The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
With reports indicating on Sunday that the would-be Opening Day starter for the Cincinnati Reds this year likely won't be ready in time for that role, it was good to see last year's Opening Day starter look quite impressive in his Cactus League time on the mound.
No, Raisel Iglesias isn't going to be a starting pitcher on any day again any time soon, but the multi-inning, high-leverage role he'll be in this year should still have him on full display. If the way he pitched against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday is any indication of how he'll do in such a role come regular season action, that'll be a damn valuable piece of the Reds' roster.
Igloo spun a pair of perfect innings in Tempe, and while he didn't record a single strikeout, he confused hitters routinely while inducing weak contact after weak contact. The multiple arm angles were working, the fastball looked electric, and his usual absurd movement was ever present in his outing. That'll do, Raisel.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Tony Renda, who dingered & cracked a ground-rule double; Dilson Herrera, who doubled, singled, scored, and drove in a run as the DH on the afternoon; Jesse Winker, who had a solid 2 for 3 day that included a ribbie and a run scored; Patrick Kivlehan, who tripled and singled in a run; Tyler Mahle, who battled through a pair of scoreless innings; and Tucker Barnhart, who drove in a pair of runs with his 2nd inning single.
- Garrett Richards was on the mound for the Angels for the first time since May 1st of 2016, the de facto ace of their staff having been out for some 10 months with a torn UCL. He worked a relatively easy Top of the 1st, but the Reds’ bats got to him in the Top of the 2nd. Herrera led off with a single that was backed by another single from Winker, and they both later scored when Barnhart smacked a single into CF past a pulled-in defense. Barnhart himself came around to score on a single by Brandon Dixon, and the Reds held an early lead, 3-0.
- Jefry Marte yanked a hanging change-up over the wall in LF with 2-out in the Bottom of the 2nd to get the Angels on the board and rim the Reds' lead to 3-1.
- The Reds got that run back in the Top of the 3rd as Scott Schebler donked a triple to the wall in left-center with 1-out to get things started. Herrera then followed with a sharply hit double down the LF line, and the Reds were in front, 4-1.
- Kole Calhoun hurled the Angels closer in the Bottom of the 3rd with a 2-run honker over the wall in RF that came after Yunel Escobar dumped a single into RF. Reds led, 4-3.
- Cozart singled to lead off the Top of the 5th and eventually came around to score after an error let him reach 2B, he tagged and moved to 3B on a deep fly to CF, and Winker singled him in. Reds led, 5-3.
- Tony Renda...Tony Renda? Tony Renda crushed a 2-run dinger over the left-center wall in the Top of the 7th, scoring Zach Vincej (single) to extend the Reds' lead to 7-3.
- Renda's ground-rule double eventually led to him scoring in the Top of the 9th, as a booted grounder by whichever minor-leaguer was manning shortstop for LA in the final inning of the game let him scoot home with 2-out. That grounder was hit by Stuart Turner, who ended up on 1B thanks to the error, and he motored all the way around to score when Phil Ervin followed with an RBI double into the LF corner. Ervin landed on 3B as the throw went home, and he then scored on a wild pitch to put the Reds ahead 10-3, and after another error, a middle-finger of a 2-out pitching change by Mike Scioscia, and another RBI single (from Kivlehan), the Reds led 11-3 - which is how things ended.
- Schebler's triple came off LHP Jose Alvarez, which was great to see given Schebler's .195/.267/.341 line against lefties last year. While that came in an admittedly small sample, Schebler has long been seen as a potential platoon bat against LHP given similar struggles against southpaws over the years. Maybe there's some Joey Votto advice trickling into that swing of his...
- The Reds will take a break on Monday, their first true off-day since camp began some three weeks ago. They will sleep late, wander around their rented condos in sweatpants staring blankly at week-old emails on their phones, and probably not even get around to shaving. Delivery kung-pao chicken for lunch, an afternoon nap, and three hours of binge-watching Netflix later, they'll prep for Tuesday's game against the Kansas City Royals.
- Said game against the Royals will be back in Goodyear, and Sal Romano will again take the mound looking to impress. He'll be opposed by former Red Travis Wood, with first pitch set for 3:05 PM ET.