New Red Zach Duke happy to contribute in big moment

Zach Duke could not have picked a more pressure-packed moment to make his Reds debut at Great American Ball Park: eighth inning, tie game, runners at first and third for the Cardinals with two outs and Matt Adams at the plate.

Just how dangerous Adams was wouldn’t be discovered until the 14th and 16th innings when he homered twice to lead St. Louis to a 5-4 victory Wednesday.

Duke couldn’t have foreseen that. His only job was to get the Reds out of that inning. That he did, striking out Adams, who snapped his bat in two in frustration and then slammed his helmet on the ground.

Duke was the third of seven Reds pitchers to see action Wednesday. It was an important moment for the 30-year-old veteran who had to fight his way back to the big leagues after being released by the Nationals in June.

“That’s what I was hoping to get into when they called me up,” Duke said. “I was hoping to get into some situations like that. Everyone’s goal is to earn the respect of their teammates and have them believe you can get the job done. Hopefully, I can continue doing that.”

Duke signed a minor-league contract with the Reds on June 13. He was promoted to the Reds last Friday and made his Reds debut that night, pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings

“It’s a pretty easygoing group of guys,” Duke said. “Everyone wants to win. Whoever can get the job done, everyone’s welcoming of whoever it is.”

Duke made his big-league debut in 2005 with the Pirates. He hasn’t pitched a complete season in the majors since 2010 and was 2-0 with a 1.30 ERA in 26 games with Louisville this season.

“Anytime you’re at this level, it’s great,” Duke said. “It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve been able figure some things out. Hopefully, I can keep this thing going.”

Duke has a unique perspective on Pittsburgh’s success this season. He was an All-Star for the Pirates in 2009 when he went 11-16 with a 4.06 ERA. He started opening day in Pittsburgh in 2007 and 2010.

“I’m glad for the fans and the city,” Duke said. “They’re such passionate sports fans. It’s good to see, but at the end of the day, I hope we beat the brakes off them.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Dragons whitewash Whitecaps, next month’s playoff foe
Dragons whitewash Whitecaps, next month’s playoff foe

The West Michigan Whitecaps (36-1, 81-37) are enjoying one of the best seasons of any pro baseball team in 2017, and they’ll be waiting for the Dragons in the first round of the Midwest League playoffs in September. After clinching a wild card berth in the first half, the Dragons have stumbled through the second half (16-36, 57-65) with the league&rsquo...
Legendary Reds scout Gene Bennett dead at 89
Legendary Reds scout Gene Bennett dead at 89

Gene Bennett, the legendary scout who urged the Cincinnati Reds to draft Derek Jeter only to have his pleas fall on deaf ears, died Wednesday in Portsmouth, Ohio at 89. “Gene was one of the game’s great scouts,” Reds owner Bob Castellini said. “He loved baseball, loved his team and forever changed the way we looked for talented...
HS Results 8/16: Green leads Southeastern in tri-match

Avery Green’s 34 helped carry Southeastern in a boys golf tri-match at Locust Hills on Wednesday. Southeastern shot a 162, Cedarville 182 and Catholic Central 197. Green was the medalist, with Adam Wood of Cedarville getting runner-up at 40. Noah Myers (Cedarville) and Tray Thompson (Southeastern) each added a 41 for their teams. Boys Golf Fairmont...
Bengals rookie reluctant to talk, eager to shine
Bengals rookie reluctant to talk, eager to shine

There are two nights during Jordan Willis’ brief NFL career that illustrate who he is as a person. The first was April 28, the day the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Willis in the third round out of Kansas State. While other prospective picks were partying with friends and family while watching the draft on television, Willis was sitting alone in...
Springfield North football: Top 7 players in Panthers history
Springfield North football: Top 7 players in Panthers history

As rivalries go, Springfield North and South had it going on as good as any in the state for its time in the spotlight. Football games at Evans Stadium on Clifton Avenue were a must-see event. Growing up to be a celebrated Panther or Wildcat was a handed-down and expected tradition. North always seemed to be in catch-up mode to South in football, especially...
More Stories