There are slumps and then there is the stretch that the Cincinnati Reds have been on lately. They not only lost a ton of games and some standing in the National League Central division. As if that weren’t enough, they also lost ace starter Johnny Cueto to the disabled list with a strained muscle. To be sure the Cueto injury could have been worse but it was an exclamation point on a really bad stretch of games for a really good team.
Brandon Phillips is a certified MVP candidate this season. He was in the running a time or two but if the Reds go somewhere this year, I expect Phillips to be a front runner for the MVP. Having said that, Phillips backed up that notion with what is easily the biggest hit of the young season for the struggling Reds. They were tied at two in the eighth with the Philadelphia Phillies with the bases loaded and Phillips at the dish.
As it turns out manager Dusty Baker had told Phillips earlier that he would win the game. Sure enough, on Jackie Robinson Day, Phillips came through with what would be the game winning single. It wasn’t a walk-off homerun. It wasn’t a line drive or even a blooper. This was a good pitch that Phillips went with and hit an ugly dribbler to second base where it slipped under the second baseman’s glove by a whisker.
Generally I find that a struggling good team doesn’t turn things around with a 450 foot homer. More times than not it’s a bunt single, an error or a seeing-eye dribbler through the hole that springs things loose. You could see it in the dugout and on Phillips’ face after that hit. It was huge! Who is to say whether they start a winning streak, struggle some more or just go back and forth? The Reds hit of the season so far was that little dribbler by Phillips, plain and simple. I have no doubt it won’t be his last game winner.