The Cubs were the Cubs and lost in extras, which meant the Reds were going to have to take care of business themselves if they wanted to clinch today.
Mat Latos held up his end of the deal, throwing a better 8 innings than Bronson Arroyo did the night before. In his 8 innings, he shutout the Dodgers and allowed 6 hits, no walks, and struck out 7. He’s been amazing the second half of the season, and it’ll be nice to see him in the playoffs. The kid can pitch.
The Reds’ offense was slow to get started again, and it looked for the first third of the game that another excellent start might be wasted. But Jay Bruce–he who hit the division-winning home run back in 2010–came to the plate in the 4th inning and launched his 34th home run of the season into the right field seats. That put the Reds on the board and gave them a lead they would never relinquish.
Plus, it gave Bruce home runs in consecutive division-clinching games. I think that a new rule should be passed saying he has to do that moving forward.
After that, the offense woke up. In the 5th, Todd Frazier singled in Brandon Phillips. In the 7th, Phillips hit his 18th home run. And in the 8th, the Reds scored a total of 3 runs, one from a sacrifice bunt from Chris Heisey, and 2 from a single from Zack Cozart.
Afterwards, the Reds partied on the field and in the clubhouse, but I have a feeling their work isn’t done. In 2010, the team hadn’t had a winning season in a decade, so the division was an achievement. This time, most of the players remember the early playoff exit, and none of them want that again.
The Reds do still have the best record in the National League and home-field advantage throughout the post-season to play for, but I imagine we’ll start seeing the regulars rested. Even though tonight’s game will be ESPN’s Sunday night game, don’t be surprised to see a lot of backups in the line up. Homer Bailey will start for Cincinnati, while for the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw will start, if he’s deemed healthy enough. Otherwise, expect to see Aaron Harang. The first pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm.