In the wake of near tragedy, the Cincinnati Reds dominated the Philadelphia Phillies en route to a 3-0 victory on Friday night in the series opener.
After the heart-stopping news of Joey Votto’s potential injury on Friday morning, the worst was assumed. In the span on 12 hours, the news cycle generated everything from season-ending surgery, to a hangnail, with the result falling somewhere in between—a quad contusion.
While this is 2014, and not 2012, the Reds offense will need to continue to perform in Votto’s absence, much in the way they did when he went down two seasons ago.
Out went Votto and in came Devin Mesoraco. The hottest hitter on planet earth continued his video game-like start to the season, blasting a three-run home run off Kyle Kendrick in the first inning to stake the Reds to a 3-0 lead. Difficult to predict at the time, but those would be the only three runs to cross the plate for either team.
For now the fourth time in the last five games, Billy Hamilton has scored from his first at-bat. Singling to lead off the game, Hamilton would have swiped second, but Skip Schumaker had already dumped a single into left field, setting up the new-look middle of the Reds order, sans Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
While Brandon Phillips made a productive out moving Hamilton over, Todd Frazier’s infield pop-up did not do much to help matters, leaving it up to Mesoraco. Adding to his already gaudy numbers this season, Mesoraco cranked a cut-fastball into the flower garden just above the left field fence.
The next 15 batters would all make outs at the mercy of Kyle Kendrick, before Phillips’ infield single broke the streak. Had Mesoraco not taken Kendrick deep in the first, the game may still be in progress.
As dominant as Kendrick was for the Phillies, Alfredo Simon was everything to be desired—and then some. Going 7.2 scintillating innings, the “Big Pasta” regained his form from the onset of the season, consistently humming the ball in the 93-95 MPH range with great movement on his breaking pitches. The first five innings saw Simon strike out eight batters, highlighting that it was his night to shine when the Reds badly needed a victory.
Simon was going so well in fact, that he even resorted to changing his arm angle on multiple occasions. Much like former teammate Bronson Arroyo used to do, Simon was throwing his entire arsenal from a pronounced three-quarters delivery at times. Not only was his typical pitching motion difficult to pick up on, but his alternative ones as well.
Having some fun in the bottom of the ninth, Aroldis Chapman allowed the tying-run to reach the batters box before blowing away Cesar Hernandez to etch the Reds 3-0 win in stone. Another two-strikeout performance from the Cuban Missile earned him his second save of the season, while being consistently clocked at over 100 MPH.
Getting the start at first base tonight was Brayan Pena, the team’s designated back-up catcher. While there were no plays of extremely strenuous nature, Pena held his own over at his corner infield spot, making all plays that came his way. Whether he is the short-term fix the front office has decided on, is still to be determined.
Friday may have been just another win for the Reds in the scheme of the schedule, but with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee lurking the remainder of the weekend, focusing on winning just one of the remaining two games proves itself enough of a challenge.
Hamels will get the ball at 7:05 p.m. tomorrow as the Reds hope that Homer Bailey can continue his dominant ways, after he neutralized the hot-hitting Colorado Rockies last Sunday.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds