Our third game was this afternoon at Ed Smith stadium. We had front row seats down the third-base line just past the infield dirt. We got there early for BP and to purchase Thursday night tickets, but the gate didn't open until 11:00 (BP started at 10:15). So we wandered over to some of the extra fields. The pitchers (Arroyo, Owings, Masset, Harang, Volquez) were taking batting practice with Mr. Perfect, Tom Browning pitching (see photo). Owings was hitting towering shots over the left field wall (the wind was blowing out on that field). Bailey hit one out, too. Bailey can really hit, but not as well as Owings. In one stretch, Harang fouled off four out of five batting practice pitches. He's not a great hitter. Mario Soto pitched to the next group, which included a lot of the non-starting big leaguers. Gomes hit some towering shots over the left and center field fence.
I don't know if you read where the Reds cut Daryle Ward. Both John Fay and I had written that we thought Ward would be the left handed power off the bench and the back up first baseman. Speculation is rampant as to who will win that spot, but I can tell you this, Jacque Jones has played first base in two of the three games we've seen. He's faster than Ward, and can play the outfield, but he's below the Mendoza line for Spring Training, and hit .147 in 116 at bats in '08. I can't believe they would keep him over Ward. Did Dusty's daughter break up with Patterson?
Another interesting thing, Rosales has started all three games at third base. Dusty likes him and it wouldn't surprise me if he got Keppinger's utility infield spot. Keppy's out of options, though. John Fay was speculating that Keppy and/or Bray could be traded. More on Bray later. We still haven't seen Hairston, Phillips, or Encarnacion. I don't know if any or all of them are hurt or if Dusty is just playing guys that are trying to make the roster.
The lead to this post (and the video that didn't happen today) was supposed to be about how the Reds had pitched three straight shut outs. I was tabulating the innings, hits, walks, etc. in the bottom of the eighth of a 1-0 Reds game, when Dusty brought in Bray. Cueto had already pitched 6 scoreless innings, giving up only two hits. Masset pitched two perfect innings following Cueto. In fact, through 8 innings, the Reds had faced the minimum 24 batters with two double plays erasing Cueto's two hits. The impressive thing was that the Red Sox (no relation) brought most of their starters. Ellsbury and Big Papi didn't play, but Varitek, Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowell, Bay, and Drew were all in the line-up. On top of 5 k's against that line-up, Cueto didn't walk anyone.
Then Bray came in. He walked Chip Ambres, the former Tampa Bay prospect who started for Ellsbury. He then gave up a hit-and-run single to a guy named Danielson, who was pinch hitting for a guy named Diaz. It was perfectly executed. He then struck out a big lefty named Rizzo. There was hope. A double play would get us out of the inning and the three shut out string would be alive. After a walk to Bailey to load the bases, Bray got the ground ball he needed against a little guy named Reza. Except that it went right down the line for a two-run double. Just like that the game was lost. The next guy, Place, hit a medium fly ball to center. Hopper made the catch and gunned down Bailey at the plate, trying to score. A beautiful throw and play. But it didn't matter. The game had been lost.