Much like the Pirates rebounded last night in front of their home crowd, the Reds silenced any doubts that the offense would be unable to answer the bell. Eleven runs and 16 hits later, the Reds have yet again forced a tie with Pittsburgh with just six games remaining.
After Billy Hamilton grounded out to begin the game, the middle of the Reds order ran off five consecutive batters reaching base, highlighted by Jay Bruce’s bases clearing double and Todd Frazier’s two-run shot into deep left-center field. For a guy that had dominated the Reds in his first two starts this season, the Redlegs chased Jeff Locke from the game after just one, hard-hit frame.
This situation may have stirred up some déjà vu in the minds of Reds fans who can harken back to the beginning of the summer, on June 2nd, where the club jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first and was shut down from there on out and lost in 11, 5-4. Rather than quieting the bats and relying on the right arm of Bronson Arroyo, the offense was back at it in the second, pushing across two more runs to move ahead 7-0.
Battling flu-like symptoms, the Reds crafty right-hander fought for his effective stuff in Pittsburgh this afternoon, having extended at-bat after extended at-bat. Arroyo only lasted five innings, giving up three runs, yet neutralizing the Bucs when they threatened. It was not by definition, a “quality start,” although Arroyo did more than his fair share to keep his team in the game. The combination of Alfredo Simon, Manny Parra and Logan Ondrusek was outstanding once again, allowing only one walk over their combined four innings of work to close down the Pirates.
In the top of the 6th inning, with the Reds ahead 7-3 and with first base open, Pirates middle reliever Stolmy Pimentel attempted to seize his claim to fame and chucked a fastball behind Brandon Phillips, obviously missing its intent of drilling him. Phillips, along with many Reds fans at home, looked around with a look of bewilderment at the fact that the Pirates had felt it necessary to retaliate over a hit batsman from a few nights ago that was unquestionably unintentional. Both benches were warned as Dusty Baker had a few choice words for Clint Hurdle in the Pirate dugout. Sadly, it does not seem that this rivalry of hit batters is done between the two.
With Shin-Soo Choo out of the lineup for the second consecutive day due to his jammed thumb, Billy Hamilton got his second Major League start; this one from the leadoff spot. To say that the future is bright for this young man may be a bit of an understatement. Billy had three hits on the day, two stolen bases, plus forced an error out of shortstop Clint Barmes, who rushed a throw with Hamilton scooting down the first base line. While he may not get a start during the Postseason, there is no question that Hamilton and his 12 steals without being caught, will be a game changing factor come October.
The Cardinals have the Sunday Night game this evening, so Reds fans all around the country are going to be cheering for the Brew Crew. After accomplishing their mission of winning two out of three in Pittsburgh, the Reds can consider this a successful series. With six games remaining for both, with three to play between one another, the Reds and Pirates are deadlocked at 89 wins a piece.
Tomorrow night back on the home front, the Reds will welcome an old friend in the form of Aaron Harang, who will take the bump for the New York Mets opposing Johnny Cueto. Manager Dusty Baker has announced that Cueto will not be on a pitch count of any kind Monday night at 7:10 ET when David Wright leads his Mets into Great American Ball Park. With the division still not a mathematical impossibility, each game has immense significance as only six remain.