The Cincinnati Reds are just past the midway point of another memorable season of baseball. Through 86 games, the team owns a 49-37, is currently on pace for a 92-win season and sits 4.5 games back of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central.
The team is full of talent, and that has provided fans with some of the most exciting moments in the MLB season. This team is a perpetual highlight reel with Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and others leading the charge.
In this article, we'll look at the seven most memorable moments of the Reds' first half, including one from the second half that just couldn't be left untouched.
Let's get into it.
All stats are current through play on July 5 and are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
In just their fourth game of the season, the Reds met up with the Washington Nationals in the first of a three-game set.
The Reds pitching was solid, and Homer Bailey tossed six shutout innings while allowing two hits and three walks with six strikeouts en route to his first win of the season. Bailey was followed by relievers Manny Parra and J.J. Hoover, who combined for three innings with three hits, one walk and a strikeout.
While the Reds pitching was noteworthy, the real star of the show was the offense, which tagged Nationals' starter Dan Haren and relievers Zach Duke, Henry Rodriguez and Ryan Mattheus for a grand total of 15 runs.
The offensive onslaught was led by Zack Cozart, Xavier Paul and Todd Frazier, who combined for five home runs—two each for Cozart and Frazier—13 RBI, six runs scored and a whopping 22 total bases.
Five Cincinnati Reds chipped in multi-hit games, and three players—Cozart, Frazier and Paul—finished the game with four or more RBI.
The Nationals haven't quite lived up to all the preseason hype they were prescribed, but at this point in the year they were still favored in the National League, and the win pushed the Reds to 3-1 on the young season.
Homer Bailey has turned in some dominant performances this season. We've already looked at one, and outside of his recent no-hitter, there isn't a better start than the one he made against the Phillies on April 16.
In just his third start of the year, Bailey spun an eight-inning gem in which he allowed just two hits and no walks while striking out 10 would-be batters. Bailey was followed by Aroldis Chapman in the ninth, who pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts.
Bailey was—as usual—the unfortunate recipient of poor run support. Although he threw a shutout, the Phillies starter, Kyle Kendrick, teamed with reliever Antonio Bastardo to turn in eight innings of two-hit, two-walk baseball against them.
Bailey exited in favor of flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, and the Reds offense responded in the ninth by loading the bases for Jay Bruce. On Phillippe Aumont's first pitch to Bruce, Bruce delivered a no-out, walk-off single to right field to push the Reds back to .500—7-7.
On April 18, Tony Cingrani made his starting debut for the Reds. Cingrani was up against a Miami Marlins team that isn't all that formidable, unless their young phenom Jose Fernandez is on the hill.
Fernandez came into the game with a dazzling 0.82 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and ratios of 10.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 4.33 K/BB and 4.1 H/9.
The 20-year-old may have put up impressive numbers against division rivals in his previous two starts, but that didn't stop the Reds, who got to him for five runs on six hits and three walks.
While the Reds offensive output was impressive—they worked the Marlins for 11 runs—the biggest story was Cingrani's stellar debut.
Though he pitched just five innings, he gave Reds fans a glimpse at his capabilities on the mound and beat the Marlins up. Over said five innings, the 24-year-old lefty logged 102 pitches, allowing five hits, one home run and three walks while striking out eight.
The bullpen picked up where Cingrani left off, and over four innings, Sam LeCure, J.J. Hoover, Alfredo Simon and Jonathan Broxton combined to allow just one hit while striking out four.
Cingrani will become a full-time starter over Johnny Cueto's latest trip to the DL, and we can expect more of the same from the young hurler.
Technically, this event took place during the game discussed on the previous slide, but this moment certainly deserves its own separate mention.
Todd Frazier is one of baseball's bright young stars and one of the most genuine men you'll meet.
He has become well-known for his charitable nature in the past year. After Hurricane Sandy rocked his hometown of Toms River, N.J., Frazier set out to help restore both his town and his state. According to baseballunitedfoundation.org, Frazier was responsible for $20,000 worth of charitable donations through the "Grand Slam for Sandy" fundraising group.
It's always nice to see players willing to give back to their hometown, but it's something else that earned him a spot on this list.
On April 18, the Reds brought back Teddy Kremer to be their bat boy. Ordinarily this wouldn't make headlines, but Kremer suffers from Down syndrome and happens to be a huge Reds fan.
Frazier told the Cincinnati Enquirer's C. Trent Rosencrans that Teddy had actually asked for a home run when he told Todd, "He’s so funny, he said, ‘C’mon, hit me a home run, I love you.’ I said, ‘I love you too, I’ll hit you one.’"
When Frazier's next at-bat came in the sixth inning, he did just that and created what will go down as arguably the most heartwarming moment of the 2013 season.
The Cincinnati Reds' largest winning streak of the season is six games. That number was reached on May 16 against the Miami Marlins when Mat Latos and Jose Fernandez squared off in Miami.
Fernandez was making his second start against the Reds and just the eighth of his young career. Over seven innings pitched, the 20-year-old allowed just two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out five.
The young phenom was bested, but only slightly, by another young righty, Mat Latos.
In 8.1 innings pitched, Latos allowed two runs on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Latos' attempt at a complete game fell short when he allowed a one-out triple to Adeiny Hechavarria in the ninth.
Latos was then lifted in favor of Aroldis Chapman, who proceeded to allow Hechavarria to score.
In the top of the 10th, with the score tied 2-2, the Reds were able to load the bases for Brandon Phillips, who delivered a sacrifice fly to give the team a 3-2 lead. The next batter, Jay Bruce, took a two-two pitch to right field for a two-RBI double, giving the Reds a 5-2 lead.
J.J. Hoover pitched the bottom half of the 10th for the Reds, and although he allowed a run, he was able to notch his third save of the season.
The Pirates' Jason Grilli has been one of the best closers in baseball as we pass the midway point. In 40 appearances, the 36-year-old has worked to a 2.15 ERA with an MLB-best 28 saves and a 0.88 WHIP.
Grilli has blown just one save all season, but coming into this contest against the Reds on June 19, he was a perfect 25-25 in save opportunities.
Two surprise success stories, Jeff Locke and Bronson Arroyo, faced off for the Pirates and Reds, respectively. The matchup didn't disappoint, and through 8.5 innings, the Pirates held on to a narrow 1-0 lead.
Grilli came in to face the Reds' four, five and six hitters, and after getting Brandon Phillips to line out, Jay Bruce stepped to the plate. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Bruce hit a towering shot to right field to send the game into extra innings.
After three-and-a-half innings of stalemate, the Reds came to bat again with the nine, one and two hitters due up.
After a Jack Hannahan strikeout for the first out of the inning, the Reds proceeded to get the next two batters on for Joey Votto. Votto was intentionally walked as the Pirates selected to pitch to Phillips instead.
As has been the case many times this year, Phillips burned the opposing pitcher and laced a one-out single up the middle to score Shin-Soo Choo and notch the Reds another extra-innings victory.
Yes, technically this occurred in the second half of the season, but exceptions can always be made for such memorable events. In his 17th start of the year, Bailey faced off against the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants and turned in one of the most dominating performances in recent memory.
Over nine innings, Bailey allowed no hits while walking one and striking out nine. Bailey carried a perfect-game bid into the seventh inning, only to walk Gregor Blanco on six pitches.
Bailey almost lost his no-no in the seventh inning when he failed to cover first base on a Buster Posey ground ball. The ever-astute Joey Votto caught Blanco heading toward third base and retired him on a fielder's choice to keep the no-hitter intact.
Bailey's no-hitter brought his ERA down to 3.57 on the season, and he is currently on pace to break all of his personal bests for all of his pitching metrics.
He may never be the No. 1 starter the Reds once thought he'd be, but he is always good for a good show.