Dateline: Browns Chapel
On a another truly perfect early summer day with a light breeze the Reds went on the road against the Cubs. Coach Grossman was even louder than usual during warmups as he was clearly trying to exorcise the demons from the recent 24-4 debacle. The Reds came out focussed as did the Cubs who started the day only a game out of first place in the National league. This was a must win game for them. Furthermore, they were seeking to avenge their early season loss to the Reds.
The Reds scored first on a leadoff walk to Juan, a fielders choice by Nick as he hit a sharp grounder to second. Nick went on to steal second and advanced to third on an overthrow. Matt got a key RBI groundout to first to score Nick. The Reds sent Nick to the mound for his first start of the season. He threw some real heat, but the leadoff batter hit a sharp single to left. The second batter walked and the third batter was safe on an infield hit. Suddenly it was bases loaded and no outs. Nick got the next batter to groundout to Jack at short who made a nice play, but one run scored. After that some control problems ensued and four walks later the Cubs had a 4-1 lead after one.
The Reds went down quietly in the second and Ben went to the mound. He walked the leadoff man and the next batter hit a high popup that dropped to the ground but the runner was frozen on first and Garrett made an alert throw to Nick at second to get the runner out. The ump thought it was an infield fly and started to rule the batter out, but everyone reminded him that the rule is meant to prevent a triple play, so it requires two base runners — either runners on first and second or bases loaded. The ump did the right thing and ruled the batter safe and the runner out. With one out, the next batter walked to make it runners on first and second with one out. A wild pitch moved the runner to third and then, in a key play, he tried to score on a wild pitch. Matt at catcher made a perfect flip to Ben at the plate who expertly applied the tag. Out two. Then, moments later the Cubs tried a double steal. Matt fired to second and nailed the runner by eight feet. Reds fans rejoiced. After two it was still Cubs 4 Reds 1.
The Reds offense came alive in the third. Ben led off with a walk. He stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Michael grounded out to first to score Ben and pick up the RBI. Garrett, Sean and Juan walked to load the bases with one out. Nick walked to score Garrett. Matt walked to score Sean and Mason walked to score Juan. Ben strolled to the mound in the bottom of the third and gave up an infield single and a walk to give the Cubs first and second with no outs. The next batter smashed a sharp hopper to Nick at short who calmly flipped to Jack at third. Jack quickly noticed he wasn’t on the base and made the alert decision to tag the runner. Out one. Another walk loaded the bases. Then a groundout to first in which Devon made a nice play scored a run but resulted in out two. With a 2-0 count and first base open, Coach Grossman went to the mound and called for his ace middle reliever, Garrett to come in from the bullpen. Garrett took a couple of pitches to settle in and walked the batter to load the bases with two outs. Then, with masterful pitching, Garrett hit the inside corner and induced a weak groundout back to the mound to end the inning. After three it was suddenly a thriller Reds 5 Cubs 5.
The Reds jumped to the lead in the fourth with more offense. Ian was safe on an infield single to second. Jack was safe on another sharp smash to first. With runners on first and second an inside pitch appeared to hit Omar. While the ball was bouncing around home, Coach Goldstein alertly signaled Ian to run to third. This reporter has no idea what Coach Grossman was doing, but it was clearly a smart play by Coach Goldstein to encourage Ian to run. Ian hesitated to add to the excitement and then broke for third. He slid in just ahead of the tag and suddenly it was runners on third and second with no outs. Omar came through with a single to score Ian. Devon walked to load the bases. Michael grounded out to second to pick up his second RBI on the day as Jack scored. Omar scored on a wild pitch and Devon scored on a wild pitch. Garrett came on in the bottom of the fourth and continued his great pitching. The leadoff batter beat out an infield hit to Nick at short. The next batter grounded out to Devon for the first out. Jack then made a nice play at third and he threw perfectly to Ben covering at second for out two. A single scored the run. With two outs, Garrett bore down and got the next batter to hit a popup behind short. Nick raced back and made a great catch to end the inning. After four the Reds had a 9-6 lead.
The Reds picked up a key insurance run in the fifth. Sean walked, two batters struck out and Matt beat out an infield hit. Sean moved to third with two outs on a wild pitch. Coach Grossman called for the ole double steal. Matt beat the throw to second by a step and Sean scored easily. Mason came on to return to his role as closer and he threw blistering heat. He walked the bases loaded to make things exciting but then struck out the next three batters to end the inning. After five, Reds fans were very excited as the Reds held a 10-6 lead.
The Reds got three quick walks to load the bases with no outs in the sixth but after that no one could get a hit so Mason returned the mound. in the bottom of the sixth. He struck out the first batter, walked the second batter, struck out the third and walked the fourth. With two outs he walked three in a row to score two runs. The lead was suddenly 10-7. Coach Grossman called time and called for Ian to come in from center to pitch, sent Mason over to first and Devon out to center. Ian happily glared at the final batter. A short popup behind the mound fell in safely to make it 10-8. Ian then faced the number six batter — a player who had not been retired all day. He fired two quick strikes and got ahead 0-2. The next pitch was a high popup behind short. Nick was off at the crack of the bat — he tracked the ball, caught it and the Reds fans rejoiced with a 10-8 win over one of the best teams in the league.
Coach Grossman was very busy as he had to begin immediate preparations for the Pirates on Thursday. However his schedule did permit a brief interview. He said “This was one of my most enjoyable games ever. We came back from the adversity of a big blowout and really played a great game. We used five pitchers and they all looked good and have shown some real progress. I’m looking forward to Thursday’s game.”
Coach Goldstein said “Matt did a great job at catcher as he caught five innings. He was really hustling today. The whole team look great and we’ll just keep improving each game.”