Early returns suggest the Reds are weathering their Joey-lessness as well as could be expected. Hero-a-day scenarios are needed, without Votto present to pull on the Superman cape. Ryan Ludwick did it Tuesday; Brandon Phillips checked in Thursday afternoon. As long as the Reds can hang in at around .500 for the next three weeks, they'll be fine. The NL Central isn't exactly murderous.

So far, so average.

In our rush to worry about the lineup crater, we forgot a few essential items:

The Reds pitch and catch as well as any team in the league. The two go hand in glove.

They won Thursday not because Phillips had five RBI in the space of 15 minutes, even though that was titanic. They won because they catch the ball. Actually, because the other guys did not. The biggest play of the 7-6 win over Arizona was a wicked little liner off the bat of Wilson Valdez that Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt didn't field.

Cincinnati trailed 6-3 in the seventh inning. Runners were at first and second, with one out. Valdez, a right-handed hitter, zinged a one-hopper to first. It wasn't an easy play. Line drives inside-outed by right-handed hitters directly down the right field line can do strange, physics-bending things. Later, Dusty Baker would take exception to the official scorer's ruling that Goldschmidt made an error on the play.

No matter. A good defensive first baseman catches the ball. He gets at least one out. Worst case scenario, the Reds have runners at second and third, with two outs, still trailing by three. As it was, Goldschmidt didn't even attempt to get in front of the ball. It skipped under his glove. Xavier Paul scored from second, Drew Stubbs ended up at third and Valdez at second.