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Brandon Finnegan flirts with no-hitter, Reds lose late to Cubs 5-3

Almost famous.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Brandon Finnegan is just a day older than Cody Reed, who has yet to make his AAA debut.  Despite that, the 22 year old Cincinnati Reds starter is being leaned on heavily early this season, thanks in large part to a spate of injuries to his peers and a dang solid start to the 2016 season.

On Monday, he flashed the kind of brilliance that made him a 1st round draft pick in 2014, the kind of success as a starting pitcher that gave him the confidence to criticize the Kansas City Royals after they traded him without much of a shot.

Finnegan carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning against the Chicago Cubs, leaning on a 94 mph fastball and devastating change-up for much of his success, and it came against a lineup that most have projected to be among the very best in all the league this year.  A pair of runners he left on base came in to score when the bullpen couldn't bail him out, but Finnegan undeniably had a thoroughly impressive outing on the evening.  Heck, he even added an RBI single to his ledger.  So, have a trophy Brandon, and keep up the dang solid work.

Honorable Mentions are due to:  Billy Hamilton, who smacked his first dinger of the season; Joey Votto, who went 2 for 4; and Adam Duvall, who went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.

Key Plays

  • The Reds got a run in the Top of the 1st, but walked away afterwards with a feeling that it could've been much more than that.  Cozart led off with a bloop single to CF, and Eugenio Suarez took a pitch at his toes on a 3-0 count as the next batter.  He trotted off towards 1B because it missed the strike zone by a quarter of a mile, but home plate umpire John Tumpane called it strike one, and Suarez later lined out to 3B.  Had he walked and moved Cozart to 2B, the single to left-center from Joey Votto would've scored a run; instead, it left Cozart at 3B and Votto at 2B thanks to an errant throw from Jorge Soler.  Cozy came home to score on a Brandon Phillips groundout, but the big inning was thwarted by an #UmpShow before it ever got started.  Reds led, 1-0.
  • Billy Hamilton entered tonight's game with an .864 career OPS against the Cubs in 125 PA.  Then he socked a solo dinger straight down the LF line in his first time up.  Right handed, too.  Hmm.  Reds led, 2-0.
  • Finnegan helped himself with an RBI single in the Top of the 4th, though that of course came after contributions from the rest of the lineup.  Phillips singled to CF after a lengthy, well-battled PA, and he moved to 2B on a productive grounder off the bat of Devin Mesoraco.  BP then swiped 3B (thanks to creatively eluding the tag on solid throw from David Ross), and he then scored three batters later when Finnegan smacked an oppo single to left-center.  Reds led, 3-0.
  • Finnegan carried his no-hitter into the Bottom of the 7th, at which point former Reds catcher David Ross finally doinked a single into left-center with 2-out.  Finny then walked Matt Szczur before being pulled, after which Caleb Cotham came on and walked Dexter Fowler.  Cotham was then yanked in favor of Tony Cingrani, who allowed a 2-run single to Jason Heyward before finally getting out of the inning.  Reds led, 3-2.
  • Cingrani stuck around for the Bottom of the 8th, but that didn't exactly go as planned.  He walked Ben Zobrist, hit Jorge Soler, and was promptly replaced by Jumbo Diaz.  That, though, didn't go as planned either, as Jumbo wasted little time in serving up a 3-run dinger to Addison Russell on a meatball right over the middle of the plate.  After that, the Reds went quietly in the Top of the 9th, and another lead went poof.  Reds lost, 5-3.
FanGraph that might look very familiar by season's end with this bullpen

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes
  • Finnegan's final line:  6.2 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, on a career high 111 pitches.
  • Cozart was pulled prior to the Bottom of the 4th, with Ivan De Jesus, Jr. taking over at SS.  Immediately after Cozart led off the Top of the 1st, the training staff came out to meet with him at 1B, but he managed to stay in for the next few innings anyway.'s Mark Sheldon later reported that Cozart left with tightness in his right quad.
  • Both teams will pause tomorrow, with the series picking back up again on Wednesday.  First pitch is again set for 8:05 PM ET, with Alfredo Simon scheduled to face John Lackey.
  • Tunes.