|Cincinnati Reds (10-11)
|Pittsburgh Pirates (9-13)
|W: Simon (3-1, 1.30 ERA, 3.82 FIP) L: Morton (0-3) S: Broxton (3)|
|Box Score | Play-by-Play | Photos | Depth Chart | FanGraphs Win Probability|
The Reds win moved them to 1.5 games ahead of the Pirates and within 1.5 games of the second place Cardinals, who lost to the NY Mets. The good guys play the Pirates tomorrow afternoon and a win would bring their record back to .500.
Bryan Price got another tremendous start from Alfredo Simon, who along with Johnny Cueto and Devin Mesoraco, are the brightest highlights of the Reds first month. Other than a temporary loss of command in the first inning, Simon’s only blemish was giving up the nightly homer to Andrew McCutchen. Simon allowed just four Pirate hits in seven innings.
The Redlegs had their track shoes on tonight, cleverly taking advantage of Charlie Morton’s high leg kick and Chris Stewart’s gimpy knee to grind up the Pirates. Roger Bernadina, Jay Bruce (twice) and Billy Hamilton swiped second, and created enough havoc doing it they earned a couple extra bases and a Hamilrun on errant throws.
Hamilton and Bruce each had two hits and an RBI. Joey Votto had a hit and two walks. Bernadina and Ramon Santiago each had two walks.
Speaking of the Reds starting catcher, you know you’re having a good season well when you go 1-for-2 and it lowers your batting average. Devin Mesoraco (.525/.565/.900) actually went 1-for-3 tonight, but the first out he made was on the hardest hit ball the Reds had all night, maybe the entire series. His second out drove in a run. Mesoraco über alles.
Brandon Phillips, who has been swinging at more than 40% of the pitches out of the strike zone, drew his first walk since the third inning of Opening Day. Seriously. Not kidding. It was reportedly the first time in 40 at bats that Phillips (.264/.289/.333) had reached a 3-ball count.
The Reds offense continued their streak of scoring at least four runs. They’ve now done that in ten straight games.
Sean Mmmarshall entered into a high leverage situation in the seventh and retired the dangerous Pedro Alvarez on a tapper back to the mound. Marshall, Sam LeCure and Jonathan Broxton combined for 2.1 shutout innings.
Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart made excellent defensive plays.
Not so random thoughts
It’s terrifying to imagine where the Reds would be without the job Alfredo Simon has done in replacing Mat Latos. When you add this contribution with his two outstanding seasons in the bullpen, you have to say his acquisition by GM Walt Jocketty was a huge success. Simon only threw 87.2 innings last year, so there’s a limit to how much he can play this role either now as the Latos sub or later in the year if there’s another injury to a starter. But in April 2014, the Reds needed a stopgap and Simon has been more than that.
Maybe the Reds pitchers have agreed to let McCutchen hit a home run every night so Manny Parra doesn’t feel too bad about Monday night.
I was more than a little surprised that Simon went out to pitch the seventh inning having already thrown over 100 pitches. Does Bryan Price have that much confidence in a former reliever or that little faith in the bullpen? Gotta say, it worked out splendidly.
Top game thread comments
PhoenixPhil: If Simon gives up an earned run, his ERA will go up (even if he gets a complete game). He’s dealing.
CharlotteNCRedsFan: Praying that Skipper doesn’t sit Billy tomorrow. Back-to-back 2-hit days. Let him get his groove on.
ToddAlmighty: Mesoraco needs to bat higher if only because he’s losing out on extra ABs. Didn’t need it today, but if you had BP and Mesoraco and you could give one 5 AB in a game and the other 4 AB. Who would you choose to give which to?
JDX19: (After going 1-for-3) Watch (Mesoraco) end up batting 8th tomorrow.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.