The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Robert Stephenson was a late addition to the Cincinnati Reds lineup on Tuesday, called up early in the afternoon to take the place of Alfredo Simon and his injured biceps. He'd broken the seal on his big league career during the team's first homestand - a win against the Philadelphia Phillies in the third game of the season - but on Tuesday he flashed a bit more of the potential that made him both a former 1st round draft pick and the perennial top overall prospect in the Reds system.
Bob Steve allowed just a single run in his 7 innings on the mound, yielding just 3 hits and 2 walks against 3 strikeouts in his 105 pitch outing. He hit 96 mph with his fastball (97 mph on the stadium gun), and mixed in a solid repertoire of curveballs and changes while keeping the talented, dinger-happy Colorado Rockies lineup in check. It's not likely he sticks in the rotation for good immediately due to imminent returns of established starters and relative service time issues, but it's good to know that he now knows he can cut it on the biggest stage.
So, have a trophy, Bob, and here's to being excited about the future of the Reds.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Brandon Phillips, who came a dinger short of the cycle (and also stole a base) while chipping in with a stellar 4 for 4 evening; Jay Bruce, who drove in a run, scored a run, and swiped a pair of bases; Devin Mesoraco, who singled & walked; Caleb Cotham, who tossed a clean inning from the bullpen; and Tony Cingrani, who struck out the only dude he was tasked with out-duding.
- The Rockies struck first in this one, beginning with a 2-out double off the bat of Mark Reynolds in the Top of the 2nd. That put Stephenson in the stretch for the first time on the night, and he promptly lost his footing on the very first pitch from it, resulting in a balk that moved Reynolds to 3B. Ben Paulsen then chipped a broken bat single in to RF, and that brought in the run. Reds trailed, 1-0.
- Cincinnati struck right back, though. Phillips led off the Bottom of the 2nd with a single to LF, and a great jump on either a steal or successful hit & run with Devin Mesoraco at the plate saw BP make it to 3B when Mes singled up the middle. That left runners at the corners, and BP came in to score on a productive grounder to the right-side off the bat of Jay Bruce. Bruce then stole 2B, Tyler Holt was plunked, both moved up on a double steal, and a high-hopping double down the LF line from Hamilton scored them both. Billy then swiped 3B and scored on a single to LF by Cozart after a dang impressive 10-pitch AB. Reds led, 4-1.
- Sometimes, boring games are good for the soul. This game could claim that title for much of the rest of the evening, at least until the Top of the 9th. Shocking, I know. Tony Cingrani struck out Carlos Gonzalez for the 1st out of the evening, but was then replaced by J.J. Hoover because "closer" and whatnot. That backfired, however, as Hoover served up an infield single and a 2-run dinger to Mark Reynolds, but fortunately got Ben Paulsen to fly out to end the damage. Reds won, 4-3.
Slightly relaxing FanGraph...until late (per usual)
- The Reds swiped 5 bags in the Bottom of the 2nd alone, which is a team record for number of steals in a half inning in April against the Rockies, I'm guessing. In fact, it was a Rockies team record for most bags swiped in any inning against them, ever.
- Zack Cozart's single in the 2nd inning gave him a 10 game hit streak.
- Brandon Phillips was worth 3.5 bWAR last year, 2.6 fWAR last year, and is now hitting .333/.367/.511 early in the 2016 season. Yes, he's old, and yes, the team tried endlessly to trade him, but the remaining years and dollars he's owed do not at all mean he's on a "bad contract." Good lord, Chase Utley is almost 3 years older than BP, hit .212 in a 0.0 fWAR season in 2015, and is making $7 million to leadoff for the Los Angeles Dodgers this year. His presence keeps Jose Peraza at AAA...but that's a GOOD thing at this point and time. So, enjoy BP yet again this year for what he's worth.
- J.J. Hoover's ERA has a comma, I think.
- The series rubber match will begin at 12:35 PM ET tomorrow, with Raisel Iglesias on the mound for the Reds. His counterpart will be Chad Bettis, who brings a 2-0 record and 2.95 ERA into the contest.