The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
The pessimists among us are exhausting.
The optimists among us point vehemently to the swing change Joey Votto introduced during the middle of the 2020 regular season, the one that saw him finish with a .258/.385/.557 flurry and 8 dingers over his final 117 PA. The stand-uppy, swing-hardy throwback to his earlier days, the ones before the choking up and squatting in attempts to avoid missing any pitch hurled his way.
Rumor has it that new approach has stuck, and it’s the one we’ll see from Joey as he enters his
age 21 age 37 season in 2021. And the first glimpse we saw of him in Cactus League play on Sunday looked pretty, pretty good.
Votto stroked a single up the middle in his first PA, and later followed with a looping single into LF to drive in a run that tied the game at that juncture. A 2 for 2 day to begin the spring, and we are excite.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Kyle Farmer, who made a jumping stab on a looping liner as the starting shortstop and later tripled off the top of the CF wall; the lefties out of the bullpen, as each of Josh Osich and Cionel Perez flashed some impressive stuff in scoreless IPs of their own; and Mark Payton, who walked, singled off the RF wall, and ran some bases in a semi-effectual fashion.
- Billy Hamilton coaxed a walk and scored from 1B, exactly the dream held by Cincinnati Reds fans everywhere for much of the last decade. Unfortunately, he did so as a member of the Cleveland baseballers, and that put the Reds in an early 1-0 hole in the Bottom of the 2nd.
- After Farmer smoked a triple off the top of the CF wall like I told you above when I literally typed ‘tripled off the top of the CF wall,’ it resulted in a Mark Payton being thrown out trying to score after JR House sent him around 3B. Welp. Anyway, Farmer scooted into 3B anyway, and that allowed him to score on Votto’s flip into LF. Game tied, 1-1.
- A dropped pop-up by Dwight Smith in LF in the Bottom of the 6th ended up biting, as that runner later scored on an RBI single by Gabriel Arias in an inning that featured Vlad Gutierrez on the mound. Reds trailed, 2-1.
- Walks haunted R.J. Alaniz in the Bottom of the 7th, as the righty’s third walk of said inning eventually forced in a run to put the Reds in a 3-1 deficit, which is how things ‘ended’ when the pre-agreed upon 8 inning game techincally wrapped. That said, even though the road Reds were retired in the Top of the 8th to take the loss in this game that matters not, a Bottom of the 8th was played purely for work purposes anyway. Matt Pidich was on the bump for the Reds, and a series of singles and proactive Cleveland baserunning plated a another pair of runs, and I have zero idea how to factor any of that into a score that fits framely into the limited amount of characters this content management system provides for the title line. Go Reds, either way.
- Jose De Leon got the start for the Reds in this one, flashing some mixed results in his 2 IP. He allowed an ER and a pair of walks, but also fanned a pair, too. According to The Enquirer’s Charlie Goldsmith, De Leon finished his day sitting 92-94 mph after reportedly hitting 95 mph earlier, which is a very encouraging sign.
- Eugenio Suarez looks svelte, by all accounts. Perhaps even in The Best Shape of His Life [TM].
- Jonathan India has glorious hair so long it worries The Cowboy it could become a ‘distraction.’ He later walked, which would be a much more provocative trend.
- Kyle Holder made a very slick stop at short to induce a 6-4-3 double play, throwing gasoline on the rumors that he is a very slick stopper at short.
- The Reds will take on the Oakland Athletics on Monday, traveling across the Arizona landscape that should be dry desert yet has instead been artificially turned into the Land of the Endless Strip Mall and over-watered golf course havens to do so. Hohokam Stadium will play host, with first pitch being thrown by someone at 3:05 PM ET. No television feed it expected to be available.
- Tomorrow will be March, again, too.