The Cincinnati Reds left Goodyear Ballpark late Wednesday afternoon with early bragging rights in the first of three games against their neighboring rival Indians courtesy of an 8-3 victory in the Cactus League opener for both teams.
Perhaps the most important key for the Indians early in the game was how well young right-hander Trevor Bauer pitched after spending all last season revamping his delivery. Bauer, 23, physically looked better thanks to a much smoother delivery, but the results weren’t a ringing endorsement that he’s ready to grab the fifth spot in the rotation just yet.
Mind you, we’re talking one inning in the first game of the spring. But in one inning, he walked the first two batters he faced, including issuing a 10-pitch walk to the first batter of the game in the Reds speedster Billy Hamilton. Then Brandon Phillips followed with a walk. But after a stolen base and throwing error on catcher Yan Gomes, Bauer and Gomes hooked up for a strike-‘em-out, throw-‘em-out double play to erase the threat. Bauer then retired Jay Bruce on a fly out to left to wrap up his scheduled one-inning outing.
Afterwards, Bauer shrugged off any suggestion of anything being amiss and said he felt fine. Later, Indians manager Terry Francona dodged saying the obvious in an attempt to remain positive.
“Hamilton had a really good at-bat,” he said. “I thought Trevor came out of the chute throwing the ball pretty well, and then he had a walk. Walks lead to runs. Gomer kind of saved him.”
Veteran right-hander Aaron Harang, who is also battling for the fifth spot, followed with a quick, 13-pitch inning. He was so efficient against the Reds order, he had to head to the bullpen to throw 12 more pitches to reach his 25-pitch goal.
“It's always nice to get that first one out of the way,” Harang said. “I think the biggest thing with working on stuff is that's what your bullpen sessions are for. When you get out in game situations, you've just got to get it done.”
Francona was impressed by the 12-year veteran’s performance.
“I thought Harang was sharp, crisp,” he said.
So was big left-hander Nick Hagadone, who tossed a scorless fifth inning.
Offensively, the Tribe erased a two-run deficit when Ryan Raburn doubled to left field and minor-league converted catcher Tony Wolters scored the Indians first run of the spring a sharp RBI single. Before the inning was over, David Adams tied the game 2-2 when he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.
But the Indians pitching in the late innings struggled, giving up six runs from the sixth inning on. Left-hander Colt Hynes walked in a run in the sixth inning. In the seventh, minor-league reliver C.C. Lee dished up a two-run home run to Reds outfielder Chris Heisey to put the game out reach.
In the much-watched hot corner race, Lonnie Chisenhall went hitless in one at bat. Converted catcher Carlos Santanais expected to make his third-base debut and center fielder Michael Bourn is also slate to see his first spting action Thursday at 1:05 p.m. when the teams face each again. The Indians are slated to start right-hander Justin Masterson, and the Reds are scheduled to go witih right-hander Johnny Cueto.