The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Eugenio Suarez made just his second start as a member of the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, and while he went just 1 for 4 with a single, he made the single count big time. The newly minted SS singled to drive in the go-ahead run in extra innings, one that proved to be decisive in defeating the Chicago Cubs.
The loss of Zack Cozart for the remainder of the 2015 season is a big one for many reasons, but the silver lining is that the Reds will have a chance to see what the supremely talented Suarez can bring to the table. So far, so good, as a game-winner and JNMHSotG trophy is a heckuva way to begin a first series with a new team.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Todd Frazier, who belted a double, bonked his 18th homer of the season, and scored the game's eventual winning run; Johnny Cueto, who yielded 4 ER, but had 9 Ks, didn't walk a single Cub, and chipped in with a single at the plate; Skip Schumaker, who had a hit, scored a run, and walked twice; Jay Bruce, who doubled, singled, stole a base, and had a game-saving diving catch; JJ Hoover, who tossed a pair of scoreless innings out of the bullpen; and Aroldis Chapman, who had 2 Ks and a scoreless IP to lock up the save.
- The Reds have made somewhat of a habit of jumping on opposing starters of late, and Friday was no different against Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel. Schumaker reached when Cubs 2B Addison Russell booted a rather routine grounder on the first play of the game, and Skip motored home when De Jesus followed him with a double to the wall in LF. Two batters later, Frazier doubled to CF to score De Jesus, and Frazier scored another two batters later when Pena singled to RF. Reds led, 3-0.
- Chicago leaped back into the game in the Bottom of the 2nd, however, thanks in part to a Schumaker error when Chris Coghlan's single when through the legs of the Reds LF and left the former NL Rookie of the Year on 2B. That extra base allowed him to score when Hammel poked a 2-out single to RF, and Hammel himself came in to score when Russell doubled to CF behind him. Reds led, 3-2.
- Frazier picked up his pitcher in the next half inning by blasting his 18th dinger of the season to lead off the Top of the 3rd on a ball hit as hard as any I think I've seen from any batter this season. Reds led, 4-2.
- Both teams settled in until the Bottom of the 6th, at which point the heart of the Cubs order got to Cueto. Kris Bryant led off with a single, and after Miguel Montero grounded out, Starlin Castro hit a mammoth 2-run dinger right down the LF line on a pitch that Cueto let get right into his inside wheelhouse. Game tied, 4-4.
- Coghlan singled to begin the Bottom of the 9th and moved to 2B on a sacrifice from Chris Denorfia, and that's only worth mentioning because Jonathan Herrera then stepped in to pinch hit and hit an absolute laser to the gap between Billy Hamilton in CF and Bruce in RF. Somehow, though, Bruce channeled his inner 2010 UZR/150 and tracked it down to make a great diving catch.
- That set the stage for the Top of the 10th, where Frazier led off by reaching on an error by Bryant at 3B and Bruce followed with a single to RF to put runners on the corners. Bruce then stole 2B before Eugenio Suarez slapped a single past a pulled-in infield to plate the go-ahead run. Chapman then took the mound in the Bottom of the 10th to try to nail it down as the fog rolled in to the house that chewing gum built, and he did the deed for his 13th save of the season. Reds win, 5-4!
- Gametime temperature sat just above 50 degrees on a gray, wet day reminiscent of Reds trips to Wrigley in Aprils past. The weather seemed to help keep balls from travelling they way they often do in June games in Chicago, including one hit by Votto to end the Top of the 2nd that sounded like he'd hit it out of the park off the bat. Instead, Dexter Fowler caught in on the run at the wall.
- Frank Robinson holds the single-season Reds record for most extra-base hits with 92 in 1962. After Friday's bashings, Todd Frazier is on pace for 98.
- Speaking of Frazier and his ridiculous season so far, his HR/FB% is above his career level, but it's not even a career high mark. Also, he entered Friday's game with a BABIP of just .289. In other words, he's freaking right now, but it's not even purely luck driven.
- Brandon Phillips got a pinch-hit appearance in this one after having missed most of the week with a groin issue. He popped out in the Top of the 8th.
- Saturday's game is of the evening variety, a 7:15 PM ET start that'll feature Mike Leake and Kyle Hendricks on the mound. Enjoy it. I'll be at Red Rocks listening to Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings as well as Tedeschi Trucks Band.
- Appropriate Tunes.