The Reds had every starter in the lineup against the Indians except for Zack Cozart in their 7-3 loss to Corey Kluber. That includes the potential Opening Day starter Brandon Finnegan.
The Reds second tier shock troops ambushed Josh Martin for five runs in the seventh after Kluber left the game.
Patrick Kivlehan doubled to start the seventh. Ryan Raburn singled Kivlehan to third. Chad Wallach doubled to score two runs. Sebastian Elizarde batting for reliever Wandy Peralta, who pitched two scoreless innings. doubled Wallach home. Desmond Jennings tripled over leftfielder Richie Shaffer’s head. Hernan Iribarren hit a sacrifice fly to left to cap the scoring.
All of them plus Arismendy Alcatara, who started at shortstop in Cozart’s spot, are battling to earn a job on the Reds’ bench.
“They all play well that second tier,” Bryan Price said. “The five run inning six balls hit on the screws. That’s what we’ve been getting a jump start from them. That’s the way to make an impression. It’s a way to stay in the competition to make the club.”
The choice for the Reds starter boils down to either Scott Feldman or Finnegan.
Both pitched on Friday.
Feldman pitched in a minor league game for Triple A Louisville against the Chicago White Sox Triple A team from Charlotte.
Feldman pitched four plus innings. He left with the bases loaded, relieved by Lisalverto Bonilla, who is scheduled to start the season in Louisville.
Feldman line was four innings pitched, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out four.. Feldman threw 76 pitches.
“I liked what I saw,” said manager Bryan Price, who watched from the observation tower at the minor league cloverleaf of fields. ‘I could watch Luis Castillo.” Castillo was sent to minor league camp on Wednesday.
“We have to use minor league games as a vehicle to get ready for the season. We have so many players in camp,” Price said. “We have multiple guys we are trying to get stretched out to remain in the competition as starter.”
Although the pitchers in the minor leagues are pitching against minor leaguers, they can’t take them for granted.
“You’ll get embarrassed in those minor league games, if you don’t take them seriously,” Price said. “We want our players to go down there and treat it as a solid work day. Scott did that for sure.”
Feldman is a veteran who knows what he has to do to get ready.
“They have to go down there and understand what your goals are, what you need to achieve. You need to have enough ego that you don’t want to be embarrassed,” Price said. “They are young guys but they are still very talented. Some younger guys might feel it is a step down for them and not appreciate the competition. Anybody can beat you on any given day.”
Finnegan pitched against the Cleveland Indians in the night game. The Indians are a split squad because they have two exhibition games in San Antonio against the Texas Rangers the next two nights.
Still Finnegan faced Cleveland ace Corey Kluber and a lineup with Yan Gomes and former Red Edwin Encarnacion, established stars. Veteran Austin Jackson and top Indian prospects, Bradly Zimmer, Yandy Diaz and Giovanny Urshella.
The Indians used the designated hitter, since they are listed as the home team but the Reds manager wants his starting pitchers to start facing pitching in games.
The Reds got to Kluber for two runs in the first.
Billy Hamilton walked, then swiped sccond and thirdbase. Joey Votto walked.Eugenio Suarez singled to drive in Hamilton on a hit and run. Votto made it to third easily.
Scott Schebler doubled but Suarez was thrown out at home.
Finnegan gave up a leadoff single to Austin Jackson. Yan Gomes’ double scored Jackson. With two outs Yandy Diaz singled to plate Gomes.
Finnegan pitched four innings, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out five. It was Finnegan’s longest outing to date.
All was quiet until the bottom of the fourth. Richie Shaffer opened the inning with a double. Finnegan got the next two hitters but Jackson’s single scored Shaffer.
“Finnegan was ok. He wasn’t great. He wasn’t real sharp with anything. He gets hurt when he gets behind in the count,” Bryan Price said. “The more he worked ahead, the more efficient his game went. The ability to get the early count fastball on the plate, getting ahead, the importance for him is particularly big. He doesn’t pitch backward, using his off speed pitch behind in the count as much as some others do. We hope to see improved command as we move forward. I’m sure it will get better.”
Wandy Peralta and Barrett Astin pitched two scoreless innings. Lucas Luetge pitched a scoreless ninth.
“They were prenominal, really attacking,” Price said. “It is what we need. We will have a group of guys that make this club and a group of guys that don’t. Those that don’t will have to be our first line of defense. I don’t know if Wandy or Barrett will make the club but I will tell you, they both have moments that are exciting and they give me confidence if they were pitching on our big league staff.”