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Brandon Finnegan impressive in return, Reds still thumped by Oakland

It was mostly ugly. It was baseball.

Pittsburgh Pirates v. Cincinnati Reds Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

The adage of ‘pitchers are ahead of hitters’ as spring training games begin is mostly a true one. Pitchers report early, and from a purely theoretical perspective, it’s usually easier to return to throwing 95 mph heaters than it is to return to turning them around.

Heck, Hall of Fame hitters when ‘caught up’ to pitchers still fail 70% of the time, after all.

That might not be routinely true with Brandon Finnegan, however. The former 1st round draftee and one-time would-be Cincinnati Reds rotation stalwart has had an absolutely brutal go of things since his breakout 2016 season, with a pair of shoulder injuries and the rigamarole of comebacks effectively wiping him off the radar - and the 40-man roster - altogether.

Monday, though, saw a Finnegan we long ago dreamed about. A lefty who could sit 93-95 mph with his fastball, pound the zone, and retire some of the best hitters the opposition could throw his way. All told, he fired 2 IP of scoreless, hitless, walkless ball, picking up a K and effectively an additional out as he pitched around an Alex Blandino throwing error, too. On top of that, the error came off a grounder, and the other 5 outs Finny recorded were all groundouts, too.

It was quite the return for Finny, who’ll turn 28 in April, and if he can continue to flash this kind of stuff, he’s absolutely going to be in the mix to help the big league pitching staff in some form this season, and soon. Unfortunately, the rest of the Reds today were completely forgettable.

Key Plays

  • The Reds got on the board first, and for the second consecutive day it came via a non-dinger. The Top of the 2nd saw Aristides Aquino motor to 3B on a ‘triple’ that was the result of a jam-shot fly ball in to shallow LF that played pinball with a trio of Oakland defenders. Two batters later, Tyler Stephenson plated The Punisher with a productive groundout, and Cincinnati held a 1-0 lead.
  • Noe Ramirez took over for Finnegan in the Bottom of the 3rd for his Reds Cactus League debut, and was promptly greeted with a dinger by Pete Kozma. It was of the 2-run variety, and the Reds trailed, 2-1. Matt Olson later jumped in on the 2-run dinger action, poking one of his own off Ramirez to leave the Reds in a 4-1 hole.
  • With Sal Romano on the bump for the Reds, Nick Senzel lost a towering fly ball to the high Arizona sky in the Bottom of the 4th, one that would fall in for a Cody Thomas triple. Thomas later scored on an Aramis Garcia single, and the Reds trailed, 5-1. Later, Vimael Machin smoked a 2-run single to make it 7-1, and the Reds were in dire need of a beer and a taco.
  • Shane Carle took the mound for the Bottom of the 5th, I nodded off for a second, I believe the Reds rolled the inning instead of actually getting everybody out, and they were buried in an 11-1 deficit.
  • Still at this thing we call baseball, Ryan Hendrix served up a 2-run dinger to Buddy Reed in the Bottom of the 6th, making it 13-2. I say ‘2’ because the Reds carved out a run in the Top of the 6th thanks to some singles and some smaw baw. You’re not still reading this right now, anyway. Cauliflower hamster jonquil arugula pancake alfa-romeo. See?
  • A last-gasp effort by Scott Heineman and Alfredo Rodriguez made the scoreboard slightly more polite, as both socked 7th inning homers after this one was long filed away. That inched the score closer at 13-5, but proved to be the final cauliflower hamster jonquil arugula pancake alfa-romeo of the day.

Mr. Redlegs, who very well could have been Tony Graphanino in disguise

Pittsburgh Pirates v. Cincinnati Reds Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

Other Notes

  • We’ve been waiting anxiously for news about televised Reds games during Cactus League play, and we finally got news from FS-Ohio about their plans. They’ll be carrying four games between now and the end of camp, apparently, with the details spelled out here.
  • Those come in addition to the back to back games that MLB Network will carry this week. What’s even cooler about those games is that we now know some of the expected pitching arrangements, as The Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale relayed earlier today. That includes a Hunter Greene start for the Reds against the Los Angeles Angels tomorrow night in prime time.
  • Jonathan India and his 80 FV hair smashed a double down the LF line in this one. That’s pretty awesome.
  • Did I mention that Hunter Greene is starting tomorrow vs. the Los Angeles Angels? Well, Hunter Greene is starting, for the Cincinnati Reds, in a game tomorrow that’s televised for us all to watch. First pitch is set for 9:05 PM ET, and it’ll be carried on MLB At-Bat and MLB Network.
  • Tunes.