The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Tonight's game personified the concept of a team effort from the Cincinnati Reds, something something grit effort unity Kirk Gibson yadda yadda. There were no dingers, there were no shutouts thrown, and there was a relative paucity of balls hit hard enough to remember, but in the end, the good guys managed to hit enough, pitch around McCutchen enough, and defend enough top pick up their second win of the four game series.
Tonight's JNMHSotG goes to Jay Bruce, who has quietly put together a solid start to his season despite it being slightly out of character to his seasons of yore. Bruce has yet to see a huge spike in power - which he will - and he's taken walks at a rate unbeknownst to him in previous seasons, yet through 20 games he sits with a batting average around .250 with an OPS in the mid .800's. Bruce went 2 for 4 in tonight's game with a run scored, his 13th RBI (tied for the team lead), and he even managed to swipe a pair of bases in Bryan Price's new run-on-everything offense. Savor your victory, Mr. Bruce.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Alfredo Simon, who allowed just a pair of runs in his 6.2 innings despite being wilder than we're used to; Billy Hamilton, who went 2 for 5 with a run scored, RBI, and steal of his own; Devin Mesoraco, who only went 1 for 3 (with a HBP) to extend his hitting streak; and Sean Marshall & Jonathan Broxton, who tossed a combined 1.2 IP of scoreless ball as the Welcome Back portion of the end of the bullpen.
- After the Reds put two men on in the Top of the 1st and failed to score, the Pittsburgh Pirates and their patience (and Simon's wildness) put them ahead in the Bottom of the 1st. Starling Marte led off with a single, and after Simon retired both Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen, consecutive walks to Pedro Alvarez, Ike Davis, and Travis Snider drove Marte home. Reds trailed, 1-0.
- The back end of the Reds order went to work in the Top of the 2nd, however, and they managed to get that run back. Roger Bernadina took a leadoff walk, stole second, and when the throw kicked off a Pirate defender's glove and into CF, Bob Dobalina took third, too. Ramon Santiago then hit a slow, high chopper that allowed Roger to score. Game tied, 1-1.
- McCutchen led off the Bottom of the 3rd by honking a cheeseball from Simon into the anxiously awaiting crowd of several in the LF stands. Reds trailed, 2-1.
- Charlie Morton's control, the Reds' patience, and the madness that is Billy Hamilton on the basepaths put the Reds in front in the Top of the 5th. Morton hit Devin Mesoraco to lead off the inning, Santiago walked, and both moved up a base courtesy of a Simon sac bunt. Hamilton then hit a shallow single to LF that scored Mes and moved Santiago up to third. Hamilton promptly stole second, and when the throw caromed into the outfield, he moved to third and Santiago scored. Joey Votto was intentionally walked, Brandon Phillips then walked unintentionally, and Hamilton scored on a groundout from Bruce where the Pirates couldn't turn two. Reds led, 4-2.
- The Reds scratched across another in the Top of the 8th. Bruce singled - yet was given a double when McCutchen's bobble wasn't scored as the obvious error it should have been - and he then moved to third on a wild pitch. Bernadina walked a batter later, and Bruce came in to score on a hard grounder by Mesoraco. Reds led, 5-2.
- Jonathan Broxton was called upon to pickup the save in the Bottom of the 9th, and despite some Weathers-ian tense moments and baserunners allowed, the Reds' closer of the present got the job done. Reds win, 5-2!
- Joey Votto has gone full Joey Votto since being moved to the 2nd spot in the batting order, but the byproducts have been felt early and often elsewhere since then. The Reds entered tonight's game with a .247/.303/.321 line from the 3rd spot in their batting order - which was good for 14th out of 15 in the National League, ahead of only the San Diego Padres - and BP's 0 for 4, one walk evening did nothing to help that cause. The fact is, you can move Votto around to anywhere you want him, and you're going to create a void by filling another. Criticism be damned, that's not his fault.
- Starling Marte has averaged no fewer than thirty-seven diving catches per game in his career against the Reds. Maybe slightly fewer.
- Billy Hamilton makes watching baseball absurdly fun. Billy on base with Votto's patience is going to make for a pile of puckering for pitchers across baseball all summer.
- Playstation Twones.
- Just penciled in a weekend road trip to see this, again, this summer.