By HAL McCOY
With one hitch and glitch by Robert Stephenson on Monday, the starting pitchers the Cincinnati Reds have sent to the mound in the early spring training going have been spot on.
The Reds have pretty much gone through the rotation one time and Anthony DeSclafani continued the trend Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers in Maryvale, Ariz., even though the Reds lost again, 6-3.
DeSclafani, who missed all of last season, pitched two scoreless innings Tuesday, giving up two hits, no walks and struck out two.
And as good as DeSclafani was, Tyler Mahle was even better when he followed DeSclafani to the mound.
Mahle pitched the third and fourth innings and was perfect, six up and six down with three strikeouts.
Mahle, 23, is an outside candidate to make the rotation, but continues to push his way toward the top. He made four starts in September for the Reds last season and despite a 1-and-2 record he was eye-popping.
In 20 innings, he gave up only six runs on 19 hits with 14 strikeouts and put together a 2.70 earned run average.
He began last season at Class Pensacola andd was 7-and-3 with a 1.59 earned run average in 14 starts. He was promoted at mid-season to Class AAA Louisville and was 3-and-4 with a 2.73 earned run average in 10 starts.
In 2016 he pitched a no-hitter at Class A Daytona and followed that up with a perfect game later that season for Pensacola, 27 up and 27 down on 88 pitches and eight strikeouts.
Things didn’t go so well for the day’s third pitcher, Jackson Stephens. He took the mound with a 3-0 lead after a two-run home run by Adam Duvall and a sacrifice fly by Joey Votto.
Stephens gave up a leadoff single to Jesus Aguilar, then a one-out walk and a single to Orlando Arcia. His next pitch, his first pitch to Eric Sogard, was drilled to the right field corner and three runs scored – the last one when right fielder Mason Williams threw the ball to second base and Arcia scored all the way from first to tie it, 3-3.
The Brewers put it away in the sixth against unfortunate Jimmy Harget. He retired the first two Brewers and should have gone 1-2-3. But a high pop-up to third base was lost in the sun by Alex Blandino and the ball plopped into the grass, an error on Blandino.
Harget walked the next hitter and his first pitch to Nick Franklin, a No. 1 draft pick by the Brewers, landed on the grassy knoll beyond the center field wall, a three-run home run that gave the Brewers a 6-3 lead that stood up.
The Reds regulars had three runs and six hits in the first five innings, but their minor league replacements did nothing — no runs, three hits over the final four innings.
The Reds are 1-4-1 in their first six exhibition game. Milwaukee, a National League Central foe, is 5-and-1 and expected to be much-improved this season after adding outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain.