Joey Votto articulates the collective reaction of Reds fans everywhere. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Like a garlicky hummus, this one will stick with you. Mike Leake whirled a gem of a game, tossing eight innings while striking out five, walking no one, and giving up only two runs. I feel obligated to mention (though with only a modicum of honor) Josh Willingham, who went 2-4 with a double and the game-winning home run.
Both Leake and his counterpart Scott Diamond were outstanding today, matching each other pitch for pitch. The Redlegs drew first blood in the 3rd inning when Devin Mesoraco doubled and scored on a Wilson Valdez opposite-field single.
In the 6th and 7th innings, the teams traded outs at home. Jay Bruce was the victim of a Berry Boner, as he was thrown out by damn sight trying to score from first on a Ryan Ludwick double. In the 7th, Mauer scored on a Morneau ground ball to give them a 2-1 lead. Brandon Phillips then made a terrific bare-handed grab and throw to get Josh Willingham trying to score on a Plouffe grounder up the middle.
Joey Votto got the lead back for the Reds in the 8th with a homer, his first hit of the series. People really liked it, because it seemed like the Reds would then have a better chance of winning the game.
Unfortunately, Aroldis Chapman remains adamant in his quest to prove to the world that he is, in fact, a native of this planet. He blew the save in the 9th by surrendering a double to Mauer on the 10th pitch of an MVP-caliber at-bat, and then leaving a fastball up to Josh Willingham. Hambone upper-decked it.
The Reds mounted a rally in the bottom of the 9th against former Reds closer of the future and Twins closer of the present Jared Burton. Todd Frazier led off with a walk. Dusty Baker again pinch-hit for Devin Mesoraco, just as he did yesterday. This time, he sent Willie Harris up to lay down the sac bunt. It is difficult to blame Dusty for not understanding how this actually lowers the Reds' chances of scoring a run though, as the math and science education in this country is laughably behind the curve. So I blame big government. After Harris sacked Frazier to second, Scott Rolen pinch-walked for the pitcher. Heisey flew out to RF and Valdez grounded out. Twins win, 4-3.
Chapman relieved Leake for the 9th inning even though Leake had thrown only 86 pitches. It's easy to second-guess in hind sight, but I don't think you can blame Dusty for going with Chapman. For whatever reason, Chapman could not get the job done today.
On the other side, Ron Gardenhire went to his closer for the 9th even though his starter had only thrown 82 pitches through eight. Whatever. /ptooey
The Reds now face the Brewers for three. I hope they win them.