With the bats finally coming alive, the Cincinnati Reds are back to their winning ways.
By no means was victory a foregone conclusion, but with the Reds pounding out 15 hits amidst the worst temperatures they’ll surely face all year, there is reason for optimism. Not to mention, former UCLA Bruin star Gerrit Cole was rushing his fastball up near 98 MPH for a solid portion of the contest.
On a day when all of baseball celebrated the life accomplishments of Mr. Jackie Robinson, the Reds defeated the Pirates 7-5, and it is without question that Robinson would have loved how this contest was played. It was hard-fought and rugged, coming down to the final batter of the contest, before Jonathan Broxton retired the reigning National League MVP to secure victory and send the home crowd off happy.
It has been no secret that the key to success for the Reds thus far has been their excellent starting pitching. After throwing a gem his last time out against the St. Louis Cardinals, Mike Leake returned home to face the Pirates, and turned in another stellar effort.
While Leake threw a “quality start,” meaning he pitched at least six innings and allowed three earned runs or less, it was his bat that made the difference. Striking out nine over 6.2 innings of work was not nearly as dramatic as the two-run blast he hit over the left-field out-of-town scoreboard to put the Reds ahead 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth.
During the course of a game, so many idiosyncrasies never make their way into the public eye. Just from breezing over a box score, or checking out highlights, these plays could never be properly quantified. The final five runs the Reds scored were a byproduct of a simple matter of inches. Had they not gone the Reds way (like seemingly everything hasn’t thus far in 2014), another loss would have been added to their total.
Even though Todd Frazier hit a two-run home run off Gerrit Cole earlier in the inning to put the Reds ahead 3-2, there was a feeling in the park that it would take more offense to get the job done. Zack Cozart, still mired in a dreadful slump, hit a sharp groundball directly to Pedro Alvarez for what appeared to be a textbook 5-4-3 double play; until it wasn’t. Busting it out of the box like his life depended on it, Cozart made second baseman Neil Walker rush his transfer throw and beat the throw, extending the inning. Hitting a paltry .100, Cozart very easily could have put his head down and accepted his fate, which a majority of other players in the league would have done. Coming up to the plate next? Mike Leake, who cranked a two-run home run.
A very similar scenario would play out just the next inning.
With the Reds ahead 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Roger Bernadina strode to the plate after an intentional walk to Todd Frazier. Facing Justin Wilson, who is as filthy as they come from the left side, no one would have blamed Bernadina for not sprinting out of the box when he hit a routine ground ball to the second baseman Walker. Hesitating for just a split second, Walker was unable to nab Bernadina on a close play, as he was flying down the line. The next batter was red-hot Devin Mesoraco, who dropped in a two-RBI single into left field to give the Reds some insurance runs. Low and behold, they were the game-winning runs after the Pirates tacked on an additional two.
Quirkiness reigned supreme in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. It never became an issue during the broadcast, and seemingly, no one on the field took any precaution to it, but in a strange series of events, Russell Martin drilled catcher Devin Mesoraco on his backswing for the third or fourth time on the series. (People don’t actually keep statistics on such things, so I’m estimating.) One may think no big deal. But, to understand the backstory the two clubs have over batters being plunked, it becomes a head scratcher. Martin is one of the game’s finer callers of a game, so he knows the finer elements of being a catcher that the common man may not grasp. All season long, I cannot remember a catcher on either the Reds or their opponents being hit by a backswing–not once. Yet, in two games, Martin, an astute defensive catcher, has hammered Mesoraco, who is on an absolute tear, on multiple occasions. To insinuate that Martin is doing anything maliciously would be over-stepping my boundaries, but it is certainly a thought to ponder. Catchers being smashed on a backswing in the wrist/arm area is not a common occurrence, even though Martin has made it appear as one.
Call it a coincidence, but in the game of baseball, it can be hard to believe in those. Since Joey Votto moved into the second spot in the order, the offense has been clicking on all cylinders. Going 4-for-4 with four singles and a walk, “Nibbles” would be proud of the way his owner is crushing everything in sight. Now, if only Billy Hamilton were contributing anything at all, the new age Big Red Machine would be churning at hyper speed.
Slamming the door ever so gently was Jonathan Broxton, as he allowed the Buccos to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Andrew McCutchen. Allowing a double to the eight-hole hitter Jordy Mercer and walking Jose Tabata, Broxton did not make it easy on himself. On an extended at-bat, he got McCutchen to pop it up into the night sky and like a snowflake, fall crisply into the glove of Brandon Phillips.
There are some demons that need avenging. Six and a half months ago, Johnny Cueto and Francisco Liriano pitched against one another, and no person worth their throwback Johnny Bench jersey, needs reminding who came out on top in that one. It’ll be an afternoon matinee at 12:35 P.M. when the Reds look to win their first series of the season and make the flight to Chicago the next day a joyous one.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds