CINCINNATI – Xavier Paul and Jack Hannahan said all of the right things Sunday. They said all of the right baseball things after the Reds pulled out a 3-2 win against San Diego in 13 innings at Great American Ball Park.
I don’t believe for a second they told the whole truth. They weren’t lying but they couldn’t have been telling the whole truth. Not with Saturday night still fresh in their minds and the minds of anyone else that saw them commit a combined four errors and one base-running blunder in a 3-1 loss to the Padres. Athletes talk all of the time about being able to forget one day and move on to the next, but it had to feel better than Paul and Hannahan let on after they played pivotal roles in helping the Reds get a win out of a game they could have and probably should have lost 15 times over.
Paul hit a two-run, pinch-hit home run with one out in the eighth inning off of San Diego starter Ian Kennedy to tie the game, while Hannahan walked with one out in the 13th and eventually scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Joey Votto on Sunday. Hannahan had committed three errors at third base, while Paul had a fielding error and got caught being too aggressive on the base paths the night before.
The Reds managed just one hit off of Kennedy in the first 7 1/3 innings, and that was by starting pitcher Mike Leake leading off the third inning. Kennedy retired 16 straight Reds after Leake’s single to center field. Zack Cozart snapped that streak with an infield single as a pinch-hitter for Cesar Izturis, bringing up Paul.
“After last night, making a few mistakes that in some people’s opinion say cost us the game because it was a two-run ball game, and to be able to come back today and late in the game like that help put my team in the position to get a win makes me feel good,” said Paul.
Paul was subdued when he spoke. Baseball seasons are too long to exhaust unnecessary celebration on one regular season game. When Paul hit Kennedy’s 1-2 pitch into the Moon Deck, an estimated 422 feet away, he watched it as he took his first few steps out of the batter’s box and flipped the bat away. That’s not traditional baseball etiquette but after Saturday night Paul can be afforded this baseball no-no.
“It’s exciting just to come up with a big hit like that in front of the home crowd,” said Paul. “It was a two-to-nothing ball game, Ian Kennedy has been pitching light’s out all game. I played against Ian in high school. We go way back and I don’t think even then I had much success against him. He was a first-rounder. He’s always been a good pitcher. Today, that was one of his few mistakes. He looked like the Ian Kennedy from last year.”
Kennedy came into the game with a 4-8 record and 5.14 ERA. He was making his second start for the Padres since being traded by Arizona. Yet this is a pitcher who had won 36 games the last two seasons for the Diamondbacks, including going 21-4 in 2011. He had pitched three previous times against the Reds and allowed just a single run in all three games.
Kennedy was long gone by the time Hannahan entered the game as part of a double switch in the top of the 12th inning. Sam LeCure came in to get the final out for Logan Ondrusek that inning, leaving the bases loaded. Reds pitching stranded 15 San Diego runners. The Padres were 1-of-17 hitting with runners in scoring position.
Hannahan worked a walk off of San Diego reliever Tim Stauffer in the 13th inning. Shin-Soo Choo, who was hitless in five previous at-bats Sunday and was in a 0-for-16 streak, doubled to the right field corner and send Hannahan to third base. Stauffer hit pinch hitter Ryan Hanigan with a pitch to load the bases and bring up Votto.
Hannahan easily scored on the fly ball to deep left field.
“Anytime you can contribute it’s special,” said Hannahan. “As far as (Saturday), that’s gone and behind me. You show up, it’s a new day and you go out and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to help your team win.”
The Padres scored their two runs, one courtesy of an error by Izturis, off of Leake in the second inning. Reds pitching shutout the Padres for the next 11 innings, stranding runners in 10 of the game’s 13 innings. That can get lost when thinking of what Paul and Hannahan went through the last 24 hours.
“I think that just hammers home the point that it can be anybody any day, that yesterday is dead and gone and tomorrow is on its way,” said LeCure. “Everybody is rooting for each other. I think it’s refreshing and nice for us to see when somebody who struggled the night before come out and have a big at-bat. Those two guys had big at-bats today.
“With the grind of the season, mental fortitude is just as if not more important than the physical part of it.”