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Amir Garrett shines as Reds beat Cubs for first Cactus League win

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A top-notch performance from their top-tier prospect.

Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Amir Garrett mentioned after his initial Cactus League start that he was a bit nervous on the mound, which is only natural, of course. Given that he finally reached AAA last year and has a clear path to the big league rotation in his sights, I think I'd find it stranger to find out he didn't have a few butterflies in his belly in his first chance to really impress the Cincinnati Reds' staff this spring.

On Thursday, if Garrett was nervous, he sure as hell hid it well, as he spun a short-stint gem against the Chicago Cubs.

The 24 year old lefty faced just one hitter over the minimum in 3 scoreless innings pitched, allowing a lone hit and no walks while striking out 2. I'm not sure if he was originally scheduled to go more than 2 innings, but seeing as he'd only needed 12 pitches to get through the first pair, leaving him out there to get in ample work seemed perfectly par for the course. It's precisely these types of performances that may force Cincinnati's hand in regards to giving him his big league debut, though that still would make more sense come May than it would on Opening Day (for service time reasons).

Honorable Mentions are due to:  Jose Peraza, who singled, tripled, and drove in a pair of runs; Billy Hamilton, who singled and scored; Michael Lorenzen, who spun a pair of scoreless innings (albeit with no K's against a walk); Desmond Jennings, who singled in a run; Chad Wallach, who smacked an RBI double; Patrick Kivlehan, who did, too; Evan Mitchell, who tossed a perfect Top of the 8th (with a K); and Jimmy Herget, who K'd a pair in a perfect Top of the 9th.

Key Plays

  • Peraza got the Reds on the board first with a triple to the wall in LF in the Bottom of the 3rd, though we can all thank a crossed-up Eloy Jimenez and his defense for it a bit, too. Jimenez took an odd route, and the ball skipped past him, which allowed both Stuart Turner (single) and Hamilton (single) to score after both had reached base earlier in the inning. Reds led, 2-0.
  • There's actually a human being who has painfully gone by the name of Pierce Johnson for his entire life, and he's a member of Chicago's pitching staff this spring. Johnson took the mound for Chicago in the Bottom of the 4th and promptly plunked Adam Duvall on the elbow. That proved more painful for the scoreboard than for Popeye Duvall, however, as the Reds' LF eventually scored on a Hernan Iribarren single after a productive grounder had moved him up to 2B. Reds led, 3-0.
  • The Reds played add-on in the Bottom of the 6th thanks to some shoddy Chicago defense. Kivlehan ended up on 3B when his fly ball to CF kicked off Todd Glaesmann's glove, and he then scored when Jennings followed with an RBI single down the LF line. Reds led, 4-0.
  • Chicago's offense finally kicked into gear in the Top of the 7th against righty Luis Castillo, as they loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to back to back singles and a walk. Eloy Jimenez then lifted a deep fly into left-center that allowed Mark Zagunis to tag and score, and after Castillo K'd Chris Dominguez, Ian Happ smacked an RBI single into CF to score Bijan Rademacher. Phil Ervin - who was manning CF at that point - fired a laser to 3B to nab David Bote for the final out of the inning, however, leaving the Reds ahead, 4-2.
  • Cincinnati grabbed those runs back in the Bottom of the 8th when Wallach belted an opposite-field double that scored Tony Renda, who had singled in front of him, and Kivlehan followed with an RBI double of his own. Reds then led 6-2, which is how things ended after Herget slammed the door shut in the Top of the 9th. A win!

The Dusty Baker Honorary Holy Hell the Reds Won a Game GIF of the Day

Other Notes

  • Earlier today, MLB announced a few newly approved rules for the upcoming season, highlighted by the ability to intentionally walk Joey Votto without having to actually lob 4 pitches outside the zone.
  • ICYMI, the Reds got a swath of good news on multiple injury fronts earlier on Thursday.
  • Not sick of the Cubs yet? I have good news!  The Reds will tangle with them again on Friday, this time at the Cubs' home at Sloan Park in Mesa. Tim Adleman will start for Cincinnati opposite Mike Montgomery, with first pitch set for 3:05 PM ET. According to MLB.com, TV coverage is listed as 'TBD' from both teams, which is annoying.
  • Tunes.