St. Louis Cardinals fans rejoice: the winter of our discontent of the 50-game suspension to Alex Reyes has come to an end!
Sunday, May 22, 2016. Memphis, Tennessee. AutoZone Park. Memphis Redbirds. Enter Alexander Reyes (Alex Reyes) from his 50-game suspension for marijuana use and all St. Louis Cardinals fans feel butterflies of anticipation for the future.
All the excitement aside, how was his performance? Let’s take an inning-by-inning look.
Facing the Fresno Grizzlies (not at all affiliated with Memphis’ own NBA team)- the triple-a affiliate of the Houston Astros- Reyes erupted with his to-be-expected fastball and struck out the first batter on a 99MPH fastball. Right out of the gate he was showing his prowess.
The second batter popped out to first baseman, Jonathan Rodriguez.
The third batter walked. Reyes has been noted as needing to gain better control of his repertoire and surrender fewer walks. This will be his challenge in Memphis. For more on the trends that Reyes brings with him, visit my recent article previewing his return.
With a runner on, Reyes K’d the fourth batter.
Showing a little of the lack of command, Reyes walked the leadoff batter in the top of the second inning.
As was his pattern today, the second batter faced in the second inning fell prey to his strikeout material.
The third man to the plate took advantage of Reyes and showed incredible patience that netted him a walk.
With runners on first and second, the fourth batter faced singled weakly into center field. Memphis’ patrolman, Charlie Tilson, quickly fired the ball back into the diamond keeping the bags loaded.
The next two batters faced were quickly dispatched by Reyes via strikeouts. Fresno left the bases loaded despite having achieved this feat with only one out. Sound familiar, Cardinals fans?
In very similar fashion to the top of the second inning, Reyes awarded a free base to the first batter faced. This freebie came via a plunking rather than a direct walk. Here too it seemed that Reyes was shaking off the rust (let us hope this was it and not more of his command difficulties).
The second batter faced managed to shoot another line drive single; this time to right field. With a quick rebound from David Washington, runners were held to first and second base.
A flyout and two strikeouts followed immediately negating any momentum earned by Fresno.
If you have failed to keep count, these two Ks brought Reyes’ strikeout total to seven batters through the first three innings!
The fourth inning was the easiest of Reyes’ day as it ended with an infield groundout (5-3), a pop out to shortstop, and yet another strikeout. This quick 1-2-3 inning was very much welcomed by Reyes in light of the stressful earlier innings despite Fresno’s inability to plate any runs.
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Speaking of an inability to plate any runs, through three complete innings- and going into the Memphis half of the fourth- Memphis itself was experiencing difficulties putting together hits enough to score any runs.
After his 1-2-3 inning, Reyes was removed and replaced by Ryan Sherriff. Reyes’ removal came after four innings of a great return. In this performance, through 85 pitches, Reyes managed to K eight batters. These eight strikeouts match the team’s highest K-count for any pitcher in a game this season.
The wow factor aside, which there is plenty here to be wowed by, Alex Reyes climbed the mound with intense determination that was immediately palpable. He oozed confidence and the opposing batters took notice. In fact, eight of them simply decided to return to the dugout rather than contribute.
I am very excited about this incredible pitcher. I look forward to his next start to see if he continues the magic and to see him handle a greater number of innings. Stay tuned for more on him and other Memphis Redbirds players.