CINCINNATI (AP) — Billy Hamilton lowered his shoulders and got into high gear, taking off for second base on Seth Maness' pitch.
Whoosh! He was there. And moments later, he was dashing home with the only run of the game, one that would end with a little more radar-blurring speed.
Closer Aroldis Chapman jogged out of the Cincinnati Reds' bullpen, reached the mound at leisurely pace, and finished off the St. Louis Cardinals with a bevy of 103 mph fastballs that left the Cardinals overmatched.
Whoosh! All three went down swinging.
Cincinnati's 1-0 victory on Tuesday night came down to raw speed, and the Reds now have more of it than anyone else in the NL Central. Hamilton can outrun anyone; Chapman can throw it past anyone.
Call it speed squared. And it might just be enough to help them make that final dash toward another NL Central title.
"An outstanding game," manager Dusty Baker said. "There was a playoff-type atmosphere. I hope we get used to that."
Should be like that the rest of September, especially now that the Reds can play the game so fast that no one can afford to blink.
"Watching Billy run — I can watch that every day," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said.
Folks will get to see a lot of baseball's fastest runner this month.
The Reds called up the 22-year-old Hamilton on Monday to give themselves a game changer on the bases. He stole 155 bases in the minors last season, setting a professional record, and was deemed ready to show what he can do on the bases after his first season at Triple-A.
On Tuesday night, he got his chance. After Ryan Ludwick singled to open the seventh inning in a scoreless game, Baker sent him in to run. The crowd of 20,219 fans gave a loud ovation, sounding more like a full house at Great American Ball Park than one half-full.
There was a buzz in the air.
"We knew that this guy's electric," Frazier said.
Such a reaction — in such a pressure situation — got Hamilton caught up in the moment.
"I haven't been that nervous in a long time," he said.
After Maness threw to first three times, trying to keep Hamilton close, the 160-pound outfielder took off and beat Yadier Molina's off-target throw to second base. The catcher is one of the best at nailing runners, but had to rush and watched his throw sail up and away.
"That's my job — steal in big situations," Hamilton said. "I feel this was a real big situation, a pennant race."