First and foremost, Red Reporters, if you happen to have a victory cigar, smoke 'em if ya got 'em.
The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Player of the Game
I'll get to Mat Latos and his dominant performance in a minute, trust me.
However, there's a guy out there that deserves this today and, truthfully, a lot more often than we really ever realized. That guy is Dusty Baker, and he gets the award today while being monitored in a Chicago hospital for an irregular heartbeat. Dusty has endured much, much more than his fair share of criticism in his 5 seasons at the helm of the Reds, but he has also ushered in a culture change that this franchise desperately needed. Chris Buckley rightfully gets credit for great draft classes and Walt Jocketty has proven to be quite shrewd while making trades and rifling through the bargain bin Free Agent market, but Dusty Baker has been the constant that has helped make the on field product work. Yes, he does things that make fans scratch their heads and yell at their televisions, but the key part of that fact that gets brutally under-emphasized is that his players don't have that same reaction. Batting Cozart, Stubbs, and Valdez at the top of the order seems like an obvious WTF moment for us, but the other members of the team have thrived under (and not complained about) those scenarios.
Why? Because Dusty has instilled in them a method that they believe in, and that method just won it's second NL Central title in 3 years.
Props, Dusty, and get well soon. Actually, I take that back...get well on your own terms, because you deserve it. Don't rush back, and don't try to do it too soon. You're our manager and you will be our manager, but your heart is your heart. We'll be here waiting to hug you when you're ready, but take your time and come back when you're ready.
As I mentioned earlier, today's game was started and dominated by Mat Latos, who threw 8 dominant innings in earning his 13th win. We got exactly who we wanted in the big offseason trade, folks. Don't believe me? Johnny Cueto, who is 22 months older than Latos, put up these numbers in his 2010 season. Hmm. Look familiar? Thought so. Hat tip to Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips, both of whom hit monster solo dunkaroos.
- This one got off to a rather slow start, as both Latos and Dodgers' starter Stephen Fife were in command early. Jay Bruce destroyed that, however, when he led off the bottom of the 4th with a HR to RF that landed about 4 rows from the top of the seats. Reds led, 1-0.
- The Reds added on in the bottom of the 5th, when Brandon Phillips walked, Joey Votto singled, and BP scored on Todd Frazier's single to Left Center. Frazier was thrown out at 2nd on the play, but who cares. Reds led, 2-0.
- In the bottom of the 7th, BP took a Matt Guerrier curve ball way out to LF, hitting the 2nd deck facade in the process. I'd talk for minutes about how just two pitches before that BP had been totally, completely fooled by the same pitch, but that would make me sound like Tim McCarver and, well, there's no way in hell I want that. Anyhoo, the Reds put an emphatic "GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN, NL CENTRAL!!" in the bottom of the 8th, as Frazier doubled, Bruce walked, and Frazier scored when Chris Heisey's bunt attempt resulted in a godawful throwing error up the 1B line. The Dodgers then walked Dioner Navarro before Zack "MVP/GG" Cozart singled to score Bruce and Heisey. Aroldis Chapman was brought in to face the Dodgers in the 9th, and HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Yeah, that was inevitable. Reds win, 6-0!
- Oh yeah, it's going to be a Reds-centric Saturday night in CO whether anyone else likes it or not.
- It's now officially OK to have visionz of the playoffs, amigos and amigas! That's a good thing, and I just booked flights to San Francisco for the 5th through the 8th. I better finish typing this Recap before StubHub claims my right hand for 1st round playoff tickets.
- REDS ARE NL CENTRAL CHAMPIONS!!! WOO HOO!!! I think I'll have myself a beer...or twenty.
- Celebrate, Reds fans, but do me a favor...wake up tomorrow and brush your shoulders off. We've done the NL Central gig before. It's time to kick some postseason ass and take some names.