The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Jesse Winker has been brought along with the Cincinnati Reds in an incredibly gradual fashion, at least according to those of us who’ve been completely enamored with his swing since the day he was drafted out of high school back in 2012. While his first full season has seen him spend time in a 4-man OF rotation and has sputtered at times, Winker’s been on quite the impressive run of late, and that sure as hell continued on Thursday night.
Jesse entered play having hit .273/.400/.424 since May 23rd (81 PA across 20 games played), and he tacked on a walk and a gawdamn grand slam against a LHP for the Reds against the Chicago Cubs, his blast being the single most defining swing of the game after Kyle Hendricks had been otherwise untouchable through his first 5 IP of the game.
Winker has long had his power questioned throughout his otherwise polished advancement through the minors, but there’s no denying that he has the ability to sock the crud out of one here and there when presented with the opportunity. That opportunity sure presented itself tonight, and these are official props to Jesse for capitalizing on that chance.e
Honorable Mentions are due to: Matt Harvey, who allowed just 2 ER in 6 IP, scattering 5 hits and a lone walk against 6 Ks in a dang solid 98 pitch outing; Eugenio Suarez, who singled, walked, scored, and drove in a run; Amir Garrett, who took over with 2-out and the bases loaded in the Top of the 7th and proceeded to strikeout Anthony Rizzo looking on three absurdly good pitches (and got another pair of outs in the Top of the 8th); and Jared Hughes, who just kept sinkerballin’ his way through opposing lineups like he was born to do so.
- Javier Baez got the Cubs on the board first in this one, bonking a double into RF off Harvey that scored both Kris Bryant (hit by pitch) and Jason Heyward (single). Reds trailed, 2-0.
- The Reds finally got on the board in the Bottom of the 6th, and it came largely thanks to Kyle Hendricks losing his otherwise precise command and walking three batters in the inning. First, it was Billy Hamilton, followed by a Joey Votto walk and a Scooter Gennett infield single to load the bags. That set the stage for Eugenio Suarez, who coaxed a walk on a 3-2 pitch with 2-out that both plated a run and ended Hendricks’ evening. Those other walks? Well, they sure as hell haunted, too, as Winker greeted lefty Randy Rosario with a grand-slam to clear the bases on the second pitch he saw. The Reds weren’t yet finished, either, as both Adam Duvall and Alex Blandino (*proof of life*) singled, and Duvall then scored on Hamilton’s single into CF, and Cincinnati held a nice little 6-2 lead.
- The Cincinnati bullpen ducked, dodged, dived, and dodged a few would-be rally attempts by the Cubs after that, and ultimately held on for a nice little 6-2 win to open the series. Jam.
- The Reds announced before the game a series of roster moves. Scott Schebler was placed on the bereavement list, Phil Ervin was called up to replace him, Wandy Peralta was optioned to AAA, and the contract of AAA reliever Kyle Crockett was purchased. Tony Cruz was released to open up a 40-man roster spot for Crockett.
- The Reds also announced the promotions of several of their more notable prospects, particularly their young OF prospects who’ve been having tremendous seasons.
- Luis Castillo will once again try to regain his 2017 form while starting for the Reds on Friday in the second game of the series. He’ll be opposed by Cubs starter Jose Quintana, with first pitch set for 7:10 PM ET.