The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Alfredo Simon backed the perfect 3 IP performance from his Cincinnati Reds re-debut last week with another solid outing on Sunday, as the veteran RHP held the Los Angeles Dodgers to just a single run in his 4.2 IP. He struck out a pair, walked just one Dodger, and yielded just 2 hits in his outing, and he continues to be one of the very few pitchers on the Reds staff this Cactus League season that has been able to consistently keep runners from circling the bases.
Based on his age, peripherals, and past history, I don't expect him to somehow morph into staff ace, however, so it'd be dang nice to see anyone else on the team staff begin to replicate these performances. Fingers crossed.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Tucker Barnhart, who had yet another 3 hit day (that included a double and a ribbie); Jay Bruce, who went 3 for 4 with an oppo-double, walk, BUNT SINGLE, run scored, and RBI; and Scott Schebler, who drove in 3 runs with a double against his former club.
- The Reds were the first to put chalk on the board in this one, finally opening the game's scoring in the Top of the 3rd against Kenta Maeda. Ivan De Jesus, Jr. started the inning by reaching on an error by SS Charlie Culberson, and he moved 1st to 3rd when Tucker Barnhart followed with a slow bouncing single to RF. Barnhart moved up on Simon's sac bunt, and De Jesus, Jr. scored a batter later on Chase Utley's errant throw to 1B from 3B. Reds led, 1-0.
- Simon had faced the minimum 15 batters through his first 5 innings since re-signing with the Reds - 3 IP in his start last week, and the first 2 IP today - but the Dodgers finally got a run off him in the Bottom of the 3rd. Culberson walked, moved to 2B on a sac bunt from Maeda, and scored when Carl Crawford's jam-shot bloop fell just in front of Jake Cave in CF. Game tied, 1-1.
- Maeda's day hit the skids in the Top of the 6th, spearhead by - who else? - Joey Votto. Votto battled to a full count before singling to CF, and Adam Duvall followed with a single to RF that sent Maeda to the showers. Jay Bruce then coaxed a walk to load the bases off lefty reliever Luis Avilan, and Schebler then out-leftied Avilan for a bases clearing double to the wall in LF. De Jesus, Jr. then poked a soft liner over the SS's head for a single that brought home Schebler, and he came all the way in from 1B when Barnhart followed with a double off the wall in LF. Reds led, 6-1.
- Unfortunately for the Reds, it was then officially bullpen time. Chris O'Grady took over after Simon's solid day, and he hit proceeded to hit Tim Locastro to lead off the Bottom of the 6th. O'Grady then threw a pickoff attempt halfway up the RF line that allowed Locastro to move all the way to 3B, and a productive groundout from Crawford drove in the second Dodger run of the day. Trayce Thompson then singled in front of Chase Utley, who then poked a 2-run dinger to make us dream that Ross Ohlendorf is somehow going to ride in and save us all. Reds led, 6-4.
- Cincinnati got one back in the Top of the 7th on a double by Bruce off the wall in LF, as it scored Seth Mejias-Brean all the way from 1B. Seth had singled, by the way. Reds led, 7-4.
- Remember that time, way back when, that I mentioned Ross Ohlendorf being the bullpen savior? Well, he pitched the Bottom of the 7th, and allowed a run after a single, a balk, another single, and a sac-fly. It was just rust, though. I'm sure of it. I'm sure I'm hoping it was just rust. Reds led, 7-5.
- In the Bottom of the 8th, it was Dayan Diaz's turn to allow a run in relief. Devan Ahart smacked a ground-rule double to lead off the inning, and he later scored after a wild pitch, a walk, and a sac-fly off the bat of Andrew Toles. From that point on, however, Diaz settled down, and he stranded just a lone runner in a quick Bottom of the 9th to lock this one down. Reds won, 7-6!
- Utley's dinger marked the 38th allowed by Reds pitchers so far this spring. Depending on what happened in other Cactus and Grapefruit League action on Sunday, that could be tied for the worst in all of baseball.
- Close your eyes and try to remember how dinger-friendly GABP is. Now, take a deep breath and find yourself a favorite flavor of booze for the next six months.
- Don't look now, but Jay Bruce is hitting .326 this spring. And bunting.
- The Reds went just 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position in this one, and hit nary a dinger. Still, they found a way to put up a 7 spot. Maybe targeting all these speedy players and going "first to third" is the team's attempt at mitigating the RISP issues they've had in recent seasons?
- Night game tomorrow, as the Reds will return home to Goodyear to host the Milwaukee Brewers under the lights. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET, and top prospect Robert Stephenson is scheduled to get the start for the good guys.