Reds Get-Away Game Surge Just in Time to Face Halladay
Hanigan's Heroics Lifts Reds to Series Win
by Robb Hoff
After an unlikely double against Cincinnati Reds fireballer Arolids Chapman, the stage was set for the lowly Chicago Cubs to do the unthinkable -- come from behind in the ninth inning to escape Cincinnati with a series split against the juggernaut that the Reds have shown themselves to be this year.
With one out in the inning and Chapman not bothering to hold the runner on, the Cubs baserunner took off for third on a 100-mile-per-hour fastball to a left-handed hitter. Given the jump, it looked like Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan would have no shot to throw out the runner at third base, even though the pitch was 100 mph and Hanigan's throw didn't have to be altered like it would be if there were a right-handed hitter in the batter's box.
But Hanigan threw a perfect bullet just ahead of the baserunner to wipe the bases clean.
To further put his stamp on the game, Hanigan drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth after pinch-hitter Xavier Paul led off the frame with a triple.
The get-away win was big because off the uplift it should provide this ballclub as they travel to Philadelphia for a four-game set that will pit them against three of the best pitchers in baseball.
Those Reds who were on the 2010 division-winning team that got trounced and unceremoniously swept by the Phillies in the divisional round of the playoffs should have a little something to prove now that the Reds are in a position to advance to the playoffs again.
Not only that, but the first Phillies pitcher they will face is Roy Halladay, and every one of those Reds still on the team from 2012 will never forget that Halladay no-hit them in the playoffs.
Obviously there are players who may not have an ax to grind or a chip on their shoulder, but even those not on the team then should be able to feel a palpable edge from the others who were subjected to one of the most embarrassing results of a playoff game in all of post-season history.
We shall see tomorrow night whether or not the Reds show up for Halladay, even though the Phillies are almost collectively as bad as the Cubs have been this year --well, no, that would be extremely hard to do -- but definitely more disappointing in their play than the Cubs given the expectations for the Phillies and the total lack of any expectations for the Cubs.
Regardless, the Reds did overcome some lackluster play and dubious defense for the concluded series against the Cubs to prevail with three wins out of four games for their sendoff.
At 26 games over the .500 mark and situated nicely atop the N.L. Central division, the Reds don't really have anything to prove against Halladay and the rest of the Phillies, but it sure would be a boost to show themselves and their fans that the improvement over the 2010 Reds team is enough of a difference maker that the eventual return of Joey Votto to the lineup will only be a sweetener for a season on the brink of destiny.