The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Jay Bruce continued his season-stat turnaround on Tuesday, blasting a dinger as part of a two hit, two run, three RBI evening, and it's obvious that whatever early season doldrums he was mired in have become a thing of the past. Now the only question is whether or not he can sustain this through the summer, but the Cincinnati Reds have to be excited that their RF is once again putting the bat on the ball with the same force that made him one of the most prized young assets in the game.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Brandon Phillips, who had a two hit day from the leadoff spot; Joey Votto, who followed him with a two hit day of his own (with a walk tossed in); Nate Adcock, who danced around a hit and a walk to toss two scoreless innings in relief; Billy Hamilton, who had two hits and stole two bases; and Josh Smith, who didn't have the best of MLB debuts, but still managed to pick up his first career MLB hit.
- The Reds burst out of the gates with four consecutive singles from their offense in the Top of the 1st, the last of which was off the bat of Bruce and scored leadoff man Phillips from 3B. Things then got a bit screwy when Marlon Byrd hit a grounder to 3B, and the result of the play saw Votto called out in a force-play at home when replay ruled that Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli touched home after the play on the field having originally overlooked that note. The bases were left loaded, though, and both Todd Frazier and Bruce scored when the Pirates defense boondoggled a potential double play ball off the bat of Eugenio Suarez, getting one out at 2B before a throwing error by Jordy Mercer. Reds led, 3-0.
- Smith walked the bases loaded in the Bottom of the 1st before escaping without allowing a run; unfortunately, the Reds then returned the favor against Jeff Locke in the Top of the 2nd as they loaded the bases with 1-out but couldn't push across a run.
- Cincinnati again loaded the bases in the Top of the 4th against Locke, and that got started by a perfectly executed bunt from Hamilton. Billy then stole 2B, and the bases were loaded after Votto reached on an error and Frazier walked. Bruce followed with a tapper to 1B soft enough to get Billy home from 3B, and that put the Reds ahead, 4-0.
- Despite the fact that he'd walked Pirates like Egyptians through 3 IP, Smith actually entered the Bottom of the 4th having not allowed a hit. That changed - as did the game - in a hurry. Smith walked Neil Walker to lead off the inning (which haunted), and after Josh Harrison singled to move up the runner, Pedro Alvarez doubled off the wall in CF to drive in Walker. Pitching Coach Jeff Pico made a trip to the mound to talk to Smith prior to facing Francisco Cervelli, and unless Pico said "groove one down the middle to this guy," a missed spot to the Pirates catcher resulted in a mammoth 3-run homer that cleared the wall in CF and ended Smith's evening. Pedro Villarreal took over for Smith and retired a pair of Buccos, but he then yielded a triple to Gregory Polanco that just cleared Hamilton's glove in CF, and that proved costly when Starling Marte grounded to Eugenio Suarez for what should've been the final out of the inning but resulted in a short throw to 1B that skipped past Votto and allowed the runner to score. What's the worst thing that could've then happened? Probably a McCutchen homer, which is exactly what happened. Reds trailed, 7-4.
- To their credit, the Reds immediately got a run back in the Top of the 5th. Tucker Barnhart smacked a double to the wall and moved alertly to 3B on a slow infield tapper from PH Chris Dominguez, both of whom were safe when Tucky beat the throw to 3B. Hamilton followed with a liner that required a sliding catch from Marte in LF, but that plated Barnhart to inch the Reds closer. Reds trailed, 7-5.
- Bruce smashed an Arquimedes Caminero fastball over the wall in right-center at about a jillion MPH in the Top of the 6th for a solo dinger, which drew the Reds ever closer to a come-from-ahead victory. Reds trailed, 7-6.
- From that point on, both bullpens held their ground - including the Pirates' pen striking out the final 6 Reds batters who reached the plate - and that was that. Reds lose, 7-6.
- The Reds drafted Zach Shields in the 10th round of the MLB Draft this year out of UNC-Wilmington, and in just his 2nd game as a pro he made this stupid awesome ridiculous mesmerizing made-for-slo-mo catch. Welcome to adulthood, Zach.
- It kinda sorta feels like Hamilton has been hot of late. In reality, he's 8 for his last 27. It's an improvement, at least.
- Eugenio Suarez's defense was the one question mark surrounding the otherwise polished SS prospect when he was acquired from the Detroit Tigers this offseason in exchange for Alfredo Simon, and while he's been generally solid since taking over for the injured Zack Cozart, his throwing error led to 3 unearned runs and was basically the deciding play of the game. Ask Votto about it, though, and the Reds' 1B will probably tell you it's a throw he digs out half the time. Tough luck.
- Mike Leake will take the mound opposite Gerrit Cole in the second game of the series Wednesday, with first pitch set for 7:05 PM ET. Go, or else there will be a For Sale sign outside of GABP something something nevermind.