn’t stop Hamilton from taking off for second with Todd Frazier at-bat. It was an elite matchup with Hamilton running on Yadier Molina, arguably the best arm behind the dish in baseball. Hamilton slid in safe under a high throw from Molina to second baseman Kolton Wong.
With Hamilton on second, Frazier failed on two bunt attempts. All was forgiven, however, after he then laced a double into left field, which easily scored the speedster Hamilton and broke the scoreless tie. Hamilton’s run ended up being the deciding factor as the Reds inched within 1.5 games of the Cardinals for the top wildcard spot.
The other storyline of the night was the Reds pitching staff, led by Homer Bailey. Bailey was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 7th inning and finished the night with 7 innings pitched, 2 hits allowed and 8 strikeouts. In his last two starts against St. Louis, Bailey has posted no runs, 7 hits, 3 walks and 15 strikeouts in 14.1 innings.
Reliever Manny Parra then shut down the Cardinals in the 8th before giving way to closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman, who hadn’t seen game action since Aug. 24 in Milwaukee, looked incredible after his 9 day hiatus from the mound. Chapman struck out the side in the 9th, mixing his slider and fastball magnificently to keep the heart of the Cardinals order off balance. Chapman’s fastball sat in the triple digits and his slider was devastatingly hard and late breaking tonight.