Although the Cincinnati Reds lost in a wild 13-inning ordeal to the Washington Nationals on Friday night, one player’s performance was good news for the struggling Reds.

Bronson Arroyo, who struggled in his first start of the 2012 season, threw a gem for Cincinnati while the Reds’ bats lay dormant.

In 7.1 innings pitched, Arroyo gave up no runs on only four baserunners (3 hits, 1 walk). He displayed improved command and managed fewer than 100 pitches through his seven-plus innings performance.

As a side note, while the Reds’ bats managed only five hits through 13 innings, Arroyo helped himself by knocking in the Reds’ only run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth inning. Arroyo also had one of the team’s five hits.

Friday’s start was a much-needed improvement over Arroyo’s first start, in which he gave up four earned runs on 10 hits in 6.1 innings pitched. Arroyo was on the hook for a loss after departing in the seventh inning before the Reds’ bats responded with a walk-off win in the ninth inning.

Arroyo struggled through most of 2011, posting a 9-12 record and 5.07 ERA through 199 innings. The 2011 campaign was the first season since 2005 that Arroyo did not post at least 200 innings pitched (albeit he missed by a single inning).

For much of the 2011 season Arroyo was speculated to be either sick or hurt. Velocity was down on his fastball, and his breaking pitches just didn’t seem to break as much as before.

Arroyo was diagnosed with mononucleosis early on, but it was later reported he had gotten over the illness. Yet his pitching improved very little.

Reds fans everywhere must be hoping Arroyo will continue to put out performances like Friday night throughout the rest of the season. The Reds will need Arroyo performing if they are going to make a playoff run in 2012.

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