At the turn of a hat, the Reds have found themselves on a three game win streak and the rain clouds that once hovered overhead in Goodyear, have now been relinquished in favor of sunny days.
The onslaught came fast, furious and often as the Reds pummeled the Brewers 16-4 for the teams highest run output in 12 years.
Offensive Side of the Diamond:
Seemingly, the club was not destined for such an offensive output at the onset of the contest, as the only starters featured in the lineup were Todd Frazier and Ryan Ludwick (or, maybe Chris Heisey depending how you want to look at it).
Finishing with 16 runs on 18 hits, the hitting barrage began in the first with none other than Cactus League MVP candidate (if there was such an honor) Chris Heisey. On a fastball down in the zone, Heisey annihilated a pitch out into the people sitting on beach chairs as his fifth home run soared out of the park, putting the Reds ahead 3-0.
On his following at-bat in the third inning, Heisey roped a double down the left field line, finishing 2-for-3, raising his average once again, this time up to .412. With his new stance employed, may we finally be seeing the new and improved Chris Heisey? For the sake of argument, Ryan Ludwick did go 0-for-4, dropping his average to .200, for whatever spring training games are worth.
Maybe equally as on fire has been Opening Day roster hopeful, Neftali Soto. Going 4-for-4 today with three runs scored and three driven in, raised his average to an astronomical .438. Unfortunately, for the young Soto who is still waiting on his first Major League hit, there is already a first baseman who seems to be quite the adept hitter in the organization. The front office may be in a state of limbo, as there is a fine line to walk between giving Soto enough at-bats down at Louisville and using him as a pinch-hitting extraordinaire.
Still, the highest average belongs to non-roster invitee, Roger Bernadina. Going 2-for-2 with a two-run home run in the eighth inning, Bernadina jacked his average up to .476, proving an extreme adeptness to hitting right-handed pitching. With five outfielders already slated for the Opening Day roster, regardless of his spring batting average, it seems unlikely Bernadina will be a Red once the calendar flips to April.
Going back-to-back with Bernadina in the eighth was Chris Nelson, who continues to show that if not with the Reds, he should have a spot on a Major League roster come Opening Day. With his ability to play a litany of positions, Nelson would add much needed depth to a lesser team.
Reds’ Toeing the Rubber:
With Homer Bailey being skipped over due to a groin issue, youngster Brett Marshall took to the hill in an attempt to continue to impress the Reds front office. Giving up his first run of the spring, Marshall picked up the victory on the back of his offenses excessive explosion.
Featuring a mid-90’s fastball with solid movement and a wipeout changeup, it’s easy to see how Marshall can be regarded as one of the top pitchers at the Minor League level. What’s not so easy to understand is how he was so easily acquired from Chicago, a club seemingly starved for young arms.
In relief of him, was the Cuban Missile, Aroldis Chapman. In what has become the norm for him this spring, Chapman went for multiple innings. His lack of a slider was what befell him this afternoon, pounding fastball after fastball, while mixing in his changeup. Then again, isn’t that what Spring Training is for? Finding out what works and does not work is more important than any stats imaginable.
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In a potential 2014 World Series matchup, the Oakland A’s travel to Goodyear to clash with the Reds as two of the game’s finest young pitchers face-off. Tony Cingrani of the Reds matches up against Sonny Gray of the Oakland A’s at 4:05 PM tomorrow as the club looks to go for four in a row.