The Reds went one extra last night in Surprise, ultimately calling it a draw with the Rangers at 6 – 6 (box). I was hoping to see our old friend Shin Soo Choo, but He’s dealing with some elbow inflammation (or so the Ranger’s announcers said, I think). But the Rangers didn’t come empty handed, as recent ex-Red Ryan Ludwick got two hits out of the DH slot, and Adam Rosales got an AB late in the game.

Staring Pitching: Jason Marquis was not sharp last night, but the Reds offense had him in line for the win. He went 6 full innings allowing only 2 runs, but he walked 3 and gave up 6 hits. The outs he got were pretty loud too, for example, doubling up Prince Fielder on a scorched liner in the first with two men on. He also seems to be pretty “deliberate” to the plate, and the Rangers stole 3 bases in the first 5 innings pretty easily.

If this was a regular season game I’d be happy with the result from Marquis, but it wasn’t the most inspiring performance. I have to think we’re in for a lot of this, but hey, it worked for Alfredo Simon last year. Maybe Marquis will be an all-star this year!

Bullpen Meltdown: More troubling was Badenhop blowing his third save of the very short spring. I was pretty happy with the Reds signing Badenhop, and we all know that spring stats don’t mean a thing, but jeez louise. He only got 2 outs last night, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs, raising his ERA up to tidy 24.30. That’s a whole bullpen’s worth of ERA. When that’s the guy you brought in to save the bullpen, yikes.

Offense: It wasn’t all doom and gloom, because the Reds did some pretty nice hitting against some pretty decent pitching. The Rangers top pitching prospect was throwing hard and moving the ball all over the place, but the Reds managed to work some good ABs and threatened all game. Maybe it will be the Reds offense that keeps them in games this year, that would be a change of pace, right?

The stars of the show were Byrd (2 hits, 2 runs), Mesoraco (2-run HR), Negron (2 hits, 1 walk), and Dominquez (long 2-run HR). Hamilton had 2 walks and a steal and Frazier chipped in a hit and a steal of his own. Votto did a lot of swinging, and not a whole lot of hitting, which wasn’t fun to watch but at least it wasn’t a bunch of boring walks!

Optimistic Takeaway of the Game: For all my griping about the Reds getting a very old LF instead of a very good LF, Marlon Byrd looks good right now. I’m starting to see how this Reds team might compete this year, and it’s not the way that got them into the playoffs 3 times in 4 years. Right now, Votto, Frazier, Bruce, Mesoraco, and Byrd all look healthy and dialed in. If they all hit like they can, that’s a heck of a 2-6. The Reds might score a lot of runs this year.