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Brandon Dixon homers again, but Reds fall to Cubs 7-4

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Luis Castillo was OK, but far from his best.

MLB: Spring Training-Cincinnati Reds at Cleveland Indians Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Today’s entire starting lineup played through the 6th inning, and the grand total for that group’s production consisted of a Joey Votto walk and a Tucker Barnhart single.

Barnhart, to his credit, eventually got caught stealing.

It wasn’t until the bench took over that the offense finally got going, and once again it was Brandon Dixon with the biggest swing of the day. Dixon launched a 2-run homer to get the Cincinnati Reds on the board for the first time in the 8th inning, the first real sign of life from an lackluster offense to that point. It was Dixon’s 3rd bomb of the spring, and the versatile 26 year old is doing everything he can to show he’s the perfect kind of big-bat utility player to carry on the bench to start the season.

Have a trophy, Brandon, and here’s to some continued thumping.

Honorable Mentions are due to: Luis Castillo, who was far from perfect, but who also fanned 4 and allowed a lone run in his 2.2 IP; Aristides Aquino, who donked a 2-run homer of his own; and Jackson Stephens, who walked a pair but also fired 1.2 hitless innings.

Key Plays

  • A leadoff double by Tommy La Stella greeted Castillo in the Bottom of the 2nd, and as leadoff doubles so often prompt, a run soon followed. Mike Freeman was the culprit this time, as his 1-out single brought La Stella in, and the Reds trailed, 1-0.
  • Bijan Rademacher poked a 1-out single into LF off Robert Stephenson in the Bottom of the 5th, and he scored a batter later when La Stella smacked yet another double. Bob then walked Chris Gimenezand loaded the bases by allowing a Freeman single, and after he was pulled in favor of Jackson Stephens, the Cubs plated another run on Jacob Hannemann’s bases loaded walk. Reds trailed, 3-0.
  • Oliver Perez took the mound for the Bottom of the 7th and, in all likelihood, might’ve just pitched his way out of camp. He allowed a single, a double, a walk, and a 3-run honker to Ali Solis, though at least you can make the argument that he’s in camp as a LOOGY and all of those hits came off right-handed bats. More power to ya. Reds trailed, 7-0.
  • Dixon’s big fly came off lefty Mike Zastryzny in the Top of the 8th after Mason Williams singled in front of him, which meant I got to try to type ‘Zastryzny’ on this sunny Saturday afternoon. Reds trailed, 7-2.
  • Phil Ervin coaxed a walk in the Top of the 9th to begin a mini-rally for the Reds, and he came in to score on Aquino’s 2-run blast over the wall in left-center. Unfortunately, though, that was the end of said rally, and the Reds lost, 7-4.

Other Notes

  • Castillo mixed some excellent strike-throwing with a few pitches that caught too much of the plate, but he was pounding the zone all day. The 5 H allowed certainly stands out, but the 4 Ks in his 3 IP do, too. His final line: 2.2 IP, 5 H, ER, 4 K.
  • Robert Stephenson, on the other hand, was just plain bad. He walked 3 against a lone K in his 1.1 IP, struggling with his fastball command throughout. He allowed 4 H and 2 ER in his time, marking his second consecutive iffy outing of Cactus League play. His ERA sits at 15.00, which ain’t pretty.
  • After failing to get a hit off Madison Bumgarner - or even a baserunner, for that matter - in his 3 IP yesterday, the Reds again went hitless against the opposing starter today, as Tyler Chatwood allowed nary a hit in his 2 IP.
  • The Reds return home to Goodyear for Sunday’s game, as they’ll host the Kansas City Royals and starter Jason Hammel. Anthony DeSclafani will make his second start of Cactus League play, and first pitch is scheduled for 3:05 PM ET. No TV again, though, so be sure to catch the game via 700 WLW or the MLB At-Bat app. Or just go to the game. Flights are fairly reasonable, and I’m sure your kid won’t mind that you’re skipping his game to go watch fake baseball where it’s warmer.
  • Tunes.