In the first inning Darwin threw Daniels what Darwin called "my best forkball." Daniels pulled it into the second deck in right. With two on in the third, Darwin walked Daniels and took his chances with Davis. After a single in the fifth, Daniels came up in the seventh with the Reds trailing 4-2 and belted another homer to left. Finally, in the ninth, with the Astros still leading 4-3, the bases loaded and one out, Daniels hit a two-run blast up the left centerfield alley. Final score: Cincinnati 5, Houston 4. On Sunday Daniels hit another homer, but it wasn't enough to keep the Astros from winning 12-3.
"There's no way to pitch him," says Rose. "He hits everything. Look at his arms, and when you're done with them, check out the chest." Perez thinks Daniels has the same kind of balance at the plate as defending batting champs Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres and Wade Boggs of the Boston Red Sox, but Daniels believes his secret is in his quick wrists and hands.
He doesn't pay much attention when people—even those of Rose's and Perez's stature—compare him with the game's best hitters. "My Little League coach in Georgia told me I was the greatest hitter he ever saw," he says. "I didn't listen to that, and I don't listen to what people say now. Talk is cheap. Production is expensive."
What Daniels can do is the easy part for Rose. The hard part will be getting control of a young, inexperienced team that is sometimes too fast for its own good. On Friday, for instance, Rose watched O'Neill get caught stealing—even though the Houston catcher never threw the ball. It was a bizarre play. O'Neill was on first and Daniels on second. O'Neill broke for second with his head down and didn't notice that Daniels wasn't running. So he slid into second and then tried to tiptoe back toward first. Meanwhile Astros catcher Alan Ashby simply walked out and tagged him.
In the same game the Reds twice failed to bunt successfully, and five times they tried stealing with two outs and two strikes. Then in the bottom of the ninth, with Davis on first and none out, Rose told Jones to take a pitch so Davis could steal. But Jones swung at the first pitch and hit a one-hopper to third, forcing Davis at second.
"That's Tracy, I tell myself," Rose said the next morning. "As a manager you've got to live with those things and not let them bother you." And accept the veil of full responsibility.