The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Jay Bruce is riding a career-best walk rate, a spate of normalized BABIP, and a multi-week period of seeing pitches that look like beachballs, and on Monday night the Cincinnati Reds RF kept his hot streak rolling. Bruce launched a go-ahead 2-run dinger, doubled, and raised his season OPS to a not-too-shabby .821 on the evening, and he did all of it with the eyes of the trade world upon him. Whether or not Bruce gets moved by the July 31st trade deadline, it's pretty clear that he's put the knee injury and awful 2014 season firmly in his rear-view mirror, and he's back to bashing baseballs the way we all have seen in the past.
His dinger, by the way, was the 197th of his career. It'd sure be nice to see him get to 200 while still wearing a Reds hat, and we know the Reds' brass is into that sort of thing...
But that's for another day. In the meantime, have another JNMHSotG trophy, Jay.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Todd Frazier, who dingered, singled, and walked; Joey Votto, who walked twice and scored; and Ryan Mattheus, Burke Badenhop, J.J. Hoover, and Aroldis Chapman, who combined to throw 4 IP in relief.
- The Cubs hit Lorenzen hard in the Top of the 1st, but they only managed to score a lone run. Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber both singled to begin the game, and Fowler moved to 3B when Kris Bryant's grounder only got one out on an attempted double play. Anthony Rizzo then lifted a fly ball to Billy Hamilton in CF that was deep enough for Fowler to tag and score. Reds trailed, 1-0.
- Frazier equalized in his first opportunity, though, as he hit a line-drive dinger off Clayton Richard that cleared the wall in CF despite not being hit high enough to clear a two story building. Game tied, 1-1.
- Joey Votto walked to lead off the Bottom of the 4th, and despite all the crap and crap and crap and crap he gets for such acts from Hall of Fame voices and their offspring, that's precisely the kind of thing that haunts other teams. He moved to 2B on a Frazier single, to 3B on a GIDP off the bat of Bruce, and scored when Richard threw a wild pitch to the wall behind home plate. Byrd followed with a mammoth solo dinger to RF, and the Reds led, 3-1.
- That lead was fun. It was also short-lived. The Cubs busted out their bats again in the Top of the 5th, as a single, single, walk, and a ground-rule double off the bat of Kris Bryant led off the inning. Lorenzen buckled down to get Anthony Rizzo to strike out swinging, but he then hung a 2-strike breaking ball to Jorge Soler, and the Cubs RF shot a double to RF to score two more. Reds trailed, 4-3.
- Either Clayton Richard was on a 70 pitch limit, or Joe Maddon saw something that warranted him being pulled after 5.2 IP, but whatever it was that prompted the pitching chance to Justin Grimm worked in the Reds favor. Richard's last pitch got Votto to ground into a double play to clear the bases, but Grimm entered only to walk Frazier before yielding a 7,000 foot dinger to RF off the bat of Bruce. Reds led, 5-4.
- For the last out of the Top of the 7th, Brandon Phillips an Eugenio Suarez combined for one of the best 4-6 putouts I've ever witnessed, a behind the back flip from BP after he made a run-saving diving stop behind 2B.
- After that, the combination of J.J. Hoover & Aroldis Chapman combined to shut down the Cubs, and that was that. Reds won, 5-4!
- Prior to the start of this one, the Reds placed Manny Parra on the 15-day DL with a strained elbow and recalled Dylan Axelrod from Louisville. So much for trading Parra at the deadline.
- In other news from Monday afternoon, the Reds announced that Tony Cingrani will start the evening game of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Cubs. He's not on the 25 man roster currently, so there will need to be a move made between now and then.
- Speaking of the Reds and moves needing to be made, hot dang there are eleven or forty I can think of.
- I've not looked this up, but I'd venture that the Reds lead all of baseball in having their starting pitchers hit only to be replaced by another arm in the next half-inning. That's exactly what happened when Lorenzen batted in the Bottom of the 5th before Ryan Mattheus took over for the Top of the 6th.
- Perhaps it's finally time to write that long-promised article about how Burke Badenhop being absolutely awful in April and nails for the rest of the season is something he does every year. Perhaps. His ERA is down to 4.71 after having a comma just three months ago.