They don’t get much bigger than the home run Jay Bruce hit in the bottom of the 9th inning off Jason Grilli to tie the game 1-1. Grilli was going for the Pirates franchise record for consecutive saves to begin a season. I’ve watched Grilli a lot this season. He’s been downright invincible. And suddenly with one swing of the bat, one of baseball’s nastiest relievers suddenly became human again.
And that’s when you know Jay Bruce is truly hot. When he’s on like he’s been on for about the last week especially – there isn’t really a book or scouting report available to be able to get him out. It seems like everything he hits is a rope, home runs come in bunches and it doesn’t really matter what kind of pitcher he’s facing. Lefty or righty, fastball guy or junk guy, when Bruce is hot he pretty much destroys everything. We’ve seen this from him about a half dozen times, maybe a few times more in his big league career. When he’s in one of these streaks and you watch him closely, you’re sure you’re watching a superstar emerge. He’s that incredible. No mortal man could do this over the course of a hot streak.
I always say that my favorite Jay Bruce home run is the next one he hits. But this shot off Grilli ranks right up there with some of the biggest he’s ever hit. It was truly huge and when he crossed home plate and headed into the dugout you could legitimately tell that it fired up a group of big leaguers who have seen it all in their day. They know how filthy Grilli is. They know it takes something superhuman to homer off the guy right now when he’s hunting for a consecutive saves record. It was truly huge, even in a big league world where superhuman effort is seen nightly by those that play the game.
You knew when the Reds were all fired up in the dugout in the bottom of the 9th that they were going to find a way to win the game. At least, if you watch the Reds every day like I do and you have a feel of the team’s pulse, it wasn’t going to be a game they dropped. Sure enough, it took 13 innings but the Reds were triumphant in winning 2-1 on a Brandon Phillips bases-loaded single up the middle.
They don’t win that game without Jay Bruce. They don’t even score. But Jay Bruce is hot right now, and he destroyed possibly the most dominant reliever in baseball with the game on the line.
Fast forward to this afternoon. It was a getaway day afternoon game that I knew the Reds would lose. Big, emotional win last night to at least salvage the split at home in the series. Sure, they’re going to lose this afternoon. And lose they did (5-3 Pirates). But Bruce did it again, homering to the lawn in center for his 15th long one on the season. It gave the Reds a 2-1 lead they would relinquish a few innings later.
The point is when Jay Bruce is hot, baseball’s fly out of the park like you took a time machine back to yesteryear to watch Babe Ruth. Enjoy the volcanic eruption while it’s going on because it’s clearly not human. For the short time being, Jay Bruce knows he’s taking you deep; and it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in the history of following the game of baseball.