Our blog tool was down this morning, so I'm posting this late. And my apologies for no blog yesterday. My grandmother required my attention in the morning and I had some obligations in the afternoon.
Last night was the best the Reds have played this season.
I suppose there are other candidates in the silly and pointless "in which of their 27 victories did they play best" argument, but last night was a complete team win, the Reds looking far more like the team sporting the best record in the game.
They hit, or at least they were efficient with their hitting. The hits with runners in scoring position, which have been so elusive, finally manifested themselves, and from key hitters too. Jay Bruce made his first real impact in forever. Brandon Phillips hit a huge double to extend a shrinking lead. And Devin Mesoraco did what Devin Mesoraco does a lot nowdays.
He hit the ball hard and he hit the ball far.
Homer Bailey didn't wow, but he didn't suck either, and two relievers whose names have become punchlines polished off an important homestand-opening win.
What I liked most about the win last night was how Billy Hamilton contributed to it.
Billy is like a hot woman in that he makes others do really stupid things. In the first inning last night, Tim Lincecum decided to pick him off second base. Instead, he threw the ball away.
In the fifth, he hit a ball to Brandon Crawford that the Giants' shortstop might as well have stuck in his back pocket. Seconds later, Billy was standing on third after forcing a bad throw from Hector Sanchez to second.
The best team in the bigs had no answer for Billy Hamilton last night and the Reds speedster clearly was in Lincecum's head like a bad jingle....
Actually, by watching last night's game, you wouldn't know which team had been cruising for weeks and which one was scratching just to get back to even. Sanchez would make another error in the inning, and the Giants would tally four on the evening. Before last night, San Fran hasn't committed more than two errors or allowed three stolen bases in a game this season
But who cares about the Giants? The Reds continued to force the issue, doing the kinds of things that were talked about so often before the season began. Phillips and Bruce both stole bases during the four-run fifth, playing the kind of add-on baseball absent for most of this one-run-game-filled season. The Reds haven't enjoyed many lopsided victories this year. Hell, they haven't enjoyed enough victories regardless of their margin. It was fun to watch them ease their way through the final few innings on their way to a fourth-straight win. And it was fun to watch them continually apply pressure and do something besides sit back and wait for homers.
And now they've won four straight, quieting the "buy or sell" talk just a little, and offering a little hope just days after seemingly bottoming out. It's actually sort of frustrating that this nice little mini roll the Reds are on hasn't yet put them at .500, but maybe it's at least a start.
All the pieces finally came together last night, as they have to a large extent over the last four games. More complete team-wide performances like the one the Reds offered up at GABP last night, and we might actually have ourselves a pennant race this summer after all.