The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Left field has long been a black hole for the Cincinnati Reds, but for the first time in a long time the team enters Spring Training with a bevy of options to help fill it. Quite possibly the most ready of the bunch is Scott Schebler - acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Todd Frazier trade - and on Tuesday he made quite the first impression. Schebler crushed an opposite-field homer in his first PA with his new club, and later made a leaping grab at the fence with the bases loaded to help keep the Reds in front, and while there's still a lot of mileage to cover between now and Opening Day, it was absolutely the most promising of starts. Given that he hits lefty and that Jesse Winker is likely bound for AAA Louisville to start the season, looking forward to Schebler getting regular run in LF doesn't seem so outlandish after today's minuscule early sample.
The first JNMHSotG is yours, Scott. Welcome to the Reds.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Eugenio Suarez, who smacked a pair of doubles, scored a run, and drove in a pair in his first start at 3B in over a half-decade; Joey Votto, who walked once and smoked a pair of opposite-field singles in his 3 PAs; Jake Cave, who went 2-3 with a pair of singles; Jesse Winker, who poked an opposite-field double; Rule 5 pick Chris O'Grady, who threw a clean, 2 K inning in relief; and Drew Hayes, who sandwiched 3 K's around just a single to pick up the save.
- Cave singled up the middle to lead off the 1st inning of the Reds' Cactus League season, and Suarez promptly followed with a double to the wall in right-center. That gave new 3B coach Billy Hatcher his first chance to play windmill with a runner - which he did, only to see Cave thrown out at home by no less than three Loek Van Mils. Suarez took third on the throw, Votto followed with a walk (drink!), and the Reds got a run on the board when Phillips followed by poking a single into RF. Jay Bruce then doinked one back to pitcher Josh Tomlin that turned into a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play, but at least they came out kickin'. Reds led, 1-0.
- Jon Moscot sat down the Indians in order in the Bottom of the 1st (thanks to a 4-6-3 double play), but Carlos Santana led off the Bottom of the 2nd with a behemoth dinger that cleared the RF wall. Game tied, 1-1.
- The Reds played add-on in the Top of the 3rd after Tucker Barnhart walked, Cave looped a single into shallow LF, and Suarez again blasted a double to the wall in right-center (which scored both runners). Suarez, though, was thrown out trying to stretch his double into a triple. Reds led, 3-1.
- Bruce jumped on an off-speed offering from Ross Detwiler for a leadoff double to the CF wall to start the Top of the 4th, and he moved to 3B on a single from Adam Duvall. Duvall moved up to 2B on a wild pitch, Yorman Rodriguez walked to load the bases, and Bruce came scooting home on a single by De Jesus, Jr. that squeezed between SS-3B. Duvall then came in to score when Barnhart grounded into a double play. Reds led, 5-1.
- Blake Wood was the lone player signed by the Reds to a big league contract this offseason. Blake Wood allowed a screamer of a double to Adam Moore in the Bottom of the 5th, one good enough to score Erik Gonzalez (who had earlier singled). Reds led, 5-2.
- Schebler got that run back immediately for the Reds, however, as the former Los Angeles Dodgers OF blasted an opposite-field solo dinger with 1-out in the Top of the 6th. Reds led, 6-2.
- Touted relief prospect Zack Weiss took the mound for the Reds in the Bottom of the 7th, and he proceeded to allow a high-fly solo dinger off the bat of whatever an "Eric Stamets" is. Two singles and a wild pitch later, Cleveland had runners on 2B & 3B, at which point Jordan Pacheco made a nifty diving stab to rob a would-be double down the line and managed to nab an out via rundown. Another run scored, though, meaning the Reds led, 6-4.
- Pacheco backed up that solid play at 3B with a 2-error performance in the Bottom of the 8th, and those partnered with 2 walks from pitcher A.J. Morris gifted the Indians a run. Fortunately, Schebler's leaping grab at the fence in LF got the Reds out of the inning and left the bases loaded, and Hayes mopped the floor with the Indians in the bat for the save. Reds win, 6-5!
- Way too early impression number 1: Jake Cave has an excellent command of the strike zone. Given the collective approach of the non-Votto portion of the Reds roster over the years, that's a revelation. Yes, I wrote those sentences before he struck out in the 4th, but yes, I still agree with that way too early impression. For now.
- While this one was being played, MLB announced that former Red Aroldis Chapman will be suspended for 30 games under the league's new domestic violence policy. That suspension won't affect his service time enough to keep him from being a free agent after 2016.
- Brandon Finnegan looked a bit shaky in his IP, though he wasn't exactly helped much by a leadoff throwing error from Ivan De Jesus, Jr. Ferb buckled down with the bases eventually loaded and got a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play to escape without allowing a run, however.
- Way too early impression number 2: long-haired Tony Cingrani throwing fire from the bullpen would've fit right in with The Nasty Boys. His breaking ball looked improved, too.
- Welcome back to everyday baseball, folks. Have some NSFW Wu-tunes while we celebrate being reunited.