The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Tonight, as most nights he's pitched this season have been, Homer was a spectacular name for a pitcher. Homer Bailey sat down the final 14 Cardinal batters he faced en route to a 7 inning, 2 hit shutout performance that was capped off by a solid effort from Manny Parra and the go-go-gadget arm of Aroldis Chapman. Bailey, who was seemingly off a bit in the first inning, righted the ship, located his fastball, slider, curve, and whatever the hell his 91 mph cutter/splitter/slider hybrid was, and he had the Cardinals' order genuinely baffled.
It was a thing of beauty, really, and was a perfect "we're coming for ya" followup to the gem spun by Mat Latos yesterday.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Shin-Soo Choo, who walked 3 times atop the lineup; Todd Frazier, whose RBI double plated the one and only run of the game; Matt Holliday, for doing his best to make Reds fans believe he's as bad as the retweeted Cardinals fans from Best Fans St. Louis; Ryan Ludwick, for a big single; Parra, for being Sean Marshall-esque; Chapman, for shaking the rust off his arm of steel and throwing lasers and fireballs and missilebullets and mindjabbers as fast as 103 mph and as crooked as a Rod Blagojevich/Martha Stewart love child...
...and Billy Hamilton, whose Major League debut featured a late game steal under "he's going to steal" circumstances, a run scored, a million dollar smile, a jersey two sizes too big, and a glimpse into what Reds fans - and baseball fans in general - have to look forward to for the rest of his career.
That was exhilarating. That was mesmerizing. That, friends, was what September baseball is all about.
- With all due respect to Homer Bailey, the best tribute we can give him is skipping straight to the Bottom of the 7th, since thanks to the Reds' right-hander, there was nothing of note contributed to the game from the St. Louis offense. In the 7th, Seth Maness came on to relieve an otherwise untouchable Michael Wacha after the Cardinals' 2012 first round draft pick had tossed just 80 pitches over 6 dominant innings; you've got to wonder if Mike Matheny regrets that decision despite Wacha just now returning to the starting rotation following a stint in the bullpen. Dusty and the Reds don't regret said decision one bit, however, as Ryan Ludwick proceeded to single off Maness to open the inning. Billy Hamilton was summoned from the dugout to replace Luddy, and following a series of throw-overs to 1B, Hamilton took off and nabbed second for his first career SB (and the first of note in this entire Reds season, really). Frazier followed with a double down the line in LF, and Hamilton motored home to the delight of Reds fans everywhere. Reds led, 1-0.
- Following a Top of the 7th that saw Bailey sit down the heart of the Cardinals order in, well, order, it appeared he was told he'd be coming out of the game, and he proceeded to throw everything he could find in anger. I can't blame the guy; he was dealing, he felt fresh, and he obviously wanted no part in coming out of what was then a tie game. Fortunately for Homer, the offense came through, Manny Parra pitched around a tight zone in the 8th to sit down the Cardinals, and Aroldis Chapman...man...Aroldis Chapman and his multiple 103 mph fastballs may well have been the only reliever in all of baseball with the kind of stuff to match the stage on which he was cast. The Reds closer did not disappoint, his fastballs and sliders striking out the 2, 3, and 4 batters in the Cardinals lineup to cinch the victory. Reds win, 1-0!
FanGraph Section Displaying as Close to a Playoff Game Feel as Possible
- I'm jacked, your jacked, he's pumped, she's stoked. Right now, there's not a Red Reporter out there who's not 100% RAHR RAHR! This, of course, is why we watch baseball.
- Reds' pitchers have held the vaunted Cardinals offense to just 6 hits in their last two contests, and have won 3 in a row against their NL Central rivals by a combined score of 18-2.
- Considering the Reds run head-on into the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates following this series while the Cardinals get the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Little Sisters of the Poor, and Blind Bill's Basket Weavers, winning this series has taken on a massive importance; it's great to see the Reds have risen to the occasion offensively, defensively, and on the mound.
- Tomorrow pits Cardinals rookie ace Shelby Miller opposite Reds' stalwart Bronson Arroyo, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM EST. If you're around, go. Go. If you'd been there tonight, you'd have the chance to tell your children about it years from now; tomorrow will be no different given the stakes. Go.
- Ready or not, here the Reds come. You can't hide, NL Central.
- The Reds now sit 1.5 games behind the Cardinals and, depending upon whether the Brewers can eek one out against the Pirates, potentially 2.5 games behind the first place Pirates. Close your eyes and picture the Reds vs. Pirates 6 more times before the end of the season, since that's what we get.