The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
We've long acknowledged that Billy Hamilton has the unique ability to create things on the bases that few, if any in the game of baseball can replicate, provided that he can just find a way to get to 1B safely. Hamilton did that in spades on Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, and it allowed him to unleash the kind of baserunning havoc that makes watching him an absolute delight for Cincinnati Reds fans.
Hamilton's final line reads simply enough: 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 runs scored, but the story behind it is why he gets today's JNMHSotG. Billy stole 3 bases, turned a bloop would-be single into a no-doubt double, scored from 2B on a passed ball, and generally made life miserable for Cubs pitching and catcher David Ross.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Joey Votto, who doubled, scored twice, lifted a sac fly, doubled, drove in a pair, and walked three times; Zack Cozart, who dingered, doubled, scored twice, and drove in a pair of runs; Raisel Iglesias, who tossed a trio scoreless innings in relief in the immediate aftermath of a dingerfest; Jay Bruce, who homered, walked, and drove in two; and Tony Cingrani, who tossed a scoreless 9th on his 27th birthday.
- John Lackey's inability to find the strike zone early helped the Reds get on the board in the Top of the 1st. Of course, Hamilton's otherworldly awesomeness did, too. Lackey walked Hamilton with 1-out, and Billy then promptly stole 2B. Lackey then walked Votto, too, and what happened next was the kind of purely awesome baseball moment that makes you glad you were watching despite the bogus Reds' record. A breaking ball got past Cubs catcher David Ross, and Lackey seemed a bit miffed in the immediate aftermath. Not just settling for 3B, Hamilton never broke stride rounding and heading for home, and he slid in to score as Ross and Lackey frantically tried to make a last-gasp attempt to tag him. Votto moved to 3B on the play, and he later scored on a single by Brandon Phillips. Reds led, 2-0.
- Cozart's blast in the Top of the 2nd put another pair on the board for the Reds, as it came after Eugenio Suarez singled and was replaced on the basepaths by Brandon Finnegan after a fielder's choice on a bunt. Reds led, 4-0.
- Suarez coaxed a 2-out walk off Lackey in the Top of the 3rd, and he motored all the way around to score when Ramon Cabrera dumped a double into the corner in RF. Reds led, 5-0.
- It was still Reds pitching versus Cubs hitting, though, and Javier Baez mauled a Finnegan meatball in the Bottom of the 3rd for a solo dinger to get Chicago on the scoring ledger. Kris Bryant, because he is Kris Bryant, later launched a laser of a solo dinger himself in that inning. Anthony Rizzo then walked, and that haunted when Addison Russell bonked a 2-run dinger into the seats beyond the LF wall. Reds led, 5-4.
- Cozart led off the Top of the 4th with a double off the wall in LF, and he scored two batters later on a Votto sac-fly after a successful sac bunt by Hamilton. Hooray, small ball in the face of endless dingers! Reds led, 6-4.
- Cubs. Reds. Russell. Dinger. Reds led, 6-5.
- Hamilton and Votto notched another run for the Reds in the Top of the 7th. Hamilton blooped a looper just over Baez's head into shallow RF, and since he was obviously running at light speed, he ended up with a double. He later stole 3B, though that didn't really matter since he'd have scored from anywhere when Votto doubled into the LF corner. Reds led, 7-5.
- Bruce followed Votto's third walk of the game with a beauty of an opposite field dinger in the Top of the 9th off Pedro Strop, and Cingrani then wrapped things up tidily in the Bottom of the 9th to lock down the win. Reds won, 9-5!
- Joe Maddon got tossed in the Bottom of the 2nd after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Jerry Meals. He even looked cool while angry.
- Five NL players have at least 6 dingers against a single team so far this year. Four of them have done it against the Reds, because of course.
- Speaking of which, Brandon Finnegan's final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, and 4 dingers allowed on 91 pitches. He's now allowed 6 dingers and 13 ER in 7.1 IP in his previous pair of starts. Ouch.
- Anthony DeSclafani will start again for the Reds in tomorrow's series finale, and he'll be opposed by Cubs starter Adam Warren. First pitch is set for 2:20 PM ET again, because the Cubs hate your afternoon plans.