Cuban Missile Returns in Cincinnati Reds Victory


Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Responding to Saturday night’s blowout loss, the Cincinnati Reds responded in resounded fashion, by neutralizing the Colorado Rockies’ bats, winning 4-1.
This narrative begins and ends with Homer Bailey.
Having signed a prolific $105 million deal in the off-season, fair or not, a large sum of pressure has been placed on the Texan’s shoulders.
On Mother’s Day, he responded—big time.
While it was no no-hitter, Bailey was every bit as masterful as he has been on the nights when he was untouchable. The only run he allowed came off the bat of Charlie Blackmon, whose beard has seemingly allowed him to reign in super powers to his lumber.
Noticeably different about Bailey this afternoon was his slight change in mechanics. Rather than the lift of the hands at the set to his chest, Bailey reverted to his ways of old, with a pronounced lifting of the glove over his head. Somewhere in the middle of how extreme it used to be, Bailey was supremely effective with it against the hottest hitting team in baseball. When he takes to the mound next Saturday in Philadelphia, it would not be a surprise to see it again.
It did not take long for Billy Hamilton to make an impact upon his reentrance to the starting lineup. Dropping down a bunt hit that rolled all of 25 feet, Hamilton forced Rockies’ first baseman Justin Morneau to rush his throw, chucking the ball down the right field line before the second baseman could even run over to cover the bag. In a flash, Hamilton was at third to lead off the game and the ball had barely moved.
After a manufactured run in the first off the bat of Skip Schumaker, the Reds had a similar chance in the third. Ramon Santiago singled to start the frame before being moved over by Bailey on a sacrifice bunt. After Juan Nicasio balked him over to third, Hamilton had a chance to drive in the run. Popping up to third, the onus fell on Schumaker. With two strikes and two outs, Skip laced a base hit to center to put the Reds ahead 2-0.
Not one for the small ball style, Todd Frazier decided to simplify things for the Reds offense in the fourth. With Bailey having allowed a run on a home run in the top half of the inning, Frazier returned the favor on a hanging slider that he sent onto the grass out beyond the centerfield wall. Not quite the same distance as his gargantuan blast from a few nights ago, but still, a 400’+ blast for the Reds leader in home runs and RBI.
Even with RBI his first two at-bats, Schumaker still failed to bring home another run in the fifth. With Brandon Phillips hitting a tapper to the premier defensive third baseman in the National League, the inning seemed destined to come to a close. Until…Arenado’s throw sailed. Had Phillips’ awareness been lacking, Morneau could have easily slapped the “wave” tag on him as he flew by, but seeing the lackadaisical throw, “Dat Dude” was able to slide head first around the tag and allow the runner from third to come home, adding a run to the Reds total.
With Bailey dealing at an exceptionally high level, that would be more than enough run support on Sunday afternoon.
Turning the ball over to Manny Parra midway through the eighth, the crafty left-hander got the Rockies two hottest hitters to end the frame in Blackmon and Corey Dickerson. From there, it was no longer Jonathan Broxton trotting in for the save, but rather, the Cuban Missile.
Rarely is a closer—a player on a roster who so often appears only in crucial moments—so beloved by a fan base. Even when he does have the occasional blown save or wild inning, it becomes difficult to find a bad word being said about Aroldis Chapman. Add to the equation a life-threatening injury while playing for the team, and you have created a folk hero.
102 MPH past Carlos Gonzalez. A snapping 89 MPH slider past Nolan Arenado. 101 MPH, elevated, past Justin Morneau. The antithesis of a productive Aroldis Chapman inning was this. As if he had not missed a beat (or surrendered eight runs down in the minors), Chapman tore through the Rockies order like a hurricane with reckless abandon. As Reds fans are used to seeing; the opposing team had no hope of a comeback.
Due to a quirky schedule, the Reds will once again get an off day on Monday. They will be staying in town for a three-game set with the San Diego Padres that will begin Tuesday night.
Getting underway at 7:10 p.m., the Reds send Mike Leake to the hill against the Padres ace, Andrew Cashner. Two contrasting styles on the mound will collide as the resourceful Leake matches up with the hard-throwing Cashner.
With the club finally beginning to return to full health, the time is as good as ever for the Reds to begin to take off.