Ramon Santiago’s Walk-Off Grand Slam Lifts Reds


On the back of Ramon Santiago’s walk-off Grand Slam in the bottom of the 10th inning, the Cincinnati Reds topped the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-6.

No matter the placement in the standings, anytime the Redlegs slug a walk-off Grand Slam, that is one captivating moment. Arguably the most exhilarating moment of the season, Santiago’s first home run from the right side of the plate all year long resulted in complete pandemonium from those that hung around in the park for the conclusion.

The Bats:

Yes, there are double digits in the Reds’ runs column. And yes, the last time that happened, summer was just beginning, the Reds were playing the Toronto Blue Jays, and 2014 still meant something. It was back on June 21 that the Redlegs put up 10 runs on Toronto pitching, but not in as dramatic fashion as Saturday afternoon.

The offense got rocking and rolling early, as the first three batters to dig in for Cincinnati would come around to score. Devin Mesoraco would plate both Kristopher Negron and Brandon Phillips, before Chris Heisey would get the third run in on a RBI groundout that would plate Todd Frazier.

Twice in the middle innings would the bats come to life and make a comeback. First off, it was Ryan Ludwick in the fifth that shot a RBI base hit against the shift to right field to knot the game at four. Then in the bottom of the seventh, Todd Frazier’s opposite field two-run shot off rookie John Holdzkom knotted the game at seven’s.

Heading into extra innings, every member of the Reds lineup had contributed significantly in some fashion, except for Ramon Santiago, who had a big ole 0-for-4 hanging over his head.

The Reds old buddy John Axford entered sans the goatee, plus a beard, yet the equation still came out to a bunch of walks and an “L.”

(Side tangent: The game was knotted 6-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Pittsburgh Pirates were, and still are, enthralled in a vicious dogfight for the National League Central crown with the St. Louis Cardinals, who went on to lose later in the evening. Yet, in a tie game on the road, instead of going to nearly untouchable closer Mark Melancon, the team summons rookie left-hander Bobby LaFromboise. The result? Ramon Santiago hitting a Grand Slam nearly to Boise. The managerial ineptitude in baseball has gone viral and is the worst kind of plague.)

After Brayan Pena popped up with the sacks juiced for the second out of the inning, it came down to Ramon Santiago. And boy, did he deliver.

His first home run of the season from the right side of the plate could literally not have come at a better time—especially considering it’s more than likely his final at-bat of the season. (If I’m Santiago, I’m claiming flu or rib strain tomorrow—having the last at-bat of the season as a walk-off Grand Slam is badass.)

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The Arms:

So, there was pitching. Not much of it was entertaining—outside of Alfredo Simon’s horrific attempts at another eephus pitch, and anything Aroldis Chapman did.

Simon seemed determined not to let the reigning National League MVP, Andrew McCutchen, beat him, as he walked him twice in favor of Pirates cleanup hitter Neil Walker. On the second occasion, Walker made him pay as he dropped a base hit into centerfield for two runs, eliminating any chance Simon had at a quality start in his final outing.

Regardless of the lackluster performance, the final numbers on the season tell the story for the man that went from uncooked noodles in the bullpen, to the “Big Pasta” by season’s end. It was an incredible journey from start one in New York all the way to the conclusion against Pittsburgh.

While Ramon Santiago nearly gave the game away in the seventh after missing a sharp groundball directly at him, putting Sam LeCure on the hook, LeCure quickly averted danger after Frazier’s home run.

Jumbo Diaz, Aroldis Chapman and Dylan Axelrod (!) would all pitch scoreless innings to close out the game before Santiago’s heroics hit center stage.