There has been no need to alert the command center thus far in Houston as the Reds have had no problem whatsoever with the lowly Astros.
It was a complete team victory from top to bottom for the Redlegs on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park in front of a relatively small crowd. The few in attendance got to witness the Reds jump out to an early 4-0 lead in the first inning against young 22-year-old right hander, Jordan Lyles. Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier had RBI singles to begin the frame and were capped off by Zack Cozart, who had another huge night offensively, driving in three tonight, to make for seven in this series, and eight in his last three games played.
With the Reds looking for the knockout blow in the top of the 4th inning already ahead 5-0, Jay Bruce stepped to the plate with the bases loaded facing a laboring Jordan Lyles who had already walked both Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto in the inning. Having worked over Lyles for an extended at-bat in the first definitely played into Jay’s favor as Lyles came low, but over the center of the plate, with a 2-2 offering that Bruce annihilated as he went the opposite way for a massive grand slam that blew the game wide open.
The grand slam Bruce delivered tonight was special for many more reasons than the fact that he drove in five and led his team to victory; but his 5th inning smash was also his 30th of the season and his 100th RBI of the 2013 campaign. For a player that has been so brilliantly consistent, it’s great to see Jay get to the 100 RBI mark and not only that, but move into 3rd place in the entire league.
Building off the efforts of his teammate from last night, Mike Leake was certainly not to be forgotten on this night as he made it look awfully easy to neutralize the Astro bats. Leake went eight innings of shutout ball and would have almost unquestionably finished the game had it not been for the necessity of getting Sean Marshall some work.
Where Leake goes from here is certainly going to be interesting, and maybe the most hotly debated topic surrounding the Reds going into the postseason. His last three times out on the mound have been absolutely sensational and while you can never predict, he will face the Mets in his final start of the regular season next Tuesday and they are certainly not knocking the cover off the ball. Leake may be the hottest pitcher for the Redlegs at the moment but that may not equate to being the best option if they reach the NLDS.
Sean Marshall also made his grand return in relief of Mike Leake tonight, as the left-hander threw a perfect, scoreless frame, including two consecutive strikeouts looking before getting a flyout to Chris Heisey to end the ballgame. If Marshall is anywhere near 100% heading into the Postseason, it will be a major factor, as Marshall is not only tough to hit as a left-handed batter, but he has also proven an adeptness at neutralizing righties as well.
Not to go un-mentioned is the comedic moment that happened in the bottom of the first inning between Jonathan Villar and Brandon Phillips. After slashing a single to left-center field and leading off the inning with a base knock, Villar inexplicably darted towards second where Shin-Soo Choo came up throwing and beat Villar to the bag by a good stride or two. Nearly equally inexplicable was Brandon Phillips’ decision to not turn around and apply a tag to Villar, but rather stick his glove between his legs and hope that the Astros shortstop slid into it; which he did. Unfortunately for both men involved, Villar slid into the glove and carried on through into the backside of the Twitter phenomenon, DatDudeBP. The moment certainly provided a chuckle as the Astros season was virtually summed up in the matter of one defining play.
Looking up around the division showed that Pittsburgh stumbled yet again at home against San Diego, losing 5-2, with Jeff Locke continuing his titanic freefall. The Cardinals seemed to have not been happy with letting one slip away last night in Denver as they unleashed on the Rockies, jumping out to an early 8-0 lead through three making a statement that they are certainly in control of their fate in the National League Central. So, that leaves the Reds two and a half games back of the ultimate prize, the division crown, and just a game and a half back of the Buccos, who they will play this weekend in a monumental clash in the Steel City.
The Reds look to finish off the business trip to Houston tomorrow night as Greg Reynolds gets the ball at 8:10 ET for the Reds. Opposing him will be Brad Peacock of the Astros, who, like most of his teammates, possesses an ERA on the wrong side of 4. This will also be the Reds final game played in Houston for the foreseeable future due to the new schedule modifications, so it would be awfully nice to leave Houston on the usual note, and that it with a Reds victory.