On the day of the game that would mark the true endpoint of the first half, Homer Bailey carried the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
While Bailey was magnificent during his complete game shutout, the Reds as a unit came into San Francisco and swept a four-game series. The leaders of the National League West as play began on Thursday; they now sit deadlocked with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The win gave the Reds their fifth in a row, and the sixth out of their last seven played while on their current road trip.
For the front 6.2 innings, Homer Bailey was unhittable—literally. Having no-hit these very same Giants just a year ago, Bailey flirted with potential immortality in Reds lore.
Dabbling into irony, the only batter that had reached base was Gregor Blanco, via a walk. During Bailey’s last no-hitter, it was just a Blanco walk that separated him from complete perfection.
As if the lights were not already flashing that this might be Homer’s date with destiny, Reds Hall of Famer Jim Maloney joined the Fox Sports Ohio broadcast team during the telecast. With one of the three men to ever throw multiple no-hitters for the Reds on the microphone, and another on the hill, significant history seemed to be in the making.
All the ingredients had been placed in the bowl and stirred up, with Skip Schumaker making a phenomenal grab in the first, and another impressive one in the second. Bailey brought his rocket arm with him to the mound, topping out at 98 MPH. He was just seven outs away from becoming the first pitcher in Reds history to throw three no-hitters.
It is a moment stored deep in the back of Reds fans collective memories. Buster Posey smacking a Grand Slam off Mat Latos in Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series to knock the best Reds club in 22 years out of the Postseason still sits like vinegar on an open wound. Him singling carelessly into right field off Homer Bailey during a game in June may not carry the same amount of weight, but he played the role of villain once again.
There would be a grand total of three hits come the end of the afternoon (all of the single variety), but Bailey limited their damage. Striking out seven during his artistic performance, Bailey brought his best stuff to the ballpark on Sunday. For a season that has seen everything from copious amounts of criticism, to as much as a change in motion, Bailey finally put it all together to finish off the Giants.
Although, without the offense, there would be no win.
Much in the same way that Cincinnati waited to swing the bats in their final go-round on Saturday, they repeated the same process on Sunday. Tacking on three additional runs of insurance, the bats put the contest out of reach in the game’s final frame.
Not using the long ball, the Reds played a version of small ball by having runners move all over the bases via a balk, a wild pitch, and an error. Brandon Phillips would drive in a run with a sacrifice fly, Brayan Pena would lace an RBI single, followed by Skip Schumaker who would do the same.
Prior to the start of Sunday’s contest, Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced the removal of Sergio Romo from the closer’s role. One of his replacements was to be former Red Jeremy Affeldt, who would allow two of the ninth inning runners to score.
There was no need for the Redlegs to worry about closers once the additional runs were tacked on as Homer Bailey was locked in. Buster Posey stung a line drive to center field, but it settled in snuggly in the glove of Billy Hamilton who squeezed and slammed the door on the Giants’ first ever four-game sweep suffered at home.
At the season’s halfway mark, the Reds sit at 43-38. Finally, the roster is healthy and playing up to the potential it was believed to have entering this 2014 campaign. What lies on the road ahead is anybody’s guess, but over the past few weeks, the team has been exponentially more exciting to watch.
Getting underway on Monday evening will be the final road series the Reds will participate in prior to the All-Star Break. Staying on the West Coast, the club will make their only trip to San Diego.
Mat Latos toes the rubber at his old stomping grounds at 10:10 p.m. as he faces off with Padres rookie Jesse Hahn. Looking to keep the momentum rolling, the Reds hand the ball to the man with the most to prove.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds