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Cardinals 5, Reds 2: Homer Bailey knocked around in first start of the season

Ol' Hoss is back, but he got a rather rude welcoming party.

Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Zack Cozart had quietly been the second best hitter on the Cincinnati Reds through the team's first 10 games of the 2015 season, and Saturday he kept that train right on a-rollin' against the St. Louis Cardinals.  Cozy smacked the first dinger of his season, and he added a pair of singles to his daily ledger to finish 3 for 4 as the clear bright spot on an otherwise offensively drab afternoon by the Reds' offense.  Maybe it's the presence of Eugenio Suarez in Louisville that has him on a roll, or maybe it's just that the 2014 season was a miserable aberration, but regardless, Cozy's swinging the hottest non-Votto bat on the squad and it's a damn nice revelation.

Honorable Mentions are due to:  Kevin Gregg, who tossed a clean inning in exactly the kind of low-leverage situation he should always be pitching in (if the team insists on carrying him at all); Marlon Byrd, who got a hit and did not strike out; Joey Votto, who walked twice; and Jumbo Diaz, who dodged a few baserunners to notch a much-needed scoreless inning.

Key Plays

  • The Cardinals wasted little time getting to Homer Bailey today, tallying three hits off Hoss in the Bottom of the 1st alone.  After Matt Carpenter was erased by a Jason Heyward GIDP, Matt Holliday doubled to LF and came in to score on a subsequent single to RF by Matt Adams.  Had Jay Bruce's throw been on line and not up the 1B line, Holliday would've been out by two steps.  Instead, Reds trailed, 1-0.
  • Jason Heyward hit his first home run of the season in the Bottom of the 3rd, a solo shot to put the Cardinals up, 2-0.  He got a curtain call, because of course he did.
  • In the Bottom of the 4th, Adams singled to lead off the inning, and after he was forced out at 2B on a grounder from Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina doubled to the wall in CF to drive in the St. Louis SS.  Reds trailed, 3-0.
  • The Reds got one back in the Top of the 5th, however, as the red-hot Cozart smashed his first dinger of the season, a solo shot that cleared the LF wall and landed in the bullpen.  Reds trailed, 3-1.
  • A leadoff single by Molina off Bailey in the Bottom of the 6th was the start of another Cardinals flurry, as John Jay followed with a single of his own and Carpenter doubled to the wall in RF two batters later to score them both.  Reds trailed, 5-1.
  • Billy Hamilton busted out of his mini-slump with an infield single to start the Top of the 8th, but unfortunately it appeared that he tweaked a groin muscle in the process and left the game in visible discomfort.  Ugh.  Kris Negron replaced him on the bases, and he moved to 2B a batter later when Votto crushed a ball right at Adams at 1B and the Cards' resident awful beard owner snagged off a short hop and stepped on 1B for an out.  Cleanup-man Brandon Phillips came through two batters later, though, as he singled to RF to drive in Negron.  Reds trailed, 5-2.
  • A single from Cozart and a walk to Brennan Boesch got things nearly rolling in the Top of the 9th in the Reds' last ditch effort, and Votto came to the plate as the tying run with 2-outs.  A questionable strike one call on a check swing and a called strike on a pitch two inches off the outside of the plate got him in a hole, though, and he K'd looking on Trevor Rosenthal fastball that clipped the inside corner of the plate despite missing its target by about a foot.  Drat.  Reds lose, 5-2.

Tony Graphanino

<iframe src="http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=0&type=livewins&num=0&h=450&w=450&date=2015-04-18&team=Cardinals&dh=0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="http://www.fangraphs.com/livewins.aspx?date=2015-04-18&team=Cardinals&dh=0&season=2015">FanGraphs</a></span>

Other Notes
  • The Best Fans in Baseball gave Skip Schumaker a standing ovation when he pinch hit for Manny Parra in the Top of the 7th.  They also did the wave during the Top of the 8th.
  • Billy's groin injury looked decidedly not bueno, and for a guy who depend on his speed for his entire offensive and defensive game, that's potentially a very big problem.
  • Speaking of potentially big problems, Devin Mesoraco apparently is doing most everything OK on his path back to playing, with his lone problem being squatting.  He's a catcher, though, meaning his lone problem is his biggest problem.  Keep in mind the Reds have been playing with just 24 able players instead of 25 in order to keep him from hitting the disabled list.  Also, keep in mind they DFA'd and lost both Ryan Dennick and Daniel Corcino to create that scenario.  If there's a method to the madness, I sure as hell don't see it.
  • Votto was the only Reds starting position player to not have a hit on the day.
  • Phillips had another error today, his second in as many games.
  • Homer Bailey did not strike out a single hitter on his day.  He did, however, flash solid velocity despite getting knocked around for most of his afternoon, routinely hitting 93 mph with his fastball.  His final line in his first start of the season:  5.2 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 92 pitches.
  • Remember when the Reds were 4-0?  Yeah.  That was nice.
  • Tunes.