By HAL McCOY
Before he walked to the mound Friday afternoon, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey knew he would be the team’s Opening Day starter next Thursday against the Washington Nationals, Bailey’s first Opening Day assignment in his 11th year with the team.
If you subtract one inning from the six innings Bailey pitched Friday afternoon, Bailey was a stout performer.
But in baseball you can’t just throw away an inning, so it wasn’t an outstanding day for Bailey.
In the first, second, third, fifth and sixth, Bailey gave up no runs and four hits.
The fourth inning, though, was enough for the Cincinnati Reds to lose a 8-2 decision to the Colorado Rockies at Talking Stick at Salt River.
Bailey gave up five hits to the first five batters, including back-to-back home runs to Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez. That led to three runs that could have been much worse.
The Rockies gave Bailey two outs. Ian Desmond tried to go from first to third on a single and center fielder Billy Hamilton threw him out. Roberto Parra tried to steal third and Devin Mesoraco threw him out.
So Bailey’s work sheet was six innings, three runs, nine hits, one walk and two strikeouts. He threw 83 pitches, 56 for strikes.
The Reds had given Bailey a 2-0 lead in the third inning as Billy Hamilton emerged from his hitting cocoon. Hamilton led the game with a tripe over the center fielder’s head and scored on Jesse Winker’s single.
Bailey led the third with a double and Hamilton drove him home with a double. But that 2-0 lead evaporated in the fourth when the Rockies opened up on Bailey.
The Rockies pushed their lead to 5-2 in the seventh by scoring two runs on only one hit. Zack Weiss started the sixth and retired only two batters.
He hit Chris Ianetta with a pitch to open the inning and gave up a run-scoring double to Dave Dahl. He then loaded the bases and walked in a run to make it 5-2.
Kevin Quackenbush, a non-roster invitee who has been nearly perfect all spring, gave up his first earned runs of the exhibition season by yielding three runs and three hits in the eighth inning.
After getting two runs and four hits in the first three innings, the Reds scored no runs and two hits over the final six innings.
Hamilton was the only Reds hitter with more than one hit and the Reds struck out 13 times.
Before the game, the Reds did some roster cleaning. They optioned pitchers Robert Stephenson and Jackson Stephens to Class AAA Louisville.
And they re-assigned to minor league camp pitcher Dylan Floro, pitcher Tanner Rainey, catcher Joe Hudson, infielder-outfielder Rosell Herrara, outfielder Ben Revere and outfielder Mason Williams. Veteran lefthanded relief pitcher Oliver Perez was released.
Although manager Bryan Price hasn’t made it official, it appears the rotation to start the season will be Bailey, Luis Castillo, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle.
But with off days, the team will only need four starters through the first two turns through the rotation.