Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds Steal Their Way to Victory

For the second consecutive night, the Cincinnati Reds pitching led them to victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.  This time, by a final score of 5-2.

As you may have heard by now, “Speed Kills.”  It’s Billy Hamilton’s mantra, and it has become a rallying cry for a club that is looking to run opponents off the basepaths.  And really, why shouldn’t they?

Watching Alfredo “The Big Pasta” Simon carve up Pirates batter is an entertaining task, but not nearly as fun as the roadrunner games the Reds seem to be playing between one another.  Stealing four bases (not to mention Hamilton’s negated ninth inning steal), the club was able to mask the aspect of going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. 

In what has become a common theme, the Reds got on the board without a ball leaving the infield in the top of the second.  Roger Bernadina walked to lead off the inning, then after three consecutive pickoff attempts, swiped second on the tall and lanky Charlie Morton.  Catcher Chris Stewart’s throw sailed into centerfield, giving Bernadina third without as much as making contact.  Eventually, Ramon Santiago tapped him home with an infield groundout that got the job done.  Small ball at it’s finest.

The fifth inning was more of the same.  Plunking Devin Mesoraco and walking Santiago, Morton recorded his first out after Alfredo Simon’s sacrifice bunt to move both men up.  Finally getting the ball out of the infield, Hamilton lashed an RBI single into left field to tie the game at two. 

Wasting no time whatsoever, Hamilton took off for second, and with his speed serving as a great distractor, Stewart had to once again come up firing.  His throw bounced away down at second, allowing Santiago to mosey on home while Hamilton scooted to third.  A run-scoring fielder’s choice off the bat of Jay Bruce later (and a stolen base), and the Reds had scored three runs off one hit.  It was impossible to know at the time, but those runs sealed the deal.

The baserunning aggressiveness would not cease.  Bruce led off the eighth with an oddly awarded double, which was a byproduct of heady baserunning.  Moving over on a wild pitch and scoring on a–you guessed it–fielder’s choice, off the bat of Mesoraco, the club crossed their fifth run across the plate, acting as necessary insurance for what has been a shaky bullpen to say the least.

This completely new concept of running with “reckless abandon” is undeniably entertaining to watch.  When things go wrong, it’s easy to point the finger, but when they go right, this club shows off how dynamic they’re truly meant to be.  Not one member of the starting lineup (outside of maybe Ryan Ludwick, who is simply just not fleet of foot) seems to ever have a red light on them on the bases, as each member is moving at a breakneck pace.  Call it a Little League concept, but force the fielder’s to make a play.

The easiest way to lessen the role a bullpen has in the game?  Have fantastic starting pitching.  Which is exactly what the Reds had out of Alfredo Simon once again.

It speaks volumes about how brilliant Simon has been when tonight was clear and away his “worst” outing.  While he walked three consecutive batters in the first to allow a run to cross the plate, he ironed out any kinks from there, finishing the night with 6.2 innings under his belt, with just two runs crossing the plate.  His ERA sits at an impressive 1.30. 

In Simon’s case, he is pitching simply on borrowed time.  While I’m not convinced this Mat Latos “forearm tightness” is just going to disappear with no repercussions, Simon is not in the Reds long-term plan for the starting rotation.  He obviously has served as an extraordinary security blanket in a time of need, which brings up the question of where he will assist the club in the future.  Small-market teams discuss value all of the time and Simon’s value will never be higher than it is now.  Assuming a healthy return for Mat Latos, is swapping Simon for some prospects (a shortstop perhaps?) such an off base assumption?

At their peak, the Reds backend of the bullpen is as good as any team in baseballs.  The trio of Sean Marshall, Sam LeCure and Jonathan Broxton slammed the door efficiently, although it did not come without a stressor or two.

Jonathan Broxton is a large man.  This, you already know.  Therefore, it’s no wonder that he moves on the mound with the briskness of a prehistoric glacier.  Amidst incessant “BROX-TON” chants on Wednesday evening, he threw 22 pitches that seemed to drag on for days.  While he is still yet to allow a run on the season, the big fella certainly has kept each game he’s come into interesting. 

Worth noting was the spectacular grab that Todd Frazier made on Pedro Alvarez’s pop-up down the left field line in the bottom of the fifth.  Battling not only the tarp, but also having to compensate for the wind and the overreach of fan hands in order to snare the ball out of the sky, Frazier made a dandy of a play. 

With the Reds finally benefitting from the aggressiveness they bring to the field, a crucial game looms early on Thursday afternoon.  The elite clubs do not let an opportunity to win a series against a divisional club on the road slip by, especially with the Pirates sending minor leaguer Brandon Cumpton to the hill.  Cumpton defeated the Reds last season, but as he will surely discover, this group does not possess the same attitude. 

Tony Cingrani gets the ball for the Redlegs as they attempt to win their third consecutive series and move back to .500 for the year.  Getting underway at 12:35 p.m., the teams will once again be the recipient of some national media attention, as the game will be broadcast on the MLB Network.

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