The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Quite a few of the Cincinnati Reds had solid evenings, but only one owned the defining dinger in an intradivisional contest.
Todd Frazier mauled a Jason Grilli fastball in the Top of the 9th, launching a laser liner off the batter's eye in CF for the go-ahead run, and that alone is enough to warrant his winning tonight's JNMHSotG. Frazier finished 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored on the evening - a night that started with an iffy 1st inning bunt that had me questioning existence, gravity, Bryan Price's management, and why Corporal Oppum didn't do anything in Saving Private Ryan - and he continued to cement his status as a surefire All Star and leader on this Reds' squad.
Well flown to the moon, Todd.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Joey Votto, who had a pair of hits and 3 ribbies; Billy Hamilton, who went 3 for 4 with a walk, 3 steals, 2 runs scored, and yet another solid defensive performance in CF; Ryan Ludwick, who went 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI; and Johnny Cueto, who picked up a quality start despite obviously not having his best stuff.
- The Reds messed around and scored a run in the Top of the 1st, but it was anything but routine (or convincing). Hamilton led off with a double down the LF line, and that was followed with a rather confusing bunt attempt by Todd Frazier. Frazier, whose 2.4 oWAR has clearly led the team so far this season, popped up a bunt to 2B with the fastest man in baseball on 2B with nobody out, and we all facepalmed and groaned when Billy promptly stole 3B on his own with Votto up next. Joey then singled to score Billy, however, alleviating some of the collective Reds' headache. Reds led, 1-0.
- The Pirates got a run back in the Bottom of the 2nd courtesy of a double to deep right-center by Josh Harrison that came two batters after Russell Martin had walked. Then, in the Bottom of the 3rd, Cueto's wildness hurt him, and the Pirates' patience helped contribute to another Pittsburgh run. Gregory Polanco singled and was then thrown out on a fielder's choice at 2B (which left Starling Marte on 1B), and Marte ended up on 3B on a double from Andrew McCutchen. Cueto then walked Ike Davis to load the bases and walked Martin to score Marte before finally retiring Pedro Alvarez to end the threat. Reds trailed, 2-1.
- The Reds wasted no time in retaking the lead, though, as they plated a pair in the Top of the 3rd. Phillips, Bruce, and Ludwick went single-double-single, the last of which scored BP and moved Bruce to 3B, and Brayan Pena followed with a productive grounder that scored Bruce. Reds led, 3-2.
- Cueto battled his way through the 6th thanks to some key defense and perseverance in long counts, and the offense helped his cause with a 2-run Top of the 7th. Hamilton reached on a bunt single and promptly stole 2B, Frazier singled to move Hamilton to 3B and promptly stole 2B, too. Votto then followed with a single up the middle that scored them both. Reds led, 5-2.
- The bullpen promptly farted away the lead in the Bottom of the 7th. Sam LeCure was brought in to start the inning, and a single, walk, wild pitch, and another single by Davis plated the first run of the inning, and a Martin single followed to chase LeCure from the game. Manny Parra got Gaby Sanchez to strike out, but Logan Ondrusek was brought in to face Harrison, and he allowed an RBI single up the middle that tied the game. Damn. Game tied, 5-5.
- Frazier took matters into his own hands in the Top of the 9th, and proceeded to launch a 440 foot SO-FRAZ blast over the wall in CF that Andrew McCutchen didn't even make an effort to track down. Aroldis Chapman came on to pitch the Bottom of the 9th, and after a walk, single, and deep fly ball to LF, he managed to retire the side. Reds win, 6-5!
- The Reds were set to face the heart of the Pirates order in the Bottom of the 7th, and they opted to do so with LeCure on the mound. OK, that's decent.
- The Reds were set to face the heart of the Pirates order again in the Bottom of the 8th thanks to the ineptitude of the bullpen in the Bottom of the 7th.
- In both of those scenarios, the two most effective relievers in the Reds' bullpen - Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Broxton - sat. Logan Ondrusek got to pitch. Our pets' heads are falling off.
- Day after day I'm more confused...
- Fortunately, Lurch managed to scare Ike Davis' bat as much as he scared Reds' fans. Chapman then scared the bejeezus out of all of us in the 9th, so maybe all that hamhanded bojangling was overblown and obnoxious. For that, I apologize, and now I want a Bojangle's chicken biscuit, pronto.
- Todd Frazier is on pace to hit 38 HR this season. /drools
- Tonight's victory moved the Reds (34-35) ahead of the Pirates (34-36) for 3rd place in the NL Central.
- That game was the ride of a life.