In a day of many firsts, the Cincinnati Reds season has finally gotten underway.
The club picked up a victory today by the score of 8-3 over the Cleveland Indians in the Spring Training opener from Goodyear, Arizona.
Out there somewhere is someone remarking that the Reds have finally ended their losing streak that besieged them down the stretch last season, and even though this game may not count towards any official record, it sure it nice to start the season off on a winning foot.
More important that any individual performance on this day, was the eye opening debut of the Reds black Spring Training uniforms. They are the exact same design and style of last year’s edition that were the typical red, except the 2014 version is the evil Spiderman version.
Many ran to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the alternate uni’s but in my humble opinion, they were a nice change of pace. We’ll be seeing a plentiful amount of Red during the course of the year and seeing it blended in with some black was a nice changeup of sorts. Granted, I do not recommend flooding the MLB Shop looking for your favorite player’s name on the back, but for the next four and a half weeks, they’ll be a welcome sight to weary eyes.
As far as things that happened on the ballfield Wednesday afternoon go, it can be broken down into two parts (this seems the likely format that I will follow for upcoming games during the rest of the spring, unless there is a political uprising, of course):
Offensive side of the diamond:
The game could have not begun anymore magnificently if you were the Reds, as the biggest question mark of them all in Billy Hamilton, drew a 10-pitch walk. His ability to get on base will prove to be more vital than any other nuance associated with this club.
Barely after filling in the walk in the scorebook, Hamilton took off on the first pitch from Indians starter Trevor Bauer and swiped second before jogging over to third after the throw went sailing into centerfield. As scouts have been saying since day one, “game-changing speed.”
In what could be described as a best of both worlds with Joey Votto, he had the first RBI of the young season as he nearly decapitated Indians reliever T.J. House after the youngster thought it would be safe to sneak a fastball in on the hands of the Reds quarter-of-a-billion-dollar man.
His first and last at-bat ended in a strikeout, with the latter looking extremely tentative. Last season, on Memorial Day, Votto hit a game-sealing two-run home run off reliever Nick Hagadone; but on this day, he found himself looking at a moving fastball down the heart of the plate for strike three. He has preached patience in the box and it looks like we will continue to see one of the game’s keenest eyes remain in control.
A major crossroads is being reached this season by de facto fourth outfielder Chris Heisey, who has watched countless opportunities for the left field slot to be his slip by. With the Reds clinging to a 4-3 lead in the top of the 7th, he clobbered a fastball (in typical Heisey fashion) into the Reds bullpen, with a no doubter that counted for two runs.
His proceeding at-bat saw him scorch another fastball to the left-center field gap, this time one hopping the wall as he strolled in for a double. And yes, he was sporting the begin stages of his always impressive beard.
The first German in the Show also had the Reds first triple of the season after he stung a ball to centerfield and blew around the basepaths, showcasing his surprising speed. Lutz will have a lot to prove in not only Spring Training this year, but at Louisville, to show the organization that he can be an everyday left fielder. With Ryan Ludwick’s contract up at the conclusion of this season, if Lutz improves exponentially, it would not be beyond the realm of possibility to see him in the lineup come Opening Day 2015.
Pitching side of the diamond:
Representing the Major League club today was Alfredo Simon, who took the ball for two nearly flawless innings to get his season off on the right track. Outside of a walk to Lonnie Chisenhall to lead off the second, Simon was perfect, facing only six batters.
Unfortunately, for Crabbe, he was the gluten of punishment as his sole inning of work was not much to write home about. The first four batters reached base, and if it were not for the useful glove work of Ramon Santiago behind him, his afternoon may have been much worse.
An interesting name to watch this upcoming season could be the reliever who spent his 2013 campaign at Pensacola, Lee Hyde. With an ERA just a speck over 2, the nearly 30-year old left-hander may be facing one of his final shots in the pros. His changeup looked to have great action today, and regardless of his one walk, he had above average control. If Sean Marshall’s shoulder issues persist, Hyde may be a name to keep an eye on if southpaws become a necessity up with the big club.
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Tomorrow, Johnny Cueto will take the hill to start the day against Indians ace Justin Masterson. The game will be underway at 3:05 PM EST and your post-game wrap-up will be here waiting if you are unable to get to a television set. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can always follow us on Twitter @BlogRedMachine for updates throughout the game.
In his first day on the job, Bryan Price wrapped up a victory, no matter how small it was. In a year with immense pressure from a team hungry for a championship, no victory is too small.