Baseball, though, is the great equalizer and things don’t always work out the way it looks as if it should.
This time it worked to perfection as the Reds scored a mammoth 6-1 victory over the Brewers to once again step one game ahead of the Brewers in the National League wild-card chase.
The Reds jumped on Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser for a pair of runs in the first on Joey Votto’s two-run homer and a solo home run by Jesse Winker in the fourth.
The Brewers were nearly helpless against Reds starter Trevor Bauer, who had one of his U Can’t Touch This nights.The big question was that he was starting on three days of rest, only the fourth time in his career, and he was 0-and-1 with a 7.36 earned run average in those outings. He answered that with a resounding, reverberating, “Oh, yeah.”
Bauer was The Dominator, holding the Brewers to one run, four hits, one walk and 12 strikeouts over eight innings of complete and total control.
Catcher Tucker Barnhart, squatting behind the frustrated Brewers batters, couldn’t say enough about Bauer.
“A thing of beauty,” Barnhart told Fox Sports Ohio. “On short rest, I can’t say enough about him. Eight innings on short rest ... if that’s not a Cy Young winner, I don’t know who is.”
Bauer, the man of the hour and the man of power, made it clear how he feels about the Cy Young.
“I don’t see how you can see it any other way,” he said. And he had some words about those who doubted him on pitching with three days of rest.
"I don’t have anything to prove to myself, but my track record on three days of rest is pretty bad, huh? How about that. All you guys in the media worrying about me going on short rest.
“I told you guys, I don’t do this just on a feeling, I know and I hope you guys can back away from that story,” he added.
On Tuesday, the first two batters in the bottom of the first scored on Nick Castellanos two-run homer. Then the offense went on early holiday, scored no more, and the Reds lost, 3-2.
On Wednesday, two of the first three batters in the bottom of the first scored on Votto’s two-run home run.
This time, the Reds kept their noses firmly in the batter’s box and played add-on, including a three-run point-of-emphasis home run by Eugenio Suarez.
Shogo Akiyama led the first with a walk and with one out Votto cleared the left-center wall by plenty for a 2-0 Reds lead again. At the time, when Votto stepped into the box, he was 0 for 22 with seven strikeouts against the Brewers this season.
The homer was Votto’s 11th, the sixth in the 26 games since he was benched for three games.
And the Reds added a run in the fourth when Jesse Winker led off the inning with a home run to make it 3-0 and Suarez connected in the fifth ... all six runs coming on home runs.
Bauer faced the minimum 12 hitters in the first four innings. Only one reached base, a single by Avasail Garcia to open the game, but Barnhart threw him out trying to steal second.
Bauer retired 11 straight until he walked Daniel Vogelbach to open the fifth. And he paid. With two outs, Orlando Arcia doubled to the left-field gap for a run, cutting the Reds' lead to 3-1.
Suarez did what Suarez does best, a three-run home run in the fifth to give the Reds a 6-1 working margin.
Castellanos reached second on second baseman Keston Hiura’s throwing error. Brewers manager Craig Counsell brought in left hander Alex Claudio to face Votto. Claudio gave Counsell heartburn by walking Votto on four pitches.
Under the new three-batter limit for relief pitchers, Counsell was forced to leave Claudio in to face the right-handed Suarez. He ripped one into the left-field seats, a three-run TNTer, his 16th home run over the last two seasons against the Brew Crew.
Suarez made a throwing error to open the sixth and Avasail Garcia singled, putting runners on third and first with no outs — Bauer’s first real challenge.
Bauer, displaying his arm of Teflon, struck out the next three — slump-shrouded Christian Yelich, Jedd Gyorko and Daniel Vogelbach — using breaking balls that must look like the letter 'q' to hitters. And after each whiff, Bauer let out a gutteral scream.
“That’s Trevor,” said Barnhart. “He welcomes stress and he welcomes any situation. And I’d sure as hell take him over any guy you can throw out there.”
Said Bauer, he put away with Brewers with breaking pitches, “At that point, it was a huge turning point in the game. D.J. (pitching coach Derek Johnson) came out, we had a good meeting and got me locked down. I got that little adrenaline kick and it worked out well.”
There was a scary moment for the Reds. After making his last warm-up pitch for the seventh, Bauer grabbed the back of his right leg. Manager David Bell and athletic trainer Steve Baumann conferred with Bauer and he stayed in, a harmless 1-2-3 inning.
Bauer finished his night in the eighth by striking out Yelich for the third time, 12 strikeouts on the night.
After an off-day Thursday, the Reds travel to Minnesota for a three-game series to end the regular season, a series that could determine the Reds' post-season fate. And there is something at stake for the Twins, too. They are trying to capture first place in the American League Central.