I'd like to thank Frank Victores for this picture. It's worth 312 million words.
The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
The former, current, and future NL MVP carried the Reds' offense today, keying two separate comebacks against the Astros pitchers. Joey Votto went 2 for 3, including his 2nd HR of the season, a 2 out 2-run 2B, R, BB, and no K's. On a day when Latos was struggling and the Reds were at risk of dropping a home series to the worst team in baseball, Votto delivered the way $250 million players should. I can't help but wonder if the Lyles pitch under Joey's chin is going to be the play that turns the tide on Joey's early season "struggles." He certainly woke up with a bang afterwards.
Honorable mentions are due to the red-hot Jay Bruce (1 for 3, BB, RBI, R, HR in 4th straight game), Zack "MVP/GG" Cozart (2 for 4, 2 2B, RBI, R, BB), Logan Ondrusek (1 IP...0 ER through 12 IP this season), and Sean Marshall (IP, save, solid bounce-back after blowing the save on Thursday.) All around great game by the Reds today. This is the kind of game playoff-caliber teams find ways to win.
- BadLatos unfortunately took the mound again today, and was hit hard early and often. The damage began in the 1st, when Jose Altuve crushed a double to right field and scored one batter later on a Jed Lowrie single. Astros lead, 1-0.
- The Astros small-bawled their way into another run in the 2nd, as pitcher Jordan Lyles put down a pretty textbook suicide squeeze to plate Chris Johnson. Astros lead, 2-0.
- The Reds broke the seal in the bottom of the 4th. Cozart led off with a double to left, and Joey Votto crushed the first pitch he saw for a deep Home Run to right-center field. Game tied, 2-2.
- The Astros struck back the next chance they had, as Jed Lowrie homered immediately following another Jose Altuve hit. Latos had struck out the leadoff hitter, and had pitcher's counts on both following batters, but couldn't find the out pitch he needed. Astros lead, 4-2.
- The back and forth nature of the game continued in the 5th and 6th, as a Matt Downs homer pushed the Astros' lead back to 2 after a Zack Cozart RBI double had cut it to one.
- The Astros went to their bullpen to start the 7th inning, and that proved to be their downfall. Several long ABs and clutchy pinch hitting and running managed to collectively out-weigh the miserable decision to have Drew Stubbs bunt with no outs and runners on first and second. Sigh. Anyway, Joey Votto came to the rescue with a 2-out double down the first base line to tie the game at 5. Jay Bruce hit a solo shot to right-center in the bottom of the 8th, and that proved to be the game-winner. Reds win, 6-5!
- Though Latos was by no means sharp, he did manage to make it through 6.1 innings, throwing 108 pitches in the process. He yielded 12 fly outs to just 2 ground balls, however, and with the quality of infield defense the Reds have, that's a serious misuse of valuable assets. Maybe Johnny Cueto can sit down with him and talk about how his changed approach has benefitted him so much.
- Jay Bruce continues to own GABP. They should go ahead an re-name the Moon Deck after him.
- For anyone who has felt that Joey Votto has been slumping, struggling, or just "not been right," I give you this: after today's game, he's hitting .289/.439/.500, leads the league in walks, and is on pace to finish with 74 doubles, 110 RBI, and 147 BB. I just got rosy cheeks and felt my heart flutter.
- The Reds have an off day tomorrow before opening another home series, this time vs. the Chicago Cubs. Bronson Arroyo will face Jeff Samardijza in the series opener at 5:10 MST on Tuesday.