The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Brandon Phillips was back in the lineup for the Cincinnati Reds after a stomach bug had kept him out for a pair of games, and he wasted little time in getting back in on the action. BP homered in his first PA, added his patented defensive prowess back to the equation, stole a base, walked, drove in two, and scored twice as part of a splendid all-around evening, precisely the kind of turn-back-the-clock night the Reds must be hoping for every night.
Was it enough? Unfortunately, no.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Zack Cozart, who went 1 for 5 with a run scored and a pattern of defensive wizardry; Alfredo Simon, who K'd 7 while allowing just a single earned run in his 5 IP; and Blake Wood, who was the only one of the seven Reds pitchers on the evening to not allow a walk (and he sat down the Pittsburgh Pirates in order in a perfect 8th inning).
- A 1-out single by Suarez to LF got the Reds rolling in the Bottom of the 1st, as did an errant throw from Francisco Cervelli in an attempt to nail Suarez stealing 2B. Henny-O ended up on 3B on the play, which set him up to stroll home when Votto hit a slow groundout to 2B. Phillips then followed with a solo-dinger to straightaway CF, and the Reds found themselves ahead quickly, 2-0.
- Offensive power-force Francisco Liriano - who drove in the first run of the MLB season back on Sunday - helped himself in the Top of the 2nd, however. He doubled to the corner in RF that allowed Jordy Mercer (who had singled) to score all the way from 1B. Reds led, 2-1.
- The Reds went back to offending in the Bottom of the 3rd once the top of the order cycled back around. Zack Cozart began things with a single off the SS's glove, and back to back walks to Suarez and Votto then loaded the bases. Cozart then strolled home on a deep sac fly to CF off the bat of Phillips, but a 5-4-3 DP cut a would-be big inning short. Still, Reds led, 3-1.
- Cincinnati loaded the bases again in the Bottom of the 4th, this time failing completely to get a run across home thanks to another inning ending DP. That bit them in the Top of the 5th, as the Pirates returned the loaded-bases favor. Andrew McCutchen reached on a booted grounder by Suarez, and Simon then walked David Freese before hitting Starling Marte. Cutch scored on a 6-5 putout, but Simon struck out Gregory Polanco before Cozart made a remarkable play to bail out Suarez from another gaff. Henny-O booted what would be the 3rd out, but Cozy fielded it as backup and dove to tag Starling Marte at 3B as he had rounded the bag. Reds led, 3-2.
- Ryan Vogelsong took the hill for the Pirates in the Bottom of the 6th, and the Reds got to him to stretch the lead back to 2 runs. Jay Bruce reached when a shifted Pirates defense saw David Freese boot an oppo-grounder, Duvall walked behind him, both moved up on a deep fly-out by Jordan Pacheco to CF, and Bruce motored home on a single to LF from a lefty-swinging Billy Hamilton. Reds led, 4-2.
- Phillips struck again in the Bottom of the 7th, almost singlehandedly manufacturing a run. He took a 1-out walk, moved to 2B on a productive grounder off the bat of Devin Mesoraco, and then scored when Ryan Vogelsong threw a wild pitch while he was in the process of stealing 3B (which allowed him to speed all the way home). Reds led, 5-2.
- Vibes were good, things were positive, and the Reds held a 3-run lead into the Top of the 8th. Unfortunately, the bullpen. Since Tony Cingrani had been tasked with bailing out Jumbo Diaz's mess in the Top of the 7th (and because they'd already pitched so often this season), Ross Ohlendorf was brought out to pitch the Top of the 8th, but after getting 2 quick outs, poop rapidly hit the fan. Dorf hit John Jaso, walked McCutchen, and allowed a single to Freese to load the bases. That brought out Bryan Price, who turned to J.J. Hoover for a would-be 4-out save...only to have him loop a meatball over the plate that Marte blasted out for a lead-changing grand slam. Hot damn. Reds trailed, 6-5.
- After that, the Reds' bats went quietly, and undefeated dreams died. Reds lost, 6-5.
FanGraph that tests the limits of FanGraphing
- Give that FanGraph a high hard one and a firm middle finger, would ya?
- Suarez logged a pair of errors in this one, and those paired with the "double" he allowed on what should've been his third error in four games in 2016 is certainly concerning. Keep in mind he'd never started a big league game at 3B prior to this season and hadn't started a professional game there since 2010. His instincts are good, his hands are good, but his footwork seems to be what's costing him so far. Hopefully, more experience there (and a non-wet playing surface) will do him some good.
- Reds pitching hit three Pirates and walked six more. That's, uhm, not efficient.
- Raisel Iglesias will return to the mound for tomorrow's tangle with these Pirates. He'll face off against Gerrit Cole, with first pitch scheduled for 1:10 PM ET.