Titanic Struggle Recap

162-0

Look, the awful Phillies were already pressing their luck. Joey Votto has played in over 1100 major league games and only nine times had he been struck out three times by one pitcher. Jeremy Helickson (!) had accomplished that today.

Joey Votto hadn’t struck out four times in a game since 2009.

He still hasn’t.

The Reds first baseman strode to the plate with bases loaded in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth. We knew what was coming. Seriously, did you have the slightest doubt that Votto was going to get a hit? If the Phillies could have walked Votto without sending the go-ahead run across the plate, they would have done it in a heartbeat.

But the Phillies pitched to Joey Votto. The superstar did what superstars are supposed to do. JoeyMVP drilled a pitch into left field, scoring two go-ahead runs. The largest regular season crowd in GABP history went home happy.

Last night, the Royals and Mets played a rematch of the 2015 World Series. In this series, the Reds and Phillies are engaged in a battle of the two teams that competed last year for the first pick in the 2016 amateur draft. It’s the exact opposite of KC and the NYM.

So yes, it’s the Phillies and it’s only one game. Anyone with a lick of common sense would tell you not to get carried away by this one. I say ignore that advice. Get carried away, Reds fans. Enjoy these wins, each and every one. In fact, there’s an off-day tomorrow, so celebrate for 47 hours!

And blast out this song that Freddie Mercury recorded for these 1-0 occasions.

Reds 6 • Phillies 2  |  FanGraphs  |  Joe Randa doing you-know-what

Hey Raisel 90 pitches was the stated pre-game target for Raisel Iglesias and that’s exactly how many the Cuban right-hander threw over six impressive innings. It wasn’t exactly the 2010 Phillies lineup he was facing, yet all he gave up was a fluke home run to Freddie Galvis. To evaluate Iglesias’ start, here are the two advanced stats you need to know: 7 strikeouts and 0 walks. Remember that Iglesias didn’t start a game in spring training until March 14. More of this, please.

Welcome Back Zack It’s really hard to imagine how long and hard the rehab process was for Zack Cozart. At age 30, he had to return from torn knee ligaments (plural) and tendon. On a severity scale, that’s 10 out of 10. Not only was Cozart in the starting lineup today, he was assigned the leadoff position in the batting order. No problem, as he lined two doubles and a single in his first three at bats. On top of that, he played solid defense at short. Keep this up Zack, and you’ll earn yourself a deadline trade to a contender.

Fateful Eighth With the Reds trailing 2-1, Adam Duvall led off the bottom of the eighth doing something he hadn’t done in 67 at bats in spring training – he took a walk. Tyler Holt, who pinch ran for Duvall, reached third on pinch hitter Scott Schebler’s double that bounced over the head of the Phillies first baseman who was playing in holding on Holt. Billy Hamilton (!) walked to load the bases. Zack Cozart lofted a fly ball deep enough to right field to score Holt from third base to tie the game. After Eugenio Suarez walked, Joey Votto lined his game-winning hit into left center. After Brandon Phillips got hit by a pitch to reload the bases, affable Jay Bruce bunted lined a two-run single to right center. The score stood at 6-2. Praise the power of walks and line drives.

Defensive Gems Carlos Ruiz led off the ninth inning for the Phillies and hit a dying fly ball down the left field line that looked ticketed for extra bases. But Tyler Holt, who was in the game as a defensive substitute, made an outstanding lay-out catch. Billy Hamilton followed that play up with an equally impressive catch in right center on the next batter. Outfield defense = run prevention.

Solid Bullpen Jumbo Diaz retired all four batters that he faced. Tony Cingrani and Ross Ohlendorf followed Diaz by recording strikeouts to finish the eighth. J.J. Hoover retired the side in the ninth. Altogether, Reds pitchers had 10 strikeouts and only 1 walk. That’s a winning formula.

Small Steps Thirteen years after the publication of Moneyball, Fox Sports Ohio joined most of the rest of the regional sports networks by showing the on-base percentage for every batter as part of the standard player graphic. There’s little doubt, based on this Twitter promise, that broadcaster Chris Welsh was behind this welcome move. Now that our television network values OBP, the next step is to get the front office and manager to do the same. Chris?

71 thoughts on “162-0

  1. I feel like there should be a motion to end the season now and begin the playoffs based on records and any ties are broken alphabetically by city name.

    • Seconded. Offer friendly amendment that ties be broken based on the length of time the city has had a professional baseball team.

  2. There aren’t likely to be nearly enough games like this during the season, so yes, revel in the win. What a fun one to watch !!!!

    • I’m cautiously optimistic… If Votto and Suarez play to their potential. And Bruce and Mesoraco have bouncebacks. And Cozart and BP maintain a decent level of production. And maybe we plug the left field position at the trade deadline. The only real wildcard is the starting pitching and that has nice upside.

      I know, I know, I know. That’s A LOT of IFs. And I’m not stupid or naive (at least that I’m aware of). But I don’t see a reason not to be cautiously optimistic. The 1999 team, if memory serves, wasn’t as well equipped and still made things interesting. Worst case scenario, it’ll be fun watching the talent progress.

  3. Two points:

    1) I really like Eugenio Suarez. He produced very well last year. I was impressed by his base coaching and ability to take the walk in the 8th.

    2) It’s funny how Thom will make a big deal about walks from a pitching standpoint, but he doesn’t connect the corollary from a batting standpoint.

    Hope springs eternal – to 162-0 we go.

    • Thom learned from his dad that walks are an error on the pitcher’s part, rather than a skill owned by the batter.

      • To some extent this is true. It is good preparation by the hitter to know which pitchers he may face are more prone to hauntings.

      • Good analysis Patrick. I’d never really reduced it that denominator before but you are spot on for both ends of the statement. Maybe there is also a bit of influence of the “the ol’ lefthander” coming through too, as Joe absolutely despised the idea of a pitcher giving up a walk and never hesitated to make that feeling known.

  4. I just wanted to add that if you get a chance, go into the HOF and check out this years “highlight” presentation of bobble heads they are displaying. It is a great presentation and they have the cases they are in set up to vibrate to show off the bobble in the bobble heads. There is a ton of them in there plus some other changes in the HOF from previous years. I had a chance to go through it on Sunday and it’s great, plus the 5 bobble heads they are giving away this year are of some great Reds from the past. I think our HOF does a great job of changing up some of the area’s and always keeping it fresh.

    • It is the best baseball HoF not in Cooperstown. At least out of the 7 or 8 I’ve been to.

  5. Great plate discipline by Duvall, Hamilton, and Suarez in the 8th. Maturing ML players? It’s a good start.

  6. Love the Joe Randa link! When things started to get exciting in the bottom of the 8th it brought me back to when Randa had the walk off to win it for the Reds. Randa a former KC Royal came through back in 2005. Today though completely ridiculous, Ross Ohlendorf got the W for the Reds that we picked up after leaving the KC Royals this Spring. Then factor in the guys we got from the Royals in the Cueto deal, man the Royals have been good to us over the years!

      • I didn’t mention that one because I was two when that happened and I was too busy filling my diaper with poopies to notice 🙂

        • Hmmmm, the Old Cossack finds himself busy filling his diapers with poopies too. I hope this doesn’t mean I won’t notice the next memorable moment…

  7. Awesome win very exciting and uplifting with all the predictions for the season, you never know they could have a better season than people think. I had one question though, I only go to a handful of games a year, live 3hrs away, never been to opening day. I didn’t notice it watching the 8th inning live on the Fox broadcast, but watching the highlights of that exciting 8th in the post game I noticed there where large sections of empty seats. What was up with that, I was surprised to see that on opening day?

    • The announcers commented on the empty seats, noting that a lot of people probably left early because of the cold.

      • it was cold. But not as cold as the Brewers game in 2011. This game had a similar feel with teams with obviously less talent. Game did get boring in middle innings.

        • I was at the 2011 opening day and it took me two hours after I got home to thaw out.

  8. I was at Opening Day. It was fun. I have decided to just enjoy the team development this year. I don’t think they will be as bad as people think nor will they be close to good. I do think there are some promising signs. I did not expect Hamilton to get that walk in the 8th and what a risky tag up by Holt. Great at bat by Votto. Its silly to get on him about the 3 ks but the one k he had the strangest swing ive seen him have. I really like Duval Schebler and Suarez.

  9. Today was my 1st opportunity to watch Cozart since the incident that ended his season in 2015. Cozart looked healthy and hungry. I did not see any instance where he seemed to hesitate or favor his knee at all and he had opportunities to go all out and extend himself today. His 3 hits and SF were just a bonus. I can’t imagine what he went through in the offseason to get ready to play today. Cozart deserved everything he earned today.

    • I know many do not want him hitting lead off. But I am thinking he will hit into fewer double plays hitting lead off. I do not have any data to back this up except for wishful thinking.

    • I agree you old Cossack you,

      and I loved the way that he was using RF and hitting there with authority.

      If he keeps up his 1.000 batting average in the lead off spot, he will be tough to deal….

    • Agreed. Must have been a grueling rehab and it’s good to see him on the field.

  10. Speed, Defense, Getting on base. Seems like a winning formula. Remember that the Reds brain trust (is that an oximoron?) optioned Holt to AAA before recalling him as an after thought the day before the season began. There were only 2 players on the field today who could have scored on Cozart’s SF, Hamilton and Holt. Fortunately one of them was on 3B. The back-to-back defensive highlights were absolutely nasty.

    • Hamilton made his catch and after I said “Ohhhh!!!!!” I started singing “Anything you can do, I can do better…”

    • Holt beat out Jake Cave plain and simple. You have to love his enthusiasm for the game. The Reds might have to put YorRod on the 60 day DL if they want to keep him. I’d like to see a few games with BHam, Holt and Peraza all 3 starting. That will blow some minds, maybe even Bryan Price’s too.

  11. I feel obliged to commend Price on his in-game management today. Every decision was designed to win rather than an effort to not lose. That POSITIVE aggression has been missing. Every player substitution and every bullpen move was solid. I like this manager. More of this please, but his lineup construction is still dumb.

    • Amazing how smart the manager is when the players do their job. (I’m referring to the bullpen today.)

  12. Bruce’s duel at the plate in the 8th inning, reminded me of his final plate appearance against SF in the playoffs, except Bruce won this battle. The prior instance was when Bruce was playing like Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuce. Maybe…just maybe…

    • SHCHi. I wanted to yell at the fans in the row behind me who booed when Bruce tried that bunt in the game. I give Bruce full credit for trying, just didn’t work.

  13. Dang I don’t want to get sucked in but…

    Votto goes down with 3 pitiful SO then comes through with a solid clutch hit late.

    Bruce battles at the plate before coming up with another clutch hit late.

    The bench steps up with maybe the clutch hit of the game late.

    The hitters patiently work the count against a pitcher struggling to throw strikes.

    Two all-out, spectacular defensive plays by players who simply willed themselves to make those plays to save the game late.

    That’s winning baseball.

    Dang I don’t want to get sucked in but…

  14. I don’t want to panic without cause, but I did find it curious that Votto was late coming out of the clubhouse for the game then proceeded to put up three of the worst plate appearances of his career. Those were weird and weak strikeouts. Then when he came through with his clutch line drive, he was very uncharacteristically and openly relieved by the knock. I’ve seen Votto angry, excited, jubilant, celebratory, frustrated, but never relieved before. Please let it be nothing more than a coincidence.

    • Had to be coincidence. He was relieved–comically wiping the sweat from his brow on a cold day–because it was opening day and he didn’t want to be the mouse turd in the sugar bowl after 3 weak at-bats. That’s what I think. On another note: did anybody else note Thom upbraiding the Phils for failing to play for one run? “That fly ball would have brought in a run if they’d bunted the man over(not verbatim)” Actually, that fly ball would have been the third out, I think…

    • I wouldn’t put too much thought into those 3 strikeouts. Votto can’t handle inside pitches (relative to himself) and those weird, slow inside offerings from Hellickson were likely not similar to anything he’s seen in quite some time.

      When asked what he’s going to do if pitchers bust him inside all year, Votto said he can shoot the ball over the SS’s head sometimes, and he can always take the pitches! (From Eno Sarris’ talk with Votto at FanGraphs)

      Last year he thought he could hit more home runs by turning on them… he just ended up grounding out to 2nd base a lot.

  15. You know, life just got a little better with opening day, no matter what the rest of the season holds for us.

  16. A win on Opening Day always puts a smile on my face.

    Duvall walking yesterday? He must have been saving it for the regular season rather than ST…. now that is clutch!

    Seriously, happy to see Iglesias pitch well (0 BB) with only a GABP special to mar the line. Pair that with some opportunistic hitting off former cub russell, and enjoy the win.

  17. Iglesias is going to be a fun pitcher to watch this year. I went out on a limb and said early in the winter that Iglesias will be one of the breakout players in the NL this year and he didn’t disappoint at all. We said farewell to Johnny Beisbol last year and this year we get to say hello to Iggy Beisbol. Hola senor Iggy.

    • Saying that Iglesias was going to be good wasn’t exactly going out on a limb. A lot of people were high on him based upon his advanced stats and peripherals.

  18. So….I see Barnhardt is starting Wednesday. Mes already getting 2 days off? If the game were Tuesday, I could understand.

    • It might have something to do with concussion tests or something since he took a bat to the side of his head? Just speculating? Meso def makes or breaks this offense overall but Barnhart is a pretty smart hitter too! Now if Schebler could hold up in CF then maybe they could get by with Mes out more often?

      • Didn’t see your post before posting mine a few minutes after. I was thinking about concussions after he got hit. Fingers crossed there’s nothing serious…

      • Agreed. I worry about his noggin and past concussions much more so than I do his hip.

        • I have always found it odd that there is a penalty besides a bruised hand for the catcher interfering with the hitter but none for slapping the catcher upside the head. I raised a catcher so I know you can’t hurt one by hitting them in the head but that was scary.

    • I read that he was starting Wednesday before Mes got hit by the bat, so I don’t think that had anything to do with it.

    • Seems like they’ll handle Mesoraco with kid gloves most of the season. Unless they end up in a pennant chase, I don’t see much of a problem with babying him. Make sure he’s 100% next year

  19. Great game! It was fun to see Raisel I. pitch this well, fun to see Joey V. with a big smile on his face at first base after his hit single, and extra fun to see those two fantastic defensive plays in the ninth. Wow!

  20. With scoring down in the last few years it seems like they could use Hamilton as more of a def replacement and pinch runner! That way you know he’s going to be on base!

    • Yeah, I’d really like to see Holt and Schebler get some time in CF (and Peraza when he’s called up) and have Billy be used in the manner you suggest.

      At this point, Billy is a known quantity. Either he’s going to learn to hit (and be a perennial all-star) or he won’t (and be a solid role player). Giving him 600 PAs isn’t going to get him over the hump. Because of that, kicking the tires on Schebler and/or Holt and/or Peraza in CF will pay larger dividends in future decision making.

      Schebler might seem an odd fit for CF, but he has played some CF in both AA and AAA. Not a ton, but enough to make me think about it…

    • I think the Reds are nuts to bunt Hamilton so often. If he could bunt like Rod Carew or Bret Butler, instead of like Stevie Wonder, then it would make more sense. Hamilton is a lousy bunter; he ends up playing 3rd-grade pepper with the third baseman and pitcher. And when he doesn’t bunt fair, he almost always ends up in an 0-1 count, and he isn’t good enough of a hitter to overcome being in the hole every other at-bat..

      That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t practice his bunting on his own time, but he shouldn’t be asked to do it in a game until he is much better at it.

      • Until Hamilton can hit line drives, bunting is an excercise in futility. With the entire infield playing knothole depth for Hamilton, he has to execute a perfect bunt to be successful. If Hamilton can start hitting line drives through that drawn in infield, then bunting becomes a real problem for the defense, but only when they have to pick their poison.

        The same holds true for his ground balls. As long as the infield is drawn in, those weak ground balls are outs. If Hamilton can start hitting line drives through that drawn in infield, then those weak ground balls become a real problem for the defense, but only when they have to pick their poison.

        The entire key for Hamilton’s offense is moving the infield back to play legitimately and the only way to do that is start smaking some line drives through the drawn in infield.

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