Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Reds' Bats Go Cold, Lose 3-1

Another day under a steaming Arizona sun, another listless offensive performance. 

Falling to the Angels by a score of 3-1, the club has watched their record drop to 4-9 overall.

The old byline of not worrying about Spring Training will continue to remain intact for the following few weeks as we begin to approach games that do matter, but the lack of runs is an explainable phenomenon.

Beyond the concept of pitchers arriving almost a week earlier than position players to begin perfecting their craft, there are other elements that cause a decline in production.

During a regular season game, a batter will be able to get a few looks (minimum of 2 more than likely) at the same pitcher as it progresses on.  At this point of spring, it is extremely rare a batter will see the same pitcher three times, lowering his chance of success.  He sees a wide variety of pitchers, many he’s never faced before due to them being members of different leagues, or a different level.

In accordance with this, there’s also the reminder that it is March.  Lest we should expect all ball players to be at their peak so early on, many would rather see them shine during the summer months on the banks of the Ohio River.

Offensive Side of the Diamond:

Anytime Mike Costanzo and Ray Chang find their way into a box score, one can make a safe assumption that things did not go well. 

Ahead of the eighth inning, the team had only mustered two hits (a double by Chris Heisey and a single from Roger Bernadina) against the lower throngs of Angels pitching.  Back-to-back doubles from Kristopher Negron and Rey Navarro produced the club’s only run of the ballgame in the top of the eighth.

Continuing his stretch of not making outs was Joey Votto the first two times he stepped to the plate this afternoon, walking both times he squared off with left-hander Tyler Skaggs.  His mini-streak ended when Mike Trout snared a line drive off his bat in the sixth.

Reds’ Toeing the Rubber:

Bouncing back from a miserable start against a different AL West foe, Johnny Cueto looked masterful.  The only two hits he surrendered over his four innings of work were to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, two of the game’s premier players.

Facing an entire Major League unit for his work today, Cueto and his less-pronounced turn did a wonderful job of neutralizing hard hit balls.  His fastball had life and his slider had some serious movement to it.  It will continue to be a race to Opening Day between him and Bailey for as to who will get the ball; in my mind, barring any setbacks, its Cueto’s game to surrender.

A fairly undiscussed issue in camp at the moment is the lack of game participation from both Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton.  Both are progressing back towards work in actual games, but they’re disappearance has lingered for nearly an entire calendar year.  The onus ultimately falls on the shoulders of guys such as Sam LeCure, J.J. Hoover and Manny Parra, who are more than likely able to shoulder the load, but getting two perennial all-stars back would only strengthen what could wind up being the best bullpen in baseball.

Two members of that highly vaunted bullpen were on display today in both Sam LeCure and J.J. Hoover.  Curiously enough, they were responsible for all three runs the Angels pushed across the plate.  Mark it up as two consecutive shaky outings for both men, who both started slow last season before becoming stalwarts at the back end.

Finishing out the day were Robert Stephenson and Pedro Beato, who both contributed a scoreless inning.  Stephenson finally got through an inning clean and Beato continues to fight for a bullpen spot, as he is yet to relinquish a run this spring.

* * *

The Reds will face the Texas Rangers at 4:05 PM tomorrow afternoon in a stellar pitching matchup, as Homer Bailey opposes Yu Darvish.  For those that don’t remember, Joey Votto hit a Darvish “curveball” about 475 feet last spring, although the All-Star first baseman may not be making the trip. 

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