Cincinnati Reds Beat Oswalt: Is This an Omen?

Cris ShumakerContributor IMay 27, 2009

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 8: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Redshits a three run home run against the New York Mets during the first inning at Great American Ballpark on April 8, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

For those who don't know, Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt is the ultimate Reds killer.  Just look at the numbers.  Entering Tuesday night, Oswalt was 23-1 with a 2.3 ERA against the Reds.

The night started with much of the same when he sat down the first five men to come to the plate, including striking out upstart first baseman Joey Votto.  The Reds managed to scatter a few hits with two out in the second, but couldn't push any runs across.

The third inning was a different story though.  Pitcher Micah Owings lined a shot into left field for a lead-off single that was followed up with another single by Chris Dickerson.  With two on and nobody out, Jerry Hairston Jr. laid down the sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position and eliminate the double play.

Votto was up next, and one would assume that Oswalt would walk him to set up the double play for Hernandez, who was on deck.  This didn't happen; Oswalt went after Votto and struck him out for the second time in the game.  This is when Reds fans were watching and thinking, "well here we go again."

Then something Reds fans aren't used to happened: Ramon Hernandez hit an RBI single into center field scoring both Owings and Dickerson.

The Astros then scored three times in the top of the fourth to take the lead, but Laynce Nix hit a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth to tie it back up.  The Astros scored a fourth run when Jeff Keppinger hit the first pitch he saw from Mike Lincoln over the 370 feet sign in left, but then Oswalt did the unheard of and walked a run in to tie it again at 4.

The Reds went on to win the game 6-4 after Votto hit a two-run homer that barely cleared the wall in left.  The Reds bullpen shut the Astros down in the eighth and ninth innings, and the game was over.  And although Oswalt did not get the loss, the Reds winning a game when he pitches is a momentous occasion.

Could this be a sign that the old, stale Reds are gone and this new group of youngsters is serious about winning?  After eight losing seasons, me and the rest of Cincinnati certainly hope so.  It is now the Wednesday after Memorial Day and the Reds sit just 1.5 games behind the Cardinals and Brewers, both tied atop the division.

The next week will tell a lot about this Reds ball club as they have one left with the Astros, a three-game set with the Brewers and then a four-game series in St. Louis. 

Does beating Oswalt mean that the Reds losing days are over?  Not by itself, but it does mean this team isn't worried about past trends or stereotypes and they are ready to challenge for the NL Central Division Title.