Ninth Inning Blast Snags the Cincinnati Reds a Win


Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

If Tuesday night’s 6-5 Cincinnati Reds victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates were an action movie, the endearing terms of “heart-stopping,” “edge of your seat” and “a can’t miss” would be the appropriate ways to describe what happened within the walls of PNC Park.

In the most metaphorical sense possible, Reds fans have indeed seen this movie before. With a late lead, the team turned the game over to its middle relief, just to watch the slight margin they once had evaporate before their eyes.

Playing the role of hero on Tuesday was Todd Frazier. His titanic blast in the top of the ninth inning felt better than Batman dispatching of the Joker, or Spider-Man neutralizing the Green Goblin, ever could.

Like any quality film, there had to be an intriguing subplot. Amidst the ceaseless “CUE-TO, CUE-TO” chants once again, Johnny Cueto and his inextricable link to the home of the Pirates certainly played a role. Showcasing just how brilliant he has been all season, Cueto allowed two runs on the night, and watched his ERA take a slight tick north, to all of 1.92.

For the fifth consecutive game, the Redlegs got on the board in their first appearance at bat.

It was the Billy Hamilton show—not only in the first, where he doubled, stole third and scored a run, but all game long. For the night, Hamilton would go 3-for-4 with two infield bunt hits, three stolen bases to bring his total to 28 on the year, and a walk to go along with his two runs scored.

It was not just with the bat that Hamilton was the evening’s most valuable player, but his throwing arm erased a run off the scoreboard that would prove to be vital later on in the contest.

Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the third, Hamilton’s laser throw that nailed reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen at the plate did not seem like much, but it served as the ultimate momentum swing.

Before Pirates starter Brandon Cumpton knew what hit him, the first three batters for the Reds in the top of the fourth had base hits and the lead that once accompanied the Pirates starter now swung to the other dugout.

The trifecta of base hits to lead off the inning would appear again, this time in the top half of the seventh. Joey Votto would drive in his second and third runs of the night to put the Reds ahead 5-2 and give the bullpen a three-run lead to hold.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result. Once again, with a three-run lead in the seventh inning, the ball was handed to Sam LeCure. After that proved ineffective, it was on to Manny Parra. Then, Logan Ondrusek. By the time three outs were recorded after the seventh inning stretch, the Bucs had knotted the game at five a piece.

Former University of Cincinnati Bearcat Josh Harrison played some inspired baseball for the Pittsburgh side. Going 4-for-5 with two runs driven in and a stolen base, the only out he did make was caught on the warning track by Billy Hamilton at the deepest part of the park. A utility man getting starting time with Neil Walker on the disabled list, add Harrison to the unique list of players that for whatever reason, just demolishes Reds pitching.

Setting himself up for disaster, Logan Ondrusek narrowly averted completely schism in the ranks of Reds Country by somehow fanning Andrew McCutchen and Ike Davis with men in scoring position to end the threat in the bottom of the eighth.

Getting ahead in the count 2-0, Todd Frazier’s home run off Jason Grilli was his seventh already in June, tying him for the Major League lead with Andrew McCutchen. Frazier’s would be the decisive blow, as Grilli was handed the loss in the series opener.

In typical Reds fashion, nothing came easy. With a walk to the offensively listless Chris Stewart, and another hit from Josh Harrison, Clint Barmes strode into the box to face Aroldis Chapman with the game on the line. Not having clubbed a home run all season, Barmes was an unlikely candidate to take the Cuban Missile deep.

When Barmes made contact with Chapman’s hanging slider, the Missile thought he had just lost the game. As defensive replacement Chris Heisey glided back near the warning track, he would have just enough room to hall in the smash and preserve a crucial victory for the psyche of the Reds.

On Wednesday night, an old friend will take to the hill once again, as Edinson Volquez gets the ball for the Pirates during a 7:05 p.m. start time.

In what can be described by one of the more bizarre occurrences in baseball in quite some time, should Alfredo Simon pick up the victory tomorrow, he will not only become the first man to double-digit wins in the National League, but he will lead the league in that category over two and a half months in.