The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Jesse Winker endured quite the cold spell beginning at the end of May, but his bat of late has sure looked like it’s going to keep heating back up. That was certainly the case for the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, as Winker provided a trio of hits, a walk, and the walk-off ribbie in the Bottom of the 9th that gave the Reds a sweep of the vaunted Houston Astros.
Winker is such a crucial piece to this team’s offense, and getting him going will sure go a long way towards digging themselves out of the bottom of the NL Central.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Tyler Mahle, whose 7 IP were both excellent and the longest of his career (more later); Nick Senzel, who walked and had a huge RBI single; Yasiel Puig, who dingered and doubled; and Matt Bowman, who fired a pair of scoreless innings that were, in hindsight, rather huge.
- The Bottom of the 2nd saw Puig lay wood on a 95 mph Gerrit Cole heater, turning it around for a 428 foot solo homer over the wall in left-center. Reds led, 1-0.
- Mahle was absolutely cruising early, and made it to 2-out in the Top of the 6th before unraveling - a trend we’ve unfortunately seen from him in other starts this year. On an 0-2 count to Michael Brantley with 2 down, he hung a breaking ball in the lefty’s wheelhouse, and Brantley yanked it 438 feet over the RF wall, a 2-run shot since it came immediately after Alex Bregman’s single. Reds trailed, 2-1.
- The Bottom of the 9th brought the fireworks. Jose Peraza began the inning with a leadoff double, but a pair of ugly PA after that set the stage for what had all the makings of another disappointing loss. Of course, Senzel and Winker had other ideas, as the former spanked a single into LF to tie the game while the latter singled into CF to plate Senzel and give the Reds a walk-off win for the sweep. Reds won, 3-2!
- Prior to the game, the Reds reinstated Jose Iglesias from the paternity list, and he started the game at short. To make room for him on the roster, the Reds optioned Josh VanMeter back to AAA Louisville.
- Tyler Mahle publicly opined that it was a bit ridiculous how quick of a hook manager David Bell has had with him in his outings this season, comments last week that Bell deftly navigated after the fact. I’m not sure we’ll ever really find out what kind of discussion the two of them had in private, but the issue became a non-issue immediately after the fact.
In that context, it was quite interesting to see Mahle on the mound through 7 innings today, the longest outing of his career. Aside from one mistake pitch, he was brilliant, too, allowing just 4 hits and 2 earned runs, fanning 7 against a lone walk on 95 pitches.
I’m not saying that Alex Wood getting closer and closer to a return to action is the lone reason behind it, but seeing Mahle pitch this well against the Houston Astros today while Anthony DeSclafani has spun a trio of 1-run starts in his most recent outings sure is some kind of coincidence. Competition breeds quality, I suppose, and I am very, very here for it.
- Brantley’s homer was the longest of his very, very solid career.
- Joey Votto got the day off after his 2 double night on Tuesday, though he did pinch hit late (and K’d). Considering the day game and that he’s gone just 5 for 24 with a lone extra base hit and 9 K in his career against Gerrit Cole, I suppose there won’t be many better times for a break than today.
- The Reds will scoot up to Milwaukee after this one, and on Thursday they’ll begin a rather pivotal 4-game series against the Brewers. Tanner Roark and Jimmy Nelson will toe the rubber for their respective clubs in the opener, which is scheduled for a 8:10 PM ET start.