Yesterday, gunning for a sweep in front of a nice crowd in Cincinnati; the Reds battled back heroically to tie the first place Cardinals 7-7. In case you didn’t hear, they tied it up in the bottom of the 9th inning after entering the inning trailing 7-5. After Jerry Hairston Jr. led off the inning with a home run to left (one of 5 the Reds would hit on the afternoon off Cardinals pitching), Micah Owings took Ryan Franklin to a 3-2 count, fouling off 3 balls in a row. Franklin fired a fourth full count pitch; a slider, and Owings (who pinch hit in a move we didn’t like at the forefront) deposited a slider into the left field seats to tie the game at 7.
Like many heroes, the Reds fell tragically short, dropping this game 8-7 in 10 innings to narrowly miss a sweep of the first place Cardinals. However, the message had been delivered. The opening shots were fired. The telegraph wasn’t just addressed to the St. Louis Cardinals, whose impression of Cincinnati is likely to be different on this Monday then when they flew into Cincinnati before the weekend. Everyone should now know that these Reds have some things that could carry them into some pretty memorable territory as the season wears onward.
One thing in need of recognition is that the Reds played this entire series (save the final 4 innings) without a guy many consider to be their finest player, Joey Votto. Jay Bruce has been inserted into the 3-hole the last several games with Votto out. Bruce didn’t have a huge series, but he had a key hit in each of the three games, really serving as the punch to the Cardinal’s proverbial stomach. On Friday night, he had a RBI single late in the game that would prove to hold up and give the Reds a key insurance run. On Saturday, he hit a huge blast to right field to get the Reds on the scoreboard. On Sunday, another blast which was his 10th round tripper of the season. We don’t want to talk about paces yet, but the fact of the matter is the guy hasn’t even gotten truly hot at the plate to this point. If he does, and the Reds keep winning; the possibilities are endless with him.
The Reds were also without Brandon Phillips until Saturday. They were running out a light duty crew of guys who don’t stack up to the seasoned pros that the Cardinals feature in their lineup. This group of what some would refer to as cast-offs came out and delivered one line drive after another, all over the park.
There’s two things you just can’t talk enough about when talking about this current roster. The Reds never quit, and they’ve got a pitching staff that is going to keep them in the ballgame and give them a good opportunity at logging a win almost every night. If you have a team that plays hard, forgets about numbers and ability on paper and just goes out without fear and tries to hit people in the mouth; you’re going to have success. You have something dangerous then. It is an ingredient that all young teams in the ‘learning to win’ stage need to have. Think back to the Rays of 2008 and how they went after the Red Sox every time they played them.
We’re not quite into the summer yet, and the Reds have already provided fans with their first very memorable moment. Someday we can all look back to this series and maybe say it was the moment that this team grew up a little bit. A keystone that showed the league that the 2009 Reds have the ability to hang with the big boys at any given moment.