It was the first game of spring training and the Cincinnati Reds made it a good one to watch. Matt McLain, the Reds 6th rated prospect, capped a come-from-behind win with a walk-off solo home run off of the top of the scoreboard in left-center to seal a 4-3 victory over the Cleveland Guardians.

Game Recap: Reds 4 – Guardians 3

Both teams scored a run in the 1st and 2nd innings before Cleveland grabbed a 3-2 lead in the 5th. That’s where the game remained until the bottom of the 8th when Cincinnati tied things up on a sacrifice fly by Henry Ramos. In the bottom of the 9th the Reds walked it off when Matt McLain crushed a solo home run that almost made it to San Diego.

The Highlights

Jonathan India was hit by a pitch in the 1st inning and he moved up to second on a wild pitch and then stole third base before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Wil Myers. In the next inning Will Benson hit a laser that ricocheted off of the first baseman’s glove for a single. He would then steal second base and later score on a steal of home after Cleveland’s catcher threw down to second base on what he believed was a double steal attempt (it wasn’t as the pitch in question was ruled ball four).

Trailing 3-2 entering the bottom of the 8th the backups went to work. Alex McGarry led off with a single and Alejo Lopez, who made a nice diving play at second base earlier in the game, followed up with a single of his own. After a bunt by Chuckie Robinson moved McGarry up to third he would score to tie the game up on a sacrifice fly by Henry Ramos.

In the top of the 9th Matt McLain made a nice backhanded stop at shortstop before flipping the ball to Alejo Lopez at second base to turn a double play that helped keep Cleveland off the board and the game tied up. That turned out to be a good thing as Matt McLain followed it up by hitting a ball off of the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning for a walk-off home run.

On the pitching side of things Buck Farmer and Fernando Cruz tossed perfect innings of relief. Daniel Norris, Reiver Sanmartin, Daniel Duarte, and Ricky Karcher threw shutout innings in relief.

The first game of the spring lasted just 2:23. The pitch clock seemed to help move things along in a swift fashion.

You can see the box score for the game here.

Sunday’s Game

Cincinnati hits the road to face off against the San Francisco Giants. Luke Weaver will start the game at 3:05pm ET. No television broadcast. The radio broadcast will be on 1360 WSAI.

55 Responses

  1. MBS

    The Mc’s are batting 1.000BA so far. That was a shot by McLain

  2. Rednat

    like the small ball in the first game. will the rule changes give Bell the courage to unleash the offensive play calling this year? i hope so. i hope to see a lot more stolen bases and bunts this year.

    • Jeff K

      Will we also see the return of the pitch-out, with this new pick-off rule?

  3. Eddiek957

    Couldn’t watch it in Louisville. How disappointing

  4. Bdh

    Lots to like from today’s game.

    Williamson battling out of a jam that a started with a couple of soft hits

    Maile throwing out 2 runners and getting a hit

    Benson, who looks as intimidating in the box as any red I’ve ever seen, smoked that 1st hit and then also has the speed to steal some bases

    Also India’s hustle on the base paths reflect the attitude he said he was going to lead with

    Reiver, Farmer, and Cruz all looked really good in their innings

    Barrero and Alejo both made good defensive plays up the middle

    Then a few of the prospects got it done with the bat too. Obviously McLain but Marte and McGarry too

    Can’t wait for tomorrow’s game. I’d expect Fraley, Friedl, Casali, Steer, Newman, and De La Cruz to all be playing

    Baseball is back!!!

    • MuddyCleats

      Good to hear something positive on Williamson!

      6’6″ and 210 lbs, yet is throwing mid 90’s w/ excellent life and a good curve to go w/ it. Ball is easy out of his hand too. I look forward to watching this kid fill out, mature and become a mainstay in the Reds SP

      • Bdh

        The breaking ball he got the K with today was filthy. Read he was between 91-93 with the fastball today which is probably fine for his first start of spring. I Hope once he ramps it up more he’s a tick higher.

      • Brian

        Instruct is a word that comes to mind. If a small group of these kids are mentally strong, have the talent and have been well instructed on the basics, why not finish learning here in the bigs and start the season as starters for the Reds. Players have options for a reason and if one or two do struggle then at least they got their cup of tea and it could even aid in their learning. If they’re mentally tough, they should be able to bounce back the following year. It would make the team watchable as long as Bell doesn’t make them ride the pine in favor of AAAA vets. Just a thought.

    • JB

      Wil Benson reminded me of Glenn Braggs. Braggs was built.

      • Mark Moore

        Oooohhh … I like that. Braggs was built for sure.

      • Optimist

        I did not watch, but can Benson break a bat with a swing? Is he that Braggs-like?

      • David

        I think another comp for Benson is Wily Mo Pena. Wily Mo, like Glenn Braggs was a right handed hitter.
        But Wily Mo was also crazy strong. May have been stronger than Adam Dunn, who was also crazy strong, as they were contemporaries. I remember somebody on the team then saying that Wily Mo was the strongest (physically) guy on the team.
        The Reds traded Wily Mo for Bronson Arroyo, and he got lost in Boston with only occasional play. He was a guy that needed to play everyday to develop. What might have been if he had gotten to play every day for a couple of years in the ML.

    • GreatRedLegsFan

      I’d add the last out in the top of the 9th, Siani covered a lot of ground to catch that ball near the wall, if only able to improve his hitting down in Louisville this year.

    • Tomn

      McLain and Lopez turned a superb DP like they’d been playing together for a decade.

      • Melvin

        I see Lopez came in and got his usual hit.

  5. Mark Moore

    A lot of stuff to like today. Good impressions overall for the first ST game. McClain’s stellar day at the plate and in the field is the stuff hope and dreams are built on. And I really loved the pace of play.

    • Bdh

      Yea the pace of play was a plus for me as well!

      Imagine how many more SB Billy Hamilton would’ve had if his prime years had the pitch clock rules. Adds to the appeal of drafting Bradfield at #7 this year if the other big name OF are taken

      • Mark Moore

        Plenty more … but not as many as he would had he ever learned to “steal 1st base” more regularly

    • Kevin H

      Wonder if that will happen game 7 of the world series??

      Not sure yet what I think of pitch clock etc. I am glad the overshift is gone!!

  6. MK

    I was most impressed today with the former Guardians Maile and Benson. I also thought Myers centerfield days were over but did an adequate job there for one game.

    • Mark Moore

      Myers was in RF for his stint … unless I missed something.

  7. William

    Matt McClain is a good player. I mentioned him multiple times in my posts. He has to play his way onto the field. It will not be given to him very easily with India, Marte, and De La Cruz as the first players who come to mind for 2B, 3B, and SS for the future competitive team. He also has Steer and Barrera to compete with for a position.
    McClain is most likely in AAA at the start of the year, but several games like this one could change things.

    • David

      That was a dead-red fastball right down the middle, belt high. The pitcher knew it when McClain hit it.

      Really grooved it to McClain and he is strong and crushed it.

      The problem is that McClain only batted …what? 0.238 in AA ball in 2022?
      He can crush the ball, but he has to make consistent contact.

      There will be some good and bad surprises in Spring Training this year. I think a couple of bad ones have already happened; Antone and Dunn. The Reds are due for some good luck-surprises once in a while.

      • Votto4life

        I am going to go with Will Benson as a good news story coming out of camp.

        But, the best thing that could possibly happen at Spring Training is for Jose Barrero to tear up the Cactus league.

        If Jose Barrero can establish himself with the bat this season. It opens up so many options for the Reds and makes their future much brighter.

      • Tomn

        McCain also hammered a single to rc. Both that and the HR were on pitches up in the zone but he didn’t miss them.

      • Kevin H

        Without looking, I seem to recall Mclain was injured for a time last season. 238 is still 238, however I wonder if being injured was a reason for the struggles offensively ?

  8. Old-school

    Great day to be a reds fan

    The tempo and pace of play was way better

    More of this

  9. Melvin

    That was definitely a “no doubter”. Any win is a good win for the Reds even in ST.

  10. Dennis Westrick

    Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, said that the NFL refs did an outstanding job this season! Sorry Roger! I didn’t see it that way! Especially in the Bengals-Chiefs AFC championship game! Let’s hope none of those NFL refs have second jobs as MLB umpires!

    Glad America’s pastime is back! Nice start for the Reds even though it’s only ST!

    • Votto4life

      Absolutely agree Dennis. The NFL has a real integrity problem. They have a great product, but partnering with the gambling industry may kill the goose who lad the golden eggs.

      There doesn’t need to be anything shady going on to damage the league. All it takes is for there to be a perception that things are not on the level.

      The Bengals got absolutely hosed by the Refs in that game.

    • Greenfield Red

      I listened to the Black Saturday Podcast, and also down the list to the Ernie Lombardi. Sad end to a great career. If you are not familiar with the life of this Reds and MLB Hall of Famer, please listen to it.

      Thanks for posting V4L

      • Votto4life

        My pleasure. Glad you enjoy it also.

  11. MBS

    Fun prediction after the 1st day of spring training. Who will be the 1st position player prospect with zero MLB playing time to make the Reds roster?

    McGarry is my pick, Votto being out, and a big spring gets him on the roster 1st. He’s a dark hose candidate, but I can see a path. Also they might not be as worried about his clock starting as they are with some of the other higher rated prospects.

    • Bdh

      I’m not sure it will be McGarry. He’s not currently on the 40 man and only has 8 games at the AAA level. I’d hate to already burn a 40 man spot just to rush him up.

      The thing is I don’t know who else I’d pick right now because McLain/CES are in the same spot as McGarry by not currently being on the 40 man but without any AAA experience. I think they’ll begin the year with Elly in AA for a month or so before he’s even at AAA with the others mentioned.

      If not for the Solak/Benson trades + all the NRI signings I think Hopkins would have been a decent choice but now he’s buried.

      I think since there will be Votto, Myers, Stephenson, + possibly Pinder available to play 1B I’ll go with McLain since his path doesn’t seem as blocked. Especially if Barrero stumbles out of the gate

    • Votto4life

      I think Will Benson may make the team, but I guess he had a cup of coffee with Cleveland last year.

    • Stock

      I will take EDLC and McLain called up in September.

  12. Jim Walker

    Real baseball! ‘Nuff said for now 😉

  13. CI3J

    Print those World Series tickets now!

  14. Reddawg2012

    It is way too early to draw any kind of conclusions from that game. But my goodness is it nice to have baseball back.

  15. old-school

    Cant take a whole lot out of a spring training game but Reds did seem to play a cleaner more entertaining game. Buck Farmer looked really sharp in his inning and if the Reds are going to be a better team this year, the bullpen is going to have to be strong to win the 6th-8th innings consistently. It would also be really nice to have a strong AAA team with McLain and CES and EDLC tearing it up in April and May and making noise to give us 2 teams to follow on a daily basis.

    • MuddyCleats

      Any chance EDLC makes the team out of ST? Let’s say he does in ST what he has done at every other level – excel – could he make the team and start at SS?

      • old-school

        EDLC gets his fist start at SS in the 6 hole today. Too bad no TV.

    • old-school

      I would be very surprised. Krall has stated that they want to do what’s best for his development and not rush things. But, watching the Reds young prospects at AA and AAA this spring should be fun.

  16. LarkinPhillips

    At first glance, I was a little disappointed in Williamsons inning yesterday, especially after reading early reports on him this year. But I went back and watched it this morning. He missed nearly every spot before the caught stealing. It seemed like getting the first out calmed him down because he executed each pitch after that to get a strikeout and weak grounder. I honestly think the first struggles were just nerves and feel more encouraged about him. Looking forward to seeing his next time out.

    • CI3J

      Also keep in mind that early in ST, pitchers are still “working on pitches” and may throw pitches that they wouldn’t throw in a real game situation.

      I remember there used to be a quota that pitchers had to meet, such as throw x amount of fastballs, x amount of changeups, etc, no matter the actual situation in the game. Don’t know if that’s still the case.

    • Bdh

      The first two hits that inning weren’t exactly crushed. Grounder that would have previously been an out with the shift and a flare over India’s glove. Naylor’s single was hit hard though

  17. Stock

    In my opinion Votto4Life hit the nail on the head.

    The two players I am watching this spring are Benson and Barrero.

    Benson is a former 1st round draft pick and was a stud in AAA last summer. If he were a prospect he would rank #7 on my list (just in front of Spencer Steer).

    Benson was a former 1st round draft pick who completed his age 24 season with the following stats: BB%: 19%, K%: 23%, ISO: .244 Line: .278/.426/.522/.948 (.843 OPS in AA in 2021)

    Steer was a former 3rd round draft pick who completed his age 24 season with the following stats: BB%: 11%, K%: 20%, ISO: .221 OPS: .259/.354/.479/.833 (.774 OPS in AA in 2021)

  18. LarkinPhillips

    Barrero is concerning to me. He hasn’t hit for a while now and seems to have lost confidence. I’m hoping he figures it out this spring. I also hope Mclain and EDLC put a lot of pressure on him with their spring performances.