The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
We’re not ones to play too many favorites, so for the final Cactus League game of 2017 we’ll go with a split award here.
Jose Peraza has been one of the best, if not the best hitters for the Cincinnati Reds all spring, and he wrapped up his tour of the Land of the Endless Strip mall in style on Wednesday. Peraza swatted a 2-run dinger to fuel his 2 for 3 afternoon, and he’ll exit Goodyear having posted a .343 spring average (and .821 OPS, to boot). Not bad for a top-of-the-order guy.
Matching him on the day - and finishing Cactus League play on a massive power surge - was Adam Duvall, who homered for the third time in two days. He finished his afternoon against Cleveland having gone 2 for 2, and he’ll exit Arizona the owner of a .302 spring average and a thump-heavy 1.052 OPS. That’ll do.
Wrapping up, Billy Hamilton did exactly what the Reds will hope he’ll do all season while batting atop the lineup - get on base any and all ways possible. He had a 2 for 2 afternoon, scored a run, drove one in, and added a walk for good measure.
As for the pitching in this one, well, let’s just get the regular season started already.
- Cincinnati jumped out to a quick start in this one, with Peraza belting his 2-run dinger in the Bottom of the 1st (and Duvall adding his solo-job later that inning), which put the Reds ahead early, 3-0.
- Cleveland snatched those three back (and another) in the Top of the 2nd, however. A leadoff walk followed by a single left two runners on, and they had a third join them when Peraza had a fielding error the very next batter. An Austin Jackson sac-fly got Cleveland on the board, and that was then followed by a Yandy Diaz 3-run dinger. Reds trailed, 4-3.
- Hamilton's single in the Bottom of the 4th tied things, as it scored Tucker Barnhart in front of him (who had doubled). Game tied, 4-4.
- Cleveland broke the game open and took the lead for good in the Top of the 5th against Louis Coleman, however, as both Michael Brantley (solo) and Brandon Guyer (2-run) crushed dingers to put Cleveland ahead, 7-4.
- New Red Scooter Gennett clubbed a homer in the Bottom of the 5th, but that was matched by a solo shot from Francisco Lindor in the Top of the 6th. From that point on, each bench played a bit of add-on, but in the end the Reds came up short, losing 9-6.
- With Cactus League play over, the Reds will pack up and head back East for a few exhibition games prior to the start of the season. First among them will be a game in Louisville against the projected Bats roster, and that'll take place Friday at 6:15 PM ET.
- Following that will be a game against the Reds Futures assembled squad, which will feature the likes of top prospects Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, Phil Ervin, Chris Okey, Tyler Stephenson, Aristides Aquino, and Alex Blandino, among others. It'll be played in Fifth Third Field in Dayton - the home of the Dayton Dragons - with first pitch on Saturday set for 1:35 PM ET.