Reds’ Barnhart on all or nothing state of baseball: ‘Home runs are sexy. Strikeouts are sexy. Early groundballs with one strike are not sexy.’

April was first month there were more strikeouts than hits in MLB

If you haven’t heard by now, Major League Baseball logged another first when it finished the season’s opening month – well, month-plus, since the season started in March – with batters piling up more strikeouts than hits.

No month ever had passed with more strikeouts than hits, but the game has been trending that way for long enough that it was bound to happen. The Reds contributed to the record-setting month by striking out 247 times while collecting only 240 hits.

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“It’s what’s sexy now,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said before Tuesday’s game. “Home runs are sexy. Strikeouts are sexy. Early groundballs with one strike are not sexy.”

The explanation is simple for relief pitcher Jared Hughes, whose out pitch is a groundball-inducing sinker.

“Well, the velocity’s up, and the harder you throw, the harder it is to make contact,” he said. “Now, I’m not a physicist, but the reciprocal effect is that when you do make contact, the ball’s going to go farther.”

Barnhart and Hughes weren’t ready to judge whether the all-or-nothing approach is good or bad for the game.

“It’s just a thing,” Barnhart said. “It makes for a longer pace. The days of the 90-pitch or 95-pitch complete game are gone. It’s a trend. I don’t know if it’s going to continue to be this way or go back. A lot of guys are up there trying to hit home runs. I think it’s helped some of them. I think it’s hurt some of them.”

“Being a fan, I enjoy the nuances of the game, so I’d like to think it’s a change for the better, if there is such a thing, because I just like baseball,” Hughes added.

Interim manager Jim Riggleman wasn’t aware of the record, but he wasn’t surprised.

“Strikeouts aren’t frowned on like they used to be,” he said before Wednesday’s game. “I think it’s all cyclical. I think it will go back eventually, but it will take some time.”

Night of firsts: Tuesday's 7-6 loss to Milwaukee was brightened for the Reds by the accomplishments of two rookies.

Rosell Herrera, who was promoted from Triple-A Louisville on April 26, notched his first career hit in his first career start.

“It was awesome,” the switch-hitting Herrera, 25, said on Wednesday of his clean single to right field in the second inning on a fastball from right-hander Chase Anderson. “I’ll remember the pitcher and the pitch for the rest of my life.”

Infielder Alex Blandino, another 25-year-old, came off the bench in the eighth inning to launch a leadoff home run to left field off right-handed relief pitcher Jacob Barnes.

“It was a cutter that really didn’t cut,” Blandino said Wednesday. “It felt great. Anytime you hit a home run, it feels great. It was good to get the first one out of the way.”

Both players got the balls to keep as mementos. Herrera plans to save his, he said, while Blandino plans to give his to his grandmother, Mary Ann Field.

Blandino had to do some horse trading to get his ball, which was caught in the left field stands by noted YouTube home run retriever Zack Hample, who leaned over a small wall to make a backhanded catch.

“I had to trade him a bat and take a couple of pictures with him,” said Blandino, whose photos with Hample in the lobby of the Reds clubhouse were posted on the Internet. “He made a pretty good play."

Target date: Riggleman hopes to have right-handed pitcher Michael Lorenzen back by the middle of May.

Lorenzen, who hasn’t pitched this season while dealing with a sore right shoulder, threw what Riggleman described as a “significant” bullpen session on Tuesday.

“If everything goes right, by mid-May or the later part of May, we’ll have him,” Riggleman said.

Next: After Thursday's day off, the Reds and Marlins are scheduled to open a three-game series at Great American Ball Park on Friday at 7:10 p.m. Right-hander Sal Romano (1-3, 4.65 earned-run average) is due to be opposed by left-handed pitcher Wei-Yin Chen (1-0, 1.69).

Sunday’s game is scheduled to start at 4:10 p.m. because of the Cincinnati’s Flying Pig marathon. Street closings in downtown Cincinnati may hamper traffic.

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