They don’t promise to represent professional baseball; nor do they promise to be as competitive as games from April thru September, but they are Spring Training games, and we love them so.
A 5-1 lead was blown and ultimately lead to a 6-5 loss for the Reds, but let us embrace that, before it becomes a major tremor come regular season play. Just as the pitchers are paid to get outs, the hitters are paid to get hits; it does not always wind up on the correct answer of the Magic 8 Ball for the Reds.
Even with the Mariners making five errors on the day, the team could not capitalize for enough offense to squeak out a win. The old baseball axiom “save the runs for another day” sure would have helped, after the club pounded out 15 runs just a day ago.
Offensive Side of the Diamond:
After having the first two batters retired in the bottom of the third inning with relative ease, Billy Hamilton strode to the plate for a harmless at-bat. One perfectly placed bunt later and chaos was ready to ensue.
Back-to-back singles from Skip Schumaker and Joey Votto pushed the Reds first run of the contest across. Following that, the Mariners committed three errors on the next two plays to help the Reds sneak across three more runs to give them a comfortable 4-0 cushion at that point in the game.
Fast-forward to the fifth and the legend of Billy Hamilton emerged once again. After drawing a leadoff walk (maybe the worst thing any pitcher can do when facing Billy), he promptly swiped second base, and once again watched, as the ball went flying into centerfield, letting the game’s quickest baserunner scamper over to third, with still, nobody out.
Mr. Versatility himself, Skip Schumaker, promptly drove him in on a sacrifice fly, for what would be the Reds final run of the contest.
Since the score never particularly matters in these games, we have been trained rather, that it is the situations that deserves more of our keen eye. Once something happens more than once, it becomes a trend. Billy Hamilton has now led off an inning with a walk twice and stolen second base before we can look up from our scorebooks and found himself standing on third with no one out. Who is to say that same occurrence will not happen 10-15 times during the regular season? To hell with the statistical mumbo-jumbo about whether or not it is calculates to more wins…it’s infinitely more exciting.
To show what a cruel world Spring Training baseball can be, let’s take a peek at the Reds numbers with runners in scoring position and how many two out RBI’s they produced; numbers that we examined and praised yesterday when they were profoundly high:
2-out RBI: 1
As most things in life can do, baseball numbers change within the blink of an eye. This, of course, is still just Spring Training. We’re not even upset over these calamities yet.
Reds’ Toeing the Rubber:
New sheriff in town, Bryan Price, perked up the ears of fans all across Reds Country this winter when he said that fireballing left-hander Aroldis Chapman may be used for more than just one inning if the situation allows it. This does not mean a return to the starting rotation is imminent, it simply allows for Price to have extreme flexibility when it comes to late-inning situations.
With his daughter finally arriving in the U.S. (there’s a fabulous piece up by Mark Sheldon of MLB.com to be read on this topic), Chapman could have just been at the tip of his iceberg these last few years. No longer confined to just a one inning threat, the game’s most feared arm may be unleashed on a litany of hitters come the dog days of summer.
On this afternoon, he was firing smoke, as usual, before super prospect Mike Zunino connected with a RBI double down the line to put an ugly blemish on the ERA of the Cuban sensation.
For years, many talked about how Bronson Arroyo coming over to the Reds was a grand steal, one that the Reds made away with. Certainly not on the same scale, but the signing of Alfredo Simon has proven to be a major cog of the Reds makeup.
He struggled early in his career before finally settling down in the “super stretchy” role, where he could pitch 5-6 innings, if requested. Today, he threw three gorgeous innings of work to go along with four strikeouts, and just one walk as the blemish. In a pinch, it may not at all be any of the arms down at Louisville that see a start, but rather, the always-dependable Simon.
Performing his best Daniel Corcino impression (that’s probably offensive and going to lose its thunder by the time the regular season comes around) today was Chad Rogers. Just four were outs recorded in comparison to his six hits and five earned runs. (Not to mention the juicy Grand Slam he served up.) If you stepped away from your computer or Twitter for 20 minutes, Rogers coughed up the lead the team had spent the last two hours building.
Have no fear, barring a strike; Rogers won’t be seeing any time as a member of the Reds in 2014.
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Taking the hill tomorrow afternoon will be the ace of the staff, Mr. Johnny Cueto as he looks to lock down the Kansas City Royals. The game is scheduled to get underway at 3:05 PM and will be available on WLW radio.