Offense, offense, offense drove the highlights today, and for the first real time during Cactus League play, the bulk of it came from players projected to be everyday regulars come Opening Day. Tucker Barnhart hit another homer, and Scott Schebler did, too. Joey Votto got off his spring schneid with his first hit, and even Dilson Herrera looked good at the plate and on the bases despite having fought a shoulder issue throughout camp.
Unfortunately, the pitching.
Homer Bailey was lit up by the Chicago White Sox, who pummeled him for 6 ER in 3 IP on 7 hits, and while some of the early ones against him were softly hit that just managed to find holes, the latter ones were squared up as well as could be squared. For the first time this spring, Amir Garrett was knocked around, too, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 2 BB in his 2 IP, striking out a lone sock in the process.
Then came Jackson Stephens, and, well, well, and...well. His line: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, and that effectively turned the tides in this slugfest.
Still, it was good to see the bats finally, finally wake up.
The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Scott Schebler had himself a day yesterday, and his hot streak carried over to today’s game. After going 2 for 2 with 2 doubles Tuesday, he went nuts for a 4 for 4 day today, hitting his first homer of the spring in the process. He scored thrice, drove in a pair, and added a stolen base to his ledger for good measure.
Think he’s seen how good Jesse Winker has been playing so far this spring?
Honorable Mentions are due to: Votto, who finally got a hit (and walked and scored twice); Barnhart, who homered, walked, scored, and drove in 3; Phil Ervin, who tripled in a pair of runs and also walked; and Herrera, who went 3 for 4 with 2 ribbies, 2 runs scored, and a steal.
- Cincinnati put a 5-spot on the board in a half-hour Top of the 1st. Jose Peraza led off with a double, took 3B on a passed ball, and scored on a Nick Senzel sac fly. Votto then walked, Schebler singled to put runners on the corners, Adam Duvall walked to load the bags, and a Herrera single into CF plated Votto. Barnhart then brought in Schebler on a productive grounder before Ervin’s 415 ft triple off the batter’s eye in CF cleared the bags. The bat-around had the Reds up, 5-0.
- Homer took the mound after that long half-inning and was far from sharp. He allowed singles to the first four batters he face in the Bottom of the 1st, and while none of them were super hard hit, they kept finding holes. It was Matt Davidson’s single - the fourth - that scored both Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez, and after Daniel Palka grounded out to leave Nicky Delmonico at 3B, another productive grounder brought in a third run. Reds led, 5-3.
- Senzel laced a double to the wall in RF to open the Top of the 2nd, and he scored two batters later on Schebler’s 2-run opposite-field blast. Herrera then singled and swiped 2B, though it really didn’t matter where he was as Barnhart followed with a 2-run dinger down the RF line. Reds led, 9-3.
- You can make a very compelling case that ‘Homer,’ in fact, is not a great name for a pitcher. Sanchez made note of that in the Bottom of the 2nd, a 2-run shot after Moncada had singled in front of him. Then, to lead off the Bottom of the 3rd, Palka hit a ball about as far as I’ve ever seen a ball hit out to RF, and the Reds led, 9-6.
- Tanner Rainey had an impossible time finding the strikezone in the Bottom of the 4th, and the White Sox got a run because of it. Reds led, 9-7.
- The offense kept right on rolling in the Top of the 6th, plating another pair of runs when Votto scored on Adam Duvall’s RBI double and Schebler later scoring on Herrera’s single. Reds up, 11-7.
- Garrett got knocked around to give that pair of runs back in the Bottom of the 6th, however, as Delmonico scored on a sac fly and Matt Davidson took him deep for a solo shot. Reds led, 11-9.
- A Brandon Dixon walk and a wild pitch put him on 2B, and after he moved up to 3B on a fly out, he scored on a sac fly off the bat of Rosell Herrera in the Top of the 7th to put the Reds ahead 12-9.
- Stephens took the mound for the Bottom of the 8th and dear god it was awful. The walks and singles were tough to watch after such a long game, but the Luis Robert grand slam with 2-outs was the real back-breaker, and it turned what looked to be a sure win into a disaster. Reds lost, 14-12.
- It sounds as if Billy Hamilton actually hurt his finger before yesterday’s game on a ball off the bat of Jose Peraza, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reported. It also sounds as if it’s nothing serious, and he’s listed as day to day.
- Speaking of banged-up Reds, Dilson Herrera has been limited to DH duties as he battles his shoulder inflammation, but while on-base today, he not only stole 2B, he slid head-first into the bag. That’s at least a bit promising that his health is improving.
- The Reds will head to Scottsdale on Thursday, where they’ll tangle with the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, which is a mouthful of a sentence to spit out. Luis Castillo will get the start, and first pitch is set for 3:10 PM ET. There does not appear to be a TV feed, however.