The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
After a trio of stellar starts to begin his big league career, Amir Garrett got shelled early and often in his last outing. And because early season stats come in a small enough sample to make any rough outing look that much worse in the overall spectrum, he entered Monday's start against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 5.09 ERA and having been worth -0.2 bWAR on the season.
Fortunately for the Cincinnati Reds, Garrett punted that last start to the back of collective memory on Monday, firing 7 innings of 2 run ball against the Buccos. He fanned 4 against 3 walks - more on that and umpire Phil Cuzzi's interesting evening later - but allowed just 2 hits on the evening. Yes, those hits both went for solo homers, but such is life in Great American Ball Park, and the more important aspects of Garrett's outing that should be emphasized were his ability to get the Reds some eaten innings, solid pitch efficiency (just 96), and limiting the overall runners on the bases.
All of that leads me to believe his most recent start against the Milwaukee Brewers was more exception than the rule, which makes his return to form against Pittsburgh that much more exciting. Have a trophy, Amir, and here's to many more down the road.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Billy Hamilton, who singled twice, reached on an error, stole 3 bags, scored a run, and donked in the game-winning run; Adam Duvall, whose 3-run blast served as the bulk of the Cincinnati Reds offense on the night; Michael Lorenzen, who fired 2 perfect innings from the bullpen (with 3 Ks); ; and Tucker Barnhart, who singled, walked, and nailed a Pirate on the basepaths.
- Garrett left a meatball over the plate against Andrew McCutchen in the Top of the 1st, and the former National League MVP smacked it into the LF seats for a solo homer to start the scoring. Reds trailed, 1-0.
- Both Garrett and Gerrit Cole cruised from that point forward, until Josh Harrison spanked a solo homer over the RF wall in the Top of the 6th to put the Reds a bit further in a hole, 2-0.
- Cincinnati finally got to Cole in the Bottom of the 6th, however. Hamilton reached on an error by Pittsburgh 2B not Jung Kang, and Joey Votto then battled back from down 2 strikes to coax a walk. That set up Duvall with runners on, and the Cincinnati LF bonked a 3-run blast over the wall in left-center to put the Reds on top, 3-2.
- That lasted until the Top of the 8th, at which point Drew Storen hung a curveball to Harrison who (again) launched a solo homer - this time over the wall in LF. Game tied, 3-3.
- Harrison's homer essentially sent this game into extra innings, and the Reds capitalized. Barnhart worked a walk in the Bottom of the 10th, and after Arismendy Alcantara pinch-ran for him, his threat on the bases prompted throws to 1B repeatedly from Daniel Hudson - one of which went awry to allow Alcantara to scoot to 2B. That proved huge when Hamilton dumped a single into RF with 2-out, which brought Alcantara in to score the game's winning run. Reds won, 4-3!
- Gerrit Cole - who is a really, really good pitcher - remains ‘winless’ in his career against the Reds. He entered the night 0-6 in his career against Cincinnati, and this entire Other Note is just the 4 billionth reason why ‘pitcher wins’ remains the dumbest stat on the baseball landscape.
- Home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi had a rather interesting night tonight. For instance, this got called a ball despite being almost as close to being ‘right down the middle’ as any pitcher would ever hope to throw.
- Tuesday will feature something familiar to Cincinnati Reds fans: a young, highly touted rookie starting pitcher who has struggled mightily in the early going in 2017. Only this time, it’ll be their opposition, as the Pirates will send Tyler Glasnow to the mound in the second game of the series. The Reds will counter with veteran Scott Feldman, with first pitch set for 7:10 PM ET.