The Cincinnati Reds were able to defeat Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals 6-3 Sunday afternoon thanks to a solid all-around performance by the team. The Reds also got help from center fielder Xavier Paul and reliever Sean Marshall in the victory. Both players made their 2013 Major League Baseball debut against Washington.
Paul has appeared in four games for the Reds this season as a pinch-hitter, but his debut in the starting lineup did not occur until Sunday. The four-year player went 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs in the win. Paul is hoping that his performance is enough to convince manager Dusty Baker that he should be given more opportunities to make a difference.
It is certainly difficult to sit on the bench every game. Not to mention, to be expected to come through in a pinch-hit situation can take its toll on the body. The good news is Paul knows what it takes to stay loose for when that opportunity comes knocking.
“I think as time has gone on, I found a little bit better way to prepare myself mentally and physically,” Paul told Reds.com. “It’s tough. The biggest challenge is keeping your body physically in good shape, keeping your legs loose after sitting down for four days and then playing nine innings without hurting anything.”
Marshall made his first appearance for Cincinnati this season after experiencing shoulder fatigue in Spring Training. The left-hander pitched a flawless seventh inning in which he retired all three batters he faced, including striking out Bryce Harper for the third out.
“That was great,” Baker said of Marshall’s performance against the Nationals. “He wasn’t available yesterday. He threw 30 pitches in the ‘pen as a test run. He looked good today.”
Cincinnati will take on the St. Louis Cardinals next in a critical series against their division rival.