May 10, 2013 – Brewers @ Reds – 7:10pm – Fox Sports Cincinnati
Reds Record (19 – 16)
Home Record (13 – 6)
Brewers Record (15 – 17)
Away Record (5 – 6)
Starters: Gallardo (3 – 1) vs. Cingrani (2 – 0)
The Setting: Watching at home with the family.
The Game and Analysis:
•Brandon Phillips is the man. If you haven’t seen the video of his amazing double play from tonight’s game, you need to track it down. In the seventh inning, the Reds were up 3 – 2 when Norichika Aoki walked back to back with one out. Ryan Braun hit a ball up the middle but Phillips barehanded it while on his knees, touched second base with his left knee, and threw the ball to first while falling toward third base. Joey Votto had to pick the ball out of the dirt, but it was right on line and had enough behind it to get there in time for the double play. He is an absolute wizard with the glove, and makes these spectacular plays seemingly weekly. He works hard at what he does, has tremendous instincts, and improvises on the fly with split-second decision making. Who knows how many runs he saves in the field; all I know is that the Reds are lucky to have him.
•Phillips also made an impact at the plate in this game. He drove in Shin-Soo Choo with a single in the third inning for the game’s first run and then homered in the bottom of the seventh to extend the Reds’ lead to 4 – 2. He scored another run in the third when Jay Bruce doubled him home. Phillips now has 31 RBI, which leads the National League. He has excelled in the cleanup spot this year, and his production has prevented teams from pitching around Votto more often.
•Ryan Hanigan returned to the lineup after a stint on the disabled list, and went 2 – 4. Coming into the game, he only had three hits on the year and was batting .079. It is good to have Hanigan back, even if that means Corky Miller and his world class mustache are being sent back to the minors.
•The defense by the Reds was spectacular in this game, obviously highlighted by Phillips’ aforementioned play. Todd Frazier also made a sliding catch in foul territory and a huge double play in the fourth inning when the Reds and pitcher Tony Cingrani were in trouble. He made a great stop at third, stepped on the bag and fired to first for the double play. Ryan Hanigan also made a diving catch behind the plate.
•Cingrani only pitched four innings, and was struggling in his last frame. He gave up a leadoff home run that inning to Jean Segura that barely went over Bruce’s glove, and a no doubter on the next pitch to Ryan Braun to tie the game at 2 – 2. Cingrani then walked the next batter and gave up a single to the one after that. Frazier’s double play came next, and then Cingrani gave up another walk before striking out the seventh batter of the inning to end the fourth and his day on the mound. He threw 29 of his 85 pitches in that inning.
•Dusty Baker turned the ball over to his bullpen, and they did a great job. Alfredo Simon, Sam LeCure, Jonathan Broxton, and Aroldis Chapman combined for 5.0 innings, 1 hit, 4 walks, and one run. Chapman gave up one hit and later allowed that runner to score on two wild pitches. Chapman did not look bad, but the wild pitches made the game a little scarier to watch during the last at bat.
•Votto and Choo combined to go 0 – 5, but also combined to walk five times. Votto is now 0 – 7 in his last two games after blistering the ball recently. Choo has seen his average drop a lot, even though he came up big recently against the Braves. Both are still sporting an on base percentage of .450 or greater.
•Donald Lutz pinch hit for Cingrani in the fifth inning and got a hit. He has now hit safely in five consecutive games. The big man also stole a base, his second of the year. Lutz is looking pretty good right now.
What Worked: The defense was exemplary. In a one run game, you can pinpoint one play that could have made the difference. In this game, several plays on defense helped prevent runs or longer innings. Phillips also came up big at the plate, and the bullpen held down the fort for five innings. There were terrific performances all around.
What Didn’t Work: Cingrani struggled a little and had to be lifted after four innings.
Where They Stand: The Reds are 20 – 16 and trail the Cardinals by three games in the NL Central. They are ½ game ahead of the Pirates.
Overall Thoughts: This was a great way to kick off the series against Milwaukee. I cannot praise the defense enough, and the team played a complete game from top to bottom. The Reds have won five of their last seven games but have not been able to make up ground on the Cardinals. This game had plenty of excitement, and hopefully the Reds can string together a good run and the Cardinals will lose every now and then.
Up Next: The Reds take on the Brewers tomorrow at 4:15pm.