Major League Baseball scouts were out in force Friday night in Seattle to watch two of the nation's best juniors duel on the mound. 6'7" Stanford RHP Greg Reynolds is fast moving up first-round draft boards but does not carry quite the cachet of 6'0" Washington RHP Tim Lincecum. Though the Cardinal hurler came to Husky Diamond the owner of two straight complete games, Lincecum led the nation in wins and strikeouts per nine innings. The Washington junior is projected as a possible number one pick in the upcoming Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
At the end of nine innings Friday night in Seattle, however, it was Reynolds who pumped his fist on the mound after notching his third straight complete game. The Cardinal topped the Huskies, 5-0, with Lincecum leaving the game after seven innings. Reynolds' shutout was his first of the year and the first of his career. The complete game shutout was the first for a Stanford hurler since February 25, 2005 (Mark Romanczuk vs. USC).
Though he threw nine innings for the third straight game, Reynolds felt strong in the late going. He recorded three strikeouts, all swinging, in the final frame.
"I think I had the best stuff all night in the ninth inning," Reynolds declares.
Though statistically his best performance of the year, Stanford's ace had his moments of difficulty. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Huskies took first and second base with lead-off singles. A grounder moved them to second and third with just one out, but Reynolds got the next batter to ground the ball back to him, which he threw home to Brian Juhl in time to tag out the lead runner. A strike out ended the inning and threat for a celebratory Reynolds.
The next inning, Reynolds again saw Huskies take first and second before recording any outs. This time a ground ball to Randy Molina at third base netted a strange double-play. It appeared that the lead baserunner came around to score, but the third-base umpire ruled that Molina tagged him out after he fielded the ball and before he threw to second base. Stanford also made the force out at second, leaving a single Husky on first base with two outs and derailing the Washington scoring threat.
In the seventh, for the third straight inning, Reynolds allowed the first two Washington batters to reach safely. This time, he committed an error to put the lead-off man aboard. There would be no dramatic plays in the field the remainder of this inning, however, with Reynolds striking out the next two batters and then netting an infield ground out.
"I was executing the gameplan out there pretty well," Reynolds says of his confidence in the three bumpy frames. "Once you get into those jams, that's when you see what somebody is made of."
Greg Reynolds has now won four straight games and five of his last six. He allowed eight hits but no runs against the Huskies, striking out nine while walking just one batter. He raised his record to 6-3 on the year and lowered his season ERA to 3.17.
In his last three starts, Reynolds has pitched perhaps better than any other hurler in the nation. He has struck out 21 batters against just four walks, allowing only three runs to score in 27 innings for a 1.00 ERA. Coming into Friday night, the Stanford junior was already being discussed by MLB teams as a possible pick among the top 10 in next month's draft. Last week he bested California's Brandon Morrow, a possible top-three pick. After outdueling Lincecum seven days later, Reynolds' stock should rise higher still.
It is interesting, if not ironic, to note that Stanford head coach Mark Marquess did not announce his starting pitchers this week for this Washington series, leaving all three games as "TBA." Reynolds had thrown nine innings each of the last two weeks, including 140 pitches last Friday. Marquess may have been considering holding his ace an extra day, either for rest or to give Stanford a better chance at the series win by throwing him Saturday and not against Lincecum. Only the Cardinal skipper knows what he was thinking, but he is all smiles now.
It is also worth highlighting that prior to Reynolds' complete games, Stanford had dropped five straight series. Each of the last two weekends, Reynolds has given the Cardinal a big lift in not only notching a win on Friday night but also going the distance. As a result, Stanford has kept the entire remainder of their pitching staff fresh for the Saturday and Sunday games. It is no coincidence that the Cardinal won both of those series, despite low batting averages at the plate. Reynolds' series-opening complete game win in Seattle now tees up Stanford for a good chance at a third straight series win.
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