The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Homer Bailey of the Game
Homer Bailey, of course!
The most senior starting pitcher on the Cincinnati Reds roster made his return to the mound for the first time in over a year, making just his third big league start since the first week of August 2014. Since then, he'd had two major throwing arm surgeries - one to repair his flexor mass tendon, the other Tommy John surgery - and after a few mediocre rehab starts with AAA Louisville, it was hard to expect anything other than shaking the rust off in Sunday's outing.
Instead, Homer looked polished and powerful, showing the kind of vintage ability we've fawned over at its best for years. His final line of 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4H, 3 BB, and 6 K on 89 pitches isn't absolutely dazzling, but it doesn't really reflect how dominant he was at times. He retired 15 consecutive San Diego Padres at one point, and reached the 6th inning having allowed just 3 H and nary a walk. Considering this was just the first step in getting him back to the guy who tossed back to back 200 inning seasons in 2012 and 2013, it was a helluva first step, one that even featured Bailey hitting 95 mph with his fastball on his second to last pitch of the day.
He even chipped in with a single in his first PA. Have a trophy for that case, Homer.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Jose Peraza, who finally got a start and responded by belting his first career MLB homer; Blake Wood, who pitched out of an inherited jam as part of a perfect 1.1 IP (with 2 Ks); Joey Votto, who singled for the 16th straight game (and walked, of course); Adam Duvall, who singled, walked, and scored; Tony Cingrani, who pitched perfect 9th for the save; and Zack Cozart, who singled and stole a bag.
- Travis Jankowski spanked the very first offering from Bailey for a single into LF to begin the Bottom of the 1st, and wheels helped him create a run from little else. Jankowski was on the move on a grounder right at Zack Cozart at SS, eliminating the chance for a double play and leaving a runner on 2B with just 1-out. Jankowski then stole 3B, and scored on a slow groundout to SS off the bat of Wil Myers. Reds trailed, 1-0.
- The Reds bonked back in the Top of the 2nd, however, as Eugenio Suarez poked a single into RF to begin the inning before Peraza smoked a 429 ft no-doubt dinger into the LF seats to put Cincinnati in front, 2-1.
- Cincinnati loaded the bases with nobody out in the Top of the 6th against the San Diego bullpen, but after Suarez and Peraza were retired without a run scoring, a single off pitcher Jose Dominguez's leg by Tucker Barnhart allowed Adam Duvall to score, and that put the Reds up, 3-1.
- Bailey lost command in the Bottom of the 6th, however, missing spots not by miles, but by just enough to not get calls he may have hoped for. All three of his walks issued came in that half inning, at least two of which on 3-2 pitches after he thought he'd thrown strike three earlier in the counts. Ball four to Ryan Schimpf came on a curve in the dirt that skipped away, but Barnhart collected it, made a quick relay to a covering Homer, and the tag was made on Alexei Amarista for the inning's second out, but a later walk to Jabari Blash ended Homer's day - and did so in an odd way. When Barnhart threw the ball back to Bailey, the Reds' pitcher turned his back knowing he was about to be pulled, but before time was called an alert Wil Myers sprinted home to steal a run for the Padres. Blake Wood poured water on the fire, however, and the Reds still led, 3-2.
- Michael Lorenzen danced around potential danger in the Bottom of the 8th, and Cingrani breezed throught the Bottom of the 9th to pick up the save, and that was that. Reds won, 3-2!
- Tomorrow, August 1st, is the official MLB non-waiver trade deadline, so between now and 4 PM ET, expect filth flying filth flying filth trade rumors to be filth flying all over the place. We know Jay Bruce - who was initially in Sunday's lineup before being scratched - is expected to be moved, but there's at least a chance the same could be said for Zack Cozart, Ross Ohlendorf, you, me, them, and all of us. We'll keep ya posted on the what/when/where/how/why of it all.
- Sunday's win nabbed another series victory for Cincinnati, making it five consecutive series victories for the Reds out of the gate. Just don't look at their upcoming schedule.
- The Reds will have an off-day on Monday - yes, the third already since the All Star break - before welcoming the St. Louis Cardinals to GABP for a three game set beginning Tuesday. First pitch for Game 1 is set for 7:10 PM ET, with Dan Straily scheduled to take the mound opposite Adam Wainwright.
- Should this be the final recap I write about a Reds baseball team that has Jay Bruce on it, I'll be damned if I don't link to this one more time. If the Reds do trade Jay, what if the Reds sign him after the 2017 season when he eventually hits free agency?