CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 22: Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs misses a catch on a ball hit by Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds, but still managed to smile at the camera.
The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
This one was close, since both Johnny Cueto and Joey Votto had solid outings today. Considering Cueto was facing a lineup full of has-beens and never-weres while Votto was doing damage against a guy who was 4-1 in his career vs. the Reds, the nod goes to our wealthy Canaditaliamerican 1B. Votto reached base in 4 of his 5 plate appearances, picking up 2 doubles, 2 walks, an RBI, and a run scored. Votto still hasn't uncorked much in the power department (due in large part to being pitched around a league leading 16 times), but he's sporting a ripe OBP of .444 and being patient. Until the rest of the bats wake up, that's just about all you can ask of him.
Cueto, too, was good today despite forgetting how to play defense and having his teammates forget as well. Cueto threw 111 pitches covering 6 1/3 innings, yielding 2 R (1 earned) on 5 hits while striking out 7, walking 2, and hitting 2. That's become the kind of game we can expect from our ace; it feels really good to write that about a Reds pitcher. Additional hat-tips are in order for Ryan Hanigan (1 for 3, 2 BB, R), Scott Rolen (RBI!!!), and Drew Stubbs (1 for 4, BB, R, RBI). Yes, I'm joking about Rolen...poor guy.
- The Reds flirted with 1st inning runs today, as Drew Stubbs walked, Joey Votto doubled, and Ryan Ludwick walked to load the bases. Alas, both Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen struck out to end a scoreless inning. Stubbs and Votto would lead the charge again in the top of the 3rd, however. Stubbs singled and Votto doubled to score him (courtesy of some Sorianlols). A Ludwick out and productive Bruce out came next before Old Man River blooped a single to right field to score Votto. Reds lead, 2-0.
- The Cubs little-leagued their way back into the game in the bottom of the 5th. Joe Mather was hit by a pitch, Starlin Castro reached on an infield single, and Mather came around to score when Joey Votto failed to snag a throw-over by Cueto. Bryan the Hair then singled up the middle to score Castro. Game tied, 2-2.
- Quick side-note: I love when I can cut and paste certain items from previous recaps, as it obviously saves time, but I especially like when I can use lines like the next sentence. Good teams waste no time in striking back, and the Reds did that today. Of course, the runs had every bit as much to do with the Cubs being godawful as it did with the Reds being good, since the Reds managed two runs without a hit. Ryan Hanigan walked, and Johnny Cueto was safe at first on a throwing error by Geovanny Soto. Dusty obviously was thrilled with the lack of bunt-stopping ability shown by the Cubs defense, so he called for Cozart to bunt as well...and he, too, was safe on a Soto throwing error. Drew Stubbs grounded into a Fielder's choice to score Hanigan, Ryan Ludwick was hit by a pitch, and Jay Bruce walked with the bases loaded to score Cueto. Old Man River then struck out to leave the bases loaded, but the Red lead 4-2.
- Cueto was brought out to start the bottom of the 7th after having already thrown 100 pitches, and he promptly walked a batter and hit another. Logan Ondrusek and Aroldis Chapman were brought in to put out that fire, and did. Chapman was uncharacteristically wild in the 8th, but got through unscathed, and though Sean Marshall conceded a run in the bottom of the 9th, he notched his 3rd save of the season. Reds win, 4-3.
- Aroldis Chapman issued his first two walks of the season today. At first, I was shocked and saddened, until he texted me after the game to say that he only walked the guys so that stat-nerds like me could have FIP and K/BB numbers in the realm of possibility so that we could actually compare him to other pitchers and see how much more awesomefarleysfruitsnacks he is.
- The Chicago Cubs are not good at baseball. I'm pretty sure Dale Sveum took the field himself at some point today.
- Willie Harris was 0 for 3 today, bringing his season averages to .077/.111/.154. He booted a routine grounder in the bottom of the 6th and was pinch-hit for by relative slugger Wilson Valdez in the 7th. A visibly upset Bronson Arroyo reportedly told Harris, "Dude, quit blaming your earflaps. I'm hitting .250."
- The Reds have an off-day tomorrow before opening a 3 game set vs. the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday. Maybe Todd Frazier will play, but probably not.