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Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton lead Nationals past Reds, 6-5

Wins and losses don’t matter in spring training. This is still spring training, right?

MLB: Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds fell behind immediately to the Washington Nationals, which is a statement that’s been the same in each of the first three games of the season. Thanks largely to Adam Eaton going HAM against every single pitch the Reds have thrown so far this season, the Reds once again never led. Starter Gio Gonzalez did a pretty dang fine job of making that look easy in his 6+ IP, Bryce Harper swatted a pair of dingers, and that was enough to render what little production the Reds mustered largely irrelevant.

An 8th inning rally attempt was cut short as former-Red-for-a-minute Ryan Madson bailed out Sammy Solis after the latter left the former with a bases loaded, no out scenario, and while Phil Gosselin brought the game within earshot with a 2-run blast in the Bottom of the 9th, the Reds ultimately fell.

The Nats are going to make a lot of teams look silly this year, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve won more games than any other team in baseball since 2012 with a lineup and pitching staff that has featured largely the same stars during that time. That doesn’t make getting swept in non-competitive fashion under gray skies in cool weather to begin the season any less ominous at the moment, though.


The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Sal Romano deserves some credit for the way he settled down after a rough start to the game. His final line - 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K - was far from spectacular, but considering he’s been penciled in as the 4th-ish starter, that’s more or less exactly what you’d hope for against an offense as potent as Washington’s in a ballpark like the one in Cincinnati.

Honorable Mentions are due to: Phil Gosselin, who took a pinch-hit walk, stayed in the game, and eventually cracked a 2-run homer; and Billy Hamilton, who poked an RBI double into the LF corner for his first hit of the season (and later scored a run).

Key Plays

  • Adam Eaton singled, Anthony Rendon clubbed a 2-run dinger, and the Top of the 1st left the Reds down immediately, 2-0.
  • Romano left a fastball over the middle of the plate in the Top of the 6th, which is never a good idea. It’s an especially bad idea when Bryce Harper is standing in the batter’s box. Harper’s solo blast into the RF seats left the Reds behind 3-0.
  • The Reds finally got a run on the board in the Bottom of the 6th. Eugenio Suarez coaxed a 1-out walk, and he moved into scoring position on a productive Joey Votto groundout. He then went from ‘scoring position’ to ‘scored’ when Duvall’s double - that Harper should’ve caught at the wall in RF - hit off the wall, and the Reds trailed, 3-1.
  • Yovani Gallardo took over for the Top of the 7th. Unfortunately, that meant he had to face Eaton, and Eaton smacked a 2-run dinger into the LF seats. Gah. Reds trailed, 5-1.
  • Phil Gosselin coaxed a leadoff walk off Solis to open the Bottom of the 8th, and Gosselin scooted all the way around to score on Hamilton’s double into the LF corner. A walk to Suarez and a Joey Votto HBP later, and Solis was replaced by Madson, and Madson immediately got Duvall to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. A run scored, but the would-be rally was thwarted. Reds trailed, 5-3.
  • Harper hit a Raisel Iglesias offering about as far to left-center as a lefty has ever hit a ball at GABP in the Top of the 9th, his second solo blast of the day. That left the Reds behind 6-3.
  • Sean Doolittle hit Scott Schebler on the elbow in the Bottom of the 9th, and that put a runner on base for Gosselin’s blast over the CF wall. Unfortunately, the rally fell just short, and the Reds fell 6-5 to complete being swept.

Tony Graphanino

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • Iglesias was reinstated to the roster earlier on Sunday after having opened the season on the Paternity List. To make room for his addition, the Reds optioned Jackson Stephens to AAA Louisville.
  • This is the first time since 2003 that the Reds have started a season 0-3. The 2003 Reds were beyond awful.
  • The bump will belong to Tyler Mahle when the Reds take the field on Monday. They’ll be hosting the Chicago Cubs for a quick two-game series, with first pitch set for 4:10 PM ET. Tyler Chatwood will be on the mound for the Baby Bears.
  • Tunes.