The Cleveland Indians continued their mastery over their spring training complex partner as they beat the Reds 6-2 on Thursday afternoon. Wes Hodges went
2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI to lead the Indians. They have won all four meetings with Cincinnati this spring with two more head-to-head matchups on the schedule.
Things got off to a good start for Cincinnati early. Cleveland made a change to their starting pitcher before the game and sent Jeremy Sowers out for his first action of the spring. The Reds took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. Jonny Gomes belted a 2-run homer to right center. Hodges drove in Austin Kearns in the bottom of the inning – Kearns had led off with a double – and then hit a solo homer off of Homer Bailey in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game.
The plan was for Bailey to pitch four innings, but he didn’t quite make it. He rarely got to pitch out of the windup all day, as the leadoff batter reached in three of his four innings. He had faced 14 batters by the end of the third, and it could have been a lot worse. Gomes made a lunging, diving catch of a sinking Mark Grudzielanek line drive in the third with two on and one out to save some runs. Bailey came out to pitch the fourth inning, regardless. It looked like a good decision when he got Luis Valbuena on a grounder to second to lead off the inning. But then came Hodges’ homer. Carlos Rivero grounded to Scott Rolen at third for the second out, but then Damaso Espino smacked a double into the right field corner, and Bailey’s day was done. He gave up two runs, five hits and two walks in his 3.2 innings, with a strikeout. He also hit a batter as the Indians were visibly crowding the plate. It was an interesting strategy as most of their hits went to the opposite field. The walks were the first he’s given up all spring.
Gomes had the best bat of the day for the Reds. He had a single as well as his 2-run homer. Of the starters, Joey Votto, Vladimir Balentien, Zack Cosart and Rolen each had singles. Not much power on the day, though, as Gomes’ longball was Cincinnati’s only extra base hit in the game. Chris Dickerson went 0-for-3 with a swinging strikeout. The Reds were also 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
There were a couple of plays where baseball luck bit the Reds. With runners on first and third and one out in the fourth, Balentien hit one on the screws right at Grudzielanek at third. Gomes, the runner on first, ran on the pitch allowing the Indians an easy double play. In the fifth, Cincinnati had runners on first and second when Rolen smashed a hard-hit ball to third. Again, Grudzielanek was positioned perfectly allowing him to start an around-the-horn double play to end the inning.
On the pitching side, Enerio Del Rosario (L, 0-1) gave up his first run of the spring when Travis Hafner hit a mammoth home run off the batter’s eye in center field, giving the Indians a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Reds relievers have given up nine homers this spring. The only other pitching performance of note was Francisco Cordero’s work in the sixth inning. He got the Indians out in order with a strikeout.
Cincinnati falls under .500 to 6-7-1 with their third straight loss. Friday will bring a night game against Seattle. Aaron Harang (0-1, 20.25) will try to get back on track against Doug Fister (0-2, 7.71) for the M’s. First pitch is set for 10:05 (ET). Manager Dusty Baker said he’s going to play his starters so that they can get working on their night vision. It will be interesting to see who starts in left and center.
NOTES… Before the game, the Reds optioned Yonder Alonzo and Bill Bray to Louisville, Jordan Smith and Phillippe Valiquette to Carolina. They assigned Jon Adkins and Josh Anderson to Louisville. “No matter how long you do it, it is not pleasant (to tell someone they’re cut) and there is no easy way to do it,” Baker said, “even though some know that they probably will go. Especially the way everybody’s busted their tails this spring. We have some fine young men of high character.” That leaves 48 players in major league camp… Carlos Fisher hasn’t pitched since Friday because of a sore right elbow… Happy Birthday to Corky Miller, who celebrated his 34th birthday on Thursday.
About the Author
Written by Dave Allen
I'm a lifelong Cincinnati sports fan who has been following the Reds and Bengals ever since I can remember. My first Reds game was Game 6 of the '72 World Series and my first Bengals game was an October 1975 clash with the Steelers. I've been involved in sports media since Junior High, when I assisted with scores for Bob Trumpy SportsTalk in 1979 on WLW Radio. My biggest Reds highlight came in 1998 when I was chosen to be the public address announcer at Riverfront Stadium (then called Cinergy Field) for Opening Day and the entire first homestand. I am thrilled to be involved with PSB and I hope you enjoy my entries!