The Washington Nationals hadn’t lost two games in a row in May. The Cincinnati Reds hadn’t won two games in a row since May 14. Fortunately, they went ahead and played the game, mainly as a pretext to give out another bobble head. The local boys summoned the will to overcome a 5-2 deficit and score the game’s final six runs on way to a second consecutive win over the first-place Nats. Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton delivered huge two-out hits in the bottom of the eighth to score the final four. Head down to Great American Ball Park tomorrow afternoon to watch Michael Lorenzen and the Reds in the series’ final game. The club is showing a bit of resilience and deserves the support. And don’t forget your broom.
The Reds bullpen has been outstanding lately. Pitchers not named Aroldis Chapman have thrown 18 straight innings of shutout baseball. Today, the bullpen including Chapman combined for 3.1 shutout innings to seal the win. Chapman, for the second game in a row, pitched with a 3-run lead.
The Reds starting pitching future is (mostly) here.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani and LorenzenÃ‚Â have graduated to the rotation. As with any young pitcher, there will be ups and downs from start to start, from inning to inning and even within an inning. Today’s start by Iglesias was a big improvement over hisÃ‚Â last one that lasted just three innings against Cleveland. He went 5.2 innings and allowed 9 hits and 5 runs. The numbers to pay closest attention to are 0 (walks) and 8 (strikeouts). He also gave up his first home run. If it weren’t for a hanging curve ball to Michael Taylor, Iglesias could have made it through six innings with giving up just 2 runs. For a glimpse of his potential, make a mental bookmark of the way he dispatched Ryan Zimmerman in the sixth, on three pitches, mixing arm angles and working the bottom of the zone.
Joey Votto hit his second homer in two days, knocking in Billy Hamilton and giving the Reds a 2-1 lead. Yesterday, Votto compared his recent month-long slump with losing his wallet. That MVP swing is some bulky wallet.
Votto had two hits and a walk in four plate appearances. Todd Frazier had three hits, including a double in the eighth inning that would have been his 16th home run had the Nationals center fielder Denard Span not played goalie, bringing the ball back into the park. Jay Bruce had two walks. Brayan PeÃƒÂ±a had two hits, as did Billy Hamilton. Struggling to swing without falling down, Brandon Phillips (who was, curiously, leading off) went 0-5.
Zack Cozart had only one hit, but it was the biggest of the game. With the Reds trailing by one, it looked like they were poised to blow a bases-loaded opportunity in the eighth. After Marlon Byrd lined to the second baseman for the second out, Cozart quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count. On a 1-2 pitch, he smashed a fastball so hard that all Span could do was turn around, run as fast as he could and play the ball off the bounce. Cozart is hitting .271/.326/.452 with an wRC+ of 111. And he’s been steady as ever in the field, making all the plays.
Byrd Watch: With his four plate appearances today, Marlon Byrd is on pace for 607. If he appears at the plate 550 times, his $8 million option for 2016 becomes guaranteed. He’s hitting .205/.278/.435. You’d think he might be replaced occasionally just for performance (accountability) reasons. But the alternative is Skip Schumaker or watching Brennan Boesch set at bats on fire.
The Nationals’ outfielder, Bryce Harper wasÃ‚Â scratched from the lineup. Harper’s club said it was related to being hit in the back by a Tony Cingrani fastball yesterday. The guy who replaced Harper in the game was 2-for-4.
Bryan Price has taken plenty of well deserved criticism this year. But I’d be remiss to not mention the team meeting he held after Wednesday’s loss. We don’t know exactly what he said in that meeting, but reading between the lines of the comments he and a couple players made to press, I think he said this: “I’ve been on other teams that have been through losing streaks like this. It’s no fun, but it’s going to end. Try to relax on your off day and not worry about it. We’ll come back on Friday, compete, have fun and put the past behind us. This is a good team and we’re going to win our share of games.” And if that’s what he said, he struck the right tone in my opinion. The meeting probably had nothing to do with the last two wins, but Price also takes heat for things for which he’s not to blame.
Sure it great to see the team playing well and having a good time doing it.