The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
The bats of the Cincinnati Reds have been, well, Red-hot of late, but the pitching aside from Alfredo Simon has been sorely lacking for the better part of Cactus League play. That makes Tuesday's outing from A.J. Morris that much more surprising, since he was brought back to big league camp to make a late start after already having been cut from camp. He responded with a dang solid outing against the Milwaukee Brewers, scattering 3 hits and 3 walkees over 3.1 IP, striking out 4 while allowing nary a run. Morris, 29, isn't exactly first on the list of pitchers you'd expect to see called up by the Reds if need be in 2016, but he certainly had a solid outing in this one, in the process lowering his spring ERA to a tidy 1.54.
Have a trophy, A.J., and keep kicking tail for Louisville for the time being.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Jordan Pacheco, who went 3 for 5 with a pair of runs scored, another pair driven in, and his 3rd dinger of the spring; Adam Duvall, who launched a homer of his own as part of a 2 for 5 afternoon that featured 4 ribbies; Scott Schebler, who added 3 hits of his own; and Blake Wood, who threw another 2 scoreless innings in relief as part of his late push to make the Opening Day bullpen.
- The Reds finally grace the scoreboard with their presence in the Top of the 4th, thanks in large part to the iffy defense from Brewers' 2B Colin Walsh. Ivan De Jesus, Jr. led off the inning by reaching on a boot from Walsh, and he later moved to 2B when Walsh booted a ball off the bat of Jay Bruce. Presumptive LF platoonies Duvall and Schebler then smacked back to back RBI singles to drive in those who benefited from the errors, before Pacheco followed with a single to drive in Duvall. Tucker Barnhart then walked to load the bases with just 1-out, but Wily Peralta settled down after a coaching visit to the mound and proceeded to strikeout Morris and get Jose Peraza to ground into the final out of the inning. Reds led, 3-0.
- De Jesus, Jr. again played instigator for the next Reds run, double to the wall in RF off Jeremy Jeffress to lead off the Top of the 5th. He scored two batters later when Bruce's grounder to - you guessed it - 2B was booted yet again by Colin Walsh (for his 3rd error of the game). Reds led, 4-0.
- The Brewers scratched across a pair of runs in the Bottom of the 7th against Caleb Cotham, though. Jonathan Villar led off the inning with a double to LF, moved to 3B on a wild pitch, and later scored on a Yadiel Rivera single to RF. Rivera moved to 3B on a single off the bat of Eric Young, Jr., and then scored when Cotham's pickoff attempt of Young at 1B went awry. Reds led, 4-2.
- Cincinnati got one back in the Top of the 8th thanks to doubles from Pacheco and later Ray Chang - the latter scoring the former - but the major damage came in the Top of the 9th. Sebastian Elizalde doubled with 1-out, Bruce singled behind him, and both then scored on a mammoth 3-run dinger from Duvall that cleared the batter's eye. Pacheco then honked a solo dinger two batters later, and the Reds found themselves leading, 9-2.
- Jumbo Diaz allowed a few baserunners in the Bottom of the 9th, but settled down to eventually retire Milwaukee without allowing a run. Reds won, 9-2!
- This marked the final game of the season at the Brewers' facility in Maryvale, as they hit the road for the rest of their spring (including a trip to Biloxi to play in their AA stadium). That doesn't mean a lot to the Reds, but it's one more sniff that the real season is getting very, very close.
- As for those Reds, they'll tangle with the Chicago White Sox tomorrow in Goodyear, with first pitch scheduled for 2:05 PM ET. It's slated to be on MLB Network, so you can watch it if you please. The ever-popular TBD is slated to get the start according to Reds.com.
- Who actually gets the start will trickle out at some point, but we know it won't be Cody Reed or Brandon Finnegan: both are slated to start Thursday, with Reed going with the big leaguers and Finnegan tossing in the MiLB game.