The Cincinnati Reds don’t look a day over 60. That may be because they finally reached the golden win mark on a sunny Sunday afternoon with a 7-2 victory over the Miami Marlins.
Had Brayan Pena’s hamstring not tightened up the other night after a base hit into centerfield, the Reds may not have won this contest. By Pena becoming unavailable, it “forced” Johnny Cueto to team up with Devin Mesoraco, the club’s most potent offensive weapon.
Mesoraco would serve as Cueto’s one-man wrecking crew, both behind the plate and with the stick. Cranking a two-run blast in the bottom of the first to answer Giancarlo Stanton’s solo shot, Mesoraco ensured Cueto would not be trailing for long. His Grand Slam in the bottom of the fifth blew the game wide open, C-4 style.
It seems the narrative stays the same whenever Cueto takes to the mound, but he was once again stellar. Going eight innings of five-hit, two-walk, nine strikeout baseball, Cueto would also tie himself for the league lead in wins with 14.
The only two runs surrendered by the Johnny Beisbol phenomenon would come via the long ball. Thankfully, for Cueto and the Reds, they were both of the solo variety. Then again, that should not come as news. Fourteen of the 15 home runs Cueto has allowed in 2014 have been shots resulting in only one run. While Stanton’s league-leading 29th blast was expected, Casey McGehee’s third of the year was quite the opposite.
For all intents and purposes, there should have been a third home run allowed by Cueto. To lead off the eighth inning, Stanton hit a towering drive to right field that looked like it would be chalked up as a “Great American home run,” a.k.a. a home run that barely scrapes over the short right field wall. Perhaps channeling the inner power of his Ken Griffey Jr. cleats, Jay Bruce went all Griffey Junior on the wall and the catch, timing his leap perfectly and robbing Stanton of his 30th home run of the season. With Cueto standing on the mound with his hands raised in a perfect touchdown design, he was thrilled Bruce ran the right route.
There were only seven hits collected throughout the afternoon from the Reds, none of which came from Kristopher Negron. With Billy Hamilton getting a rare day off to rest, Negron was slotted into the leadoff spot while manning second base. Going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a team-high four men left on base, Negron saw his average tumble all the way down to .241.
If it were not for the collective usage of patience to wait out Brad Hand, the five-run fifth inning the Reds produced may have never occurred. Drawing a walk with two outs and a base open, Jay Bruce left things in the hands of Todd Frazier. After a patient at-bat in which Frazier forced Hand to come into the zone, the first baseman would jog down the line with an RBI walk. From there, Devin Mesoraco took care of the heavy lifting with his third Grand Slam of the year that landed in the hands of a thrilled Redlegs supporter.
Of course, the only thing better than a Reds win, is a Reds win with some free pizza. With a chance to win back some fan support in what has been a dismal year for J.J. Hoover, the bearded reliever would punch out the final two batters to send a crowd of more than 36,000 into a tizzy after getting the game’s 11th strikeout on the last batter.
Now to receive a day off, the club can gather itself before a strenuous month of August resumes.
While the Boston Red Sox may not boast much of the same firepower and electric pitching arms that carried them to their championship last October, they are still quite the formidable opponent. The man taking the hill for them on Tuesday will be no stranger to the Reds, as he has been groomed and raised by the St. Louis Cardinals. His horn-rimmed glasses have gone from Missouri to Massachusetts, yet Joe Kelly will take the mound against Mat Latos at 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday evening.
This will be only the second regular season meeting between the two in Cincinnati. The last came back in 2008.