The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Alfredo Simon was spot on yet again today, and he consistently induced weak contact from the Chicago Cubs hitters on his way to yet another scoreless outing. Simon worked through 6 plus innings while allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks, and he struck out 3 for good measure. He allowed a pair of truly hard-hit balls, but since the winds were helping the pitchers at Wrigley today, he managed to see them both stay in the ballpark. Simon's now allowed just a pair of earned runs in the 21 innings he's thrown so far this year, and his stuff has been every bit as al dente as a starter as it has been as a reliever the last few seasons.
Talk about a serious positive development in the early stages of this season.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Ryan Ludwick, who had a pair of singles and a run scored; the Cubs defense, offense, and baserunning, for throwing balls into stands, taking called third strikes, and falling down while being picked off; Devin Mesoraco, who went 1 for 3 with a walk, run scored, and stolen base; Billy Hamilton, who went 1 for 4 with a double, RBI, and a stolen base; and Sam LeCure, who had 3 Ks in his 1.1 IP.
- There was a stiff Chicago breeze blowing in from LF today, and it helped both Simon and Jeff Samardzija keep the ball in the ballpark. The offense didn't really kick in gear until the Top of the 5th, and it was once again spearheaded by Mesoraco. Devin singled to lead off, caught the Cubs' ace off-guard with a great break to steal 2B, and moved to 3B on a 1-out groundout from Simon. Hamilton then looped a soft sinking liner to LF, and it fell in front of a diving Junior Lake to drive home Mes. Reds led, 1-0.
- The Reds Cub'd their way to a pair of runs in the Top of the 6th, too, courtesy of one hard-hit ball and some vintage Northside derping. Jay Bruce led things off with a double, and Ryan Ludwick reached with 1-out thanks to catcher interference from Beef Wellington Castillo. Mes walked to load the bases, and Zack Cozart followed by hitting a sharp grounder right at the 3B that - for most teams - should have been a routine 5-4-3 double play. The Cubs, however, aren't like most teams. Luis Valbuena fired a perfect throw to 2B, but when Emilio Bonifacio tried to make the relay, he saw Mesoraco bearing down on him at slightly more than a medium pace. Mes wiped him out with his slide, Bonifacio airmailed his throw to 1B, and both Bruce and Ludwick came in to score. Reds led, 3-0.
- Alfredo Simon pitched a marvelous first six innings, but he ran out of gas a bit when brought out for the Bottom of the 7th. Starlin Castro led things off with a single, and Ryan Sweeney hit a sharp shot right at Frazier that hit off his glove for a tough-luck error. Sam LeCure was brought on with Simon having hit 100 pitches, and after he struck out Beef looking, Valbuena hit a liner that bounced right over the glove of a pretty meh effort from Ramon Santiago at 2B, and Castro came in to score. LeCure then struck out Bonifacio to end the threat. Reds led, 3-1.
- The Cubs Cub'd that run right back to the Reds in the Top of the 8th. Frazier drew a 1-out walk, and when Russ Grimm threw to 1B to try to pick Frazier off the bag, he found that the Reds' 3B had already broken for 2B, and by the time Anthony Rizzo had a chance to relay to 2B, Frazier had slid in safely to beat the tag. Ludwick followed with a soft chopper towards the bag at second that went under the attempted bare-handed play from Castro, and a pitch from Grimm that went all the way to the backstop (after nearly hitting Mesoraco in the shoulder/hands/CHIN) allowed Frazier to score from 3B. Reds led, 4-1.
- LeCure got one out in the Bottom of the 8th before giving way to Manny Parra, who got the Reds through to the 9th. Jonathan Broxton was called upon, and he picked up his 2nd save since returning from the DL by breezing through the Bottom of the 9th with relative ease. Reds win, 4-1!
- Santiago entered the game on defense at 2B in the Bottom of the 3rd for an ailing Brandon Phillips, who was pulled due to "back spasms." Phillips singled in the Top of the 1st, but appeared to have hurt himself in the process. As he is wont to do, he stayed in and tried toughing it out, but after a clearly affected swinging strikeout in the Top of the 3rd, he went to get checked out. Lovely.
- Sam LeCure recorded four outs today, and three of them were via strikeouts. His fastball topped out at 87 mph, but his two-seamer had moves like -ManBearPig at Game 2.
- The Reds stole 5 bases today, which is the most they've had since the last time they stole 5 bases in a game. #Analysis
- The Reds are now 7-9 on the season. So are the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, and the Cleveland Indians are 7-8.