The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the
Marlon Byrd had himself a helluva day.
He's still sporting just a .288 OBP, and his strikeouts are still way up, but the recent tear he's been on continued on Saturday through both games of the doubleheader. Byrd combined to go 2 for 6 with a dinger, 4 walks, 3 RBI, and the coolest glasses in the NL Central, and he's firmly in the midst of doing everything imaginable to eliminate the memory of his awful April.
Have a trophy, Marlon, and keep it up.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Joey Votto, who had a 3 hit game after serving his suspension; Johnny Cueto, who threw 8 marvelous innings before being asked to throw another in Game 1; and Zack Cozart, who bounced back from his wrist and finger injuries to log a pair of hits, a pair of walks, and a trio of runs scored on the evening.
Key Plays, Game 1
- The Reds offense continually put runners on base in the early goings of Game 1, but they continually left them stranded and/or thrown out at the plate. That finally changed in the Top of the 6th, however, with a wee bit of help from some oof-ish White Sox defense. Jay Bruce singled to lead off the inning, but he was out at 2B on a fielder's choice off the bat of Brandon Phillips. Pena then followed with a single to RF, and Phillips channeled his inner Scott Rolen by going first to third. Cozart then hit was initially looked like a double play ball, but a meaty slide from Pena into 2B and an awful relay throw from Micah Johnson saw the ball kick past Jose Abreu at 1B and into the stands behind the Reds dugout. Phillips scored on the play, Cozart moved to 2B, and Cozy then scored a batter later on Skip Schumaker's designated two-base hit to right-center. Reds led, 2-0.
- The Billy Hamilton show netted the Reds another run in the Top of the 7th. He took a leadoff walk, stole 2B, tagged and moved to 3B on a Marlon Byrd fly out, and scored two batters later on a groundout from Bruce. Reds led, 3-0.
- Alexei Ramirez touched up Cueto for a solo dinger in the Bottom of the 7th, but the Reds offense quickly went back to work. They left the bases loaded without scoring in the Top of the 8th, but rectified that in the Top of the 9th thanks to a 44 yard touchdown pass from Frazier to Byrd. In reality, Dan Jennings took the mound and completely spit the bit, walking four batters, tossing a wild pitch, and allowing two RBI singles and a sac-fly before being replaced having yielded 4 runs. Jake Petricka mercifully relieved Jennings, but he promptly served up a first pitch meatball that Byrd smashed for a 3-run dinger. Reds led, 10-1.
- Johnny Cueto was brought out for the Bottom of the 9th despite having already thrown nearly 109 pitches and having sat in the dugout for seemingly forever while the Reds went to work in the Top of the 9th. He promptly yielded a monster solo blast to Abreu, a 4 pitch walk to Adam LaRoche, and a bloop double to Avisail Garcia that fell just under the glove of a diving Jay Bruce. That moved LaRoche to 3B, and he scored on a scorched line out that ended Cueto's day, finally. J.J. Hoover came in and got a pair of groundouts - the first of which scored the runner from 3B - and that was finally that. Reds win, 10-4!
- The White Sox jumped on the board first in this one, and again their first runs were provided by a dinger off the bat of Alexei Ramirez. His dinger was a 2-run shot because the Reds defense couldn't quite complete a double play right before he stepped to the plate, as Cozart's throw to Phillips at 2B was a bit wide, and it took all BP could do to tap the bag for at least one out. Reds trailed, 2-0.
- No matter, though, since the Reds got to boast Joey Votto in Game 2. After back to back 1-out singles from Cozart and Hamilton both blooped in front of Garcia in RF, Byrd walked to load things up, and Votto responded with a 2-strike opposite field single that plated both Cozy and Billy. Game tied, 2-2.
- Jason Marquis again ran into trouble in the Bottom of the 4th, and again it was Ramirez leading the charge. He doubled with 1-out, and scored a batter later when Gordon Beckham singled to LF. Fortunately, Marquis again managed to get out of a potential bigger jam. Reds trailed, 3-2.
- While Marquis was no fan of jam, he was a huge supporter of the meatball industry, and he served up another one to Avisail Garcia in the Bottom of the 6th. Garcia slugged one well over the wall in LF for a solo blast, and before I could even finish formulating a way of conveying that information to you readers, another meatball was served up to Gordon Beckham, who promptly launched a solo blast of his own. Reds trailed, 5-2.
- Pedro Villareal was brought in to get the last out of the Bottom of the 6th, and he was then brought back for the Bottom of the 7th. We're talking "once DFA'd, recently called up as the 26th man because of doubleheader rules" Pedro Villareal. Not "Chicago native, lifelong White Sox fan, and infinite times better pitcher than Pedro Villareal" Tony Cingrani, but Pedro Villareal. All this in a game that was still quite winnable against a White Sox bullpen that was forced to throw upwards of 7 innings in Game 1 thanks to Hector Noesi's early exit due to injury. I'd describe the endless array of hits allowed, but if you're already this deep into this recap, your eyes need a break as-is. Let's just call it this: walk, balk, single, single, single, fielder's choice, /head in blender, single, BORK BADENHOP TIME, sac fly, sliding catch for out number 3. Reds trailed, 8-3. Or 8-2. 8-2? Probably 8-2.
- Yep, it was 8-2, and that's how it finished. Reds lose, 8-2.
- Joey Votto sat out Game 1 to serve the 1 game suspension handed down to him for his ump bump last week.
- Devin Mesoraco was originally scheduled to be the Reds DH in Friday night's game, but once that was bagged and the doubleheader was scheduled for Saturday, he was pulled from Game 1 in favor of Skip Schumaker. I'd go deeper into the madness of carrying a player who A) cannot play the field B) can reportedly hit yet has no hits in four weeks and C) needs surgery on a debilitating hip injury serious enough to warrant a 4 month recovery time, but it would be the 75th time you've read that on Red Reporter, so I'll pass for now.
- Cueto sat in the dugout during the lengthy Top of the 9th in Game 1 having thrown 8 innings of 1 run ball on 109 pitches. Bringing him out for the 9th meant he threw 123 pitches and didn't even log a quality start. The Reds called up Pedro Villareal as the MLB allotted 26th man for Game 2, so bullpen usage should not have been an issue (especially with the rainout on Friday), which makes the decision that much more odd. For the second consecutive Other Note, I have absolutely no way to explain what the hell is going on.
- This recap is phenomenally too long.