After a seemingly endless stretch of hours without Cincinnati Reds baseball, the club finally took the field again on Thursday on the frigid field in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the Pirates brought bigger bats than did the Reds, as they managed to plate 5 runs off starter Homer Bailey on a night where he battled while clearly not having his best stuff.
Homer sat largely at 90-91 mph with his fastball, touching 93 mph at his best, but seemed to be nibbling a bit in the 30-ish degree cold. His final line - 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K - was just about right given what he had on the evening, all told.
The Cincinnati bats, on the other hand, looked largely as cold as the weather.
The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Amir Garrett somehow keeps getting a bit lost in the shuffle of pitchers in the Cincinnati system, and that comes despite a spring in Goodyear that was as impressive as anyone in the franchise.
Garrett threw an inning against the Washington Nationals over the weekend, and that’s been it so far for him prior to tonight, and while the likes of Brandon Finnegan and Cody Reed keep getting opportunities to get back into the starting rotation, Garrett somehow keeps getting passed over. He fired 1.2 innings of 1 hit, 2 K ball against the Pirates out of the bullpen tonight, hitting 95 mph repeatedly while the other pitchers on the day looked shriveled by the cold.
Something’s obviously going to have to give for Garrett to get a bigger shot, but he sure looks better, healthier, and infinitely more confident this year than in his hip-induced struggles from 2017.
Honorable Mention is due to: Adam Duvall, who dingered.
- The Reds first scratched the scoreboard in the Top of the 2nd. Gennett dumped another single into LF, and he moved up to 2B on Jose Peraza’s dinky single down the 3B line. A wild pitch then allowed both runners to move up, and with 2-outs and catcher Tucker Barnhart in a 3-2 count with the pitcher on-deck, the Pirates opted to try to retire Tucker instead of putting him to face the pitcher. That backfired spectacularly, though, as Steven Brault threw another wild pitch, and Gennett scooted home to put the Reds up, 1-0.
- A leadoff double off the bat of Jordy Mercer greeted Bailey in the Bottom of the 3rd, and that later spelled a run when Gregory Polanco lifted a deep enough sac-fly into CF to bring him in. Game tied, 1-1.
- Homer walked Josh Harrison to begin the Bottom of the 5th, and that added a run when Gregory Polanco followed it with a monster dinger over the wall in CF - even when it was frigid outside. Josh Bell then dumped a single into CF, and he motored all the way around to score when Corey Dickerson poked a ball into the RF corner for an RBI triple. Dickerson later scored on a 2-out chopper to Jose Peraza, who booted it to allow the run to score. Reds trailed, 5-1.
- Duvall took George Kontos deep in the Top of the 8th, a solo shot that got the Reds a tad closer in a 5-2 game. Unfortunately, that was all she wrote, and the Reds lost once again.
- Brandon Finnegan threw in a simulated game yesterday, with the initial idea being that he’d be ready to make his season debut on Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Turns out, that won’t actually happen, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reported earlier today that the Reds want him to get one more start - likely at AAA - before bringing him back. That means Cody Reed will actually get a chance to start for the Reds after his originally scheduled start Tuesday (against the Chicago Cubs) was banged due to weather.
- Billy Hamilton went 0 for 4 with Ks from both sides of the plate while leading off, again. I submit that with no additional commentary, since I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point.
- Speaking of which, Joey Votto has looked lost since the first game of spring training. I’m not at all worried about him, though it’s absolutely worth mentioning how bad he’s looked at the plate to date.
- Friday will see Luis Castillo back on the mound for the Reds, with hopes that he can shrug off his rough first outing of the season to slice up a few Pirate eyeballs. He’ll be countered by Pittsburgh starter Trevor Williams, with first pitch set for 7:05 PM ET.