CINCINNATI — Manager David Bell met with Cincinnati Reds hitters before the game Thursday against the Philadelphia Phillies and delivered this message: “Keep fighting for every inch.”
Third baseman Spencer Steer heard it loud and clear.
“That mentality goes great in the box, too — fighting to win every pitch,” Steer said. “Two strikes ... just finding a way to put balls in play. Putting the ball in play puts pressure on the defense, and sometimes those ground balls find holes.”
That’s what happened to Steer in the third inning. With two outs and Jose Barerro at second base, Steer fouled off three pitches before singling to left to give the Reds a 2-1 lead. The next three batters — Stuart Fairchild, Tyler Stephenson and Wil Myers — also singled with the last two driving in runs as the Reds extended their lead to 4-1.
Nick Lodolo and relievers Alex Young, Derek Law and Alexis Diaz made the lead stand up in a 6-2 victory in the opener of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park. The Reds (5-7) bounced back from three straight one-run losses on the road against the Atlanta Braves.
Bell said he doesn’t meet with the hitters as a group every day but likes to do it from time to time to check in with them. A number of them continue to put up strong numbers early in the season.
• Steer went 2-for-4, raising his average to .325.
• Jonathan India, who’s hitting .304, doubled to lead off the first inning and came around to score after stealing third and watching the throw go into left field.
• Tyler Stephenson went 2-for-4, raising his average to .311.
“It’s a fun group,” Bell said. “It’s just continuing to do the things we’ve done since the first day of spring training, and that’s just fighting for every inch and getting better. It’s not trying to do too much, not trying to do more than you’re capable of.”
Lodolo made his third start of the season and second against the Phillies. He pitched seven scoreless innings in Philadelphia on Saturday only to have Diaz give up three runs in the eighth as the Reds lost 3-2.
This time, Lodolo allowed two earned runs on eight hits in five innings.
“It’s a different type of satisfaction that’s for sure,” Lodolo said. “It was definitely a grind however you draw it up, but I’m happy with the result overall. I kept us in the ball game, and then we finally broke through there and the bullpen was able to come in and threw the ball really well.”
Lodolo lowered his ERA to 2.10 and improved to 2-0. After giving up a run in the first, the Phillies didn’t score again until Kyle Schwarber homered in the fifth.
“That’s a good start,” Bell said. “He faced this Phillies team, which is a really good team, two times in the last six days and that’s tough to to do. Early on, he just missing with some pitches, and that made it a little bit tougher on him. He had to work hard. But to get five innings and only allow two runs, that’s quality.”
Young followed Lodolo with two hitless innings. Law struck out four in 1 2/3 innings and left with runners at first and second and two outs in the ninth. Diaz struck out Treat Turner to end the game.
“It was huge,” Lodolo said of the bullpen’s performance. “I would have liked to pitch deeper in game, so they didn’t have to cover four (innings), but they did a great job.”
About the Author