In the opening game of the biggest series to date, the Cincinnati Reds battled back to pick up a 6-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday the 13th.
From the onset, it was as if the Reds were in control from the get-go. Attempting to pick the pocket of a napping Matt Garza, Todd Frazier attempted a steal of second base before the throw went down into the ground and rolled into centerfield. With Brandon Phillips still at the plate, he picked up his first RBI of the night when he laced a line drive base hit to right field, giving the Reds an early 1-0 advantage.
Bailed out early on by some advantageous defensive alignment, Homer Bailey settled in over the front three innings. He would retire 10 batters in a row before the walk to Carlos Gomez that would bust the fourth inning open.
A seemingly innoxious walk to Gomez suddenly turned into the tying-run after Aramis Ramirez drilled a fastball into the left centerfield gap, plating the speedy Gomez and knotting the score up at one. Two more walks would happen in the inning before Bailey shook off the cobwebs and got back to usual form.
Not aided by the home run ball, the Reds strung together a stretch of run-scoring hits in the fifth that would seemingly put them in front for good. The catalyst in this scenario was none other than Matt Garza, who as Dave Cameron of Fangraphs.com puts it, “No one in baseball is worse at anything than Matt Garza is at throwing to first.”
Looking as if something out of a glitched video game, Garza’s throw went so awry so quickly, it was if the ball was attached to a paddleboard that someone in the crowd violently yanked back. Regardless of how the ball reached the stands—it did, and the Reds took advantage.
The meat of the Reds order drove in three consecutive runs as Todd Frazier and Joey Votto had run-scoring hits, before Brandon Phillips dialed up a sacrifice fly to give him his second RBI of the evening. Just as icing on the cupcake, the Brewers decided to add a fourth error to their horrendous night defensively, allowing Votto to come around and score what would ultimately prove to be a decisive run.
Much like how things came apart quickly for Bailey in the fourth, his wraps came flying off in the seventh like an uncovered mummy.
Khris Davis’ leadoff home run served as a tone-setter for the Brewers, whose bats would come to life with extraordinary fervor after the seventh-inning stretch. Ahead of the meat of the Milwaukee order approaching, Sam LeCure was brought on to preserve the lead.
LeCure was just a batter away from escaping with the lead intact twice, but both times, Brewers batters reached and drove in a run. Jonathan Lucroy’s infield tapper was unavoidable, but Carlos Gomez smoked a ball down the line to knot the game at five.
Of all people, Logan Ondrusek put out the fire by getting Aramis Ramirez to bounce out to short to end the frame.
Before the game, Billy Hamilton spoke about how he was certainly not a fan of the entire aura surrounding “Friday the 13th.” Ahead of the ninth inning, it showed, as he was 0-for-4 on the night.
Manager Bryan Price rewarded Hamilton with faith in his ability as they bunted Zack Cozart to second for him. Lining an inside fastball from the untouchable Francisco Rodriguez into right field, Hamilton would put the Reds back ahead for good at 6-5, exercising those skittish demons.
The trio of pinch-hitter Jean Segura, Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy would make most mortals shiver in fear, and doubt their ability to save a ballgame. Then again, it is yet to be proven that Aroldis Chapman is indeed mortal.
Blowing away Segura, and then getting Braun to ground out, Chapman had a minor battle with Lucroy before he dropped an unfathomably devastating slider that set down the Brewers best hitter and cinched a win for the Redlegs.
It was a night of seesaw action with the Reds clinging on to their one-run lead for dear life. At the end of the night, they got the derisive first game of the series and are now just a game away from at least a series victory.
Saturday night has been the day Mat Latos has been waiting for. The Reds “other” ace makes his 2014 debut, and there is no room for hiccups. On national television, Latos not only gets a piece of the division-leading Brewers, but he squares up with Yovani Gallardo, the team’s ace for seemingly the past decade.
Around 7 p.m. on the national FOX network, two power pitchers will collide with the Reds looking to guarantee themselves a series victory.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds