The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Sometimes, this spot is automatically reserved for the player who directly impacted the game greatest by WPA. Sometimes, it goes to the greatest dinger-honker.
In reality, though, Ol’ Nuxy was always a big fan of speaking to the player who didn’t just have a great game, but a player who just might’ve done so as a platform for bigger things down the road. So, it’s in that frame of mind that Robert Stephenson gets the honor tonight, since the 2 ER he allowed in his 5.2 IP will hopefully be our reference point down the road for where he figured it all out.
For one, the 2 ER in 5.2 IP isn’t exactly the most telling part of Bob’s night. He fanned the first 6 batters he faced and 11 total on the evening, and one of the runs he allowed came after Billy Hamilton uncharacteristically tripped over his own feet on a play that otherwise would’ve been the 3rd out of the inning. A run scored, some dozen more pitches were needed to escape the inning, yadda yadda yadda...
Look, the point is that we’ve known all along that the key to the 2017 Cincinnati Reds season wasn’t about wins and losses, per se; rather, it was about seeing the vast swath of young pitching talent in the system turn enough of a corner to make a decent 2018 a possibility, and tonight was that kind of outing for Bob Steve. Heck, it even came on Players Weekend, with “Bob” printed squarely on his back.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Scott Schebler, who homered, tripled, was hit by a pitch, drove in 3, scored twice, and would’ve taken home JNMHSotG honors had Bob Steve been a 7 year vet who posts those kinds of outings on the regular; Eugenio Suarez, who continued his tear by singling, doubling, walking, and scoring 3 runs; Adam Duvall, who dingered; Tucker Barnhart, who singled, walked, was hit by a pitch, and drove in a pair; and Raisel Iglesias, who made quick work of Pittsburgh in the 9th to slam the door.
- Suarez’s double in the Bottom of the 2nd put him on base and ready to score on Schebler’s triple into the RF corner, which is exactly what happened. Schebler then came home on a sac fly into LF by Barnhart, and the Reds led, 2-0.
- A leadoff walk to Francisco Cervelli opened the Top of the 3rd and ended Bob’s K streak to start the game, and it haunted when he later came around to score (and pulled a hammy) after back to back singles. Reds led, 2-1.
- Hamilton’s unlikely gaffe came after he’d covered tons of ground to even get to John Jaso’s deep fly ball into left-center, but he tripped at the end and had the ball kick off his arm as he fell, which allowed Josh Bell - who had singled and was running on contact with 2-out - to score all the way from 1B to level the score 2-2 in the Top of the 4th.
- The Reds, though, struck back quickly. Scooter Gennett reached on an error to open the Bottom of the 4th, and after back to back singles, he scored on Barnhart’s bases loaded single into RF. A wild pitch later brought in Suarez, and the Reds led, 4-2.
- Then came the dingers, as both Duvall (solo) and Schebler (2-run) clubbed honkers off Ivan Nova in the Bottom of the 5th, and the Reds led, 7-2.
- After Tim Adleman relieved Bob with the bases loaded and 2-out in the Top of the 6th - and got out of the jam unscathed - he allowed a walk, a double off the wall to Josh Harrison, and a 3-run honkasaurus flex by Bell to make things interesting at 7-5.
- Reliever Daniel Hudson walked Scooter in the Bottom of the 7th before the back to back plunkings of Schebler and Barnhart loaded the bases, but A.J. Schugel couldn’t clear Pittsburgh out of the jam, as Patrick Kivlehan slammed a pinch-hit 2-run double into RF to put the Reds ahead, 9-5.
- After that, the bullpen did its job, with Iglesias shutting things down in the Top of the 9th for a 9-5 win.
- We’d heard yesterday that catcher Stuart Turner would head onto the 3-day paternity leave list today to help his wife welcome their first child into this world over the weekend, but we hadn’t yet heard the announced move. Until this afternoon, that is, when Chad Wallach was added to the 40-man roster and activated. Also, Jesse Winker was placed on the 10-day DL with a hip flexor issue, and Phillip Ervin was recalled to take his place on the roster.
- Joey Votto coaxed an 8th inning walk to extend his on-base streak to some 8 billion consecutive games.
- Saturday’s game will feature an odd 6:40 PM ET start, so plan accordingly. Gerrit Cole will start for the Pirates, while Luis Castillo will take the mound for the Reds in likely one of his final three starts of the season. (Innings limits, and whatnot.)