Mike Leake Dazzles as Cincinnati Reds Get Back to Winning


Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

On the precipice of implosion, the Cincinnati Reds reeled themselves back off the edge with an 11-1 drubbing of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Friday night saw the Canadians make a comeback for the ages. After four innings on Saturday, the score ominously read 8-0 in favor of the Redlegs once again.

As so often has been the story throughout this 2014 season, Cincinnati got started scoring early. With a capacity crowd packing the seats at Great American Ball Park, the club wasted no time scrubbing Friday night’s atrocities off.

Thanks to three straight walks from Blue Jays’ starter J.A. Happ, Ryan Ludwick came to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a two-run single after having sat the bench the last two games. Another run would sneak on home thanks to a passed ball and the Redlegs would lead 3-0 after just the first frame.

Having been consistently inconsistent over his past five starts, the Reds needed Mike Leake to have his best performance in the worst way. Not disappointing, Leake tossed a masterful eight-inning gem while allowing only a solo home run to Colby Rasmus in the top of the seventh. A night after the bullpen completely capsized, Leake provided stability, and more importantly, gave them the day off.

It was such a balanced attack on the offensive side that ever batter sans Ramon Santiago drove in a run.

The scoring would continue in the third when Jay Bruce hammered his seventh home run of the season deep into the sun deck, where the ball may or may not have landed yet. Then would come the fourth where the bats came alive, all jumpstarted by Santiago and Leake.

Four consecutive batters (Billy Hamilton, Todd Frazier, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips) would drive in runs in what would be a four-run inning. Happ would record two strikeouts in the inning, but his fly out of Frazier nearly landed amongst the people. Most clubs would be thrilled with an 8-0 lead, but for the Reds, it served only as a caution flag.

Donning the svelte red tops, there was no disaster in the cards for Saturday afternoon in front of more than 42,000 paying customers. Rasmus’ solo shot served as a minor tremor on the Reds earthquake scale; pleased to allow a home run of the one-run variety. Leake would allow only four hits and walk two while striking out six over his eight nearly flawless innings of work.

Just in case the seven-run lead was not enough insurance, Devin Mesoraco connected with a long ball for the third consecutive game—this one of three-run variety. As potent as he has been this season, it is mesmerizing to think he will not get even an iota of consideration for the All-Star Game due to the vast quantity of backstops the National League possesses.

The only Red to not pick up a hit was the white-hot Todd Frazier. Coming within a few feet of a home run in the fourth, Frazier scalded the ball his first two times to the plate, unfortunately into the glove of Jose Bautista. Unlike Mesoraco, Frazier will almost assuredly find himself playing in the mid-Summer Classic.

For the second night in a row, a reliever would make his Major League debut with the Reds. In a much better position than Jumbo Diaz was placed, Carlos Contreras came on with a 10-run cushion and just three outs to record.

Displaying a mid-90s fastball and a devastating hook, Contreras would retire the Jays 1-2-3 in the ninth to put down a W for Cincinnati.
Both teams resume action at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday for what will be “Military Appreciation Day” down at the yard.

The Reds will get a look at knuckleball artist R.A. Dickey, while they send their own ace, Johnny Cueto to the mound.

After the horrific collapse on Friday, a series victory would cure all residual symptoms for a gasping Reds Country.