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Will Benson’s blast gets Cincinnati Reds back into win column, ends six-game skid

Can this be a turning point?

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jeff Dean/Getty Images

The single greatest joy of most Major League Baseball seasons is that there is baseball almost every single night for six months. Every night, or thereabouts, you get to tune in (or show up) to your favorite show and all the fireworks that come with it.

On a slightly deeper level, however, there is some esoteric beauty in the six-month season allowing for fans - and the teams themselves - to find out how they respond to adversity. In any six month season for even the best of clubs, there will be adversity. There will be a slump, or two, and a forced shuffle of the deck, but the season provides ample opportunity for a response from the clubs who are well-equipped enough to handle such drama.

The Cincinnati Reds came out of the All Star break flat as could be, and did so while up against direct rivals and playoff-caliber opponents. For a team that is as young, as inexperienced as this one is, it provided the first real reality check for us - and surely had that creep into their own minds at least a tad. The measure of these men and those who manage them, though, will be how they immediately respond, and on Wednesday they finally punched back into the win column with a hard fought 3-2 win over a San Francisco Giants club who is as thirsty for 2023 success as this Reds club is, too.

Will Benson takes home Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game accolades this evening for the 3-run homer that proved to be the difference on the scoreboard, but his big swing was backed by another rock-solid performance by starter Graham Ashcraft (6.0 IP, 2 ER). Ashcraft returning to form after his dismal mid-season slump is vital to where this team can go, and this marks his fourth straight impressive outing with his peers hurt and the team needing him more than ever. That’s the kind of resilience that doesn’t just add up to a meager 3-2 July victory, but that resonates with his teammates each and every time he takes the bump the rest of this season.

It gives the Reds a chance to halve this four-game set in tomorrow’s outing, and busts the six-game losing streak on which they entered the day. This team is still plenty capable of getting things right more often than not, and this sure looked like the kind of grind-it-out game that was the perfect indication of their willingness to do so, especially in the wake of the incredibly frustrating 11-10 loss last night.

The Reds are back in the win column, a 3-2 final going their way.

Tony Graphanino

[Link to interactive WPA chart & box score, via FanGraphs]

Other Notes

  • Andrew Abbott will return to the bump for the series finale tomorrow, with first pitch slated for an early 12:35 PM ET so that the Giants can high-tail it out to Washington for their weekend series against the Nouveau Expos. All Star Alex Cobb will stand in the way of the Reds as San Francisco’s starter, so look for a lefty-heavy starting lineup again in the early hours tomorrow.
  • Tunes.