Jay Bruce homered tonight in the 9th inning (to left field) in a 0-0 tie game to win the game for the Cincinnati Reds 3-0. The win was the Reds 70th of the season. It was Bruce’s 123rd career home run. While some may have come in bigger moments when the spotlight shined brighter, we’re not sure that he’s ever truly hit a bigger one.
This season hasn’t altogether gone as we had it written up for the Reds’ right fielder. We had him as the National League MVP coming into 2012. Fair or unfair, it just hasn’t materialized into that type of season.
After an April that saw him hit .296 and close out the month with home runs in four straight games, it’s been a season long slump. It’s felt that way. But Bruce’s manager has stuck with him through trying times. For all the grief Dusty Baker gets for his odd machinations and far out inventions in the form of a lineup, thank you Dusty for being a player’s manager on this night.
To hit a home run in the 9th inning of a game to the opposite field off a tough lefty with the way that things have been going, that’s just a huge moment. And maybe Bruce continues to slumber through the final six weeks and change of the regular season, who knows. But maybe this is the start of one of Jay Bruce’s epic hot streaks that carries a team to a division title.
Because tonight felt just a little bit like 2010 didn’t it? It seemed that not a body had left–and for good reason–when Bruce hit the line drive into the first row of seats in left field. It’s one of those nights where you’re mad that you had an excuse not to be there taking it in with 29,000 of your closest friends.
The end of 2009 and especially that August and September of 2010, was truly vintage Jay Bruce. It was a time where he seemed on top of the baseball world and no one could get him out. And more often than not when he connected, the ball left the yard. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life watching baseball. It was incredible.
He put together one of those epic hot streaks in May of 2011 and had the minor eruption in April of this season that we touched on, and has since gone missing.
He’s homered in two straight. Not surprisingly, the Reds won them both. Why is one player so paramount to the Reds success? When Bruce succeeds, the Reds are seemingly unstoppable. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Lifetime, in a Reds win, Jay Bruce OPS’s over an astounding .960 clip.
I don’t know how this chapter ends or where it falls in the story. I don’t know if we’re at the halfway point or beginning to ride the downward slope towards the end. All I know is that tonight when Jay Bruce rounded the bases I felt the joy you can only feel for someone when you’ve suffered through the good times and the bad with someone, even if he doesn’t know that we’ve all been along for the ride with him every step of the way.
Jay Bruce is one of us. Born and raised a Cincinnati Red. He provides us with another magical moment in what has thus far been a magical summer.
And if this is the beginning of one of those hot streaks that you never forget, I guarantee you the entire baseball world will be on notice.