A home run or a pair of infield hits, which would Billy Hamilton rather have? For the Reds’ rookie center fielder and leadoff man, it was no contest.
“Two infield hits, any day. That’s my game,” Hamilton replied.
On a wet and rainy Tuesday night, Hamilton got all of the above. He reached base four times with two infield singles, a walk and a game-tying first career big league home run during the Reds’ 3-2 victory over the Cubs at Great American Ball Park.
Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey‘s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning was the difference maker that snapped the 2-2 tie in a game delayed three different times for a total of one hour and 45 minutes.
Reds starting pitcher Alfredo Simon completed six innings with two runs and five hits while he walked two, hit a batter and struck out five as the Reds snapped a three-game losing streak.
“He got a little erratic there and fought his way through,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “That, to me, is the sign of his development. He’s gotten himself into some sticky spots early in the game and he’s pitched through and kept himself in the ballgame.”.
Wet conditions did not slow Hamilton or prevent him from sparking the team offensively.
In the bottom of the fifth, with Cincinnati trailing by one run, Hamilton led off and drove a 1-1 Samardzija pitch into the right-field seats for a no-doubt homer.
“It wasn’t one of those wall-scrapers,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton hit 13 homers in 502 Minor League games and had one homer for the Reds this year in Spring Training.
“It’s nice to know the power is there. The power can be seductive too at times,” Price said. “The thing is, I’ve never seen Billy try to hit the ball out of the ballpark and give away at-bats trying to get the ball into the air. He’s been very cognizant of really trying to stay on top of the ball and trying to shoot line drives and hard groundballs through the infield.”.
Through 25 games, Hamilton is batting .244 with 10 steals in 15 tries. His on-base percentage is still low at .281, but he has shown some of the catalyst moments the Reds hoped he would provide this season.
“I come here every day and try to do something good for the team to help them out,” Hamilton said. “When I started the season, I didn’t have my mind right. But today, I walk on to the field and get something out of the game — whether it’s a sac fly, a stolen base, a big run and not just hitting, I want to learn something new.”