The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
/cue ESPN 30 for 30 music
What if I told you a light hitting, defense first shortstop would have the month of his life?
What if I told you it happened after his 30th birthday, only two years removed from being the worst regular batter in Major League Baseball?
What if I told you he did it all after completely shredding his knee only 10 month prior?
Seriously, the work Zack Cozart is doing the first month of this season is pretty special. One night removed from seeing his season long hit streak snapped (along with the rest of his team getting blanked), Cozart got back on the wagon with a bottom of the sixth inning jack, his first of the season. It wasn't enough, obviously, but we're now nearly 50 plate appearances into his comeback season, and all he's done is OPS a cool .931 while being just as sure handed on defense as we know Zack Cozart can be.
There are players better than Zack Cozart. There are players having better starts to the 2016 season than Zack Cozart. There are Reds that have had better starts to seasons in other seasons than Zack Cozart is having right now. But tonight, right this instance, 17 games into the young 2016 season... Zack Cozart is the best Reds player. Considering where he's been, what he's done, and maybe more miraculously what he's been through; that's a pretty damn good story.
Have a trophy, Zack. Keep doing your damn thing.
Honorable mention to JC Ramirez, who made the most of his call up going 3 innings allowing nothing with two strikeouts; Joey Votto, for getting off the schneid, at least; Adam Duvall, for his hit and pretty damn decent diving catch in left. Dude's either pretty good out there, or he's pretty good at making up for taking bad routes. Regardless, it's fun to watch. And, hell, even Jon Moscot. He wasn't good tonight, but it could've been a helluva lot worse, and this is a ton to ask of the rook. This one was still in reach when he left.
- The Cubs got on the board in the top of the 2nd. Javier Baez singled to right field and then stole second base. Addison Russell grounded out but moved Baez to third, and then David Ross brought in Baez on a sac fly to right. Cubs led, 1-0.
- Cubs struck again in the top of the 4th when Anthony Rizzo jumped all over a Jon Moscot offering, crushing a big fat dinger to right field. Ben Zobrist followed with a walk, Baez hit a grounder to short, forcing Zobrist out at second. No problem, of course, because Russell found some space on the first base side, singling and sending Baez to third. The Cubs then decided to play some smawl bawl. Ross laid down a sac bunt that scored Baez easily. Moscot sailed the throw to Joey Votto into right field, allowing an extra base to both Ross and Russell. Lester then laid down a bunt for himself, scoring Russell. Dexter Fowler lined out to end the inning. Cubs tack on three more, led 4-0.
- Zack Cozart decided to put the Reds on his back, doe, jacking his own dinger to center to get the Reds on the board. Eugenio Suarez thought trying to score runs was fun so he followed with a single. I assume that Joey Votto also thinks that scoring runs are fun, but I'll be damned if he can find a way to do it right now. Votto erased everyone, grounding into a double play. Brandon Phillips popped out to end the Reds run inning. Cubs, 4-1.
- JJ Hoover came in to pitch the top of the 9th. JJ Hoover is not the Reds closer. Basically, you see, he's been getting hit hard in 2016. Taking away that whole "closer" pressure, well, it didn't help. Baez homered before Russell and Ross recorded outs. Two-thirds of the way there, JJ Hoover turned into JJ Groover; Tommy La Stella singled, Fowler doubled, Jason Heyward doubled, and Kris Bryant doubled. Don't look now but JJ Hoover allowed a crooked number. Rerss Eherlenderf came in to get the Reds out of the inning but, damn. Cubs, 8-1.
- THE REDS WERE GAME FOR A COMEBACK THOUGH nah guys I'm kidding the Reds didn't do anything, really, and lost, 8-1.
FanGraph that's not as obvious when JJ Hoover came in as I kinda thought it'd be
- I was there tonight. AMA.
- Some random thoughts from attending my first Reds game of the season: it rained. Like, not A LOT ever, but a significant amount throughout most of the game. I don't know how that affected Moscot, but it did always seem to rain on him harder than it did Lester.
- Also worth at least mentioning: that errant throw from Moscot to Votto in the 4th? It was also the only time that the wind picked up enough to blow rain from that direction. What I'm saying is, for that 45-60 seconds, rain was blowing into my eyes looking down the first base line. The error was Moscot's, but it wasn't that far off from my perspective, and I wonder how the weather being better could've changed that play (ie. Votto getting to it).
- Beers are expensive at the ballpark jeeeez.
- Big shoutout to our own Mitchel Clark aka Arkansas's biggest Reds fan for allowing me to enjoy these tix. I owe this guy all of the beers.
- The Cubs fans in my section (down the first base line, between first base and right field) chanted Heyward's name and pretty much made it their life's mission to have Jason Heyward acknowledge them. They also told Jay Bruce to "die. Hey, Jay Bruuuuce. Die! Die Bruce!" So that was AWESOME.