A year ago, Opening Day was a dismal rain out. The delay postponed by 24 hours a three-game sweep of the home town team by the Washington Nationals. The Reds were on their way to an ugly 3-15 start that got Bryan Price fired. They then lost their next three games under interim manager Jim Riggleman.
Opening Day 2019, however, was beautiful in more than one way. The difference a year can make.
Today, the Reds parlayed a great start by Luis Castillo, a couple GABP-special home runs, important contributions by Jose Peraza and the new guys, and a bit of deft managing to a first-game comeback win over the Pirates.
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Luis Castillo was magnificent. He made it through the Pirates lineup two-and-a-half times before being lifted with two outs in the sixth inning after giving up a baserunner. He had thrown 90 pitches. Castillo mixed his fastball and changeup effectively, striking out 8 Pirate batters. He worked in 12 sliders starting with the second time through the Pirates order. Castillo’s fastball topped out at 97.4 mph and averaged 95.5. He walked three batters. Castillo left to a well deserved standing ovation.
Jared Hughes relieved Castillo and gave up two singles and a walk before recording the third out of the sixth. He was on the mound for The Bad Play. Hughes got one out in the seventh before manager David Bell brought in Zach Duke to retire two lefties at the top of Pittsburgh’s lineup.
Raisel Iglesias pitched the 8th. After giving up a lead-off homer, Iglesias retired the Pirates in order to finish the inning. He was less than sharp in the 9th, walking two Pirates before being pulled after 34 pitches.
Amir Garrett was called on to relieve Iglesias. Clint Hurdle left in leadoff hitter Adam Frazier to face Garrett, producing a lefty-on-lefty matchup. Four Garrett sliders later and Frazier was heading back to the Pirates dugout with his head down.
Manager David Bell then made one last move, bringing in RH David Hernandez to pitch to RH batter Pablo Reyes who was pinch hitting. Hernandez was a closer years ago in Arizona. He walked Reyes on four pitches. With Wandy Peralty warm in the bullpen, Bell decided to leave Hernandez in to face LH Corey Dickerson. After a titanic struggle — a 12-pitch at bat — Hernandez retired Dickerson on a routine ground ball to 2B.
The Bad Play
With two outs in the top of the sixth and Pirates runners on first and second, Jung Ho Kang lined a single to left-center field. Jesse Winker ranged over to field the ball as the lead runner scored. Winker looked to the infield and threw to second base. Jose Peraza had his back to the plate and was unaware that the Pirate runner who was on first had rounded third and headed for home. Peraza hesitated for a moment and that was enough to allow the Pirates second run to score.
On the radio broadcast, Marty Brennaman blasted Winker for throwing to second. The video clearly showed shortstop Jose Iglesias and Joey Votto both pointing at Winker to throw to second. It would be fairer to chalk the run up to alert and aggressive base running combined with a split-second pause by Peraza and apparent lack of communication in the infield.
Jameson Taillon, the Pirates starter and cancer survivor, is good, one of the dozen best pitchers in the National League. He held the Reds in check for six innings. The Reds scored in the second inning on a single by Jose Peraza and a double off the left-field fence by Jose Iglesias.
The Reds waited five innings to score their next run. Peraza drove Taillon’s 77th pitch for a solo home run that tied the score. Peraza pulled an 86-mph pitch that Chris Welch called “a little bit of a hanger” into the front row of the left-center field seats (391 ft.).
Tucker Barnhart followed Peraza’s homer with a walk, the second given up by Taillon. Still with no outs, Iglesias was jammed on a pitch but bounced it over third base and down the left-field line for a double, putting Reds runners on second and third.
The Pirates changed pitchers and David Bell summoned Derek Dietrich to pinch hit. Dietrich hit the third pitch he saw into the right center bleachers, giving the Reds a 5-2 lead (390 ft.).
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) March 28, 2019
Toto We’re Not In Kansas Any More
When Jesse Winker walked in the 7th inning, manager David Bell brought Michael Lorenzen in to pinch run for Winker. Lorenzen made it to second base on a passed ball on a heads-up play. Lorenzen then stayed in the game to play center field the final two innings. Scott Schebler moved to left field.
Bell also wasted no time using Raisel Iglesias outside of the 9th inning, bringing the Cuban reliever in for the 8th and 9th.
Before the game, the Reds claimed RHP José López off of waivers from the Giants and designated LHP Brandon Finnegan. The Giants had claimed Lopez off waivers from the Reds in February. Lopez (25) pitched for the Reds at the AAA level last year. In 141 innings, he had a 19.5% K-rate, a 6.8% BB-rate and a 4.29 xFIP.
The Reds have an off day tomorrow. I understand why they have it in the schedule, but after a win like today, I’m ready for another. The series continues at 2:10 p.m. on Saturday. Sonny Gray faces Trevor Williams.