The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Ramon Santiago had scuffled through an 0 for 4 afternoon when he walked to the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the Bottom of the 10th inning, but that didn't stop him from launching a walk-off grand slam over the wall in LF.
Santiago's blast was just his 2nd dinger of the season (and the first one he's hit from the RH side), but it was good enough to send the Pittsburgh Pirates' shot at the NL Central title nearly to the curb and to take home the penultimate JNMHSotG of the season.
Well clutched, New Clutch Man Monie.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Todd Frazier, who whacked a 2-run dinger, walked thrice, and scored 3 runs; Kris Negron, who went 2 for 4 with a walk in the leadoff spot; Brandon Phillips, who smacked a pair of singles and scored twice; Ryan Ludwick, who went 1 for 3 with 2 walks (in what may well have been his last start as a Red); and Aroldis Chapman, who needed just 7 pitches to pitch his clean, 2 K inning.
- Runs came early and often in this one, and the Reds wasted no time in jumping all over Pirates starter Francisco Liriano. In the Bottom of the 1st, each of the first four Reds reached (two via walk, and two via singles), the last of which was Devin Mesoraco, whose single scored both Negron and Phillips. Chris Heisey followed with a productive grounder that scored Frazier, and Mesoraco was called out at home a batter later on Luddy's grounder (which was upheld somehow after review suggest his dive got him to the plate before being tagged). Reds led, 3-0.
- A Starling Marte double led things off for the Pirates in the Top of the 2nd, and he came in to score two batters later on a Jordy Mercer grounder. Reds led, 3-1.
- Alfredo Simon cruised for a few innings before running into trouble in the Top of the 5th. Mercer smacked a dinger to bring the Bucs within a run, and a Liriano single followed by a hit, walk, and single from the heart of the order brought around two more runs. Reds trailed, 4-3.
- The see-saw scoring continued, with the Reds leveling things in the Bottom of the 5th thanks to a Frazier walk, a Liriano wild pitch, and a 2-out RBI single from Ludwick. Then with Sam LeCure on the mound in the Top of the 7th, a hit batter, a steal from Gregory Polanco, and back to back hits from Andrew McCutchen (single) and Neil Walker (triple) put Pittsburgh back on top by two in what became a bullpen blowup. Reds trailed, 6-4.
- Said blowup began in the Bottom of the 7th, thanks to a single from Phillips and Frazier following with a 2-run blast, a line-shot that just cleared the wall in RF (in what's become one of his signature spots). After both teams traded scoreless frames, John Axford was brought in to pitch the Bottom of the 10th for the Pirates, and his wildness set the stage for Santiago's boomstick. A walk to Frazier led off the inning, and after Mesoraco nearly hit one out to CF, Heisey singled and Ludwick walked to load the bases and chase the former Milwaukee closer to the showers. Bobby LaFramboise took over, and after he got Brayan Pena to pop out (after what Gameday suggested should have been a walkoff walk), Santiago drove a low and inside pitch into the sun-splashed LF seats for the game winner. Reds win, 10-6!
- Dylan Axelrod got the win thanks to the scoreless inning he pitched in the Top of the 10th. That marks the first and only win from the Reds bullpen since the All Star break, as they'd been 0-17 in the 2nd half.
- The 10 runs scored by the Reds today marks the most they've scored in a game in the 2nd half of the season. They'd scored 9 runs 3 times, which in hindsight seems like 3 more times than I can remember.
- The last time the Reds scored double-figure runs was against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 21st.
- For those of you who love round numbers, Mesoraco's single in the 1st inning brought his season RBI total to 80. Todd Frazier conveniently sits just shy in several near-round numbers, as he's now got 29 dingers, 79 RBI, and a .798 OPS.
- Apparently Alfredo Simon has been pitching with a slight leg injury which first got brought up during the national broadcast today. That'll make you scratch your head.
- Ramon Santiago now has a .343 OBP and apparent end-game-on-one-swing power, and I'm suddenly worried that more teams will have eyes on him as their utility IF for 2015 than just Cincinnati. He's basically played his way into 2-year contract territory, which is frightening because it's probably true.