Walk-Off Home Run Sinks Cincinnati Reds


It took nearly three hours of uninspiring action before one pitch ended the game abruptly. Returning from the disabled list, Anthony Rizzo delivered a walk-off blast to win the game for the Chicago Cubs 1-0 over the Cincinnati Reds.

Wasting a magnificent effort from Alfredo Simon, one pitch from reliever Pedro Villarreal ended the Reds’ evening. The reason one run did the trick for Chicago was the once again scuffling Reds offense rearing its ugly head.

The Bats:

Prior to the start of the contest on Monday, if Cubs manager Rick Renteria could have drawn to plan how the night would go, he most certainly would have had Travis Wood toss six innings, Neil Ramirez take the seventh, Pedro Strop take the eighth and Hector Rondon take the ninth. That’s exactly how it went down, with the Reds collecting a whopping three hits (all singles) all night long.

The Reds best scoring chance came in the third inning, after the frame opened with a base hit from Ramon Santiago, and a walk drawn by Jake Elmore. Pitcher Alfredo Simon would nearly botch the bunt, before eventually getting it down and leaving it up to Billy Hamilton and Kristopher Negron to get the run in. Neither man would be able to do the trick.

Back at it in the fourth inning, Santiago would line out with what would be the last man the Reds would have in scoring position.

The other two Reds hits would come from batters who virtually negated their positive impact by being thrown out on the basepaths. If you had Todd Frazier and Yorman Rodriguez in “Streak for the Cash,” you were pretty satisfied with their evening, but in terms of playing winning baseball for the Reds, being gunned down at second on base-stealing plays that were not even close does not have much redeeming value.

Against a starter with an ERA over five heading into the game, the Reds offense managed three measly hits.

The Arms:

If Alfredo Simon could start only against the Chicago Cubs, he would surely be on the straight path to Cooperstown. Unfortunately, that seems like an unlikely plan, so Simon will have to settle for dominating the Cubbies at intermittent intervals.

Seven more dominant innings came out of the right arm of Simon, who took advantage of what has been a notoriously weak Chicago lineup. Even with Anthony Rizzo playing in his first game in nearly three weeks, the Cubs lineup still reeked of youth and inexperience.

Unable to get a run behind him, Simon would have to depart after seven innings and hope that a bullpen nearly as young as the Cubs’ offense would be able to win the game for his club.

Attempting to give Pedro Villarreal a chance to prove himself in a crucial situation, manager Bryan Price brought him on in the bottom of the eighth inning, where he would strikeout highly touted prospect Javier Baez on a slider down and out of the zone.

Since Villarreal’s spot in the order never appeared in the top of the ninth, he was left in to pitch to the heart of the Cubs order in the bottom of the frame. It would not take long for the Cubs’ franchise cornerstone to end the contest, as he launched a fastball deep into the Chicago night, way over the bushes beyond the centerfield ivy, good for a walk-off home run.

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The Reds are seemingly caught in between. This is a team that still wants to win every game possible over their final 11 contests, but is also trying to get a gauge on who can play at the Major League level, and who cannot. In what has been an already maddening season for Reds fans, they have been delegated to watching a team that has gone to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, finish below .500 in 2014.

On Tuesday evening, fans can celebrate Johnny Beisbol Day, as Johnny Cueto takes the mound opposite Jake Arrieta, in what should be a fantastic starting pitching matchup.