The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Jay Bruce spent the bulk of the last nine months with a travel bag packed and ready in the likely event the Cincinnati Reds chose to trade him away. There were rumors he nearly went to the New York Mets at last year's July trade deadline, the Baltimore Orioles repeatedly showed interest in him, and he was all but dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays this winter before a hiccup with one of the other players in the deal shut that down.
But nothing ever materialized, and Jay Bruce is still with the Reds. On Thursday, he had the talent that has earned him a pair of Top 10 NL MVP finishes on full display, the talent from the vintage Jay Bruce days.
Bruce swatted a pair of home runs, added an RBI single, and drove in a total of 5 runs during a monster 3 for 4 day. His 3-run blast put the Reds on top for good, and his solo shot later in the game came off a lefty reliever. It's no secret that the Reds will still be trying to market him as best they can while in the midst of this complete rebuild, and days like today will certainly help make their job easier. For today, though, have a trophy, Jay - one more for the case.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Robert Stephenson, who tossed 5 largely effective innings in his first career big league start; Eugenio Suarez, who blasted a grand slam; Tucker Barnhart, who went 3 for 3 with a walk and a pair of runs scored; Joey Votto, who singled, walked, and scored twice; and Scott Schebler, who singled, doubled, scored a run, walked, and drove one in.
- The Phillies did some dinking & dunking to get on the board first in this one. Pitcher Charlie Morton - who had hit just .039 in 92 PA over the last two seasons - reached on an infield single on a slow grounder to the hole between SS and 3B to leadoff the Top of the 3rd, and he moved to 2B on a single from Freddy Galvis. Stephenson settled down to get a pair of outs, but then Morton came around to score on Ryan Howard's single when Bruce fumbled fielding it in RF. Reds trailed, 1-0 on the error.
- Cincinnati got that run back quickly, however, thanks to a 1-out walk from Tucker Barnhart in the Bottom of the 3rd and a rumblin' tumblin' effort from him to score on a later double to the RF wall by Schebler. Barnhart slid awkwardly, but somehow managed to roll over the attempted tag to reach home safely from 1B. Game tied, 1-1.
- That tie lasted precisely one batter, however, as Cedric Hunter smashed a solo dinger over the wall in RF - his first career dinger - to put the Phils back up in the Top of the 4th, 2-1.
- The Reds jumped right back on the gas pedal after allowing that run, thanks in large part to Jay Bruce hitting the proverbial snot out of the ball. Back to back singles from Joey Votto and Adam Duvall started off the Bottom of the 4th, and Bruce followed with a 414 foot blast that landed halfway up the bleachers in RF. Not to be outdone, the Reds got a walk from Ivan De Jesus, Jr., a single from Barnhart, and a sacrifice from Stephenson to move them over - the last of which ended Morton's day on the mound. Philadelphia turned to lefty Daniel Stumpf to try to retire the lefty Schebler, but he walked to load the bases. Pete Mackanin opted not to play matchups that early in the game and left Stumpf in to face Suarez, and that plan went POOF with Suarez smashing a towering grand slam into the LF seats. Stumpf celebrated by walking Votto before hitting the showers, and his replacement - Brett Oberholtzer - backed his lefty hurling buddy with a walk of Duvall. Bruce then singled up the middle to score Votto, and that finally capped the inning's scoring. Reds led, 9-2.
- All that dinger-blasting kept Stephenson in the dugout for the longest of times on the coldest of days, and the next half-inning somewhat reflected that. He allowed a 2-out walk to Maikel Franco in the Top of the 5th before Ryan Howard turned back time with a 2-run dinger to straightaway CF. Reds led, 9-4.
- Bruce added his solo shot in the Bottom of the 7th, Carlos Ruiz responded with a 2-run blast off Keyvius Sampson in the Top of the 8th, but from that point on the scoring dried up. Reds dropped the Phillies, 10-6, and completed the SWEEEEEEEEEEEEP!
FanGraph with a lotta lotta dingers
- The Bottom of the 4th saw the Phillies throw 58 pitches and took long enough for the Chicago Cubs's World Series drought to reach 108 years.
- Nevermind, that was already the Cubs' World Series drought.
- MLB.com's Mark Sheldon posted updates earlier today on the parade of injured Reds pitchers. It's generally positive, aside from Michael Lorenzen now apparently fighting mono. Dang.
- Those injuries, of course, are what prompted Stephenson getting the start today in the first place. His final line: 5 IP, 4 R (3 ER), 6 H, 2 BB, 1 K on 87 pitches. He hit 94 mph with his fastball early on, and sat mostly around 91-92 for the duration. While that may seem a tad bit lower than what you might've expected, Jumbo Diaz (who we all know can hit 99-100 mph with his) topped out at 97 mph and sat mostly 95-96 in his inning of work. So, either the gun was a bit slow, or the cold weather and early-season lack of innings on the arms held their speed a bit in check.
- Every Reds starting position player reached base today - except for Jordan Pacheco.
- The Reds will welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates to town on Friday for a three game weekend set. Alfredo Simon will get the start tomorrow opposite Francisco Liriano, and odds are between one and eleven Reds will get plunked by series' end. First pitch Friday is in the standard 7:10 PM ET time slot.