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Sports Today: Another disappointing episode in Reds rebuild

Anthony DeSclafani is back in Cincinnati! 

And if you don’t count the first two innings last night against the Rockies, he was pretty good. 

Unfortunately for the right-hander and the Reds, that isn’t how it works.

GAME STORY: Reds rally falls short against Colorado

At least his last three innings of work could be signs of brighter days ahead, unless he gets hurt again... 

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Such is the life of a Reds fan these days, eh? 

It’s hard to really believe in any positives that do emerge anymore the way things have been going. 

Back when this rebuild was new and exciting (2015), “Disco” joined the team late and ended up being a reason for optimism. 

Not coincidentally, his subsequent injuries have played a role in the two years since his previous start being such a disaster. 

Maybe this time his return really does signal better days ahead, but for now there are still far more questions about this roster than their should be after this many years of losing. 

Long after he departed last night, the Reds put some lipstick on the pig and the Colorado pitching staff’s feet to the fire, lighting up former Indian Bryan Shaw in the ninth inning for three runs on five hits. 

They brought the tying run to the plate, but Wade Davis extinguished the rally and the Reds fell to 19 games under .500 despite bashing 17 hits. 

Back when wins mattered to this franchise (2013?), this would have been a frustrating loss. Every position player had a hit, and six had at least two, though several of those came after things appeared to have been decided.. 

Meanwhile, the newest Reds first-round draft pick hopes to taste winning one more time before joining an organization that is a lot more familiar with losing lately. 

“I still have a goal to win a national championship for this team,” Florida’s Jonathan India told reporters on a conference call yesterday, one day after the Reds chose him No. 5 overall in the MLB draft. “I’m not thinking ahead. Just finish the season out.”

India will play third base for the Gators in an NCAA Super Regional this weekend, but he might need to find a new spot in the pros since the Reds already have Eugenio Suarez entrenched on the hot corner and top prospect Nick Senzel is an infielder, too. 

How about shortstop? 

“I played shortstop my whole life leading up to Florida,” India said. “Third base was new to me. I never played third. I always played short. I’m a versatile player. We’ll see where I’m at the next level.” 

After the last quality Reds team was built on pitching and defense, it’s looking like the next era of good times (if there is one) could rely more on offense… 

We’ve written a lot about the new things going on with the Cincinnati Bengals during OTAs, but yesterday’s story centered on one of the familiar faces. 

Dre Kirkpatrick didn’t exactly take the league by storm after being drafted in the first round out of Alabama, but he has rounded into a solid NFL cornerback. 

It sounds like he wants to help youngsters Darius Phillips and Davontae Harris develop more quickly. 

Rookie Phillips appreciates Kirkpatrick’s mentoring

If one of those guys steps up, Williams Jackson III continues to build on his breakout 2017 and Kirkpatrick continues being even just solid, this has the makings of a pretty good secondary not just now but for a while… 

Finally, basketball is back tonight with Game Three of the NBA Finals. 

This is one of those games that could change the trajectory of the series — or confirm what everyone has assumed since Golden State got past Houston in the Western Conference. 

The Warriors are up 2-0 in the series, but as I wrote Monday, sometimes the change of venue turns conclusions we made off of the first two games on their head. 

Although Cleveland entered the series as a heavy underdog, they still have to play the games. 

The first two showed us there is a path to victory for the Cavaliers even without the Warriors playing badly (that could happen a time or two before this series is over, too). 

The anti-hype for this Cavs roster got a little out of control after they outlasted a short-handed Celtics team in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

With LeBron James and Kevin Love, they still have two bona fide all-stars, and there are some pretty good role players. 

George Hill is a proven commodity with postseason experience, Kyle Korver is one of the league’s great shooters, Larry Nance Jr. is an athletic young player with upside, and Tristan Thompson (lottery pick with a huge contract) and JR Smith are really good… at times. 

The “at times” part is a key, of course. 

If Thompson and Smith brought it every night, the Cavs would have more easily dispatched the not-ready-for-primetime Pacers and the aforementioned Celtics, who are also very young and looked it by the end of the last series. (The merciless destruction of the Raptors also is an example of Cleveland’s potential.) 

This is how an upper-echelon NBA team was built for many years before LeBron and Chris Bosh broke the system by teaming up with Dwyane Wade in Miami. (Kevin Durant ditching Oklahoma City for the Warriors was a symptom of the same disease.) 

If Thompson and Smith were more reliable, Cleveland would have a much better chance to win this series. 

As it stands, the Cavs aren’t out of it yet, but winning four of five is going to be a tall order. (And if they lose tonight, the necessary four in a row ain’t happening.) 

Game One proved the Cavs can go toe-to-toe with the Warriors for 48 minutes, but Game Two showed Golden State still has that extra gear to pull away from anyone. 

Tonight we find out if Cleveland has anything left to up its sleeve (assuming they wear those hideous black uniforms with the sleeves, of course). 

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