Hamilton's speed a game-changer in tight win
CINCINNATI -- Billy Hamilton didn't steal any bases on Wednesday, but the threat of it helped provide the decisive run in a series-clinching 2-1 win over the Twins at Great American Ball Park.
With Brandon Phillips on first and Hamilton on second in the fifth inning, Twins pitcher Trevor May walked Joey Votto on a full-count pitch. Both runners were moving on the play, and despite a throw not being needed, catcher Chris Herrmann threw to third base. The ball went into left field, while Hamilton came home with Cincinnati's second run.
"We got runners going, then here you go," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The catcher's got to catch it and get rid of it. He doesn't have time to pause and to hear the ball-strike call, and it ends up forcing a throw into left field."
The play capped off an impressive series of creating havoc on the basepaths. Hamilton, who leads the Major Leagues with 40 stolen bases, swiped four in the series opener on Monday. Overall, he reached base seven times in 14 plate appearances during the series. The increased number of opportunities gave Twins manager Paul Molitor an up-close look at Hamilton's game-changing ability.
"He's probably the most disruptive player in the game once he gets on base," Molitor said. "Just watching him face-to-face this series, you realize he's fast, but he also has a really good idea. He's fairly studious on what he has to be concerned with, with different pitchers and different situations. He can turn a ball four into a really good scoring opportunity. He did that the first game, and he did that today, as well."
Hamilton also utilized his speed on defense, making a diving catch on a sinking liner by Torii Hunter for the last out of the game.
In addition, Hamilton has shown an improved bunting ability of late, as evidenced by a pair of bunt hits against the Twins this week. He has been working on bunting with the Reds' coaching staff, and he said he's started to put more of a focus on getting it down before running to first base.
"I'm just trying to take my time and get the bunt down, instead of running so fast and then not getting the bunt down," Hamilton said. "So I've learned the placement [of] the bunt is way better than my speed. You put a bunt down in an area where they can't get it, it's way better than running out of there and having a bad bunt."