Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton was due for a breakout game and man did had it this afternoon, with his bat and his fast legs against the St Louis Cardinals, which resulted in a Reds 4-0 victory to avoid the sweep. Also, starter Mike Leake had a pitching gem of his own, going eight scoreless innings of four hit ball.
The Reds bench were ecstatic with Hamilton’s game changing speed in top of the fifth inning. Here’s some reaction from the winning clubhouse.
“I told [my teammates]: ‘I’m going to make something happen for you if I get the chance. Put the ball in play and I got your back,’” Hamilton said.
Cincinnati was already up 2-0 in the fifth inning against Cardinals starter Shelby Miller when Hamilton led off with a single to left field. He stole second base and advanced to third base on Brandon Phillips shallow fly to right field before Joey Votto walked.
Next was Jay Bruce, who skied what would normally be a routine popup to short right field behind second base. As Kolten Wong went back on the ball, right fielder Jon Jay charged in for the catch not too far from the infield dirt.
Hamilton was tagging up on the play, and with no hesitation he broke towards home plate.
“When the fly ball went up in the air, [third-base coach Steve] Smith was like, ‘I want to see how fast you really are,’” Hamilton explained. “I was like, ‘OK, that’s giving me the key point to go.’ He didn’t say go, but I knew I had to go.”
“We didn’t think there would be a chance that he would go,” said Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco. “It was awesome. It was really fun to see. He’s so exciting. He gets everybody on the edge of their seat. I think with Billy, there’s a lot more of those to come.”
Cards catcher Yadier Molina, one of the best catchers in the majors, was in awe of Hamilton’s speed.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen that,” Molina said. “He’s so fast. Like I said, every time he’s on base he’s going to be dangerous. … Any time you see a guy with that kind of speed, he can change the game.”
“Even though there were a few counts I was behind, I was able to make a pitch to get some action in the field and some double plays and let the defense work,” Leake said. “We did a really good job today. Mes did a great job. Keeping the ball down and keeping them guessing was the main thing today. They didn’t really seem to know what to expect each time. There was a lot of mixing it up today.”
“That’s kind of as advertised right there,” Reds manager Bryan Price said of Hamilton. “We’ve been waiting for that game, and I was really glad to see it today.”
“It’s a big relief,” Hamilton said. “I’m starting to feel like that fun is coming back into it. I’m starting to be myself, getting all the pressure off myself and playing the game of baseball. These guys have been helping me the whole way through, even when I was struggling at the start. They keep me up through the struggling and the good times.”