Braggs remembers NLCS catch as 1990 team reunites

Like a number of players on that team — Paul O’Neill, Chris Sabo and Barry Larkin to name a few — Braggs doesn’t look much different than he did in October 1990. He looks to be in good enough shape to swing a bat and break it over his back as he did in Game 4 of the World Series or leap above the right-field fence to take a home run away as he did with a game-saving catch in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Pirates.

Braggs played in 249 games in three seasons with the Reds, but he’ll always be remembered for those two plays. The catch, especially, earned him a place in Reds history.

The Pirates, trailing 2-1, had a runner at first with one out when Carmelo Martinez hit a long fly ball to right. Braggs, an eighth-inning defensive substitute for O’Neill, played it perfectly.

“My wrist was over the wall,” Braggs said. “I thought it was gone. I went back on the wall. It was right there. I jumped up and caught it. My instinct said get it in. Barry Bonds was on first base. I didn’t want him to advance. I think Carmelo was pretty shocked.”

Braggs said he autographed a photo of the catch Friday. Martinez had already signed it and wrote, “Seven inches from Game 7.”

Mesoraco update: Devin Mesoraco plans to catch a bullpen session in the next couple of days to test his injured hip. He hasn’t started a game since April 11 and has pinch hit twice since then.

“It’s OK,” Mesoraco said. “It’s improving little by little. I haven’t done any squatting. In the box, hitting wise, it’s not a problem. Squatting will definitely be the most difficult thing.”

Rare running: Until Billy Hamilton got thrown out attempting to steal second base Thursday in Milwaukee, the Reds had stolen 17 straight bases to start the season. That’s a franchise record.

Not since the Twins stole 19 of 19 bases to open the 2007 season had a team opened the season with 17 steals in 17 attempts.

Looking ahead: Anthony DeSclafani (2-0, 0.86 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season in a 1:10 p.m. game today against the Cubs. He has thrown 15 straight scoreless innings in his last two starts and picked up victories against the Cubs and Brewers.

Jake Arrieta (2-1, 1.74) starts today for the Cubs and opposes DeSclafani for the second time. He allowed three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Reds on April 14 in Chicago.

In the series finale at 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Jason Marquis (1-1, 7.20) starts for the Reds against Travis Wood (1-1, 3.20).

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