Last night, three was enough.
For the first time since Sept. 20, 2012, the Reds were missing Joey Votto and Jay Bruce from their lineup in last night’s clash between the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies. Devin Mesoraco stepping in to smash a three-run home-run in his first at-bat since returning from Major League Baseball’s disabled list has Cincinnati buzzing. While the Reds found it difficult to establish any more scoring offense after that 1st-inning blast, seeing #39 take control of the game the way he did shows Reds fans a ton of promise. Mesoraco’s .460 season batting average, while skewed due to only 14 appearances in 2014, is tops for the Redlegs. Of course, we can all expect these numbers to fall back to Earth a little; even the greatest players inevitably cool down from time to time. But seeing what Cincinnati’s catcher has been able to establish so far this season is an extremely positive sign.
The Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania-born Devin Mesoraco has proven that when healthy, he certainly deserves a spot in the everyday line-up. His excellent batting is complimented well by outstanding presence behind home plate and he definitely has the swagger that you look for in a big-leaguer. And now that Todd Frazier’s fourteen-game hitting streak is over, I can no longer jinx it by discussing it. What an outstanding run for Todd. Setting a career-high for consecutive games with a hit is the perfect way to turn up the intensity when your offense is hurting. I absolutely love that Frazier has stepped up at such a tough point in the season, and he too has proven to be another player that Reds fans can expect to come through for the team. With that in mind, it is very clear to me that for the time being, there are a number of young players stepping up and playing pretty well for Cincinnati.
Good thing Cincinnati has these young guns stepping up for them. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that an MRI exam showed a strained left quadriceps for Votto, and while #19 has not been added to the DL so far, I’m always cautious when a player like Joey misses games. It takes a lot for a player like him to miss playing time: Votto was the only Cincinnati player to play in every game for the Reds this season before last night’s 3-0 win that did not include him. So even if the injury isn’t expected to be a long-term issue, it should still be respected as at least mildly serious if it was enough to keep him out of the line-up. Jay Bruce is also still out of the line-up as well, placing even more pressure on the rest of the starters to produce.
As much as I’d love to believe that the Reds will only need one or two runs to win tonight against the Phillies, I’m not sure I can fully believe that’s a safe bet. Cincinnati has put up three (May 6), four (April 25), five (April 8), even six runs (April 3) in games Homer Bailey started this year, and they weren’t able to win any of those particular Bailey-starts mentioned. Granted, Homer’s last performance against the run-crazy Rockies was impressive (their eleven runs against the Reds the day before Bailey’s start are the most the Reds have surrendered in the 2014 campaign). But which Homer will we see tonight?
Hopefully, the Reds can get all the bats going, including Mesoraco and Frazier, and won’t need a great pitching performance tonight, though I’m sure Reds fans would love to see one of those as well. I’m always rooting for Homer, but the best way to win is to hit homers. Especially for the Reds, who have left 7.2 runners on-base per game this season, 12 of their 21 losses coming by just a single run. Only time will tell just how far these two will elevate the Redlegs.
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