If you tuned in to watch the Sunday series finale between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, and if you did so as a Reds fan, we’ll applaud you. We’ll have a few questions we’ll reserve for later, but we’ll applaud you.
The weather was gorgeous across much of the country. Football returned. Hell, there was even a freak comeback in the NBA playoffs, and the men’s final at the US Open was on, too. Considering the Reds entered play today fresh off a lackluster performance last night, placed their Opening Day starter on the IL today, and sat a cool 6 games under .500 entering play, it would be easy to simply tune out.
I won’t lie, I did. For a bit, at least. These Reds got started with Tyler Mahle on the mound, and soon found themselves down 1-0 early. Then, it was a 3-1 deficit, and while they punched back to level the score 3-3, they soon watched the bullpen sink them back into a 5-3 hole.
Being down 5-3 in such see-saw fashion is hardly a death knell, but usually that kind of see-sawness when up against these Cardinals procures the kind of sports-pain Cincinnati sports fans know all too well. Factor in the Sonny Gray news, the lack of Nick Senzel (still), and Jesse Winker still being shelved with his sore back, and this had all the makings of the same sorry script we’ve seen play out with the Reds over, and over again in recent memory.
Today, though, the Reds said to hell with that script.
Down 5-3 in the Top of the 7th, the Reds staged their comeback, and did so in the most un-Reds way. There were no dingers. There were no blasts. There were walks, baserunning, a HBP, and a fortunate wild pitch. Much of that effort came from the young Reds, the afterthought Reds. Tyler Stephenson and Jose Garcia got in on the action with a single and Ribbie, respectively, while Aristides Aquino and Freddy Galvis chipped in with said HBP and a walk. They took advantage of a disheveled St. Louis bullpen, pushed run after run across the plate, and when the dust settled sported a 7-5 lead.
From there, the Reds thumped on with their own ‘with the lead script,’ and this time it went swimmingly. Archie Bradley sunk the Cardinals offense with a pair of perfect innings, while Eugenio Suarez played add-on with a solo bonk in the Top of the 8th. Aquino found his thump again, too, stroking a 2-run insurance blast over the CF wall in the Top of the 9th.
Pair that with Raisel Iglesias getting the job done with a scoreless 2-inning bowtie, and it was an under the radar, unlikely 10-5 win from a Reds club that desperately needed one.
It certainly sets the stage for some potential drama, though it’s drama the Reds are going to have to create themselves. It won’t simply be there in their pending series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, one that will see them play four games in three days. But if they choose to put the pedal to the floor against the club with the National league’s worst record, that’s the kind of burst that could finally, mercifully pump some life back into what’s been as mediocre a season as we could’ve possibly predicted.
This is a jam. The Reds finding their way back to relevance at the last gasp would be quite jam, too.