The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Billy Hamilton had himself a 3 for 4 evening on Monday, once again flashing a bit of improved plate performance from the #2 spot in the Cincinnati Reds order in their tilt against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Sure, he was nabbed attempting a steal for the second consecutive time, but there's not a pair of eyes attached to a brain out there that would trade a steal for a 3 for 4 outing from the Reds' CF, so we'll stick to focusing on the positive on a night when the Reds claimed victory over their division rivals. So, have a trophy Billy, and keep lacing singles during your return to the top part of the order.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Dan Straily, who allowed just a pair of earned runs in his 6 IP, striking out 4 against 4 hits and 3 walks allowed; Joey Votto, who continued to climb out of his April funk with a 1 for 2 evening that featured a dinger, a walk, and a HBP; Zack Cozart, who dingered, too; Tucker Barnhart, who joined in on the dinger parade; JC Ramirez, who tossed a perfect inning in relief; and Tony Cingrani, who locked up his 2nd save of the season as perhaps the newly minted Reds' closer.
- Cozart jumped on a Jon Niese meatball to lead off the Bottom of the 1st, dingering to leadoff a game for the 2nd such time in 2016 to give the Reds an early 1-0 lead.
- Both pitchers settled in to keep the offenses in check after that, though the Pirates finally struck back in the Top of the 6th against Straily. Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, and Starling Marte reached with no-outs via single-walk-single, and McCutchen then scored when Francisco Cervelli lifted a deep sac-fly to CF. That allowed Polanco to move up to 3B, which loomed large when he scored on a slow grounder to SS off the bat of Jung-Ho Kang. Reds trailed, 2-1.
- Votto wasted little time in getting the Reds back level, as he promptly sliced a solo dinger just inside the LF fould pole with 1-out in the Bottom of the 6th. Game tied, 2-2.
- The Pirates tried to sneak Niese through the Bottom of the 7th, but 2-outs into said inning Barnhart turned another one of his meatballs around for a solo dinger that just cleared the wall in LF (and was confirmed after review). Reds led, 3-2.
- After that, the Reds' bullpen shut down the Pirates offense, because that's a sentence I'm sure you were waiting for. Cingrani flirted with disaster in the Top of the 9th, but got the job done regardless, and the Reds wrapped up a hard-fought win, 3-2.
- You may have missed that Kyle Waldrop was called up in place of Scott Schebler over the weekend. If so, now you know.
- You may have also missed that Layne Somsen - who was previously called up by the Reds this year only to get sent back to Louisville without an appearance - was called up in place of Waldrop on Monday. Waldrop, of course, left sans appearance too, meaning he's now been called up twice since the beginning of the 2015 season with only a single PA (a K) to show for it. Welcome to the business of baseball.
- Cingrani hit 95 mph repeatedly in his 9th inning outing. That relief velocity will go a long way to disguise his lack of off-speed offerings, which is why he's long been pegged as a late-inning arm for the Reds in the first place.
- Alfredo Simon will toe the rubber for the Reds tomorrow in the second game of the series against the Pirates, and he'll be opposed by Juan Nicasio. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.