Dateline: Fox Mill 1
On a warm spring afternoon, the Reds took the field under their new Coach Grossman. Coach Grossman looked excited as he embarked on his AAA career after eight seasons at the AA level. Ben strolled to the mound to start the game and after a leadoff walk and two stolen bases he was faced with a runner on third and no outs. He calmly struck out the second batter. Ben then induced the third batter to popup right back to him and, on three pitches, struck out the White Sox cleanup man. The Reds fans cheered as they enjoyed a shutout inning to start their season. The Reds quickly took the lead in the bottom half of the inning with a two out rally. Nick singled, stole second and third and Mason hit a key RBI single to right to score the run. After one it was Reds 1 White Sox 0.
In the top of the second, Ben returned to the mound and walked the leadoff hitter. He was to strike out two more batters, but four walks and two hits and a few wild pitches resulted in four Reds runs. The Reds went down quietly in the bottom half of the inning. In the third, Nick came on in relief and threw some quick heat to strike out the first batter. The next two batters hit weak grounders that were misplayed by the Reds infield. Nick, continuing to throw good strikes then gave up a solid single to center to score two runs. A walk and couple of wild pitches resulted in two more. Suddenly, as we approached the bottom of the third the Reds were way down 8-1. Coach Grossman, then talked to team and appeared to be offering one of his inspiring motivational talks. The first two batters made the fans wonder about the point of these talks as there were two quick strikeouts. However, with two outs, Juan smashed a nice infield single. He then stole second and Matt drilled a shot to center to score Juan. Devon walked. Nick hit a solid single to score Matt. Mason then blasted a shot to center to score Devon and Nick. Suddenly, after three the Reds were right back in the game with the score 8-5.
Reds fans cheered as Mason came on in the fourth. He responded to his fans by walking the leadoff man and then blasting three quick strikeouts. Unfortunately, the leadoff man stole second and scored on two wild pitches. This extended the White Sox lead to 9-5, but the Reds were still in the hunt. In the bottom of the fourth, they got the run back with a leadoff single by Alec. He stole second and moved to third on a groundout to short by Ian. Jack then got a key infield hit to score Alec. Jack stole second and with two outs, Coach Grossman decided to take a chance and gave Jack the sign to steal third. The White Sox made a great play and got him at third. This reporter heard numerous mutters in the crowd about the overly aggressive decision, but Coach Grossman has always erred on the side of aggressive base running. After four it was 9-6 White Sox.
In the fifth, Mason ran into some control problems and gave up a few walks and his infield didn’t help much with a couple of infield errors. This reporter notes that every walk was given up with two strikes on the batter so, for the most part, Mason was very much around the plate, but the White Sox hitters were so afraid of his fastball, they just weren’t swinging. Unfortunately, for Reds fans, four runs scored to make it 13-5 after four and a half. The Reds continued to hang tough in the bottom of the fifth as Sean led off with an infield hit and stole second. Juan walked and Sean moved to third on a wild pitch, then Coach Schweppe at first decided to have some fun and sent Juan streaking towards second after he reached first. The White Sox pitcher turned to deal with Juan and Coach Grossman, seized the opportunity and sent Sean home. The White Sox pitcher turned towards home only to just see Sean crossing the plate. Reds fans cheered. Devon was then hit by a pitch, but bravely stayed in the game. With two out Mason drilled another big shot to right for two more RBI’s on the day. The game was then called due to time (3 minutes after a new inning could start) and the White Sox slipped away with a 13-9 win.
Coach Grossman was the only coach available for an interview as Coach Goldstein remained in Florida to continue his scouting for young players for the fall season. He said, ‘Its my first loss in an opening day game, but such streaks aren’t going to last forever. I really liked that our young pitchers were pretty much around the plate, in particular Ben had a great first inning, Nick threw a ton of strikes and most of the batters Mason faced were clearly afraid to swing at his fastball. Our catchers worked hard, Jack and Ian are new to this league and they are both coming along nicely. Matt is our veteran and he showed it with a great job behind the plate. Our bats looked pretty good for this early in the season and I was really impressed with Juan’s hit as he’s come a very long way in a short time. Naturally, Mason going three for three is a fantastic day. We clearly need to work a lot on our infield play as we handed the White Sox about six runs on easy grounders. I hope our players will work on grounders throughout the week. Our guys could practice by throwing a ball against an outdoor wall, having a friend or parent roll some ground balls and working on getting down to the ball, setting their feet and making a nice throw. “
When asked if the Reds ownership should have gone with a more seasoned AAA coach instead of newcomer like Coach Grossman, he said, “You reporters are always trying to annoy the coaching staff. Its still baseball, but this is a very tough league. I was very happy with how our guys never gave up and quickly battled back from a huge hole. I think we’ll continue to progress.” Coach Burnell of the White Sox was also found for a brief interview and he said “I really was thankful we didn’t have to play the sixth inning — we were hanging on by a thread.”
After a practice on Wednesday, the Reds will continue their home stand with an intraleague game against the Cardinals on Thursday at 6:00. Tickets remain available for some good seats.