August 13, 2013 – Reds @ Cubs – 8:05pm – Fox Sports Cincinnati
Reds Record (66 – 52)
Away Record (29 – 32)
Cubs Record (52 – 66)
Home Record (23 – 34)
Starters: Bailey (7 –10) vs. Samardzjia (6 – 11)
The Setting: I’ll be watching this one on a delay as I travel back from my weekly Tuesday class.
The Game and Analysis:
•This game was back and forth from the onset. The Reds would dink and dunk and score a couple of runs and then the Cubs would hit homers to tie the game back up. It would take extra innings to get a winner, and Shin-Soo Choo came up with a big two-run single in the eleventh inning for the deciding runs as the Reds won 6 – 4. Keep reading to see how we got to that point.
•The Reds got on the board in the top of the first inning. Choo led off with a walk and then Todd Frazier flied out. Joey Votto doubled to put runners on second third and then Brandon Phillips singled in Choo. With runners on the corners, Jay Bruce grounded out to second to score Votto and give the Reds an early 2 – 0 lead.
•The Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the second on a two-run homer by Nate Schierholtz. Dioner Navarro had singled to lead off the inning, and Schierholtz followed with his blast to right-center field. That was the first time the Cubs had scored at Wrigley Field in 33 innings. Wow!
•The Reds reclaimed the lead in the third.Votto walked with one out and Phillips singled to follow. With Bruce at the plate, Votto and Phillips executed a double steal to put runners on second and third with one out. On the very next pitch, Samardzjia bounced one in the dirt for a wild pitch that allowed Votto to score (3 – 2), and move Phillips up to third. After Bruce walked, Xavier Paul grounded into a force out, but the Cubs could not turn two and Phillips scored from third to make the score 4 – 2.
•Dioner Navarro connected for a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the fourth to bring the score to 4 – 3. Donnie Murphy matched him with a solo homer leading off the seventh inning to tie the game.
•Homer Bailey left the game with one out in the seventh inning. He had given up the leadoff homer to Murphy, then retired a batter before giving up back-to-back walks. The longball was the downfall of Bailey in this one, as the Cubs scored all four of their runs via the home run. Sam Lecure cam in to face one batter, and he struck out that batter on four pitches. Many Parra then came into the game, and he closed out the seventh inning with a strikeout of Anthony Rizzo.
•In the ninth, the score remained tied when Ryan Hanigan drew a walk to start the inning. Devin Mesoraco came in to pinch-run for him. My mind immediately raced to a few weeks from now when expanded rosters means this pinch-runner role will go to a speedster like Billy Hamilton, Derrick Robinsonson or someone else who will give the Reds a much better advantage than Mesoraco. Cesar Izturis bunted into a force out at second, and the Reds ultimately could not move a runner after the leadoff walk. I find that unacceptable.
•The game would go to extras, and the top of the eleventh inning would prove to be the deciding frame. Ryan Ludwick and Mesoraco both walked to start the inning, bringing up Izturis to try his hand at bunting again. Third baseman Murphy booted the ball, allowing everyone to be safe to set the stage for Choo’s two-run single to give the Reds the 6 – 4 lead that would end up being the final score.
•Aroldis Chapman closed out the game for his 29th save of the season.
What Worked: Brandon Phillips had a good day at the plate, going 3 – 6. The Reds executed a double steal, which I have been asking for all year. The offense had plenty of runners on base, and the six runs were the same total the Reds had scored in their last three games combined.
What Didn’t Work: Izturis struggled with his bunts, and the Reds failed to move over a runner that led off an inning by getting on base. That is just fundamental baseball.
Where They Stand: The Reds are 67 – 52 and trail the Pirates by 3.5 games and the Cardinals by 1.5 games in the NL Central.
Overall Thoughts: This was a huge victory for the Reds as the Pirates and Cardinals played each other. No matter who won in that game, the Reds would make up a full game against the loser and keep pace with the victor. As long as the Reds keep winning, they are going to make up some ground over the next few days. In this game, Choo broke a 1 – 23 skid (I think) with that clutch hit to win the game.
Up Next: The final game of this series is tomorrow afternoon.