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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Jay Bruce Provides Just Enough Offense To Make Dan Straily A Winner

Jay Bruce nearly cleared the rightfield stands with his 14th home run to lead the Reds offense.  Dan Straily with a lot of help from Tyler Holt shut down the Oakland Athletics for a 2-1 win.

Straily started off slowly by walking Coco Crisp to start the proceedings.  Stephen Vogt doubled, sending Crisp to third.  Danny Valencia delivered Crisp with a single.

Straily retired the next nine Oakland batters before walking Yonder Alonso.  Marcus Semien doubled inside the thirdbase bag to send Alonso to third.  The Reds pitched around Max Muncy, walking him to load the bases.  Billy Burns hit a liner to center where he was robbed by a diving catch by Tyler Holt.

'We're blessed with great defense on this team," Straily said.

The Reds had two base runners in the first to innings against Oakland starter Daniel Mengden, who was making his Major League debut after just 43 minor league games.  Mengden started the season at Double A Midland, then Triple A Nashville before having his contract selected before the game.

"There were a lot of moments where the game could have changed rather quickly," Bryan Price said.  "Bruce's home run looked like it was going out of the stadium and he made a beautiful catch with no out in the ninth."

Joey Votto worked a walk, opening the Reds' third.  One out later Bruce unloaded his 439 ft. blast that bounced three rows from the top of the rightfield bleachers.. Bruce has driven home 44 runs this season and pending the outcomes of other games, moved into second place in the National League behind Nolan Arenado's 53 RBI.

The drive was measured at 439'.

"That's all I've got," Bruce said. "I hit it pretty good. I don't hit home runs in batting practice. I have no use for home runs in batting practice. I am not a guy that can just try to hit home runs. I just have to make sure I swing at good pitches.  This year I feel like myself. I am ending at bats when they should be ended. I'm chasing less and keeping at bats going (by fouling off two strike pitches)."

Straily allowed five hits and three walks over seven innings but shut his former teammates out over the last six innings, striking out five.  Tony Cingrani relieved him to pitch a perfect eighth.  Ross Ohlendorf pitched the ninth for his first save of the year and second of his career.  Ohlendorf gave up singles to Alonso and Burns but struck out Billy Butler to end the game.

"It was fun pitching against a lot of friends that I have over there," Straily said. "I don't look at the back of the jersey when I pitch. I watched them hit for years. I was able to focus on what I had to do but now that it's over it was a lot of fun."

"It was fun to get a save," Ohlendorf said. "Tony got the big outs from the middle of the order that was a big inning for us. I just wanted to continue what he started. I'm comfortable pitching wherever they ask me."

Bruce tracked down a fly ball off the bat of Marcus Semien into the rightfield corner with no outs to help the preserve the lead.

'I take a lot of pride in my defense," Bruce said.

"Jay has been the something to see," Price said. "He got the big home run off a pitcher who was throwing well. He's always been the consummate professional.  He was the subject to a lot of trade rumors. He was able to compartmentalize them.  I think he is living in the present and enjoying his time with his teammates."

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