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Reds beat the Cubs, prove their NL Central superiority

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The Reds spring reign continues.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Tucker Barnhart has always flied under the radar a bit in Redsland. Described always as a solid backup catcher, the Reds youngster spent the majority of last season backing up Brayan Peña, and some of the season prior doing that, too, as Devin Mesoraco dealt with a myriad of injuries.

Tucker is a wizard behind the plate, that's never been a question. Unfortunately, the bat has never caught up; thus, "solid backup catcher." If everything goes to plan this season, he'll spend the majority of the season actually backing Devin Mesoraco instead of filling in for his fill in. But so far in this early spring, Barnhart has been swinging quite the hot bat, and he continued it today. In this contest, Barnhart went 1-2 with a dinger and 2 RBI, while also flashing the cannon on a caught stealing in the bottom of the 4th.

If Tucker does eventually show he can be competent with the bat, he's likely to find himself a starting gig somewhere, if not with the Reds. So, here's a trophy, Mother Trucker, and keep on raking, won't you?

Honorable mention to Phil Ervin, who honked a wanger, Scott Schebler, who continued his own hot spring with a double and run scored, Brandon Finnegan, who got the start and went 2 clean innings allowing only 1 hit, and striking out 2, and, hell, Yorman Rodriguez, who got his first hit of the spring.

Key Plays

  • The Reds got the damage started in the top of the 3rd against Eric Jokisch. Jokisch hit Jesse Winker, the first batter he faced, with a pitch to lead off the inning, before Tucker Barnhart smashed an oppo-dinger to score them both. Jake Cave came to the plate and did what Jake Cave does, single to left field. Jose Peraza erased them both by grounding into a double play before Joey Votto struck out looking to end the inning. Reds led, 2-0.
  • Blake Wood came on in relief of Tony Cingrani in the bottom of the 4th and allowed the Cubs to get on the board. Miguel Montero doubled to lead off the inning, Shane Victorino worked a walk, and Tim Federowicz singled to load the bases before the first out was recorded. Arismendy Alcantara grounded into an out at 2nd base, scoring Montero. Alcantara tried to steal 2nd but was thrown out by Barnhart, and then the Cubs let Wood out of the jam altogether when Albert Almora Jr. struck out to end the inning. Reds hang on, 2-1.
  • Phillip Ervin extended the Reds lead in the top of 6th when he Phlerv'd a dinger to left field. Cubs pitcher Drew Rucinski retired Calten Daal, Votto, and Brandon Phillips in order thereafter, but Ervin extended the Reds lead, 3-1.
  • In the bottom of the 6th, Montero continued his bashing, mashing a homer off of AJ Morris. The Cubs pulled back within one, 3-2.
  • Yorman Rodriguez struck out to begin the 7th, but Scott Schebler doubled to left center. Schebler then attempted to steal 3rd base and, when Kyle Schwarber sent the ball errant trying to catch him, Schebler came around to score. Jordan Pacheco reached on a throwing error by the Cubs 3rd baseman, but then was caught stealing in the next AB. Brandon Allen struck out swinging to end the inning. Reds led, 4-2.
  • The Cubs proceeded to go quietly into that dry, warm Arizona night, er, afternoon. Reds win 4-2, and lead the NL Central, probably.

Tony Graphanino*


Other Notes
  • There's less than a month before Opening Day. Which will come approximately 2 weeks after I'm over fake games and want to see real games. That time hasn't quite come yet, however.
  • Jose Peraza and Jesse Winker nearly killed each other when they both went hard for an Anthony Rizzo popup to shallow left center field in the bottom of the 3rd. Hey guys, don't do that.
  • Joey Votto bunted for a ground out in the top of the 6th. Spring training, where Joey Votto bunts. Fundamentals, people!
  • The Reds will look to continue their spring dominance against the hapless Colorado Rockies back in Goodyear tomorrow at 3:05 eastern, 1:05 Terrell time.
  • Tunes.