One of baseball's best traditions is batting practice, because not many things in sports are sweeter than watching a Major League ballplayer cranking moon shots into the outfield and over the fence.
If you love BP and the Cincinnati Reds are your fave, then you probably experienced the best time ever last night watching the Big Red Slugging Machine bombarding the Arizona Diamondbacks with base knocks. The Reds collected 18 hits, a majority of the "geez, that was smoked" variety, in their 13-5 win over the D-Backs.
The Reds, in the middle of a hotly contested National League Central race with the Cardinals, Cubs, and Brewers, weren't messing around Monday night. Cincinnati scored seven runs in the first four innings off starter Jon Garland (3-2) and added four more in the sixth against Bobby Korecky. (Check out this beer-league, softball-esque pitching line for Korecky: two innings, seven hits, six runs, two wild pitches, and a bunch of boos from the smallest Chase Field crowd of the season. Ouch.)
The score got so out of hand that infielder Josh Wilson pitched an inning. Though wild, Wilson did pack an 89-mile per hour fastball while working a scoreless ninth for Arizona. Shoot, he looked better than Scott Schoeneweis does all of the time.
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Garland experienced an atypically piss-poor night. He kept throwing his normally knee-high, two-seam fastball in the wheelhouses of the Reds' hitters. As a result, he couldn't get past the fourth inning. Willy Taveras -- who pounded out five knocks (four singles and a double) and scored four runs -- led the Reds' hit parade.
Arizona actually hit Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo pretty decently to the tune of 10 hits. (Side note: How does someone in the bigs like Arroyo get away with throwing pitches at 68 miles per hour?) Felipe Lopez slapped out three hits with an RBI and Eric Byrnes, who must have been taking a nap during a totally boneheaded mental mistake in the outfield, went three-for-four with an RBI. Justin Upton extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a two-run homer in the third.
Arizona dropped to 13-20 overall, 1-3 with A.J. Hinch as manager.
The series continues tonight at 6:40 p.m. at Chase Field. Scheduled starters are D-Backs' ace Dan Haren (3-3, 1.84 ERA) against former D-Back turned Reds' hurler Micah Owings (2-3, 5.08 ERA), who's kind of a better hitter than pitcher at the moment. TV: FSN-AZ. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. Check out www.dbacks.com.