The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Tucker Barnhart had been in the midst of a rather prolonged slump, one in which he'd failed to notch a hit in his last 11 appearances. That changed in a big way on Friday against the Colorado Rockies, as the Cincinnati Reds backstop busted out with an afternoon to remember. The Friar went 3 for 3 with 2 doubles, 2 runs batted in, and a run scored on the offensive side of things, and backed that up by throwing out a would-be base stealer on the defensive front.
With Devin Mesoraco back and presumably healthy, we may not see Tucker in the lineup as often in 2016 as we did in 2015, but he's firmly staked his claim to being the team's go-to backup. There's still a pile of value there - especially in allowing Mes to DH in interleague matchups - and hopefully today's a glimpse into what he can provide when called upon. Have a trophy, Tucker.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Brandon Phillips, who smacked his 1st home run of the Cactus League season; Zack Cozart, who went 2 for 3 with a walk; Jay Bruce, who went 1 for 3 with a steal and a pair of runs scored; and Keyvius Sampson, who threw 2 scoreless innings of relief featuring 3 Ks against just a single hit and lone walk.
- The Colorado Rockies got on the board first in this one, putting up a 3-spot in the Top of the 2nd. Rafael Ynoa singled off Raisel Iglesias' chest with 1-out, and he moved to 3B a batter later when Tony Wolters sliced a double to the corner in LF. They could've been on any base, though, since Pat Valaika - younger brother of former Red Chris Valaika - followed with a 3-run dinger over the wall in CF. Reds trailed, 3-0.
- Cincinnati chipped away at that with a run each in both the Bottom of the 2nd and Bottom of the 3rd. First, Phillips blasted his solo shot in the 2nd, and Barnhart scored in the 3rd on a wild pitch by Jorge De La Rosa after having led off the inning with a double. Reds trailed, 3-2.
- Barnhart was behind the game's tying run, too. Eugenio Suarez singled to begin the Bottom of the 4th, but he was retired at 2B on a fielder's choice grounder off the bat of Jay Bruce. That left Bruce at 1B, but he promptly stole 2B and then motored home when Barnhart doubled to the wall in RF two batters later. Game tied, 3-3.
- Pedro Villarreal, who had only allowed one run in Cactus League play prior to day, coughed up the lead in the Top of the 5th in his 2nd inning of work, however. He allowed a hit to the pitcher to begin the inning, and Cristhian Adames made him pay by launching a 2-run dinger out of the park. Reds trailed, 5-3.
- Bruce and Barnhart put pen to paper on another run in the Bottom of the 6th, this time after Bruce smacked a leadoff double to LF and scored two batters later on Barnhart's single to RF. Reds trailed, 5-4.
- Dayan Diaz took the mound for the Reds in the Top of the 8th, and he, too, got knocked around in a very Reds bullpen fashion. Ben Paulsen took a leadoff walk - which would haunt - and moved to 2B on a balk. Paulsen then took 3B when Ryan Raburn singled, and Paulsen scored a batter later on Smalling's double to LF. That moved Raburn to 3B, and he later scored on a Wesley Jones sac-fly. Reds trailed, 7-4.
- Ramon Cabrera and Bryson Smith honked a pair of solo donkers in the Bottom of the 9th to make this one interesting, but the Rockies finally closed the door in time to claim the win. Reds lost, 7-6.
Live look-in at the Reds' last week of baseball
- This contest was the final one being broadcast by FS-Ohio this spring. So, the next time you catch live Reds action on their airwaves, it'll be real, live, regular season baseball. SOON.
- Raisel Iglesias was far from perfect today, but it certainly looked like he and his shoulder were making gradual progress. Yes, he allowed a 3-run dinger - who hasn't lately - but he commanded the strike zone quite well and didn't walk anyone in his 3 innings on the mound. His final line: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.
- Sampson, to his credit, has yet to allow a run so far this spring. After putting a tender triceps in his rearview mirror, he's slowly climbed the charts to now be a near lock to make the team in a bullpen role.
- Tomorrow's game starts a bit earlier than usual, as the Reds will take on the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch in Glendale with first pitch set for 3:05 PM ET. Brandon Finnegan will get the start for the Reds opposite Carlos Rodon in a matchup of highly talented, highly touted young lefthanders.