Contrary to popular belief, winning does not cure all evils. The injuries that are plaguing the Reds regular season roster cannot be masked by some Spring Training winning streak. Seemingly, by the hour, one player after another drops like a fly.
In the present, the Reds have won yet again. This time, they toppled their division rival the Chicago Cubs by a score of 8-3.
No injuries were sustained throughout the course of the game, although afterwards, rumors began to fly that catcher Devin Mesoraco may not be healthy enough to start the season. Looks as if Corky Miller made the right decision not to retire after all.
Offensive Side of the Diamond:
Usually setting the table for early offense is Billy Hamilton, but when he neglected to reach base early on, Roger Bernadina took matters into his own hands. With a roster spot so close he can nearly taste it, Bernadina walloped a three-run shot out into the throngs of Cubs fans seated on the newly renovated grass beyond the right field fence. He unleashed his third home run of the spring to go along with his 2-for-5 day, in which he drove in four, and raised his OPS to an astounding 1.367.
It was certainly not only Bernadina who wanted to put in a stellar effort just nine days ahead of Opening Day, as the club banged out 17 hits on the afternoon, with every starter getting at least one, and Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwick being the only men to not have a multi-hit day.
With the utility spot all of a sudden up for grabs, Kristopher Negron is attempting to seize his moment. The 28-year-old went 3-for-5 and showed his diversity by playing both third base and center field, as he raised his average to .314. Skip Schumaker will be missing at least a month of action due to a dislocated left shoulder, and in his absence, it may be Negron who fills in as the gritty utility player.
Heating up at just the right time is the enigmatic Brandon Phillips. His average may not jump off the page at .190, but he cranked yet another home run in the top of the ninth to seal the deal for the Reds on their 8-3 victory.
Reds’ Toeing the Rubber:
One of the few healthy bodies left, Tony Cingrani, had an up-and-down effort in front of more than 15,000 at Cubs Park in Mesa this afternoon. His line accurately portrays the tightrope he seemed to be walking the entirety of the game.
Unable to get out of the fifth, Cingrani still picked up the win (for what it’s worth) while pitching 4.2 innings, giving up five hits, four walks and three earned runs. He still managed to strike out nearly a batter an inning by fanning four, but his ERA, which is still lingering north of six, is less than reassuring. This may in fact just be a result of Spring Training, as he did seem to be throwing a healthy share of sliders and changeups, something he knows needs to be improved in order for him to become an elite starting pitcher.
Keeping up with recent trends, the Reds bullpen was as airtight as possible once again. Yielding just two hits as group over the final thirteen outs, the combination of Jumbo Diaz, Manny Parra, Sam LeCure and Logan Ondrusek was incredibly stealthy, dominating the Cubs paltry lineup.
It would not be a stretch to imagine that all four men appearing out of the pen tonight will be donning white and red in just over a week’s time.
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Looking to stay white hot, the Reds head home to Goodyear to face the NL Central’s newest hired gun, Matt Garza and the Milwaukee Brewers. Mike Leake takes the hill for the Reds at 4:05 PM and you can listen along on WLW as the season nears closer to its opening act.