The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
It would be a tall task to ask a player to top Alfredo Simon's return to a former team, as the Cincinnati Reds starter was pretty masterful in his first start since re-signing last week. Simon tossed 3 perfect innings in his start Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, striking out 4. It wasn't some typical half-hearted lineup, either, as the Cubs rolled out the bulk of what should be there everyday lineup - the same one that has many picking them as World Series favorites.
Simon's sordid past makes him an impossible player to root for on a personal level, but there's no denying that performances like his today will help the long-term health of the Reds roster during the 2016 season. Here's to hoping it continues into the games that actually count.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Devin Mesoraco, who smacked a 2-run dinger; Eugenio Suarez, who poked a 2-run double; Caleb Cotham, who was the lone Reds reliever to appear in this one and not get knocked around; and Zack Cozart, who went 2 for 3 with a double, 2 runs scored, and a ribbie.
- After Simon breezed through the game's opening trio of innings, the Cubs finally scratched out some offense in the Top of the 4th against Tony Cingrani. Dexter Fowler notched the baby bears' first hit of the day with a leadoff double to LF, and he moved to 3B when Joey Votto botched catching a line-drive off the bat of Jason Heyward. That left runners at the corners, and both moved up when Cingrani threw a wild pitch that got away from Mesoraco. After that run scored, Cingrani walked both Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo to load the bases, and Kris Bryant then followed with an RBI single to RF. Fortunately for the Reds, Rizzo didn't get the memo that Zobrist had held up at 3B, and he was tagged out in limbo. Kyle Schwarber then lifted a sac-fly to Scott Schebler in LF that scored Zobrist, and the Reds found themselves behind, 3-0.
- The Reds jumped immediately into the tussle in the next half inning, however, thanks to Hamilton's leadoff walk and subsequent steal of 2B. Cozart followed with a double to CF to score Billy, and Cozy then scored when Jorge Soler misplayed Jay Bruce's deep fly ball in LF. Reds trailed, 3-2.
- Chris O'Grady is a Rule 5 draftee from the Los Angeles Angels organization that the Reds are hoping can make the team as a lefty reliever to help the lefty-deprived portion of their bullpen. Lefty relievers are, in theory, desired because they make life tough on the best lefty hitters. Theories, though, don't mean "facts," and that played out in the Top of the 6th when lefty Anthony Rizzo blasted a 2-run dinger off Mr. O'Grady. Reds trailed, 5-2.
- Good teams quickly flush bad memories down the Molina, however, and the Reds showed that trait in the Bottom of the 6th against Brandon Gomes. Cozart blasted a long 1-out single off the wall in RF, and he moved to 3B a batter later on Adam Duvall's double to LF. Two batters later, Eugenio Suarez smacked a 2-ribbie double down the LF line, and Mesoraco followed him with a moon-shot dinger that cleared the wall in left-center. Reds led, 6-5.
- Bad teams are often bad because of bad bullpens, however, and the Reds showed that trait beginning in the Top of the 7th. Blake Wood took the mound and promptly allowed a single up the middle to Soler, hit Addison Russell with a pitch, and fired a wild pitch that allowed Soler to score one batter after a sac bunt had moved up the runners. That left the game tied, but once Wood was tasked with coming back out for the Top of the 8th, the collapse continued. Former Red Kris Negron poked an RBI single after Matt Murton doubled, and Tim Federowicz followed with a 2-run dinger to add to the pain. Unfortunately, that's where the scoring action ended, and the Reds lost, 9-6.
- As was noted on the broadcast, Devin Mesoraco has now played in just three Cactus League games this year, but he's totaled an impressive six ribbies. Welcome back, healthy Devin.
- Speaking of healthy displays from injured Reds, Billy Hamilton took a walk in this one and finally notched his first stolen base of the spring.
- Both Blake Trahan and Jay Bruce were thrown out on muted base-stealing attempts in this one.
- The Reds have an off-day on Wednesday before heading to Surprise, AZ on Thursday for an afternoon tussle with the Texas Rangers. Anthony DeSclafani is scheduled to start for Cincinnati, with first pit set for 4:05 PM ET.