The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
There is a lot of Johnny Cueto love that goes on in this section, and rightfully so, as we (potentially) approach the end of his tenure as a Red. But we often overlook... we're probably approaching the end of Mike Leake's tenure as a Red as well. Leake doesn't have the numbers (or a runner up Cy Young vote) to his name, but he's been a very solid pitcher for the Reds since being inserted into the starting rotation straight out of college in 2010.
He's a consistent innings eater for the Reds, much like his mentor Bronson Arroyo had been for many years before him. He's not been as good as Bronson, but in those pitching sufficient years the Reds have enjoyed since 2010, he was probably more valuable to the Reds than he would've been for any other team. Many of them would kill for that kind of consistent performance out of their 5th spot in the rotation.
But make no mistake when we're treated to a particularly good Mike Leake performance, it's every bit as special as a #Goodrroyo performance. Tonight we got 7 innings of 2 hit baseball with 3 walks and 7 strikeouts and 0 earned. When Leake can take the mound, pick his spots and hit them consistently, magic can be made. The control got shaky at times but the mastery is no less impressive.
Call it being sentimental, but I'm giving the trophy to Mike.
Honorable mention are due to: Todd Frazier who had 2 extra base hits on the night with a run scored (so a typical Todd Frazier night, ho-hum), Jay Bruce with a hit, 2 RBI, a run scored, a steal and a walk. Marlon Byrd who came off the DL and promptly CAW CAW'd one right out of the ball park. Eugenio Suarez who tacked on an insurance run with his only hit of the night (while also making some great defense plays at shortstop). Tucker Barnhart for his 2-4 night with a run scored. AND the bullpen (JJ Hoover and Pedro Villarreal) for being good, again. Every time the bullpen doesn't suck in this season feels like a win, and they've stung a few together in a row.
- The game was slow (and by slow, I mean really fast, time-wise) until the Reds struck in the bottom of the 4th. Jay Bruce flied out to start the inning, but Marlon Byrd, in his first game back from the disabled list, doinked a dinger to center field. Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart ended the inning on outs shortly thereafter, but the Byrd is back. Reds led, 1-0.
- In the bottom of the 7th, Suarez started it off by flying out but Barnhart followed him up by hitting his first double of the season. Pinch Hitter Extraordinaire Skip Schumaker batted for Leake and promptly hit a single, driving in Barnhart. Billy Hamilton singled, but Brandon Phillips erased both of them on a double play. Reds led after 7 full, 2-0.
- In the bottom of the 8th, Joey Votto led off with a walk. Todd Frazier did what Todd Frazier does and laced a single to right, Votto advancing to 3rd and Frazier to 2nd on the throw. Jay Bruce continued his hitting resurgence by doubling to right field, scoring both Votto and Frazier. Byrd struck out, but Bruce stole 3rd before Suarez doubled on a grounder to left, scoring him from 3rd. Barnhart and pinch hitting Chris Dominguez ended the inning with outs but the Reds provided insurance, 5-0.
- Instead of Aroldis Chapman, we were greeted with Pedro Villarreal for the 9th inning. While it wasn't always pretty, the job got done. Reds win, 5-0.
- I was skeptical of Byrd coming back so quickly from a fractured wrist. The last thing the Reds need to do in this injury plagued season is run a power-sapped Marlon Byrd out there enough for his option to vest. And, while I still think the last thing the Reds need to do is let that option vest, it appears there's no power deficiency in Byrd's swing. In his rehab appearances in Pensacola, he hit a home run and a double, and then added a big league home run tonight. Injured wrists can torpedo a hitter's season, but at this point Marlon seems no worse for wear. It may be too soon to know if that's actual fact, but if it IS true, it makes him tradable. And that helps the Reds.
- On the other hand, since coming back from injury, Brandon Phillips has been less than stellar at the plate, dealing with a toe and groin injury that caused him to miss a few games and relegated him to a pinch hitter for a couple of others. He's been 4-24 with a sub .200 OBP. His OBP was nearly .350 before the injury and BP slapping singles from the leadoff spot had been exactly what the Reds needed. Hopefully he can get it turned around soon, but Phillips playing injured and his offensive line suffering for it is something Reds fans are very familiar with.
- Mike Leake carried a no hitter through 5.2 innings tonight. That's cool as heck.
- The Reds wore white and green uniforms tonight for Irish Heritage Night, claiming to "ShamROCK the Ballpark." Which is cool. I'm on the fence about these jerseys, but I think they're probably all right. They're no camo jerseys, which is probably the best thing about them, to be honest.
- I did chat with some people at Fish Stripes. They asked me about trading Todd Frazier. I answered. Go check them out and impart your wisdom (nicely, of course, they seem like good, if not quiet, people over there) if you so choose.
- Current Red and former Marlin Anthony DeSclafani will take the bump against his former team tomorrow at 7:10 EDT. Tune in and log on to Red Reporter, won't you?
- Jason Isbell upcoming album tunes!