Wednesday, April 11, 2012

No brooms necessary - Reds avoid sweep with walkoff win over Cards


Chris Heisey had the game-winning hit on Wednesday.

The Reds offense didn’t quite emerge from its season-opening slumber, but showed enough signs of life late to rally for a comeback, 4-3 win over St. Louis and avoid a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals. Cincinnati picked up its second walk-off win of the week, this time with pinch hitter Chris Heisey earning hero honors with his game-winning hit to the gap in left center. While it is far too early in the season to jump to conclusions about anything, this one was big as a series sweep by the rival Cards would’ve been tough to swallow. Aroldis Chapman (2-0) picked up the win and everybody gets to leave the first Business Man’s Special of the year happy.

The Good

-Chris Heisey continues to be a pinch-hitting machine, coming off the bench to give the Reds a much needed lift.

-Zack Cozart remains on a tear at the plate, going 2-for-5 on the day. You know you’re going good at the plate when you pick up two hits and your batting average drops – he’s now hitting a smooth .455 for the season. Cozart is the first Reds rookie to hit safely in the first six games since Frankie Baumholtz in 1947.

-Aroldis Chapman (2 IP, 1H, 5 K, 0 BB) was electric again, striking out all three batters he faced in the eighth inning. He then stayed on for the ninth, striking out two more after allowing a single, including a punch out of World Series hero David Freese.

-Wilson Valdez provided the offense with a much needed spark, bunting his way on twice, including an RBI bunt single in the 5th with two outs to tie the game at 3-3. Valdez finished 3-for-4 while hitting out of the seventh spot in the order.

-The bullpen as a whole turned in a stellar effort. Jose Arredondo, Bill Bray, Logan Ondrusek and Chapman combined for four scoreless innings of work, holding the Cardinals to just one hit.

-Drew Stubbs batted leadoff for the first time and showed signs of life at the plate with a pair of hits to move his batting average to .200.

-Joey Votto is definitely coming alive with the bat, adding four more hits today along with scoring the winning run. The Reds’ $225 million man is now hitting .333. Funny how quickly concerns over a poor batting average can be wiped away in a day or two this time of year.

The Bad

-Things never should have been quite so dramatic. The Reds left 13 men on base, going just 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

-Johnny Cueto couldn’t match his Opening Day start, lasting just five innings this time around. Cueto struggled with putting hitters away, throwing 91 pitches and was pulled for a pinch hitter when the Reds loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth. Still, things weren’t all bad for Cueto – though he pitched deep into counts to many batters, he did not issue a walk, scattering seven hits and three earned runs with three strikeouts.

The Notables

-St. Louis went with a getaway day lineup, resting regular starters Lance Berkman and Freese, although the latter did pinch hit.

-The Cardinals never trailed until the last moments of the game, and they haven’t made a habit of falling behind this year. St. Louis has had the lead in 47 of 63 innings so far on the season.

-An announced crowd of 20,672 took in the matinee, easily the most attended game of the three-game series.

-The Reds hit the road for the first time this year, heading to the nation’s capital for a four-game series with the Nationals. Mat Latos (0-1, 7.71) is scheduled to take the ball on Thursday afternoon against Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez (0-0, 9.82). The game is the home opener for the Nats and is scheduled for a 1:05 p.m. first pitch. Latos has had good luck against the Nats – he’s 3-1 with a 2.19 career ERA and 27 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched.

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