No late-inning dramatics. Led by a 3-run homer off the almost-traded Jay Bruce and a grand slam by Eugenio Suarez the Reds put the hapless Philadelphia Phillies out of their misery in the fourth inning. That means a series sweep. And that means the picture from when a fan shoved a broom in the hand of the Johnny Bench statue at GABP.


I know it’s on your mind, even if you aren’t brave enough to speak up and ask.

Yes, you have permission.

On one condition: You promise that deep down you understand how terrible the Philadelphia baseball team is.

If you acknowledge that, you have permission to engage in unbridled, unwarranted optimism.

That’s good for about 24 hours, until reality check weekend arrives. The undefeated and fully operational Pittsburgh Pirates travel to Cincinnati to battle our undefeated Reds this weekend in the most important series played in Great American Ball Park since the last series.

Reds 10 • Phillies 6  |  FanGraphs  |  Who-hoo!

Solid Bob Steve Start For the record, Robert Stepheson’s first pitch, a fastball, was a 94-mph strike. Whether by design or happenstance, the situation couldn’t have been better. An afternoon game with a starting temperature of 43º assured a crowd smaller than most that Stephenson had pitched in front of last year. The opponent was the feather-light hitting Phillies, in a get-away game. Stephenson threw 87 pitches over five innings. He struck out one hitter. The two walks were a product of obviously pitching around Maikel Franco.

Pitcher wins are a dumb statistic, but today Stephenson became the first Reds pitcher to earn a win in his major league debut since May 2010. The previous pitcher? How many guesses would you have needed before you landed on Sam Lecure? In apparent tribute to Masters weekend, Stephenson gave up a homer to Cedric Hunter on a ball six inches off the ground. He also gave up a bomb to Ryan Howard that was grooved. It was a perfect start in this respect: Stephenson pitched well enough for the Reds to win, but not well enough to generate clamor for him to stay up in the major leagues.

Two Shots for Jay Seconds before Jay Bruce drilled a Charlie Morton pitch deep into the right field bleachers, Jeff Brantley observed that at a 3-1 count, Morton “had worked himself into a jam.” Bruce drove Joey Votto and Adam  Duvall in to put the Reds ahead 4-2. In the bottom of the seventh, Bruce added a second home run, a solo shot to center. When potential trade partners look at Bruce’s first half numbers, they won’t take note he was facing the Phillies today. Bruce has hit 123 homers in Great American Ball Park, three behind Adam Dunn’s record.

Offense Shows Up Scott Schebler, who was playing CF, had two hits and a walk. In addition to his granny, Suarez had another hit. Votto and Duvall each had a hit and a walk. Tucker Barnhart had three hits and a walk. Raise your hand if you had Ivan De Jesus, Jr. for the first Reds stolen base of the year.

Bullpen Report Jumbo Diaz and Tony Cingrani each pitched a shutout inning in relief. Keyvius Sampson gave up a 2-run home in the eighth. Ross Ohlendorf pitched the ninth.

Hey Nation! Celebrate the Sweep by making a donation to support this site. If you find value in the independent voice Redleg Nation provides, made a donation to defray the costs and operation of the site and to help us reward our great writers. Donating is easy and quick. It takes less time than for Billy Hamilton to round the bases (almost). Just click the DONATE button in the right-hand column. Make a one-time donation or a small, monthly ($2-3?) contribution.

53 Responses

  1. WVRedlegs

    Nice sweep.
    The Pirates are good and hot right now coming to town. If the Reds can get through the weekend without the goat who’s name I shall not mention showing up, it will be a good weekend. But taking 2 of 3 would be very sweet. It would be nice to take some momentum on the road to St. Louis and Chicago next week.

    • greenmtred

      That might be more optimism than Steve anticipated.

  2. IndyRedMan

    I’ve been harder on Bruce over the years then anyone but when we didn’t get back much (apparently?) for Frazier then Bruce started looking better and better. No point in selling low! I always thought he’d be really good when he’s like the 4th-5th best weapon on your team.

    • Michael E

      I think I have been harder on Bruce…lol. That said, I noted several times the fixes are easy and I didn’t know why he wouldn’t fix things. I can’t imagine any hitter thinks .220 and .240 BA’s is…acceptable. The shift should tell a hitter EXACTLY whats broke. To stare at shift every night and then not put in extra work or reach out for help is sad.

      I am not sure he is going full on “hit to all fields” yet, but he certainly is being a little more patient early in the season. Nice to see him waiting for a good pitch and willing to take a walk.

      If he hits to opposite field, he could easily be back up to .275+ BA and he is big enough to not have to pull balls to hit 30 HRs. I am very hopeful he finally gets it…in a contract year no less. It helps the Reds, either in 2016 contention (unlikely) or trade return.

      • jazzmanbbfan

        This is a guess but I’m thinking Bruce “knows” what the problem has been. The thing is, fixing it isn’t as easy as many of us would like to think, or at least not as easy as Joey Votto makes it look. For however long it lasts, it’s nice to see Jay hitting like this.

      • Earl Nash

        JB has hit on and off to opposite fields. He’s basically down two hits a month for the past two years. I think there is a pitching book on JB and whatever it exactly it might be, he just hasn’t been able to overcome it. He might just have peaked at age 26.

    • earmbrister

      A few disjointed thoughts …

      The early returns (yes, VERY early) on the Frazier trade look promising. Schebler has started strong, and he was the secondary piece to Peraza.

      Really happy for Bruce. He’s been a class act as the Reds were trying to peddle him.

      We started last season with a sweep vs the Pirates, while having a .579 winning % for the season. Hoping for a bit more early season success, whilst being realistic.

      GO REDS !!!

  3. dEN

    I am wondering, has anyone here been to the new section in the ballpark up on the top level in the corner of RF, just wondered what it was like.

  4. IndyRedMan

    I’m thinking USA Todays projections for Suarez of .253 with 13 HRs/51 Rbis might be a wee bit low!! I grabbed him up for both of my fantasy bb teams!!

    • Michael E

      I have him too…and since Bruce was on the waiver wire (not drafted) as well, I just grabbed him. As a free agent, he is low risk. I don’t yet plan on starting him, but the fact he worked this spring trying to fix some things has me curious if this the breakout year he should have had 3 or 4 years ago. If nothing else, I, like the Reds, can trade him later for an upgrade somewhere else.

    • VaRedsFan

      Ditto…Suarez on both of my teams as well.

  5. sultanofswaff

    I like the speed/power dimension Schebler brings to the club. A versatile piece to have as part of a platoon or 4th OF on a good team……at least that’s what I envision when Winker arrives. If you told me he’s 1/2 of our CF right now, I’d be perfectly content.

    Stephenson was missing his spots quite often. Control, but not very good command, you know? Still, you can see the potential in his 3 pitch mix, but he’ll need more seasoning in the minors. I think with a lot of these young guys, they just need to age out of the yips like Homer had to. Don’t rush him.

    And let’s not forget about Tucker—an on base machine today with a couple knocks from the right side of the plate! I tells ya, we’re gonna have an excellent catching tandem (if we can get Mez to stop swinging at the first pitch all the time).

    3 wins feels great, but man oh man the next 8 days are gonna be tough. Really worried about our bullpen being exposed.

  6. Mark Lang


    Okay… shut up….let me have my 24 hours.

    • lwblogger2

      As my brother-in-law said last night “Wire to wire baby!!!”

  7. vared

    I decided, after over 30 years, I was going to pull away quite a bit this year. Take in a little baseball here and there,but not keep up with every inning, every game, and every roster move. Devote a few more hours this year to more important things. It was all going well through the off season and spring training, but now they’re making it a little more difficult. Is there a support group for this?

    • MrRed

      The addiction appears to be strong my friend. Are you a friend of RLN?

  8. Carl Sayre

    I know it is way early but did anybody have Suarez with double the HR’s as the Toddfather? I actually liked the little flair he hit I think in the 8th better as his overall value. I know a grand slam is sexy but serving that pitch into left center shows a well rounded understanding of hitting.
    Today was a prime example of why W-L’s are a very flawed statistic for pitchers. I was pleased with what Stephenson brought today but our newest Cuban import and Finnegan both pitched better games without the credit. I know it is early and these young pitchers are still learning and when the other team isn’t the Phillies are going to pay some dues, but I like our young arms.
    Barnhart last year looked like he was starting to figure out the wooden object in his hand can do anywhere as well as today Mez catching 125 or so this year doesn’t bother me quite so bad.

    • wkuchad

      With Brandon out, hopefully they bring up a bench bat for Friday and Saturday until Desclafani is needed on Sunday.

      • Shchi Cossack

        I think a bullpen arm would be a more valuable call up than a bat right now, but Johnson is the only bullpen arm on the 40-man roster right now, so someon would have to be added to the 40-man roster in order to bring up another reliever (Villarreal?), but I believe the Reds have an available slot on the 40-man roster for such a move.

    • jessecuster44

      Hooray. Already the personnel management is better than last yr.

  9. Patrick Jeter

    Scott Schebler has already exceeded his ZiPS and Steamer projections for WAR.

    • lwblogger2

      Ha! Bad defense can smack that down though.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Schebler ran a terrible route on a line drive to CF that sailed over his head today. Hamilton catches that ball while changing his cleets AND his jersey. I like Schebler and Duvall as corner OF and bench bats. I do not like Schebler in CF.

      • Indy RedMan

        He hasn’t played CF much plus he has some obp skills (.360+ back to back seasons in the minors) and could be a decent leadoff man vs righties. I wanted Fowler (triple, walk, etc, etc tonite) but most of the people on here told me it was stupid? I guess it comes down to the Reds being willing to carry the 2014 version of Hamilton (.250, .290obp, 38 extra basehits, etc.) but the .210 version is probably another story? Our outfield is small at GABP and the fences are reachable. That favors power over speed but its a diff story on the road. Personally I’d like to see more of Schebler/Duvall outfields or maybe Holt leading off vs lefties?

      • ohiojimw

        Agree on the route. I’ve not seen any comments; but, i’m guessing he misread the ball along the way or momentarily lost it because his initial reaction/ jump looked to be very good. In fact I thought he had it covered but then he flattened his route and that was all she wrote.

  10. David

    So Robert Stephenson goes back AAA, and Anthony Desclafani is activated to pitch Sunday against the Pirates. The Pirates were kind of rude to Mike Leake last night in Pittsburgh.
    Is this the year that the Cardinals fall off the table in Wins/losses? I mean, their hitting as a team is terrible (of course, it’s early).

    The biggest difference between the Pirates and the Phillies is that the Phillies bullpen is pretty bad (lost 2 of the 3 games, it did), and Andrew McCutcheon. The Pirates bullpen is pretty good. I see the Reds struggle to score runs this weekend.

  11. VaRedsFan

    Not so random thought….You can’t win them all if you don’t win the 1st three

  12. Jeff

    My unbridled optimism goes this far. I think we might actually win 70 games this year now.

    Also, can we just play Philly everyday?

    • Red Giant

      I like their bullpen quite a lot!

  13. Red Giant

    Another great game today, albeit for different reasons, with the fun spread out a little bit more. Apart from Jay B.’s error — he more than made up for it with his bat —, the defense (including a totally different up-the-middle trio) did their job, as did, of course, the offense. My favorite play apart from the obvious home runs: the 3-6 double play in the 6th inning with the tag out at second by Ivan D. Nicely done.

    It’s only three games, but since I have no expectations this year as far as the win-loss record goes, if the Reds keep playing this kind of baseball, I might like this team.

    Bring on the Pirates!

  14. Joel

    Not studying the figures or anything, but it seems that a 62 win season is now in the bag. Hope I didn’t jinx anything here.

  15. Shchi Cossack

    The Old Cossack flippeed his leathered nose at all those GM’s needing a LH, power-hitting OF but balked at taking on Bruce’s modest salary even for the bargain asking price the Reds management was seeking this off season and spring.

    I sincerely hope that any suitors who come calling now will be aghast at the prospect list demanded for Bruce now. If someone wants to buy high on Bruce now, go for it. If no one wants to buy high on Bruce now, let’s see how he plays out and consider keeping him for a run in 2017.

    • redbonebuck

      I disagree from this point: The guy was rushed his whole career. I think his most productive years lies within the next three years. We need his presence with Votto to establish the club house the next few years… Pick up the option now.
      I enjoy your articles for the forum old Cossack.. I’m Grampy now so i feel your pain…

      • Shchi Cossack

        Well TY Buck and pain loves company. Seeing and experiencing the growth of those who follow us is a supreme joy and helps with the pain.

      • Shchi Cossack

        The Reds have a team option for 2017 and Bruce will play his age 30 season in 2017, leading to a FA contract in 2018 at age 31. The FA pay day for Bruce should be significant both in terms of $ and years. Power does not age well and Bruce’s game is all about power. The Reds simply can’t afford those contracts. If a short term (3 years) and modest salary ($15MM per) could be negotiated for an extention, that might be viable, but Bruce would be leaving a whole boatload of money on the table for his last, big contract. Of course that’s assuming he rights his ship this season.

      • wizeman

        I agree with you here Mr. Cossack. I have wondered whether Mr. Bruce might leave a little money on the table if a no-trade clause included. Perhaps 3-51 gets it done.

        I have enjoyed the first couple of days. You have to beat the teams you are supposed to beat…Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Then you have to show your competitiveness against those at your level and above.

        I have been involved with some teams that have ridden the”us against the world” philosophy for a while. Not a terrible place to be when the bar is set low.

      • Shchi Cossack

        That ‘circle the wagons and we don’t give a tart about what anyone else says’ approach can not only be effective but fun. Hurdle is one of the best in using that approach to rally his team and players.

  16. preacherj

    I just will enjoy Jay while he is hot. Hopeful the streak will be long and fruitful and that the droughts are few and far between

  17. ohiojimw

    Several contributors and regular commenters here have said they believe this Reds team is going to win more games than many projections indicate and most folks expect.

    Count me in as believing the same. Looking around the league there are several teams, including one in the Reds division who seem more intent on tanking (excuse me, totally rebuilding) than the Reds. Additionally, as the season progresses there are likely to be a couple of teams which somewhat unexpectedly fall off the end of the earth like the Reds did in 2014 and 2015.

    If the Reds stay the course they are on now, avoid major injuries, and do not move guys like Bruce, Cozart, and Phillips (and possibly Bailey) just to clear salary down the road, I think they win in the mid 70’s and perhaps even flirt with .500.

    • Shchi Cossack

      A season-opening, series sweep of the Phanatics was fun but hardly telling. The next 3 series will help gauge how competitive the Reds will be, at least early in the season. As usual, the team will go as far as the pitching takes them and the pitching is talented, but young and inexperienced. Some of the young pitchers (i.e. Finnegan) have great stuff, but need to learn how to pitch at the major league level. Some of the young pitchers (i.e. Iggy) lack full-season experience and will hit a wall. Some pitchers (i.e. Moscot & Lorenzen) will go as far as their stuff will take them, but will not be able to go deep into games. By the 2nd half, the starting staff should begin rounding into form (Bailey/Disco/Iggy/Finnegan/Lamb) with Lorenzen and Moscot headed to the bullpen (Cingrani/Lorenzen/Hoover/Ohlendorf/Straily/Moscot/Cotham). There will be surprises, good (like a series sweep to begin the season) and bad (like injuries and setbacks to the entire starting rotation), along the way. I’m looking forward to the ride.

      • ohiojimw

        The Reds pitching is why I think they will win in the mid 70’s. It will be getting stronger as the year goes along; and, in the second half as more established teams that are not really in playoff races begin to play out the string, the Reds youngsters figure to still be hungry and advancing.

        Given how the Reds finished last season and their state of development, every win early, even against projected fellow bottom dwellers like the Phillies, is almost like a stolen win.

  18. big5ed

    Bruce appears to have dropped his hands a few inches, and is much shorter to the ball. I’ve always thought that he has great hands, but tends to get long in his swing. Maybe the shorter swing will knock out Bad Jay.

    If so, his option will get exercised by somebody. If it is the Reds who exercise it, that means the Reds are having a much better year than they had hoped for.

    • greenmtred

      If he can maintain that shorter swing…I’m pretty sure that I’ve noticed that his swing is more compact when he’s hitting well–no surprise–but he does revert.

  19. Eric The Red

    I think it got lost in the shuffle a little bit, so I’d like to take a moment to highlight Tucker Barnhart’s dash from 1st to score the 1st run. He made up for Stephenson’s failure to get the bunt down by doing his best Billy Hamilton impersonation, then capped it off with a fantastic slide around (and over) the tag. A great play on an excellent offensive day for Barnhart.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Barnhart is a ball player plain and simple. He plays the game hard. He plays the game smart. Barnhart is not the most talented or athletic player on the field, but he could play on my team any day and every day.

    • IndyRedMan

      When you run a 8.5 40 yd dash then you better learn how to slide…lol. I…literally could’ve gone 1st to home faster than that and I’m 50 and bigger than him

  20. Joel

    There seems to be a lot of talk about Jay Bruce having righted the ship and fixed what’s been plaguing him the last few years. While I hope so, I’m not sold yet. From what I can tell his hits and home runs so far were on fastballs. I believe his Achilles heel has alway been the curve, especially during the last few seasons when nearly every team played the shift against him.