The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Billy Hamilton got the hit the broke up the would-be no-hitter in the 8th inning, added another single in the 11th, swiped 3 bags, and made a saucy catch to rob Jason Heyward of a hit in the Top of the 4th. That combined for easily the top performance of the evening by a member of the Cincinnati Reds, so Hamilton gets to take home his (roughly) 33rd JNMHSotG of the 2014 season. #speedkills
Honorable Mentions are due to: Aroldis Chapman, who tossed 2 innings tonight in the kind of outing most of us had hoped to see from him more often this season (though the whole "getting hit in the face with a ball travelling 110+ mph in Spring Training" thing understandably set that back); Brandon Phillips, who made a nifty over the shoulder catch to end an inning and likely save a run; Kris Negron, who walked twice and almost whapped a game-winning dinger to CF (that made it to the warning track in a hurry); and Mat Latos, who got BABIP'd and WHIP'd to near extinction but still managed to limit the Atlanta Braves to just a single run in his 6 innings of work.
And - what the heck - a Dusty Baker Honorary High Five to Braves pitcher Mike Minor, who held the Reds hitless through 7.2 innings, allowed just a single hit (and a single run), and attended my alma mater in his college days.
- Latos scrambled through the first two innings tonight, but he managed to escape unscathed thanks to leaving five runners stranded. He finally allowed one to cross in the Top of the 3rd, however, after consecutive singles from Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, and Chris Johnson loaded the bases and Freeman scored on a groundout from Tommy La Stella. Reds trailed, 1-0.
- Braves starter Mike Minor then proceeded to breeze past Reds batters for the next two hours, holding them hitless through 7.2 innings. He allowed his fair share of walks in that time, however, as four different Reds reached that way to help drive Minor's pitch higher than Fredi Gonzalez would have liked. Minor's 97th pitch of the night was ball four to Zack Cozart with 1-out in the Bottom of the 8th, and the Reds' SS moved up to 2B a handful of pitches later when Chris Heisey's slow roller to 3B nearly resulted in the first Reds hit of the game. Instead, it was the second out of the inning, and Minor - who had never pitched into the 9th inning in any of the previous 104 starts of his career - was suddenly pitching from the stretch with a runner in scoring position with over 100 pitches under his belt on the evening. Billy Hamilton stepped in, looked at a pair of pitches, swung and missed once, and then looped a single over the head of SS Andrelton Simmons for a single that scored Cozart to break up the no-no and tie the game.
- Both bullpens settled in for the next handful of innings, and after the Reds left a pair of runners stranded when Devin Mesoraco grounded out to end the 11th inning, Justin Upton mashed a 2-run dinger in the Top of the 12th off Manny Parra to put the Braves in front for good. Reds lose, 3-1.
- Before the game, David Holmberg was optioned back to Triple-A Louisville, and Daniel Corcino was called up from Double-A Pensacola to take his place on the 25-man roster. Corcino, you'll remember, was a Top 100 prospect as recently as last year before he had a very rough go of it at Triple-A as a 22 year old. He got off to another rough start in Pensacola this year, but he's turned it on of late and has flashed some of the talent that had him so highly regarded in the first place. He'll apparently take up a role as a reliever, though, instead of his customary starting spot.
- The losing streak has now reached, shit, I don't know. A lot. Someone please feed basket baby. She's been in there for a week now, at least.
- The season has reached the point where some losses actually feel better than others. Tonight's, I think, feels light years better than last night's.
- What the hell am I saying? The Reds may lose 90 games this season. Sigh.
- Aroldis Chapman had a shoulder issue less than a week ago. He pitched two innings tonight and threw 36 pitches in the process. I am confused.
- Jay Bruce went 0 for 5 with 3 strikeouts. His season OBP is now firmly back under the .300 mark.
- Thank you, Mr. Minor.