Through a long, yet low-scoring game tonight, the Reds continually put base-runners on without driving them in. In fact, the Reds combined for 9 hits and 6 walks in the first eight innings of play against the New York Mets, and that even included four doubles, yet no runs driven in – mostly because the doubles all happened when the bases were clear. That, and we did have some serious RISP issues.
If not for Mat Latos, Bruce doesn’t get so much of a chance to be a hero. Even though he allowed quite a fair number of base-runners in the first couple innings he pitched, running up his pitch count to the 70′s by the fourth inning, he kept the runs from getting in, and eventually turned in a line of 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K – with only one of those hits going for extra bases. The poor guy just gets no mercy when he has a rough night because of his bad start – but he’s been pretty awesome lately. Tonight he dropped his ERA to 3.63.
In relief, Marshall was solid after walking David Wright in the 8th inning, and Arredondo was shaky, but prevailed in the 9th. That makes this the 10th (team) shutout of 2012 – compare that to only 5 shutouts in all of 2011.
Before the 9th inning, Bruce was looking at being the scapegoat of this game – although he hit a nice double in his first plate-appearance, he also bore the biggest left-on-base burden, with three runners left on. Of course, it’s not like anyone else had any ribbies thus far – but it’s been a pretty long time since Jay’s last hot streak, which makes him a lightning rod for fan (and Brennaman) disapproval.
That’s why I think most of us were extremely pleased (well, more so than usual) when, after fouling off three third strikes, Jay Bruce lifted a fastball just over the wall into left-center, driving in Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips (who walked three times tonight, BTW). It was Jay Bruce’s 23rd home run of the season, it was his fourth walk-off homer ever, and hopefully it was just what he needed. It was our fourth win in a row, it gives us a six game lead over the Pirates, and puts us 24 games over .500.
In a word: Hooray!