The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of Split-Squad Games Are Really Dang Hard to Follow
Robert Stephenson and Amir Garrett are technically "pitchers," but that doesn’t mean the Cincinnati Reds duo doesn’t get to swing the bat. They’re "National League pitchers" - the good kind of pitchers - and on Saturday they donned their helmets and got to whackin’.
They combined for a 3 for 5 afternoon, with Garrett adding a double against the Oakland A’s, and while neither had a particularly memorable afternoon while on the mound, that was enough to stick out in my mind, at least. Perhaps it was just dumb luck, or perhaps the two have seen the news that Bryan Price might let their peer Michael Lorenzen hit often despite being a reliever, but it sure wouldn’t hurt if this particular pitching staff turned into a pile of peak-Leake hitters.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Arismendy Alcantara, who banged a 2-run homer against Chicago, his former team; Stuart Turner, who went 2 for 4 with a run scored, a ribbie, and a triple against Oakland, Alcantara's other former team; Joey Votto, who walked thrice against Chicago; Joe Hudson, who belted a 2-run dinger against Chicago, too; Jesse Winker, who had a 2 for 5 afternoon in Las Vegas; Sebastian Elizalde, who went 2 for 2 with a ribbie and a pair of runs scored against Oakland; and Jose Peraza, who went 2 for 4 with a ribbie and a run score against [insert either Oakland or Chicago].
Reds 11, A's 6
Oakland's Sean Manaea had a dang fine rookie year in 2016, posting 2.7 bWAR just a year after being traded for Ben Zobrist by the Kansas City Royals. Manaea, a lefty, was one of four lefties the Royals purged from their system in roster-bolstering moves on their march to the 2015 World Series, with the other three - whom you may recognize - being sent to the Reds themselves in exchange for Johnny Cueto.
Manaea's Cactus League start against the Reds on Saturday did not go so well. He yielded 6 runs alone in the Top of the 2nd, finished the day after just 3 IP with 5 BB and 5 ER allowed, and the Reds held off Oakland from that point forward. Garrett didn't exactly cinch things for the Reds, as his final line (5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) clearly shows, but a 15 hit afternoon from the offense kept the A's at bay for the duration of the afternoon.
Cubs 11, Reds 7
Hudson's homer was part of a 4-run Top of the 9th for Cincinnati to make this game in Las Vegas a bit more respectable, but the Chicago Cubs got a 2-run dinger from hometown kid Kris Bryant and smacked Barrett Astin around (4 ER in 0.2 IP after taking over for Stephenson) to effectively put this one away and render that late rally ultimately meaningless.
Stephenson's day got off to a tough start - he allowed 2 ER and needed nearly 30 pitches in the Bottom of the 1st to escape with the bases still loaded - but overall he flashed a solid mix of pitches against a stout Chicago lineup. His final line (4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) wasn't pretty, but after his rough initial inning he faced the minimum nine batters through his next three innings before a solo dinger in the Bottom of the 5th finally got him. He allowed a single to Kyle Schwarber, the next batter, which ended his day, and Schwarber scored as an inherited runner a batter later when Bryant bojacked one off Astin.
The wind was blowing out with impressive force on the day in Las Vegas' Cashman Field, a ballpark notorious for being offense-friendly anyway. So, there's that.
- Wondering why you've not seen Austin Brice, one of the key pieces in the Dan Straily trade, in quite sometime? The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan has your answer, and because it's the Reds, it's obviously an elbow issue that doesn't sound super amazing.
- Because life is complicated, the Reds will again play two games tomorrow in split-squad style.
- Half the core will stick around Las Vegas and take on the Cubs again on Sunday, with first pitch set again for 4:05 PM ET. Tim Adleman will get the start for Cincinnati, and he'll be opposed on the mound by former Colorado Rockie, top prospect, and guy-the-Reds-should-have-plucked-off-the-scrap-heap-instead-of-the-already-rich-Cubs Eddie Butler.
- Back in the Land of the Endless Strip Mall, Rookie Davis will toe the rubber at 4:05 PM ET against the Seattle Mariners in Cincinnati's spring home in Goodyear. He'll be opposed on the mound by Drew Smyly.