Let’s recap today’s titanic struggle…

FINAL
Cincinnati Reds 6
Houston Astros 5
WP: Ondrusek (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
LP: F. Rodriguez (0-3, 4.22 ERA)
S: Marshall (5)

BOXSCORE

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

POSITIVES

• Fantastic comeback win that brings the second-place Reds’ record to .500 (11-11). It was the third series win in a row. If the Brewers hold on to their lead against the Cardinals today, the Reds will be 3 games out of first place. The win also makes the Reds 4-2 on the homestand, leading into the final three games against the Cubs. 

• Jay Bruce hit a HR in his fourth consecutive game, the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth. He leads the club in HR (7) and RBI (17). When he is willing to hit the ball to the opposite field, he seems almost impossible to get out.

• Joey Votto had four RBI (15). He crushed his second home run of the year to deep right center field, flirting with nailing the Toyota sign. In the 7th inning, the 2010 NL MVP pulled a two-out 2-RBI double down the first base line. Not sure why the Astros were pitching to him in that situation, and why not bring in a lefty if they were going to? Oh well, their loss.

• Zack Cozart had two doubles, a walk, a run and an RBI. He flashed more great defense. He’s been a real revelation so far.

• The bullpen was outstanding again, with Arredondo (ERA 2.53) and Ondrusek (ERA 0.00) shutting down the Astros. Add in a bit of redemption for closer Sean Marshall, who earned his fifth save on a dominating 1-2-3 inning. 

• Mat Latos shut down the Astros running game. Opposing teams had been previously been successful at stealing bases against tall starting pitcher. Ryan Hanigan threw out Jordan Schafer attempting to steal.

• Both Drew Stubbs and Ryan Ludwick made excellent defensive plays in the outfield. Stubbs lept above the CF fence to rob Travis Buck of a home run in the first inning. Brandon Phillips showed why he has three Gold Gloves in his trophy case, laying out to take a hit away in the ninth inning.

NEGATIVES

• Starting pitcher Mat Latos struggled with his command. When he could spot his fastball and throw his curve for a strike, he was hard to hit. He’s learning the hard lesson about the difference between GABP and PETCO. You can’t just wind up and throw your fastball against mediocre hitters because they are capable of hitting it out here (see Downs and Lowrie).

• Dusty Baker once again undercut the Reds’ momentum in the seventh inning by calling for a (failed) sacrifice bunt and giving away another out. Two runs down, no outs, runners at first and second, Baker called for leadoff hitter Drew Stubbs to sacrifice his out. The move was unusually puzzling since a successful bunt, combined with a Cozart out, would have led to the Astros walking Joey Votto. Further, Baker used Devin Mesoraco as a pinch runner, which not only prevented Mesoraco from pinch hitting later if necessary, but also took Ryan Hanigan, and his pitch calling, out of the game. Luckily, Joey Votto bailed out the questionable managing. Sure, Stubbs should have put a better bunt down, but decades of data, from thousands of data points, show that sacrifice bunts decrease the probability of scoring runs compared to hitting away.

• Ryan Ludwick was 0-4 and is now batting .190.

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS

• Jay Bruce should be batting behind Joey Votto. Teams will be more reluctant to walk Votto, as the Astros did today in the fifth inning. And Bruce is a much better hitter than Brandon Phillips. As we saw in the seventh inning, when you pitch to Joey Votto, bad things happen.

• Top Game Thread Comment: (zippy) Inning was going very well until Dusty attempted to manage.