The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Look, Eugenio Suarez knows that the top prospect in the Cincinnati Reds system is a fast-moving recent draftee whose primary position is also 3B. He's a savvy guy, and he obviously reads Red Reporter. So, perhaps it's no surprise that he came out swinging to impress to start his 2017 Cactus League campaign.
Suarez belted a solo homer in his first PA of the spring, and later added a single as part of a 2 for 3 afternoon. He hit cleanup - something that shouldn't really come as too big of a shock with a lefty on the mound - and once again is off to a hot start to begin camp. (He hit .356/.457/.576 in 2016 Cactus League play, with 2 dingers and 7 doubles in his 22 games played.)
That's good enough for a trophy from this one on a day when the rest of his teammates didn't have their best stuff on display.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Hernan Iribarren, who went 2 for 2 with a ribbie (and some nifty on-toes defense at 2B); Lisalverto Bonilla, who looked sharp in a quick/perfect inning in relief; and Tony Renda, who singled and took a walk.
- A double off the bat of Jose Ramirez put Amir Garrett in an early jam in the Bottom of the 1st, and a later booted ball at short by Arismendy Alcantara just dug the hole deeper. Those combined with an RBI single to LF off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion to put the Reds down early, but fortunately Garrett later escaped a bases loaded jam to limit the damage. Reds trailed, 1-0.
- Suarez, who hit .276/.354/.528 off lefties in 2016, smashed a meatball off lefty Ryan Merritt in the Top of the 2nd, a solo dinger over the RF wall to level the score. Back to back singles by Jesse Winker & Dilson Herrera left runners on the corners, and those bases were then loaded with nobody out when Merritt plunked Tucker Barnhart. Iribarren smacked a 1-out single into RF two batters later to score Winker (and keep the bases loaded), but a 7-2 double play (fly out, Herrera out at home trying to tag) ended that rally. Still, the Reds led, 2-1.
- Jumbo Diaz took the mound for the Reds in the Bottom of the 3rd. Unfotunately, Cleveland took Jumbo for quite a ride. A leadoff walk by Ramirez eventually haunted as he scored after an E5 single, Yan Gomes was hit by a pitch, and Joey Votto's diving stab on a Bradley Zimmer would-be double down the RF line brought the runner in from 3B. Nellie Rodriguez - who pinch ran for E5 - then scored on an infield single to Alcantara at SS, and the Reds trailed, 3-2.
- Walks. They haunt. Francisco Lindor took a leadoff walk off Austin Brice in the Bottom of the 5th, and he came around to score later that inning on a Zimmer single into CF. Reds trailed, 4-2.
- Jackson Stephens pitched a scoreless 6th inning, which was good. Unfortunately, he was tasked with pitching the Bottom of the 7th, too, and that led to a 3-run honker off Zimmer's bat to put the Reds behind, 7-2.
- Ariel Hernandez got tagged for an earned run in the Bottom of the 8th, and then he got tagged by the sprinklers when they unexpectedly turned on. That left Cincinnati behind 8-2, which is mercifully how things ended.
- Amir Garrett appeared to get a bit squeezed in his time on the mound, but he also was missing his spots pretty consistently. Hopefully, it was just a case of nerves in his quest to win a spot in the rotation. But while he was far from pitch-efficient, he did flash the kind of tantalizing stuff that has him ranked as highly on prospect lists as he is. His final line: 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K on 39 pitches.
- The Reds twice left the bases loaded, left two runners on two other times, three times left their middle child at the grocery, and probably left you hanging on a high-five along the way. That's how 14 hits only produces 2 runs.
- Billy Hamilton, Arismendy Alcantara, and Joey Votto opened the game hitting 1-2-3. They combined to go 0 for 9, both Alcantara and Votto K'd twice, and Billy left 6 men on base. There's a lot of rust out there that needs a-shaking.
- Votto, for the record, was not sporting high socks. I anticipate that, and his output, to change.
- The Reds will tangle with the San Francisco Giants again on Sunday, with a chance to return the walk-off favor from Friday's game in Scottsdale. This one will be on Cincinnati's home turf, with first pitch in Goodyear set for 3:05 PM ET once again. Tim Adleman will make his Cactus League debut, and he'll be opposed on the mound by Matt Moore.