That was a good win, as the Cardinals look to win tonight, as well. Maintaining the gap, at a formidable 8.5 games right now is all we can ask for. I also heard from Mitch Williams of MLB Network (because everything he says is totally 110% correct) that the Phillies are the out-of-contention-spoiler team to fear the most this September. Beating them essentially makes us the awesomest, but we knew that already.
The game was won mostly on the play of two individuals. Jay Bruce clubbed his 31st home run of the year, turning a 1-0 loss into a 2-1 win, as Ryan Ludwick was on base. Bruce’s batting average and on base percentage aren’t great – but 31 home runs is pretty decent, especially with a month to play – it’s good enough for 2nd in the NL (though he lags behind Ryan Braun by quite large margin). Last year was his previous season record for homers, at 32, so he’s probably going to beat that by quite a margin.
Also, by my count, 18 of Bruce’s homers have come in a tie game, or with the Reds behind. That’s not a particularly reliable or in-depth analysis. But I think his 125 OPS+ shows that we’re definitely better off without him, even if his strikeouts are frustrating.
Mat Latos was also a big part of tonight’s win. Seven innings and one earned run is always good. Of course, he didn’t look great the whole way through – walking in a run is always a big flashing alarm. Two walks and a hit-by-pitch in the same sequence definitely looks like your control is gone. Latos has Stubbs to thank for getting out of that. Stubbs caught a sinking liner into center field on his feet, and got the ball back into the infield for a double play.
Other than that inning though, Latos only allowed 3 hits and no walks. It was definitely nice to see a young guy like Latos buckle down after a rough inning and come back out for three more.
This game also featured a great defensive play by Bruce, Scott Rolen’s 2000th hit, and Aroldis Chapman’s 35th save. What it didn’t feature was Joey Votto. SOON.