Turnabout is fair play. After watching bloopers and bleeders fall in all around the diamond on Friday night, the Reds got a measure of revenge.
Thankfully for the Reds, the Brewers hitting barrage was kept brief and constricted to one inning. Homer Bailey, battling all night, missed a few spots in the 4th inning, conceding three runs to the heart of the Milwaukee order.
Meanwhile, there was nothing cheap about the big hits the Reds got this afternoon as both Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto hit towering 2-run homeruns, with Votto’s still maybe trying to land. In a game where the Reds needed significant offensive contribution, the two most consistent hitters all season long delivered with 3 RBI’s a piece and carried the Redlegs to victory.
In the top of the 8th inning with the Reds already ahead 6-3, Dusty summoned his “not-so-secret-weapon” of Billy Hamilton off the bench. Almost on cue, Hamilton took off on the second pitch of the at-bat and added Martin Maldonado to the list of catchers with potent arms to be unable to neutralize the young speedster. The Reds played fundamental baseball from there with a bunt to move him to third, then a sacrifice fly to bring him in. It wasn’t the only time the Reds pulled it off today as a similar occurrence unfolded in the first, with the Reds yet again capitalizing.
While it may have been Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo that did the mashing on the day, without the effort of Homer Bailey, it may have been in vein. Facing a team that he historically does not have outstanding numbers against, Bailey found a way to throw a quality start, despite not having his location up to his usual expectations. Homer missed badly with two fastballs in back-to-back at-bats of Khris Davis and Carlos Gomez that produced run-scoring hits but preceding that, Homer ramped up the intensity and finished the night with a very strong seven innings pitched, striking out three and inducing a crucial double play to end the 6th.
Yet again in pressure situations, waves got a little bit choppy aboard the Reds ship as the 9th inning seemed to begin dreadfully with Joey Votto attempting to make a heads-up move towards third, only to embarrassingly stumble into a double play. Luckily for both Joey and the Reds, catcher’s interference was called and allowed the Reds to look to play add-on heading into the bottom of the frame. After a dunk hit into right from Todd Frazier, Joey Votto once again looked painfully lost on the basepaths as he quite literally walked into an out at home this time with what seemed to be some miscommunication. At the end of the day, it was no harm, no foul; but these are aspects of the game that certainly need some fine tuning over the next two weeks.
The game was polished off on the back of the “Cuban Missile,” Aroldis Chapman, as he fanned four of the six batters he faced, while walking the other two. Chapman’s nearly 30 pitch effort sticks out in the fact that there was not one slider mixed in amongst the 100+ MPH smoke that was billowing out of his left arm. It seems that the most volatile weapon in all of baseball is beginning to find his groove at just about the right time.
After forcing the rubber game tomorrow, the Reds got to sit back and watch as the Cardinals were stymied by southpaw phenom James Paxton of Seattle. Unfortunately, the Buccos were able to rebound and defeat the Cubbies with Mark Melancon slamming the door and yet again, forcing a tie atop the division with the Reds on the outside looking in at two and a half games back of each of their foes. In the rear view mirror, the Nationals finally lost a game, this time at home to the Phillies and have now slipped to five and a half back of the Reds with just two weeks remaining.
Bronson Arroyo takes the hill in the rubber match against Yovani Gallardo, who has certainly been a mixed bag against the Redlegs this season. With not many games to make up ground left if they want to avoid the one-game playoff, nearly every game is important and this one should be no different as it gets underway at 2:10 ET Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee.