Reds 7, Pirates 5
CINCINNATI (AP)—Blame it on the wintery wind.
Adam Dunn’s wind-blown fly ball deflected off Xavier Nady’s glove and cleared the wall for a two-run homer Saturday, a goofy play that set the tone for the Cincinnati Reds’ 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in body-numbing conditions.
“You see strange things happen in this kind of weather,” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said.
The game was switched to an afternoon start instead of a nighttime first pitch because of the cold. Fans were bundled in parkas and Bengals blankets, and the thump of gloves slapping in unison filled the ballpark whenever the Reds got a hit.
“Let It Snow” played over the public address system when flurries started in the second inning.
It was 30 degrees at the first pitch—colder than the kickoff for any Bengals home game last season—and fly balls cavorted with gusting winds that reached 25 mph.
“Miserable,” summed up Dunn, a Texan who hates cold weather.
No one was more miserable than Nady, a California native who did everything except close his glove on the fly ball that changed the game.
Dunn hit a high fly in the first inning off Tony Armas (0-1), sending Nady drifting back toward the wall. He got to the right spot and reached with his glove about a foot in front of the wall.
His aim was perfect: The ball landed right in the pocket. Unfortunately, it shot right out before he could close the glove, then cleared the wall and landed in the lap of a gray-coated fan who hadn’t even bothered to stand up.
“I couldn’t believe it hit right in the middle and just shot right out,” Nady said. “It kept drifting. That’s no excuse. It was still there right in the middle of my glove. I’ve got to make that play.”
Nady yanked off his glove, dropped his head and put his hands on his hips in disbelief while Dunn rounded the bases. Dunn broke into a smile when he reached the dugout and was congratulated by teammates.
“The wind took it a lot farther than I thought it would,” Dunn said of his third homer. “I owe him some beers. It doesn’t happen every day.”
Those need to be cold beers, of course.
The homer was estimated at 369 feet—an accurate guess, since the ball cleared the wall by the 370-foot marker.
It wasn’t quite as bad as Jose Canseco allowing a fly ball to bounce off his head and clear the wall for a homer in Cleveland, but it got the Reds going on a day when the biting wind made it tough to throw or catch the ball.
Edwin Encarnacion had three hits, including a bases-loaded single, as the Reds improved to 4-1 in conditions that tested the players’ creativity as well as their durability. Late in the game, players would run into the dugout to warm themselves by heaters for a few precious seconds during pitching changes.
“We’re doing it like the old Penguin march huddle together and march for miles,” Dunn said. “I’ve never experienced this kind of cold. It’s horrible. I can’t describe how hard it is. I don’t know how pitchers do it.”
The wind made everything worse.
Shortstop Jack Wilson also failed to catch Brandon Phillips’ wind-blown fly into shallow left field in the fourth inning, helping the Reds load the bases. Encarnacion’s two-run single put Cincinnati up 6-5.
Armas, signed as a free agent in the offseason, gave up eight hits and six runs in four innings of his Pirates debut. He walked five, and the Reds stole four bases off of him.
Harang gave up an RBI double and solo homer by Adam LaRoche. Armas also had a run-scoring single off Harang, who turned a 6-5 lead over to a bullpen that hasn’t been charged with a run this season.
“On my windup, after I’ve just blown on my hands, it’s not so bad,” Harang said. “But in the stretch, when my arm’s hanging there, that’s when it gets slick. All you can do is pitch to the elements and do what you can do.”
All the Pirates will wear No. 42 on April 15, honoring the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. Major League Baseball gave Ken Griffey Jr. permission to wear the retired number on that day, and invited players from other teams to do the same. The Dodgers also will have every player wear No. 42. … The coldest kickoff for a Bengals home game last season was 42 degrees on Nov. 12 against San Diego. … Armas drove in one run last season, when he went 3-for-50. … Dunn is the only Red who has hit safely in all five games.