The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Have yourself a day on your first career big league start, Phillip Ervin!
A day after getting a late plate appearance and responding with his first career dinger, Ervin got the start in RF on Thursday in the series finale between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs. To say he took the opportunity and ran with it would be a great understatement.
Ervin crushed another homer - this one a 2-run blast - and added a single, a walk, a double, and 3 runs scored on the day. All told, he drove in 4 in a game where each and every run was needed, with the homer coming to stem the tide after the Reds had both taken and blown a 9 run lead.
Though the former 1st round draftee’s overall season numbers don’t jump off the page, Doug Gray noted on Twitter that it’s really just an awful May that has dragged down the numbers of an otherwise solid season. Maybe, just maybe he’s a bit of a late bloomer, and there’s still enough talent there to stick around and contribute at the big league level. Today, it sure as hell looked that way.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Joey Votto, who homered, drove in 3, singled, and walked; Eugenio Suarez, who singled, doubled, walked, stole a bag, drove in a pair, and scored 3 times; Jose Peraza, who singled twice, drove in 2, and took a 4 pitch walk (!!); and Wandy Peralta, who fired a perfect 8th inning (with 2 Ks).
- After being sat down in order in the Top of the 1st, the Cincinnati offense exploded in the Top of the 2nd off Jon Lester. They began the inning with 4 consecutive singles, the latter two (from Scooter Gennett and Phlerv) scoring runs. Lester then got a pair of outs, but a 2-out walk to Billy Hamilton reignited things by loading the bases, and Peraza followed by dumping a 2-run single into CF. That left a pair of runners on for Votto, who cleared the bases with a 3-run blast over the wall in RF.
- Timeout. This inning needs a second cup of coffee.
- Back to the Top of the 2nd. With 7 runs in and 2-outs on the board, Duvall reached on a smash to 3B that Kris Bryant couldn’t handle (it was ruled an error), and he came all the way around to score on hit #2 of the inning by Suarez, a double to the wall in left-center. Lester, having thrown 40 pitches already that inning, then summoned the trainers and exited with an apparent injury, and Mike Montgomery took over by promptly walking Scooter. Ervin then cranked a double into the gap in left-center to score Suarez, but Scooty puff was out at home after falling down when he initially dodged the tag. All told, 9 runs scored in the team’s biggest inning of the year, yielding a 9-0 Reds lead.
- Chicago got 1 scraggly run back in the Bottom of the 2nd, as Ian Happ clubbed a Scott Feldman meatwad into the LF seats that at the time seemed extremely insignificant. Reds led, 9-1.
- Another meatball was greeted with a bludgeoning in the Bottom of the 4th, as Bryant turned on an inside cutter to hit a ball about as high and hard as I’ve seen so far this year. It was only a solo shot, fortunately, but Anthony Rizzo followed with a double, and an eventual dinger into the Wrigley basket in LF by Alex Avila further exacerbated things. Be it know, there was much more exacerbation yet to come, as both Happ and Javier Baez clubbed solo homers, too, back-to-back-to-back shots that cut the lead to 9-6 and effectively ended Feldman’s day.
- Michael Lorenzen took over and that went equally as shoddy. Kyle Schwarber took him deep to cut the lead to 9-7 in the Bottom of the 5th, and Lorenzen then plunked Bryant to put a runner on base. That’s never fun, especially when Rizzo followed with an RBI double, and Avila backed that up with an RBI double of his own to tie the damn game, 9-9.
- Ervin went full-on sherpa again in the Top of the 7th, crushing a 2-run homer off a Justin Grimm fastball after a Suarez walk to again help carry the Reds back to the lead, 11-9.
- Ben Zobrist tripled off the wall in RF as Ervin seemingly lost it in the sun while slamming into the ivied wall, and he scored on Happ’s sac fly in the Bottom of the 7th to close the gap to 11-10.
- The Reds countered, however, thanks to back to back 4 pitch walks by Justin Wilson to begin the Top of the 8th. The first was to Peraza, who moved to 2B on the walk to Votto, and after a deep fly out by Duvall allowed Peraza to tag and take 3B, a hard grounder to SS brought him home when the Cubs could only scramble for an out at 2B. Reds led, 12-10.
- Ervin - who else? - added another run in the Top of the 9th after taking a leadoff walk off Hector Rondon. He later moved up to 2B on a sacrifice by Stuart Turner, and after Jesse Winker coaxed a walk, Peraza singled off the glove of Happ at 2B and Ervin never stopped running to beat the throw home. Reds led, 13-10.
- After that, Raisel Iglesias sliced through the heart of the Cubs’ order to wrap things up, and the Reds won a wild one, 13-10.
- Scott Feldman’s knee clearly wasn’t right today, both on the mound and moving around the diamond in general. His velocity was back down into the mid 80’s, and on a day when the wind was blowing out at Wrigley, that’s never good. His final line: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5 HR on 52 pitches.
- Somewhat related comes Zach Buchanan’s article in today’s Enquirer about there being very little trade talk regarding the Reds during this August waiver-trade period. It’s awfully hard to envision Feldman getting moved while that visibly gimpy, and a shortstop market still simply has not developed.
- The Reds head to Atlanta this evening, and on Friday they’ll begin a 3-game series against the Braves. First pitch for tomorrow evening’s game is scheduled for 7:35 PM ET because Atlanta traffic is horrifically awful, and Sal Romano will get another start for the Reds. He’ll be opposed on the bump by R.A. Dickey.