Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….
St. Louis 2
W: T. Cingrani (7-3)
L: L. Lynn (13-10)
–The Reds took three of four from the Cardinals. That’s a huge positive. Is it hyperbole to say that this may have been the most important win of the season for the good guys?
–It’s home run or nothing here on Home Run Derby. The Reds hit four homers tonight: Todd Frazier hit two (his 14th and 15th), Shin-Soo Choo hit his 20th, and Jay Bruce hit his 27th.
–Choo reached base four times (HR, single, two walks), scored two runs and drove in one. Bruce also had an RBI single and a walk, in addition to the homer. Todd Frazier was 3-4 with the two solo homers.
–Strong start by Tony Cingrani in his first outing since returning from the disabled list: 5.1 innings, two runs allowed on four hits. He only threw 79 pitches, and it would have been nice to see him last a little longer than the sixth inning. But credit to Dusty Baker; Cingrani’s velocity was dropping, and Dusty got him out of the game at what seemed like the perfect time.
Cingrani also bunted for a hit (the Reds didn’t want him swinging the bat because he’s just returning from a sore back), and even stole a base. Gotta love this kid.
–In a big spot, just like last night, Zach Duke came in and got the job done. Tonight, he only threw two pitches, inducing a double play ground ball.
–Sam LeCure pitched a perfect eighth inning.
–The Reds turned three double plays, which really helped the cause.
–Brandon Phillips left the game with a left quad bruise. Precautionary, they say. It was suffered on the Duke double play referenced above.
–Joey Votto was 0-3, though he did walk twice. He just isn’t swinging the bat well right now, and his batting average has dipped to an even .300. But unless he’s injured, I’ll never waste a second worrying about Votto. He’ll be fine.
–Four days ago, the Reds were coming off three straight bad series (against the Rockies, Cards, and Brewers). I tweeted the following:
The good news is that winning 3 of the next 4 against the Cardinals will cure a lot of ills for the Reds.
— Chad Dotson (@dotsonc) September 1, 2013
I can’t say I really believed they would actually pull it off, but I’m glad they did.
–We couldn’t have asked for any more from Choo than we’ve gotten. What a marvelous season: .287/.420/.470 with 20 homers and 48 RBI. From Cincinnati’s leadoff hitter, no less!
–Before tonight, Joey Votto was hitting .223 in the last month (since August 4). But his OBP was .372 If you include tonight, the average went down, but the OBP went up. Sure, selective end points, but it does point out that (a) Votto is struggling and (b) he’s still helping the team by getting on base.
–How about what Tony Cingrani has done for this club? If you can believe it, Cingrani has the best strikeout rate in the National League among pitchers with more than 90 innings pitched.
–There was some grumbling about Dusty using Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning with a four-run lead, but I think Dusty did the right thing there. The Cardinals had their big hitters up, and the Reds really needed this win. If they had somehow managed to blow this game and split the series, it would have been mass hysteria. Why take a chance?
Ultimately, far be it from me to complain about Dusty not managing by the book. I just hope Chapman is available for the weekend.
–The hit and the walk surrendered by Chapman in the ninth was worth it, just to see him strike out Yadier Molina to end the game and the series.
–Never let it be said that all we do is complain about Dusty. I’ve complimented him twice tonight. When he occasionally does the right thing in-game, we need to point it out.
–As I said in the recap last night, despite the frustration over yesterday’s debacle, a win tonight and all would be forgiven. All is now forgiven.*
–The Reds got great news tonight: third base coach Mark Berry is cancer-free.
–Okay, the NL West-leading Dodgers come to town next. If the Reds can take two of three, they’ll be flying high. My fingers are crossed.
*Forgiven. Not forgotten.