The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
You know, 15 games into the season I don't really want to talk about this, but every now and then, I think about how this is probably the last season I'll see Johnny Cueto in a Reds uniform. For whatever reason, it's always a struggle for the Reds to get the man some runs, and tonight was no different. But after settling down, Cueto pitched an absolute gem, and offensive support or no offensive support, it's just an absolute joy to see this guy pitch. His team decided to wait until the 9th inning of tonight's game to finally grant him his first win of the year, but no matter. At a certain point, Johnny retired 9 batters in a row and that's great. But it wasn't until he was in a real jam in the bottom of the 8th that you really GET what Cueto is all about. 115 pitches into a night where his team fails to support him with runs (again), Cueto dials it up to 96mph, picking his spots and setting fools down. In the end, it was 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 8 K in 125 pitches.
If we're nearing the end, I'm going to enjoy the absolute hell out of it. So take a JNMHSotG, Johnny, because I feel like I've won award being able to watch you pitch for my favorite team every 5 days.
Honorable mention goes to Billy Hamilton, who hit once, walked twice, stole another base, and scored both the first and the winning and the only runs; Joey Votto for his 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 getting-Billy-into-position night; and Aroldis Chapman for being every bit as special as I just mentioned about Johnny Cueto. Special mention to Jimmy Nelson, who put up a damn good showing as well, with 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER and 5 K in 94 pitches. Good look, kid.
- Good starts are swell, and the Reds treated us to one right at the top of the first. After Hamilton singled into left center and promptly stole second base (who would've thunk it?), Votto whacked a single into left himself, paychecking Billy Hamilton. Todd Frazier erased Votto, grounding into a double play, then Brandon Phillips swung the bat meat, flying out to the warning track, and scoring was over as quickly as it began. Reds on top, 1-0.
- Because the good times can never last for long and only the good die young, the Brewers answered in the bottom of the 1st. After inducing Jean Segura into a ground out, Johnny Cueto walked Elian Herrera after a full count, and then balked him to second base. Braun* struck out and I laughed and felt good about it, because screw that guy, but alas walks/balks will haunt, as Adam Lind singled in Herrera the next batter. Luckily, Khris Davis proceed to fly out loudly and no more damage could be done. Tie ball game, 1-1.
- And then... nothing happened. The Reds batted into 3 double plays in the first 5 innings, which isn't any fun at all. Cueto bounced back from getting #umpshow'd, because he's Johnny Cueto. Relatedly, Jimmy Nelson is apparently Jimmy Nelson who the Reds think is kind of a big deal.
- A sausage fell down during the Brewers sausage mascot race, and FSOhio treated us to the slow motion of that. It was more exciting than anything that had happened thus far.
- In the bottom of the 8th, Logan Shafer came on to pinch hit for Cy Nelson, and he proceeded to hit his first double of the season. Jean Segura bunted him to 3rd, forcing Johnny into a jam with only one out and the runner threatening. Herrera struck out as Johnny switched to beast mode, bringing Ryan Braun to the plate. Braun walked after a 9 pitch at bat that felt like it lasted at least 20 pitches. At 120 pitches, Reds manager Bryan Price visited the mound for a chat with Johnny, ultimately deciding to stick with his ace. Five pitches later, Cueto rewarded his manager, fanning Lind and taking us to the 9th still tied, 1 all.
- Skip Schumaker came in to pinch hit for Cueto in the top of the 9th, and that went about how you would expect. Francisco Rodriquez decided now would be a good time to walk Billy Hamilton for some reason (SPOILER: the good time to walk Billy Hamilton is never), bringing Votto to the plate. Predictably, 2015 Joey Votto singled hard to center field and, predictably, Hamilton went 1st to 3rd. Unfortunately, Frazier popped up behind home plate and it stayed in play for the catcher for the second out. No matter, because Billy Hamilton's on base, fool. The artist formerly known as K-Rod threw a pitch in the dirt that got away Maldonado, and Hamilton raced in from 3rd base to score, Rodriguez's tag not really coming close. Phillips popped out, but the damage was done. Reds lead 2-1.
- Chapman was unleashed in the bottom of the 9th, and I'm not sure anyone needs an explanation of what happened next. 101mph fastball ended the game. This one? It belongs to the Reds.
- Johnny Cueto was called for 2 balks tonight, which is stupid and dumb, I don't understand it and I don't like it. It's the same amount of balks that Johnny has been called for... in the last 3 years. The worst side effect of this was the guy screaming, "READ THE RULES, CUETO!" every half inning.
- Joey made some loud outs tonight, and since our fine friend bringbackthemayor posted the YouTube video of every home run Votto hit in his MVP campaign earlier, I can't help but think every time Joey Votto makes contact with the baseball, something good is going to happen. Watching Joey Votto healthy and at his best is something to marvel at, so marvel away.
- Billy Hamilton is still perfect stealing bases (9-9), there aren't many other players in baseball that go 1st to 3rd on that Votto hit, either. Oh, and he scored the winning run on a play that wasn't as close as it probably should've been. The Reds are getting me in the feels right now.
- The Reds secured their first winning series since the first one. They'll look to break out the brooms tomorrow at 1:40pm eastern, because it's not a series win unless it's a sweep, I guess?
- As boring as this game got in the middle, after that finish, I'm kinda feeling like this tune right here. It's still early, right?