In what can be easily classified as the runaway winner for the most bizarre game of the 2014 season, the Cincinnati Reds clobbered the Cleveland Indians 9-2 on the back of offensive output, replays and bullpen baseballs gone astray.
Just a night after being victimized by Corey Kluber and his nearly unhittable array of pitches, the Redlegs bats came back to life. This may have been due to the media chastising that went on from manager Bryan Price, but it may also have had something to do with the club’s aggressive approach against an extremely aggressive pitcher.
To begin the quirkiness, the Redlegs got on the board in the first inning after a nonchalant relay throw was dropped and trickled away. Ryan Ludwick had ripped a double into the left field corner, forcing Todd Frazier to stop at third base while the ball was retrieved and eventually thrown in. As a formality, the ball was flipped over to third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall who had the ball glance off his glove and go into foul ground—just far enough for Frazier to make a mad dash for home. Sliding around a tag, Frazier would nip the corner of the plate to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead in strange fashion.
Johnny Cueto may have given the run right back in the bottom of the first, but he lived up to the “Johnny Beisbol” moniker on Tuesday night. It would be nine innings of dreadlocks and cutters for Tribe batters, who would push two runs across, but not nearly enough to combat the suddenly ferocious Reds bats.
A candidate for oddest moment of the night sides with ninth-place hitting reserve Ramon Santiago running into a first-pitch fastball for a three-run home run in the top of the second. With it having been nearly 12 calendar months since Santiago connected with his last shot, his calm demeanor as he circled the basepaths was bewildering, but not as stunning as the majestic blast in the first place.
Also up for contention as the lead baffling moment of the night, was Chris Heisey’s swiping of home on Brayan Pena’s attempted “steal.” The old high school play where the runner at first darts for second and the runner at third comes home worked to perfection as Heisey dashed across the plate to put the Reds up 6-1 just as the second baseman would even receive the throw.
It has taken quite some time, but it seems that Jay Bruce may not be too far off of reverting to his ways of old. An RBI infield single extenuated another three-hit night in the fourth inning that “beat” the shift by dying before either middle infielder could reach it. Then, in the top of the ninth, Bruce connected with his 11th home run of the year to the power alley in right centerfield. Rejuvenated by the batting order switch, Bruce’s contributions down the stretch will prove vital.
Another member of the multi-hit club was Kristopher Negron (which consisted of Bruce, Negron, Brayan Pena, Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cozart). His two-run triple in the top of the ninth put the icing on what was an already delicious cake of victory, even if a run was taken away from him due to replay.
As downright stunning as a nine-run, 15-hit night was, the winner of “Did I Just See That?” for the night has to go to the bottom of the seventh when a ball thrown beyond the right field wall in the Reds’ bullpen snuck through fence, chain and other assorted items to find its way onto the field. Unfortunately, for the Indians, it was during a relay throw in which Jay Bruce fired the ball back into the infield in the proximity of the ball. Baserunner David Murphy looked painfully confused, until he was eventually picked off third base, even though a white sphere had settled comfortably into shallow centerfield.
Just 24 hours after putting the boots to his club publicly, Bryan Price’s Redlegs answered the challenge and picked up their first win in northern Ohio in four years. Now, the two clubs travel south to Cincinnati for another mini two-game set.
At 7:10 p.m. on Wednesday night, Mat Latos will get the ball for the Reds against Danny Salazar of the Tribe. In order for either team to win the 2014 version of the Ohio Cup outright, they will need to take both of the next two games.