06/09/07 12:27 AM ET
Bailey victorious in big-league debut
Rookie right-hander helped by a trio of home runs
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Bailey used 29 pitches in the first inning, and he was at 91 after averting big damage in the fourth. Following a Dellucci sacrifice fly, Bailey hit Josh Barfield with a pitch. Then, with Mike Rouse batting, he was called for a balk. Rouse was intentionally walked, and Bailey escaped by getting pitcher Cliff Lee to routinely ground out."I think he pitched effectively wild today," catcher David Ross said. "He made some pitches when he needed to and got out of some jams. The main thing for him was to go out there and get the first one under his belt and the bugs out of the way. "With his stuff, he'll be a dominant pitcher if he can get ahead of some guys. He's got great stuff. He's a fun guy to catch. He's enthusiastic. He's an aggressive pitcher." Of the 24 batters he faced, Bailey threw first-pitch strikes to 11. "Not too good" is how Bailey graded his performance. "I got behind a lot of hitters. We got that win. That's the most important thing." A first-inning solo homer by Brandon Phillips and Jeff Conine's two-run shot in the fourth gave Bailey a 3-2 lead to work with heading into the big fifth. In the fifth, Sizemore hit a leadoff single and Hafner drew a one-out walk as Bailey crossed 100 pitches. With two outs, Trot Nixon walked on four pitches, which brought pitching coach Dick Pole -- and not Narron's hook -- out for a visit. "It was his ballgame right there," Narron said. "I was not about to get him out. I thought he still had good stuff even though he had 100-plus pitches. He had a chance to get a win, and I thought he deserved that shot." The rookie didn't disappoint. Not a bad finish against the team that is second in the American League in runs scored. Ken Griffey Jr. made it a two-run game in the sixth when he launched a solo homer to right field. The long ball was Griffey's 14th this season and career homer No. 577. Maligned for its struggles all season, the Reds bullpen stepped up behind Bailey. Mike Stanton, Jon Coutlangus and Gary Majewski combined for three scoreless innings. David Weathers gave up Ryan Garko's ninth-inning solo homer but finished the final 1 1/3 innings for his 12th save. "It was fun. He was a little nervous," Griffey said of Bailey. "There was some anticipation of him being here. All in all, we as a team were able to come through for him. We were able to get behind him and do some things." On the field, as Bailey walked out to take batting practice a couple of hours before the game, more than a dozen reporters and photographers watched his every move. "There was a lot of pressure for him to come here and be something," Ross said. "You're held to a certain standard sometimes when you're a first-rounder. People put you on a pedestal, and you're just like anyone else trying to make it." If Bailey becomes a big-league success with the Reds, it will be significant for an organization that's had a lousy track record at developing its own pitchers. The last Cincinnati starter to reach the Majors as a first-round pick was C.J. Nitkowski, in 1994. Nitkowski was part of the trade to the Tigers for David Wells in 1995. The last homegrown Reds pitcher to win 20 games was Tom Browning, in 1985. "People have been hearing about Homer the last couple years," Narron said. "To see him pitch the way he did tonight, I can't say enough about it. It's outstanding for him, our ballclub and our entire organization."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.