What does a beleaguered team have to do to shed a losing cocoon?
A four-run first inning and a 5-1 lead after two innings was not enough for the Cincinnati Reds to win their first spring exhibition game of 2017.
The Chicago White Sox, playing split squad games, kept their best players at home for a game against the Seattle Mariners. They sent a group of non-regulars and minor league prospects to Goodyear, Ariz. to face the Reds.
That group beat the now 0-and-5 Reds, 10-9. with the Reds scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth and coming within a hit of thing game. The White Sox regulars who stayed home lost to the Mariners, 8-1.
THE REDS HAD FIVE HITS in building that 5-1 lead after two, then had one hit over the next five innings, a fifth-inning 0-and-2 single by Joey Votto, his first hit this spring. Things did get interesting in the bottom of the ninth when the Reds scored four runs, including a run-scoring double by Tony Renda and a double by Dilson Herrera, his second hit in two at bats.
And that put the tying run at the plate and Jesse Winker grounded to second and the ball was booted for an error and another run scored. The Reds were within one — but Hernan Iribarren grounded out to end it.
Things began swimmingly for the Reds with a four-run first. Jose Peralta, who might be a better option for leadoff than Billy Hamilton, singled to start the game and had hits in his first two at-bats and his average at the time was .625. Peraza was 2 for 3 and stole two bases, giving him three thefts for the spring.
Joey Votto followed Peralta’s single with a walk and Adam Duvall doubled over the center fielder’s head for two runs.
RYAN RABURN, A VETERAN who will be 36 in April, is trying to win a bench spot and if he played the White Sox more often he might be an All-Star.
He followed Duvall’s double with a two-run home run. Back in 2007 while playing for the Detroit Tigers, Raburn went 4 for 5 with two homers, a double and seven RBI against the White Sox. In 2008, while still with the Tigers, he had four hits in a game against the White Sox.
The Reds added a run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Desmond Jennings, another veteran trying to secure a utility job.
And that was it — until the bottom of the ninth.
ANTHONY DESCLAFANI WAS scheduled to make his spring debut Tuesday but elbow tenderness force manager Bryan Price to back him off and start left hander Brandon Finnegan.
He gave up a run in the first inning on a double and a ground ball, but pitched well over two innings — one run, one hit and a strikeout.
Raisel Iglesias followed Finnegan and pitched two scoreless innings, giving up no runs, one hit, one walk and he struck out two.
FROM THERE THE OFFENSE and defense went south of the border, down Mexico way.
Drew Storen, counted upon to be at the back end of the bullpen with Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani, gave up three runs on three hits after putting the first three on base in the fifth — a triple, a walk and a single for a run. He was within an out of escaping with only one run, but he gave up a 2-and-2 bloop two-run single to Leury Garcia and the White Sox were within 5-4.
It started to shred in the sixth with Jumbo Diaz on the mound. He gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning. He then retired the next two before Roberto Pena lined one to left field. Tony Renda got his glove on it but dropped it for an error and two runs scored for a 6-5 White Sox lead.
The White Sox scored three in the seventh off Nefti Ogando and that was that, other than for the Reds to make a spirited comeback attempt in the bottom of the ninth.