The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Jay Bruce has never been a guy known for his blistering Aprils, but even that preface can't account for why his batting average had dropped into the .150's. Fortunately, it appears he may be emerging from his early season woes if today's performance is any indication. Bruce reached base safely in all four of his trips to the plate, going 3 for 3 with 3 singles, a walk, a run scored, and an RBI, and he even managed to show bunt against a shift and smash a hard liner to the opposite field, and that's the kind of performance the Reds will need to continue to dig themselves out of the early season hole they dug for themselves. Jay's day brought his average back to the smiling side of .200 (.204), and he's now outslugging Brandon Phillips .389 to .362.*
*This paragraph brought to you by the silliness of small sample sizes.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Billy Hamilton, who went 3 for 5, stole a base, and scored a run; Devin Mesoraco, who had a pair of doubles and an RBI as he continued his torrid start to the season; and Joey Votto, who has quickly returned to the ho-hum days of vintage Vottodom with today's routine 2 for 4 day that featured a run scored and a walk.
- Chicago-area native Tony Cingrani didn't have nearly his best stuff this afternoon, and the Chicago Cubs made him pay for that early, and often. In the Bottom of the 1st, Emilio Bonifacio led off with a single, Junior Lake walked behind him, and after Anthony Rizzo struck out, Justin Ruggiano singled to score Bonifacio. Reds trailed, 1-0.
- The Cubs got a single run in each of the next two innings, too. Mike Olt homered on the first pitch Cingrani threw in the Bottom of the 2nd, and a Bonifacio single & steal in the Bottom of the 3rd put him in position to score when Starlin Castro hit a sharp grounder that the Reds could only turn into a force out. Reds trailed, 3-0.
- The Reds offense finally got to Edwin Jackson in the Top of the 6th. Bruce led things off with a single, Chris Heisey singled two batters later, and Mesoraco doubled down the line in LF to score Bruce. Heisey moved to 3B on the double, and he scored when Zack Cozart smallball'd a grounder to the second baseman. Reds trailed, 3-2.
- Logan Ondrusek was brought on to pitch the Bottom of the 6th, and he was (1/effective). Castro led off with a single, but he was gunned down trying to steal 2B as Mike Olt struck out. Ondrusek then allowed a 2-out single to Wellington Castillo before watching Darwin Barney - who "slugged" .303 in 2013 and was "slugging" .120 in 2014 prior to today's game - smash a 2-run dinger over the wall in LF. Ondrusek then walked Ryan Kalish and allowed a single to Bonifacio before being lifted mercifully in favor of Nick Christiani, who allowed a single by Junior Lake that drove in Kalish. Reds trailed, 6-2.
- The Reds and Cubs then traded runs to the finish, with the Reds getting two in the Top of the 7th thanks to a trio of singles by Hamilton, Votto, and Bruce and an eventual Cubbing followed by an imitation Cubbing. With two outs, Votto on 3B, and Bruce on 1B, Heisey hit a grounder to Mike Olt at third, and he promptly threw it a Broxton wide of 1B. Votto scored, Bruce rounded 3B to head home, and Heisey - for some reason - took off for 2B. Anthony Rizzo fielded the ricochet cleanly, however, and threw to 2B to nail Heisey by two steps, leaving the white hot Mesoraco sitting in the on deck circle. Reds trailed, 6-4.
- Christiani came back for the Bottom of the 7th, and he watched as Ruggiano dropped down a leadoff bunt single before Castillo beefed a dinger of his own. That wrapped up the scoring. Reds lose, 8-4.
- Yes, the two least accomplished members of the Reds' bullpen combined to allow 5 ER, and that ultimately was the difference in the game. However, when your team's starting pitcher struggles to make it through just 5 innings, that's the kind of problem that requires their summonses.
- On the bright side, J.J. Hoover pitched a clean inning for the first time in a long time, and he lowered his season's ERA to 14.54 in the process. Baby steps.
- Speaking of which, here's a listing of ERAs of selected Reds relievers: Trevor Bell (67.50), Hoover (14.54), Ondrusek (11.25). Fortunately, Sean Marshall was activated before today's game. Get well soon, Aroldis.
- Before Billy Hamilton's last PA of the day (a strikeout), John Fay tweeted that Hamilton had hit at a .279 clip since the 0 for 12 start that caused his star to dim in many folks' eyes.*
- *That last other note also brought to you by the silliness of small sample sizes.
- Today's game was the equivalent of a 3-run bummer, but keep in mind that the Reds had won 16 of their last 17 games against the Cubs in Wrigley Field (with the one loss coming in extra innings). Nobody - not even the Cubs - is bad enough to keep that going forever.
- Rubber match tomorrow. Same Bat time, same Bat channel.