CINCINNATI (AP)—So, this is what the Reds got for Aaron Boone.
Jason Romano hit his first career homer and drove in three runs, putting Claussen (1-0) in position to get a memorable victory.
Claussen gave up Bill Hall’s two-run homer and five hits overall in his first appearance with the Reds. He was the Yankees’ top pitching prospect last July when they traded him for Boone, who helped New York reach the World Series.
A year later, Claussen finally got a chance to show why the Reds were willing to part with their All-Star third baseman. He kept his poise and worked out of threats.
“We heard that’s the type of pitcher he is,” shortstop Barry Larkin said. “When that’s something you can expect, you can win around that. He didn’t seem like he was uncomfortable at all. He’s got a pretty good idea of what he wants to do out there.”
The Reds completed a two-game sweep behind a career day from Romano, a diminutive utility player who entered the series hitting .056.
The outfielder had an RBI single off Doug Davis (9-8) that tied it in the fifth. He put Claussen in line for the victory with a two-run homer off Davis in the seventh, his first homer in 149 at-bats in the majors.
“It was the pitch I wanted,” said Davis, who threw Romano a cut fastball inside. “The location could have been a little better. The scouting report says he has pull power only, but I threw it there.”
Romano had congratulated Claussen on the bench for escaping a threat in the top of the inning. Claussen thanked him and jokingly told him to go hit a homer.
“It was a great feeling to run around the bases in a big league stadium,” Romano said. “That’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time. After two years, I got a chance to do it.”
Claussen arrived as part of the Reds’ impromptu rebuilding move last July, when they fired general manager Jim Bowden and traded stars for cash and pitching prospects.
None was more esteemed than the 23-year-old Claussen. In his only start for the Yankees, he delighted owner George Steinbrenner by beating the Mets at Shea Stadium last season.
The high-profile deal worked out well for New York. Boone’s 11th-inning homer off Tim Wakefield beat Boston in Game 7 of the AL championship series— another infamous ending for Red Sox fans.
After Boone tore a knee ligament in a pickup basketball game in January, the Yankees released him and brought in Alex Rodriguez. Boone moved on to Cleveland, where he is expected to play later this season on a two-year deal.
Claussen remained in the minors after the trade, getting time to fully recover from reconstructive elbow surgery in 2002. He had put together seven solid starts at Triple-A Louisville when he was called up to start Tuesday.
He wasn’t antsy to get to Cincinnati and show his stuff.
“I’ve had friends who have been released,” Claussen said. “I’m just glad to be playing. I just want to play as long as I possibly can.”
It didn’t go so well at the outset. Hall hit his sixth homer deep into the seats in left field in the second inning—a disappointed Claussen didn’t bother to watch the ball once it left the bat.
Hall has 11 homers in the last two seasons, four at Great American Ball Park.
After Hall’s homer, Claussen settled in against a lineup that had never faced him before in the majors.
Romano’s homer snapped a 2-all tie in the seventh, and the Reds added two in the eighth on D’Angelo Jimenez’s single and LaRue’s sacrifice fly.
Hall is 13-for-30 career at Great American with four homers and 13 RBIs. … The Brewers are 2-4 on their 11-day, 11-game trip to four NL Central cities. … C Chad Moeller’s infield single in the seventh snapped an 0-for-17 slump. … Jimenez extended his hitting streak to 10 games. … A young woman in the second deck behind home plate made the game’s best catch, nonchalantly snagging a foul ball with her left hand while holding a cell phone to her right ear. She kept talking on the phone while fans cheered.