Nearly five hours from the first pitch, the Cincinnati Reds guaranteed themselves a series win over the Pittsburgh Pirates by picking up an 11-4 victory.
Following the third inning, the result of the game was never really in doubt. Rather, it was simply going to be by how much, and could the game end in time before the rain hit?
The Pittsburgh area was leveled with two storms on Wednesday night: one was the Reds offense, which absolutely abused their old buddy Edinson Volquez, en route to eight runs while he only recorded seven outs. Then just past the seventh inning stretch, there was the seventh inning gusts of wind, and then the seventh inning rain delay.
In his career, Volquez had managed to always slip through the Reds grasp, allowing them to remain unfulfilled over extracting revenge. In the matter of just a single evening, they exorcised demons of lost potential, and then some.
Sandwiched in between two single run innings, the Reds scored seven in the third—the most they have scored in a single inning all season.
Billy Hamilton led off the inning with a fly out to left, and from there, the next nine men would reach base. Every member of the lineup, sans Hamilton and starter Alfredo Simon, scored in the inning. Although he did not score a run, Hamilton put an exclamation mark on the frame by ripping a two-run single.
Starting in place of the red-hot Ryan Ludwick in left field, seeing Skip Schumaker’s name penciled into the lineup at the beginning of the night may have been a head scratcher. In his first three plate appearances, he would drive in a run, finishing the night 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Nothing to scratch your head about there.
Every single member of the Reds lineup would collect at least one hit on the evening, with Billy Hamilton, Brandon Phillips, Schumaker, and Zack Cozart all having multi-hit affairs. Even J.J. Hoover, who made his first Major League plate appearance in the ninth, drew a walk and scored a run.
As much as the offensive explosion will be the lasting image from Wednesday night’s affair with the Pirates, the real story comes from the hill.
Winning his league-leading 10th game of the season, Alfredo Simon becomes the first National League pitcher to reach double-digit wins in 2014. For a long reliever that was not expected to make more than a start or two before being relegated back to the bullpen, how this entire situation has transpired has been fascinating.
Not only did Simon get the win tonight, but he also pitched a brilliant ballgame. Rearing back and hitting as high as 96 MPH on the radar gun, Simon avoided the big inning and did not allow Pittsburgh back into the contest.
The run that would cross the plate in the fifth on Gregory Polanco’s RBI single was overturned due to instant replay after what was an extraordinary throw from Hamilton that seemingly nabbed the runner at the plate.
A bit of loss of concentration would cost Simon later on in the contest as two more runs would sneak across for the Pirates—not tremendously affecting the outcome of the game, but putting a dent into the ERA Simon has worked so tirelessly to keep as low as possible.
Things got wacky quickly, as the game entered the ninth inning all but out of reach for Pittsburgh. They turned to muscular outfielder Travis Snider to pitch the inning, rather than sacrifice another bullpen arm.
Snider would walk two in the inning, and both would come around to score on RBIs from Hamilton and Todd Frazier. Although, the final out he would record came via the strikeout and it came against the great Joey Votto. Why Votto was still in the game with an eight-run lead in the ninth inning remains a mystery, but going down swinging to an outfielder to end the night puts a sour taste in the mouth of Votto—regardless of the club victory.
With the win on Wednesday, the club has finally climbed back to the .500 mark for the first time in 48 games.
They turn the ball over to Homer Bailey, who has had a tremendous amount of success inside of PNC Park, which is where he threw his first career no-hitter. The Pirates counter with Jeff Locke, who while being an All-Star last season, has lacked the consistency to so much as stay in the big leagues since.
Having not swept a series all season long, the Reds take to the field at 12:35 p.m. Thursday afternoon looking for exactly that.