Italian Sausage Wins, and other observations from Maryvale Park

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Like I said: they have a bit of Milwaukee here:

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It was a nice enough day, though a little sleepy. The Brewers have so many people away at the WBC that even their home lineup looked a lot like a road lineup for most spring training games. Something called Scooter Gennett led off. Because every single Brewers first baseman since Cecil Cooper is injured, Alex Gonzalez played first base — and made some sweet plays there. The always-intimidating Khris Davis hit cleanup. As I’m typing this it’s tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh. The most notable event involved an apparent injury to Dbacks’ leadoff hitter Tony Campana, who stole second base in the first inning and left the game when he was apparently spiked.

Beyond that: not the sort of game where you could tell anything about either team. It seems like we’re getting more of those as the WBC gears up and players are realizing that they still have over three weeks of spring training to get through. The initial enthusiasm has waned a bit.

But it’s still baseball. And in my last full day here tomorrow I plan to take in two more games. One as press, one as a fan. With the expected reports to follow.

OK, they just did the seventh inning stretch. Easily the most enthusiastic crowd participation since I’ve been here, followed by the de riguer “Beer Barrel Polka.”  So not everyone is flagging.


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Anthony DeSclafani crushed a grand slam for his first career home run

Anthony DeSclafani
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Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani put on a show during Saturday’s matinee against the Cubs. Up 2-1 in the third inning, the hurler hooked a Brian Duensing fastball over the left field fence for his first career home run — and first career grand slam:

Grand slams are impressive no matter the player or situation, but they’re made all the more special in rare circumstances like this one. Not only is DeSclafani the first pitcher to deliver a grand slam in 2018, but he’s the first Reds hurler to do so in nearly 60 years. Per MLB.com’s Brian Scott Rippee, right-hander Bob Purkey was the last to hit a slam for the Reds in 1959, when he took Cubs reliever John Buzhardt deep in the third inning of a 12-3 drubbing.

The 28-year-old righty had a decent outing on the mound as well, holding the Cubs to two runs, four walks, and three strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings before passing the ball to reliever Michael Lorenzen. Entering Saturday, he carried a 2-1 record in three games, with a 4.60 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 8.6 SO/9 across 15 2/3 innings — not too shabby for someone who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016.

The Reds currently lead 8-2 in the bottom of the seventh.