Sweep Start to the Season

Cincinnati’s first series of the 2015 series is in the books and they remain undefeated at the expense of division rival Pittsburgh. Though starter Anthony DeSclafani got no decision, he had a solid outing as the Reds look to regain contender status with a rebuilt rotation.

Captain Obvious called to remind that the MLB season is too long and grueling to expect any team to go undefeated, or lose fewer than fifty games for that matter. Still, it’s nice to be 3-0 and coming off a sweep of a division rival that is expected to contend for another spot in the postseason. That’s the situation where Cincinnati finds itself in after a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh Thursday as they prepare to host preseason division favorite St. Louis in a weekend series at Great American Ball Park.

Pittsburgh probably had notions of avoiding the sweep when they scored in the fifth inning after Pedro Alvarez crossed the plate on an infield single and added another the next frame with a solo home run. However that deficit was erased in the bottom of the inning on Joey Votto’s first home run of the season, a two-run shot to center field. That’s the way the scored remained until the bottom of the ninth when Todd Frazier led off with a double and eventually scored on a walk-off error off the bat of Marlon Byrd.

On the mound Anthony DeSclafani made his Cincinnati debut allowing two runs on five hits/one walk over six innings while striking out six. He was lifted for pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker in the sixth who singled and though he was wiped out on a fielder’s choice, it provided a runner on base ahead of the Votto homer. After the starter’s departure the Cincinnati bullpen shut out the Bucs over the final three innings, one each from Burke Badenhop, Jumbo Diaz, and Aroldis Chapman who recorded his first win of the season.

Allowing two runs over six innings will often get a win and even though he got no decision the Reds must have been happy with DeSclafani’s performance. He threw 47 of his 73 pitches for strikes and had gas in the tank for another inning or two had Cincinnati not opted to go for more offense with the pinch hitter. That was far better than the player for whom he was traded, Mat Latos, who was knocked out in the first inning in the Marlins’ blowout loss to the Braves Tuesday. After a shaky eighth inning on opening day they’ve gotten over seven scoreless frames from their bullpen after Tony Cingrani was removed Wednesday including two from J.J. Hoover who got the win in their second game. What a difference a year makes for Jumbo Diaz who was a minor league journeyman at the start of last season and now has made appearances in three MLB wins to start out the 2015 campaign.

On Friday Cincinnati will run out veteran Jason Marquis against his former employer, St. Louis. The 36 year-old right-hander is coming off Tommy John surgery and has not make an MLB appearance since 2013. Actually, it won’t be that easy for him not to face a former employer since he has eight of them, sevn in the NL. There probably wasn’t a lot of competition for his services when Cincinnati signed him in the offseason with a minor league deal. Even though he might just be holding a spot for Homer Bailey’s return, it will be interesting to see how well Cincinnati did in their attempts to get some innings from a low-profile signing. Marquis kept a Cactus League ERA under three while leading his team with 21 innings pitched.

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