Final R H E
Milwaukee Brewers (4-1) 4 11 0
Cincinnati Reds (1-2) 3 8 1
W: Alex Wilson (1-0) LRaisel Iglesias (0-1) SV: Josh Hader (3)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread | Statcast

Well, the good news is Christian Yelich didn’t set the MLB record for most consecutive games with a home run to start a season. The bad news is he — along with long-time Reds killer Ryan Braun — still hurt Cincinnati pitching anyway.

The reigning National League MVP doubled and scored the winning run in the top of the ninth against Raisel Iglesias as the Milwaukee Brewers continued their recent dominance over the Cincinnati Reds.

Following a rough debut for Tanner Roark, the bullpen was mostly lights-out and the Reds offense came back from a three-run deficit. But it ultimately wasn’t enough to overcome some missed opportunities and the dangerous Milwaukee offense on a chilly Monday night.

Here’s how it all went down:

The Hitters

The Reds scattered eight hits on the night, including two each from Jose Peraza and Tucker Barnhart. Yasiel Puig also picked up his first hit as a Red, and it was a big one as he lined a two-run double down the left field line in the fifth inning.

However, the night was full of missed opportunities. The Reds loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, but Matt Kemp and Peraza each struck out on seven combined pitches to end the scoring threat. They threatened again in the third when Scott Schebler walked and Joey Votto singled to lead off the inning, but a Puig double play stifled the rally.

Cincinnati didn’t break through against Zach Davies until the fifth when Puig notched his first hit of the year. That cut the deficit to one. In the sixth, the Reds pulled even. Peraza and Barnhart hit back-to-back singles to open up the inning, and the former ultimately came around to score after a pair of fielder’s choices.

Down one run in the ninth, Curt Casali led things off by doubling down the left field line against Josh Hader. (Not bad for your first at-bat of the season.) Michael Lorenzen pinch ran for Casali and never moved as Hader buckled in and did what he normally does against the top of the Reds’ lineup. Schebler struck out, Votto flew out to left field, and Puig popped out in foul territory.

The Hurlers

Tanner Roark’s debut with the Reds did not start as planned. He allowed three runs in the opening inning on three walks (one intentional), two doubles, and a single while nibbling around the strike zone. It took 34 pitches for him to get out of the first, and only 16 of those were strikes. As Chris Welsh said on the Fox Sports Ohio broadcast, “He’s pitching not to make a mistake rather than taking it to the hitter.”

The right-hander settled down over the next 3 1/3 innings and started painting the corners with his fastball. No more Brewers crossed the plate under his watch, as he allowed three singles and no walks after the first inning. In particular, Roark used his slider effectively, getting a swing and miss over a quarter of the time he threw it. He ended the night with six strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

David Bell removed Roark with one out in the fifth inning and turned the ball over to Amir Garrett. That would start a stretch of 3 2/3 scoreless innings by the bullpen. It wasn’t the cleanest of outings for Garrett (two singles, one walk), but his stuff looked as good as ever. He peppered Brewers hitters with 98 mph fastballs and sweeping sliders, striking out three in 1 2/3 innings.

Zach Duke tossed a perfect seventh inning, while David Hernandez worked around a single in the eighth. That left the game tied heading into the ninth, when Bell opted to bring in Iglesias to face the top of the Brewers’ order. As was the case on Opening Day, Iglesias didn’t look like his normal self. The weather may have played a factor, but he only averaged 92 mph on his fastball and topped out at 93, and his breaking balls didn’t look as crisp as usual.

After Yelich, who had been 0-for-4, to that point, doubled with two outs, Braun swatted a double of his own amidst jeers from the GABP crowd to break the tie.

Notes & Random Thoughts

  • A bit of bad news broke toward the end of the game that overshadowed the events on the field: The Reds announced Hunter Greene will have Tommy John surgery after experiencing a setback in Arizona.
  • There was a lot of talk about whether Schebler should’ve bunted Lorenzen over to third with no outs in the ninth inning. Three factors make that a questionable call:
    1. Schebler doesn’t have a sacrifice bunt at any level since 2014. Do you want him trying it against one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game?
    2. He’s a power threat, and there’s an argument for letting him swing the bat to win the game.
    3. Per Tom Tango’s most recent run expectancy charts: With no outs and a runner on second, the average run expectancy is 1.10. With one out and a runner on third, that drops to 0.95.
  • Curiously, Matt Kemp started over Jesse Winker against a right-handed pitcher for a second straight game. Winker has a 144 wRC+ against righties, though in a fairly small sample (379 plate appearances). Kemp isn’t a terrible hitter against right-handers by any stretch, but you’d ideally like to see your left fielder of the future get playing time against pitchers he mashes against. The decision didn’t work out, as Kemp went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and was ejected after the second.
  • The Reds’ defense, which didn’t figure to be a strength this season, had more problems. Joey Votto dropped a foul pop-up in the top of the fourth inning that extended an at-bat for Lorenzo Cain, who later singled. Although it didn’t result in a run, the shaky start continues on this side of the ball.
  • A trade occurred in the middle of tonight’s game. Reliever Matt Wisler, who the Reds designated for assignment last week, was dealt to the Padres for minor-league pitcher Diomar Lopez.
  • Only 7,799 fans walked through the turnstiles at GABP tonight, the lowest total since May 28, 2004. That’s not surprising for a 40-degree game on a Monday in April, but eek.

Stat of the Game

To take this stat a step further, no Reds player has been hit more than 34 times in this time span (Votto). In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1999 to find a Cincinnati hitter who matches that number (Jason LaRue).

Up Next

Let’s meet back here at the same time tomorrow. The Reds and Brewers will meet for game two on Tuesday for another early start at 6:40 p.m. ET. Anthony DeSclafani (4.93 ERA, 3.86 xFIP in 2018) will make his season debut in April for the first time since 2015. Reds hitters will square off against Jhoulys Chacin (3.50 ERA, 4.47 xFIP in 2018), the Brewers’ Opening Day starter.