Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Reds Back to Winning Ways; Beat Rangers 5-4


Just a day after the Reds internal system was shocked watching Aroldis Chapman go down, they took to the diamond without their scheduled ace Johnny Cueto taking the hill for them.  For precautionary reasons, Cueto was pushed back, allowing likely Louisville Bat member Jeff Francis to start the game.

After a troublesome first inning, the Reds rebounded late to win the game by a score of 5-4 to continue their recent stretch of winning baseball.  Winning the game on a walk-off walk is by no means the most dramatic win in the book, but you’ll take wins in whatever way you can grab them. 

Offensive Side of the Diamond:

Fair or not, the majority of national media has babbled on about the certain dip in production the Reds are sure to face with Billy Hamilton taking the place of Shin-Soo Choo ahead of this upcoming season.  Conventional wisdom tells them that they are unquestionably right, but under the scrutiny of the microscope, the deal may pay off in ways outside of just money. 

For the sake of conversation, take a peek at Choo’s stats this spring: 6-for-41 (.146 AVG), with zero stolen bases, an on-base percentage of .234 and a OPS of a bewildering .502.  Of course, it’s Spring Training.  But, for more than just monetary reasons, Billy Hamilton may prove that not only is he an even trade-off from the Reds one-year wonder, he may be an upgrade.

This is the part where I tell you that he led off the game with an infield single to short and raced home on a RBI single by Ryan Ludwick, giving the Reds their first run of the contest.  His next plate appearance featured a more conveniently method of hitting—a base hit into left field.  Finishing the day 2-for-4, Hamilton did not reach double digits in stolen bases just yet, but he did raise his average to an impressive .325. 

Tacking on his third round tripper of the spring in the bottom of the sixth was Brandon Phillips.  His batting average is dragging (.184), but his stats have deceived him.  By all accounts, Phillips has been hitting the ball hard, just directly at fielders.  Additionally, he has more walks than strikeouts (5:4), which is imperative for the second slot in the order where he will begin the season.

Tying the game in the bottom of the seventh was long-time Reds minor leaguer, Kristopher Negron.  Facing the always-stingy Neal Cotts, Negron ripped a two-run triple to center field, scoring the runs that would deadlock the game at four until it headed into extra innings.

Logistically, walking the bases loaded with one out while on the road of a tied game in extra innings is a solid strategy.  However, it is unlikely that even with a reliever as potent as Rafael Perez on the hill, attacking Joey Votto is something a manager would deem a quality decision.  Apparently, Perez subtly agreed, as he walked the player with the game’s most proficient eye, as this walk supplied Votto with not only a RBI, but a victory as well.

Reds’ Toeing the Rubber:

Things were rocky (no pun intended for the once haunted former Colorado “Rockie”) early on for Jeff Francis, as he dug the club a 3-0 hole before he had administered three outs in the inning.  Battling around runners in scoring position all afternoon, Francis walked the tightrope, avoiding any more inflation to his ERA, even if the start was of a moment’s notice.

Maybe the new frontrunner to be the team’s closer, Sam LeCure, was called upon next.  Promptly, he served up a ball that made Prince Fielder wish he still played in Milwaukee, as he took the mustached one out to right center.  LeCure retired the rest of the side in order, but his ERA now sits at an unsightly, even 6.00.

From there, the bullpen mob took over.  Manny Parra, J.J. Hoover and Logan Ondrusek (who may be opening the season with the Reds) all pitched in a scoreless, hitless, not-so-facial-hair-less, inning where only nine batters came up, and nine went back down. 

The winner this afternoon was Nick Christiani, who pitched two scoreless innings in the high-pressure of the ninth and tenth, and was the recipient of the Reds patience at the plate in the bottom half of the frame. 

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Once again, no TV for the Redlegs tomorrow as they take on the Kansas City Royals split squad at 4:05 PM.  MLB.com will have the call as the Reds get to face All-Star James Shields, as they send young gun Brett Marshall to the hill as his opponent. 

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