No late-inning dramatics. Led by a 3-run homer off the almost-traded Jay Bruce and a grand slam by Eugenio Suarez the Reds put the hapless Philadelphia Phillies out of their misery in the fourth inning. That means a series sweep. And that means the picture from when a fan shoved a broom in the hand of the Johnny Bench statue at GABP.
I know it’s on your mind, even if you aren’t brave enough to speak up and ask.
Yes, you have permission.
On one condition: You promise that deep down you understand how terrible the Philadelphia baseball team is.
If you acknowledge that, you have permission to engage in unbridled, unwarranted optimism.
That’s good for about 24 hours, until reality check weekend arrives. The undefeated and fully operational Pittsburgh Pirates travel to Cincinnati to battle our undefeated Reds this weekend in the most important series played in Great American Ball Park since the last series.
Solid Bob Steve Start For the record, Robert Stepheson’s first pitch, a fastball, was a 94-mph strike. Whether by design or happenstance, the situation couldn’t have been better. An afternoon game with a starting temperature of 43º assured a crowd smaller than most that Stephenson had pitched in front of last year. The opponent was the feather-light hitting Phillies, in a get-away game. Stephenson threw 87 pitches over five innings. He struck out one hitter. The two walks were a product of obviously pitching around Maikel Franco.
Pitcher wins are a dumb statistic, but today Stephenson became the first Reds pitcher to earn a win in his major league debut since May 2010. The previous pitcher? How many guesses would you have needed before you landed on Sam Lecure? In apparent tribute to Masters weekend, Stephenson gave up a homer to Cedric Hunter on a ball six inches off the ground. He also gave up a bomb to Ryan Howard that was grooved. It was a perfect start in this respect: Stephenson pitched well enough for the Reds to win, but not well enough to generate clamor for him to stay up in the major leagues.
Two Shots for Jay Seconds before Jay Bruce drilled a Charlie Morton pitch deep into the right field bleachers, Jeff Brantley observed that at a 3-1 count, Morton “had worked himself into a jam.” Bruce drove Joey Votto and Adam Duvall in to put the Reds ahead 4-2. In the bottom of the seventh, Bruce added a second home run, a solo shot to center. When potential trade partners look at Bruce’s first half numbers, they won’t take note he was facing the Phillies today. Bruce has hit 123 homers in Great American Ball Park, three behind Adam Dunn’s record.
Offense Shows Up Scott Schebler, who was playing CF, had two hits and a walk. In addition to his granny, Suarez had another hit. Votto and Duvall each had a hit and a walk. Tucker Barnhart had three hits and a walk. Raise your hand if you had Ivan De Jesus, Jr. for the first Reds stolen base of the year.
Bullpen Report Jumbo Diaz and Tony Cingrani each pitched a shutout inning in relief. Keyvius Sampson gave up a 2-run home in the eighth. Ross Ohlendorf pitched the ninth.
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Steve grew up in Cincinnati 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. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce’s 2010 homer and Homer Bailey’s 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.