With the storybook debut to Jay Bruce’s major league career, was there ever any doubt that his first homer would be a walkoff, game-winner?
Have you ever seen anything like the first five games of this kid’s career? After the first few innings, I thought the story of the game would be Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 599th career home run. Leave it to Bruce to steal the show again, and symbolically take the torch from Junior in the process.
Some choice quotes:
“Boy, if he’s living a dream, I’d like to get in that dream,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker. “Everybody said he was good. Sometimes guys get overhyped. Most times, you’re disappointed at first. This hype is real.”
This one surprised me:
“That was my first walk-off home run ever, at any level,” Bruce said. “It was a fastball, middle-in. I knew it was gone. I was ready to get to home plate and get beat up. I’ll take it every time it can happen.”
If it had been a night game, sparks would have showered from the light stanchions, spraying Jay Bruce as he circled the bases, giggling all the way.
That’s the way it was in the movie “The Natural” Ã¢â‚¬â€ only this story is better and a novelist couldn’t pass it off as nonfiction.
Humility from Bruce:
“Dunn got the big walk, then we got the momentum with Freel sliding into home on that crazy play,” said Bruce. “This whole thing has been crazy. When I hit first base, well, it was awesome and I was anxious to get to home and get beat up again Ã¢â‚¬â€ but I’ll take it, every time it can happen.”
And here’s Joey Votto, a pretty darn good rookie himself who almost won the game in the bottom of the ninth:
“Take a look at his month of May and he might be the hottest hitter in all of baseball,” said Votto. “It’s unbelievable. I hope he keeps it going. That was a big swing. That’s about as good of a home run as it gets, especially in front of a big home crowd.”
Dusty Baker again:
“He’s not a power hitter, not a home run hitter,” he said. “You come in as a hitter and you learn how to hit home runs. He’s a hitter, not a slugger and, boy, that was a remarkable game. Makes me glad I came back to managing. Man, that was nice.
“That’s the stuff I missed in the booth, he added. “The booth was nice, but, man, this is wonderful.”
Jay Bruce walked past, and catcher Javier Valentin said, “There he goes, Babe Bruce.”
One of my favorites, from Atlanta manager Bobby Cox:
A writer walked into Cox’s office early Saturday, May 31, and before he said, “Hello, how are you?” or “Very nice weather, huh?” Cox looked at the writer and said: “Does that … Jay Bruce ever make an out?”
Cox likes what he sees of Bruce and said, “He makes contact, he runs good, and he seems to patrol center field pretty good. He seems to have energized that team, and sometimes a good young player, like Bruce and Joey Votto, can do that for a team. I’ve seen it before.”
The Legend of Jay Bruce continues to grow….