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Robert Stephenson fires three scoreless innings, Reds lose to Rockies on walk-off

Sam Hilliard’s walk-off single did the deed.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds-Media Day Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

A day removed from a 14-12 slugfest with the Chicago White Sox saw the Cincinnati Reds back in a low-scoring affair, this time with the Colorado Rockies at their home in Scottsdale. They also found themselves again on the losing end late in the game, as the Rockies got a walk-off 3-2 victory.

It was Luis Castillo’s turn to start, and while he was far from awful, he wasn’t nearly as effective as he’d been earlier in spring. His final line of 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K is respectable enough, I suppose, but it doesn’t truly highlight how filthy his pitch repertoire was on the day. He touched 98 mph with his fastball routinely - Salt River Fields at Talking Stick had their full Pitch F/X equipment ready, so we had radar - and shaved as much as 12 mph off that pitch for his change-up at times. That’s just filthy.

At the plate, though, the Reds struggled for big hits for most of the day, with a Rockies pitching staff led by starter Kyle Freeland largely keeping them in check. Of course, it was a completely different lineup than the one that wrought havoc on pitchers yesterday, being spring and all.

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

There’s not a pitcher in Reds camp who needed a bigger, better outing than Robert Stephenson, and he answered the bell in this one. The former top prospect has battled control problems earlier in Cactus League play and had been hit hard early and often, but on Thursday he once again found both the strike zone and a way to miss bats.

He fired 3 IP of scoreless ball, allowing only a single in the process. He didn’t walk a soul, fanned 3, and looked in command throughout. That it came in a relief role instead of as a starter certainly stands out, but it’s a step in the right direction for the 25 year old.

Honorable Mentions are due to: Jared Hughes, who tossed another scoreless inning (with a K); Eugenio Suarez, who walked twice; and Brandon Dixon, who kept right on mashing, going 2 for 3 with a double, single, and run batted in.

Key Plays

  • Rosell Herrera got the Reds on the board in the Top of the 1st. He poked a 1-out single into RF, swiped 2B, and later scored on Mesoraco’s RBI single into CF. Reds led early, 1-0.
  • Noel Cuevas dumped a well-timed double off Castillo into the right-center gap in the Bottom of the 4th, as it came after a Tom Murphy walk - and since Murphy was running on the pitch, he motored all the way around to score. Then, Brendan Rodgers smacked a single into CF, and that allowed Cuevas to score to take the lead. Reds trailed, 2-1.
  • Dixon leveled things in the Top of the 6th after both Devin Mesoraco and Winker had been hit by pitches. Mes had been replaced on the bases on a force out off the bat of Scooter Gennett, so it was actually Scooter who motored home from 2B on Dixon’s single into CF. That tied things at 2-2.
  • The Bottom of the 9th had Kyle Crockett on the mound, who’d been impressive all spring. All good things must come to an end, however, and a Sam Hilliard single to score Brendon Rodgers - who’d led off the inning with a single and advanced on a sac bunt - and the Reds ended up on the losing side, 3-2.

Other Notes

  • Billy Hamilton was back in the lineup today after missing time with his sprained left index finger. He laid down a successful sac bunt, but again went hitless - meaning he still has zero hits in Cactus League play.
  • Anthony DeSclafani will be on the mound Friday in an attempt to kick his previous rough outing to the curb. The Reds will be at home in Goodyear playing host to the Texas Rangers, and it’ll be their first night game of Cactus League play. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET, and once again there will be no TV coverage.
  • Tunes.