Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….
Los Angeles 2
W: A. Chapman (4-5)
L: R. Belisario (5-7)
–With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Zack Cozart (who went 2-4 on the night) singled. Ryan Hanigan stepped to the plate, and just as I begged Dusty not to bunt, Hanigan ripped a double into left field that scored Cozart, and gave the Reds a walkoff win.
–Jay Bruce hit two homers against the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, driving in two of the three Cincinnati runs.
–Homer Bailey was great against the Dodgers tonight. Seven innings pitched, two runs allowed on six hits, with nine strikeouts. In a matchup against Kershaw on national television, Bailey showed the world that he’s an ace. (Thanks, Homer.)
–Aroldis Chapman has been nothing short of unhittable this week. Tonight, he just made the Dodgers look silly in the ninth inning. Especially Hanley Ramirez, who has been great in this series. Chapman made Ramirez look like a little leaguer.
–I keep questioning Dusty Baker’s use of Zach Duke, and Zach keeps making me look silly. He got the job done again tonight, as did JJ Hoover. Fortunately, I’ve been touting Hoover all season. He’s been very good.
–None. Absolutely none whatsoever.
–One week ago, I made some dumb comment about how this Reds team wasn’t fun to watch. One week later, things have changed a bit, eh?
I stand by my statement from last week. This Reds team has made mistakes on the bases and mistakes defensively all year, and the hitting has been uneven. They haven’t been fun to watch, and that’s a fact.
This week, however, has been nearly perfect. The Reds went 6-1 against the Cardinals and Dodgers — two first-place teams — and they looked very good in the process. Just when it looked like this club was dead in the water, they responded. Give credit to Dusty Baker, or Jay Bruce, or Homer Bailey, or whomever you like. All I know is that I have an optimism about this team that I didn’t have one week ago.
Baseball, you guys. I love baseball.
–I’ve praised Dusty a few times in recent days, so it seems like a good time to question one of his decisions. In the seventh, with the game tied 2-2, Dusty pinch-hit for Homer Bailey. That’s a reasonable decision, given the importance of the situation: one out, Cozart on second base, tie game. So, given the importance of the situation, it seems obvious to use Neftali Soto to pinch hit, right? Right?
No, obviously. Ryan Ludwick and Devin Mesoraco, among others, were available on the bench. But Dusty chose Soto, who had struck out in four of his five major league plate appearances in his career. Tonight, he struck out on three pitches. Make that five out of six.
I like Soto, and not just because he shares the same last name as one of my favorite Reds of all-time. But he was the wrong choice at this point in the game, and I think everyone understands that. Why would you put a September 40-man roster call-up into the game at that crucial point?
I’m perfectly willing to believe that Dusty has more information than I do, and that he had a good reason to make that decision. But I don’t understand it.
–Jay Bruce has more homers against left-handed pitchers than anyone in baseball the last three seasons. Can we put to rest the criticism that Bruce can’t hit lefties? Please?
–The last left-handed batter to hit two homers in a game off Kershaw? Our old friend Adam Dunn.
–That’s the first time the Reds have swept the Dodgers in Cincinnati since…wait for it…1992.
–Zack Cozart is now the proud owner of a 13-game hitting streak.
–The Reds are now tied with the Pirates for second place, 1.5 games out of first. Our favorite club plays the Cubs, Brewers, and Astros in next three series. This could get interesting.
–I love it when the Reds go. Go Reds.
20 games over. What a difference a week makes.
— Mo Egger (@MoEgger1530) September 9, 2013
What a week for the Reds:3 of 4 from the Cardinals, sweep of LAD, emergence of Hamilton as a weapon, Chapman on fire, Cueto on his way back.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) September 9, 2013
Cincinnati Reds can play with ANYBODY. National folks take notice. #reds
— Richard Fitch (@RichardFitchNYC) September 9, 2013
Anyone have Joe Oliver flashbacks on that Ryan Hanigan double?
— Chad Dotson (@dotsonc) September 9, 2013
Amazing things happen when you don't BUNT, if only you let them. #Reds
— Alex Ham (@GiantAsianMan) September 9, 2013
Hanley RamÃƒÂrez has been one of the best hitters in all of baseball this year. Chapman's made him look silly twice this weekend. #Reds
— Nick Kirby (@Nicholaspkirby) September 9, 2013
#aggressive Ã¢â‚¬Å“@redjr30: Good to see BP strike out on ball 6 #reds pic.twitter.com/FUiRK8IsC7Ã¢â‚¬Â
— Chris Garber (@cgarber8) September 9, 2013
"We believe that we're the best team in the league." –Jay Bruce
— Redleg Nation (@redlegnation) September 9, 2013