The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Brandon Phillips is currently, as the kids say, "on fire." It was easy to be tired of Phillips this season. What started with a guy rightfully exercising his no-trade rights in the off-season (thus blocking the other younger middle infielders from getting a chance to get everyday ABs with the big club), gave way to the veteran second baseman having his worst season as a Cincinnati Red and, arguably, his worst as a proper major league player.
When the Reds traded Jay Bruce for near-ready second baseman Dilson Herrera while said young middle infield prospect Jose Peraza rode the pine, the calls for Phillips head (or, more accurately, starting job) got even louder.
Brandon Phillips has seemingly replied, "The reports of my demise has been greatly exaggerated."
Since the All Star break (and before this game), Phillips has slashed .328/.357/.418. He hadn't hit a home run since May 7th, but answered that critique with two dingers in this one as he served as, basically, all of the Reds offense.
Nobody here has been shy about calling for the Reds to put an end to the Brandon Phillips era at second base. But, Phillips has been a huge part of the Cincinnati Reds organization, was a huge part of the previous great Cincinnati Reds team, and is certainly a lock (in my mind) to be a Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer. So, it's nights like these - even more so, hot stretches like these - that remind me what fun it's been to watch Brandon Phillips as a Cincinnati Red.
By all means, BP, enjoy this trophy and keep on freakin' raking until there're no more at bats to be raked in the 2016 season. Because it's a helluva lot of fun, both the last few weeks and for your career.
Honorable mention to: Tucker Barnhart, for an RBI hit and a walk, Eugenio Suarez for his double and run scored, Joey Votto for HIS double, and the collective bullpen (Josh Smith, Keviyous Sampson, Jumbo Diaz) for, once again, keeping the Reds in the game after being handed a crappy hand.
- The Pirates dented the scoreboard first in the bottom of the 1st inning, when Starling Marte smoked a liner to left field. Andrew McCutchen wasted no time blasting a grounder between 2nd and 3rd base, scoring Marte. The 'Rats would go quietly thereafter, but jumped out in front, 1-0.
- The Reds decided to jump on new Pirate Ivan Nova in the top of the 2nd. Brandon Phillips brought the hot bat he's been swinging the past couple of weeks and smacked a lead off dinger into the left field seats to tie the game. Scott Schebler lined out, but Eugenio Suarez smoked a liner into center field and then turned on the wheels to turn the single into a double. Tucker Barnhart then laced a grounder into right field to score Suarez. Homer Bailey erased him and the inning on a bad bunt, but the Reds were able to take a one run lead, 2-1.
- Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the 3rd with a bunt single, and then he advanced to second base after Suarez's throw sailed into the outfield. Marte struck out and McCutchen struck out for the first two outs of the inning. Then, Homer lost control of the strike zone. He walked Matt Joyce, and then hit David Freese to load the bases. Then, he hit John Jaso to allow Harrison score. Francisco Cervelli hit a ground ball right up the middle, which Cozart was able to field but the throw couldn't get Cervelli out. Joyce scored to give the Pirates the lead. Jordy Mercer flew out sharply to center to end the inning. The Pirates climb back on top, 3-2.
- The Pirates kept the hit parade going in the 4th inning. Nova and Harrison singled to chase Homer Bailey. In relief, Josh Smith tossed a wild pitch that allowd them both to move up before Marte smacked a single into center, scoring them both. Smith would limit the damage from there. Pirates extend their lead, 5-2.
- In the top of the 7th, BP donked his second dinger of the game. I'm fairly certain that there are actual flames on the bat when he swings it right now. Anyway, the other Reds didn't do anything, of course. Pirates led, 5-3.
- That was that. Pirates win, 5-3.
- Brandon Phillips hadn't hit a home run since all the way back on May 7th, just hours after Bartolo Colon hit his towering home run in Petco Park. It was BP's second of the night, and the 12th multi-homer game of his career. Tonight was his 13th such game. I think the lesson here is either A) BP hits home runs in clusters now or B) Bartolo is about to honk a wanger.
- Pittsburgh is hosting their annual Regatta Festival this weekend, so FS Ohio decided to send Jim Day around to check out the various food trucks and festivities and whatnot. In the bottom of the 3rd, we got to chat with Jim while he ate a pierogi. I'll never really understand why sports broadcasts think, "Hey, you know what we'll do? We'll have a middle aged white guy stuff their face on live television!" It'll never be entertaining.
- Homer Bailey's final line: 3 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HBP in his second game after returning from Tommy John surgery. These are the types of growing pains you go through after not pitching a healthy game in nearly two years. Keep your head up, Hoss, and rope 'em up next time.
- Zack Cozart's single in the top of the 6th extended his hitting streak to 14, third longest such streak for the Reds this year. Because we live in a world where Zack Cozart is a hitter and I love it.
- Keviyous Sampson's appearance in the bottom of the 6th was his first game appearance since July 23rd. That's... a long time to sit on the bench for a pitcher, I suppose.
- The Reds will look to avoid the sweep in the Steel City tomorrow, first pitch at 1:35pm EDT. Dan Straily will pitch opposite of Gerrit Cole. Cole is in the midst of a very hot streak, allowing only one earned in his last three starts. If the Reds bats don't wake up, it's going to be a long afternoon.