With A New Look, Reds Make Winning Seem Easy
The Cincinnati Reds are having fun. Starting with Opening Day, the Reds looked like a team that was laid back and ready to win. So far, that’s been the early prognosis with Cincinnati. They are winning, and doing it with ease. Whether it’s small ball, timely hitting, or luck, Reds baseball has started the 2016 season with a bang.
Looking to take the rubber match of a three-game series with Pittsburgh, the Reds did just that. After dueling with the Pirates for eight long innings, the Reds–once again–did what they have become adept at doing. Sunday afternoon, they made the impossible look like child’s play.
Brandon Phillips calmly led off the ninth inning with a single. Standing at the plate, facing a 2-2 count and one out, Jay Bruce slapped a rope down the first base line. Philips turned on the afterburners and scored all the way from first. The Reds’ dugout mobbed Phillips. They promptly did the same to Bruce, as he stood with his arms raised in victory. It was another walk-off victory.
The resulting win propelled the Reds into first place. They take two-of-three from the Pirates and are suddenly looking like the team to beat in the National League Central. Reds fans saw the team take five-of-six at home to open the season in style.
Eugenio Suarez and Jay Bruce knocked in both runs, for the Reds. Suarez started the comeback, in the Reds part of the sixth, with a solo home run. That tied it at 1-1. Reds reliever Ross Ohlendorf (2-0) picked up the victory. He survived a rocky ninth inning, to get the W and set up the winning rally. Reds left fielder Adam Duvall saved a run in the eighth, throwing out Josh Harrison trying to score from second on John Jaso’s single. Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle challenged the call, but it was upheld.
In the early stage of the season, Bruce and Suarez are on fire. During the Reds home stand, the duo combined to knock in 18 runs. Suarez has reached base safely in all six Reds games. Per the Cincinnati Reds, he’s the first player to hit four home runs in the first six games, since Adam Dunn did it in 2004.
Jay Bruce is amazed by Suarez’s ability with the bat.
“I saw him last year. The guy wakes up and hits. The guy is a natural. He really does a good job, and he’s doing great right now. He has that ability. He’s still really young and still coming into his own as a Major Leaguer.”
Starting pitcher Tim Melville made his big league debut and aced the test. He wasn’t spectacular but he was able to give the Reds a chance to win. He went four innings and gave up one run. The Pirates were 0-8 with runners in scoring position against Melville. The rookie was nervous, after getting into early trouble.
“It was one of those moments. It’s not a dream anymore,” Melville proudly gushed, via ESPN. “I was nervous. It happens to the best of us. I told myself to get back to the game plan and get strike one. You’re out there by yourself.”
For a team that wasn’t supposed to compete, the Reds are leading the pack. The pitching is falling into place and the bullpen is holding up well. Reds manager Bryan Price thinks his team can put together a season that may surprise people.
“I think the guys are relaxed and are having fun,” Price offered. “That sounds simple enough, but I think whenever everyone is pulling for each other, there’s something special about that. It’s easy to say we’re in the first week. It’s going to be a long season. We know things aren’t always going to go as smoothly as they have in the first week. However, if you can keep the right attitude and frame of mind, you can have more streaks like this.”
The Chicago Cubs are next on the list, for the overachieving Reds. Chicago is coming off a brilliant 2015 season. A good showing against the Cubs could make believers out of more fans.
[Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images]