Reds trounce Pirates to bring NL Wild Card back into a deadlock

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The Reds brought the lumber today against Pirates starter Jeff Locke. Locke, an All-Star, entered today’s start with a 5.43 ERA since the break. It didn’t improve.

The Reds tagged Locke for five runs in the top of the first. After the Reds loaded the bases with one out, Jay Bruce laced a bases-clearing double to center. Todd Frazier followed up with a two-run home run to left field. Locke was pulled from the game after the first inning. Against Pirates reliever Jeanmar Gomez in the second, the Reds continued to pile on, scoring twice on Chris Heisey’s RBI double and a sacrifice fly by Brandon Phillips.

Things began to calm down in the middle innings, and the Pirates even scored three runs of their own on a Neil Walker solo home run in the third, and a Travis Snider solo homer and Justin Morneau sacrifice fly in the fifth against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. But the Reds put the game out of reach, scoring three more runs in the eighth and another in the ninth to go up 11-3. Logan Ondrusek pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth to wrap up the win.

Billy Hamilton, making his second career Major League start, went 3-for-6 with two stolen bases, making him a perfect 12-for-12 in that department since making his debut on September 3.

With the victory, the two 89-67 teams move into a tie for the Wild Card. With the Nationals losing the first of two games against the Marlins today, their elimination number goes down to two, meaning both the Reds and Pirates could be guaranteed a spot in at least the NL Wild Card match as early as tomorrow.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.