The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
With all due respect to Mike Leake, who pitched a whale of a game in a contest the Reds (and their fans) sorely needed to win, there was one true star on display today, and that was Billy Hamilton. The Reds rookie CF did his best to dispel any semblance of worry held by the fans who watched his first week of the season, and in the process showed the kind of game-changing ability that is truly one of a kind. Hamilton finished the afternoon with a 3 for 4 day that included a triple, bunt single, a walk, two stolen bases, two tag-ups that nobody else in their right mind would've attempted, and a pair of runs scored. The kid is obviously not without flaws, but his particular set of skills are scary enough to make Liam Neeson hang up the phone, and we got to see those in full today.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Leake, of course, who under any other circumstances would've seen his 8 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 0 R performance get the JNMHSotG nod; Devin Mesoraco, who smacked a 2-run dinger for his 3rd extra base hit in his 2 games since returning from the DL; Chris Heisey, who had a pair of hits and a stolen base; and Brandon Phillips, who also had a pair of hits, an RBI, and a few typically masterful plays on defense.
- The Reds squandered several opportunities in the early innings - including a leadoff triple from Hamilton in the Top of the 1st - but they still managed to strike first in the Top of the 4th. After Jay Bruce walked and was erased by a Todd Frazier GIDP, Heisey singled and Mesoraco followed him by launching his first HR of the season over the wall in left-center. Reds led, 2-0.
- Hamilton took matters into his own hands in the Top of the 5th, and it was a spectacle the likes of which the Reds haven't seen in, well, maybe ever. Hamilton led off with a single to left-center, stole 2B without as much as a throw from 6-time Gold Glove winner Yadier Molina, and then tagged up and motored to 3B on a shallow fly ball to RF John Jay. Bruce was tasked with driving in Hamilton, and when he lifted a shallow popup that 2B Kolten Wong was able to casually track, he dropped his head and kicked dirt in disgust at his seeming inability to get the job done; Hamilton, however, was having none of it, and as Jay called off Wong to make the catch, the Reds' CF tagged, came home, and beat the throw from what could very well have been an infield fly in another scenario. Reds led, 3-0.
- After Leake continued to shut down the Cardinals offense, Hamilton again created the kind of baserunning havoc that was his calling card in the minors. He dropped a 1-out bunt perfectly in between the catcher, 3B, and pitcher, in the Top of the 8th, and easily beat out the throw from Molina. He then stole 2B and scooted home without a throw on a single from Brandon Phillips. Manny Parra was brought on for the 9th inning, and he retired the Cardinals in order. Reds win, 4-0!
- Todd Frazier's streak of having a hit in every game of the 2014 season came to an end today, as he went 0 for 4.
- Billy Hamilton is now hitting .192 on the season. Jay Bruce is hitting .188.
- Speaking of Bruce, he walked again today, and is on pace to walk over 100 times this season.
- The Reds have the day off tomorrow before beginning a 3 game series at home against Ryan Hanigan and the Tampa Bay Rays. Game 1 of the series is scheduled for a 7:10 PM start on Friday, with Johnny Cueto going against David Price. Get out of the game thread, get into your cars, and go to that game.