A 1-2-3 first inning for Luis Castillo turned things over to the Cincinnati Reds offense that saw Tyler Naquin hit yet another home run, leading off the bottom of the inning and setting the tone for a series sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates. And how sweep it was.

Final R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates (1-5)
4 7 1
Cincinnati Reds (5-1)
11 10 0
W: Castillo (1-1) L: Kuhl (0-1)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

The Offense

Tyler Naquin. His statue is being sculpted right now. Stepping in for Jesse Winker, Naquin has done nothing but absolutely rake and he led off the bottom of the 1st inning with a home run – his 4th of the season – to put the Reds up 1-0. Nick Castellanos reached on an error, then back-to-back walks to Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas loaded the bases with no outs. Nick Senzel walked, Jonathan India had a sacrifice fly, and then Kyle Farmer doubled in two runs and it was 5-0 before the Pirates knew what happened.

In a terrifying moment in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Jonathan India took a 95 MPH fastball from Chad Kuhl off of his helmet. He wasn’t down for long and remained in the game.

Fast forwarding to the 6th inning and Nick Castellanos led off with home run – his 4th of the year. Joey Votto followed with a single, Nick Senzel doubled and put runners on 2nd and 3rd. That’s when Mr. RBI, Jonathan India came to the plate and drove in both of them, but was thrown out by a matter of millimeters trying to stretch the hit into a double. That made it 8-0. In the 7th inning the Reds got some more with two outs as Mike Moustakas singled and scored when Nick Senzel tripled, making it 9-0.

Is that all? No. No it was not. Tyler Stephenson and Aristides Aquino went back-to-back with solo home runs with one out in the 8th inning and extended the lead to 11-0.

The Pitching

After a disastrous start on Opening Day, Luis Castillo returned to form against the Pirates this afternoon. A quick and easy 1-2-3 1st inning helped set the tone. He didn’t run into trouble until the 4th inning. After Wilmer Difo doubled, Phillip Evans hit one down the right field line that Nick Castellanos slid for to try and catch, but had it deflect off of his glove. Castellanos jumped up, grabbed the ball and fired it to Jonathan India who turned and fired it home to nail Difo at the plate. A fly out by Erik Gonzalez in the next at-bat ended the inning and any threat the Pirates had mounting.

Over the next three innings Luis Castillo allowed just a walk and a single to Pittsburgh. He was finished after 7.0 innings of shutout baseball where he allowed four hits, a walk, and struck out five batters on 81 pitches.

Lucas Sims took over to start the 8th inning. He picked up right where Castillo left off, striking out the first two hitters he faced before an easy ground out to Jonathan India ended the inning.

Amir Garrett took over for the 9th inning and things didn’t go as smoothly as he likely would have hoped. Wilmer Difo doubled to lead off the inning and Colin Moran walked to put two men on to start the inning. A single followed to load the bases. Erik Gonzalez then hit a grand slam into the sundeck in right field to make it 11-4. That warranted a visit from Derek Johnson. The lefty reliever induced a ground out to the next batter, followed up with two strikeouts to end the game and seal the sweep of the Pirates.

Key Moment of the Game

It felt like it was the key moment at the time, even though it was in the 1st inning and was just a solo home run, but Tyler Naquin’s leadoff homer set the tone for what was going to come. And a whole lot came from that point forward.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds vs Arizona Diamondbacks

Friday April 9th, 9:40pm ET

Tyler Mahle vs TBA

84 Responses

  1. Cmon man

    Sims for closer before it starts hurting us.

    • Lockersocks79

      It’s two bad games. He’s been strong the past two seasons and deserves to have a month to settle in.

      • JayTheRed

        I agree especially after the visit to the mound he settled in fine. Give the guy some time.

      • Larry

        Amir’s career stats:

        10W 13L 4.91 ERA

        Not sure he’s ever been closer material

      • Steve

        1/3 of his career innings were from his rookie year as a starter with an ERA of 7.39 so just stating his career ERA as a reasoning for him not being closer material is a little absurd. He very well may be better suited for the 7th or 8th inning, but his career ERA is not the stat to use to justify it.

      • Larry

        Can you tell me what he’s done that does justify him being on a major league staff?

      • Doug Gray

        What has Amir Garrett done to justify him being on the Major League staff? Is that what you are asking? Surely you aren’t asking why a guy who has a 3.54 ERA since 2019 started is on the big league staff.

      • Larry

        I guess only time will tell. His career ERA is now 5.06 and current season ERA based on 2 innings is 22.50. Career WAR is 0.4. I guess he’s a superstar. Might be a good idea though to only ‘rock the baby’ after a clean save.

      • Doug Gray

        I bet you are the rockstar of every party.

      • Larry

        When one resorts to personal attacks that indicates statistics or facts don’t support their argument.

  2. Westfester

    Of course the Steelers get the 2 pt conversion in garbage time to make the series final score 30-8.

  3. Lost11found

    Great to see Luis with a ‘bounce-back’ start. Expected perhaps but still nice to see. Continuing offensive contributions from multiple players is a great way to start the season too.

    I’m trying to not read too much into Garrett’s giving up two taters in the series, as some relievers get to a slow start depending on how many innings they got under the belt in ST. I’m still confident he will be a strong part of the pen this season

  4. Jeffery

    So strange…been a fan since 1968…so many contributing. Road trip will tell a lot. Maybe our turn. Tom

  5. TR

    With this offensive start to the season, a positive shout out is in order for hitting coach Zinter. What a difference from the recent past.

    • JayTheRed

      Its cause they are trying to just get hits, not Homeruns. I said last year that if they did this they would still get a fair amount of home runs especially in our home park.

      I am concerned that Larkin needs to come up with something else to say each time it happens though other than the hitter is not doing too much and just cultivating a winning attitude. He says that after almost every hit.

      • 2020ball

        Larkin is ridiculous, I miss Welsh.

      • Westfester

        That, and “Ambushing Fastballs” He needs to work on some new analysis.

      • Ponyboy

        I think we should just give Barry some time. I mean, he is quite good, but it just seems to me that he’s trying just a bit too hard to”color” and fill in the gaps. He can just let the game happen a bit. I think he’ll be super with a little time. Shoot, I thought Jim Day did a wonderful job filling in with Welsh last year. A fantastic sense of humor, IMO.

  6. Klugo

    Looks like Castillo took that Opening Day personally. I always look to see how pitchers bounce back from bad outings. Then I look at how they can string good ones together. He’s passed the first test. Nice bounce-back.

    • Lockersocks79

      I listened to a commentary that said that his change up didn’t have its traditional spin on in on opening day and that the cold weather might have been a factor in preventing that spin. Possible a grip factor or something like that.

      Anyways Castillo would hopefully give the Reds their 2nd act Young in as many years.

  7. Mark Moore

    This is what a good team should do to a lesser team. Ride the hot streak as long as we can! It was a good day, a good series, a good season so far …

    • JayTheRed

      The road will help us see what kind of team we have for sure. If they finish strongly by winning the series at each road location. I think we may have the best start to a season than we have ever seen in our lives.

  8. SultanofSwaff

    What else can you say, this is some of the most complete baseball this organization has played in, what, 8 years?

    More please!!!

  9. CI3J

    When Winker is ready, who sits?

    When Akiyama is ready, who goes?

    • Doug Gray

      One of these questions is a bit more pressing than the other. Winker should be ready on Friday-ish. It’ll be interesting to see what they do.

    • Indydoug

      As they say…”good problems to have”, but that will be interesting

      • Tom Reeves

        So, who still thinks the Reds didn’t spend enough money in the offseason, the front office doesn’t know what it’s doing, and Bob C should sell the club because he’s cheap?

      • Doug Gray

        I still think they didn’t spend enough money in the offseason and Bob C and company should sell the club because they are too cheap.

      • greenmtred

        I agree with Doug. You might want to save those questions until September. Six games.

    • MBS

      Is it crazy to think, no one goes? At least no hitters. Keep Aquino, and Naquin as pinch hitters / defensive replacements. Rotate the 4 NC, NS, JW, and SA. Then you’d have to sacrifice a bullpen spot. 14 Fielders / 12 Pitchers. It would also allow for those games where Bell wants all lefties, or all righties in the OF.

      • David

        I think, unfortunately, that Blandino goes. And Winker will be asked to start working out with a first baseman’s mitt.
        I’ve seen Alex play a lot of minor league ball. He’s really a good guy. I wish there was room for all of them.
        I mean, do you waive or send down Naquin after this week? Options? I always thought he was a good outfielder, but he’s hitting way over his head.
        And if Castellano has a great year, will he leave, or can the Red’s afford him? Which is why you keep Aquino now. And Aquino is out of options.

      • Tom Reeves

        Right now, it’s Blandino. Farmer is the best defensive SS the team has, is wildly versatile in his ability to play nearly every position (even pitcher) – so he stays.

        Naquin, who’s name is basically French for snot, has to stay right now. He not stay hot but boy is he hot right now.

        Aquino might be regaining his pop in his bat and we know what that looks like. Frankly, I’d I’m Aquino, I’m learning 1B. He’s right handed, would be able to spell Votto, has plenty of power, and, when hot, he’s the Punisher.

        To me, Akiyama is a lessor question because I expect someone too cool off by the time Akiyama returns. And, maybe it’s Akiyama that doesn’t have a spot.

        Even if Blandino gets sent down, he’s going to be back up at some point. And if Blandino isn’t called back up, it’s because everyone is playing great and is healthy. There are worse problems to have.

      • MBS

        (6) OF: NC, NS, JW, SA, TN, AA
        (6) IF: JV, JI, ES, MM, KF, AB
        (2) C: TB, TS
        (5) SP: LC, SG, TM, WM, ML
        (7) RP: AG, LS, SD, CP, TA, JH, JDL

      • Tomn

        Could it be trade time already? Aquino and Blandino and get a good reliever? I think we need another RP. Either Romano or someone we get through a trade. I like both Aquino and Blandino too. So this is painful. But they both deserve to play somewhere. Preferably in the AL if not here.

      • Steven Schoenbaechler

        When OF’s come back, it’s OF’s who are going to sit or leave.

        It’s going to be a tough call, that’s definite. I have to think Aquino goes. The only thing with that is, if I recall right, we don’t have any more options with Aquino. So, I believe we lose him.

        But, who else do you sit? I mean, I could understand demoting Blandino, but, again, I don’t believe in sitting an IF for an OF and have a glut of OF’s.

        For the OF, also, I will say, it’s still possible for 4 OF’s to get 120 starts each. I don’t think you live with 5 OF’s getting 96 starts each. Someone has to sit.

        Maybe a trade for a reliever? Or for a starter?

      • 2020ball

        I could see them optioning Naquin, but I’m not sure its likely. Wouldnt surprise me a bit if it ends up happening, obviously his hot hitting makes that pretty difficult.

      • Dennis

        Sad to say but it may be time to remove Votto from the everyday lineup and train a replacement at First Base like Winker or Aquino. Tyler Naquin has earned a spot to play everyday in the outfield and bat in the leadoff position!

    • Lockersocks79

      IMO Naquin gets to keep on starting until he comes back down to earth.

      Hopefully they all do great and we’re looking at two options:

      1. Good trade pieces in July to bring in needed players for the playoff run!

      2. If Castellanos decides to opt out and a sign elsewhere next season, the Reds will have options as well.

  10. Kurt Frost

    Let’s see if they keep up the momentum on the road.

  11. Ghostrunner_onthird

    Looking forward to the AZ series. I’ve got good seats.

  12. Untchbl

    Tough decisions all around. Maybe look at trading Shogo.

    • David

      That would work, but his trade value is probably about zip right now. The Reds would have to pay someone to take his paycheck off their payroll.

    • LDS

      Will Castellanos opt out if he has a really good year? Which OF’er has the best trade value: Senzel, Winker, Naquin, Aquino, or Akiyama? Which has the greatest upside? Who would make the better 1st baseman? Is it time to move Saurez? In my mind, it comes down to how good is this team really. The first six games have been fun but can they remain competitive over the full schedule? I don’t have a clue.

      • Lockersocks79

        If castellanos has a monster season, he’ll opt out and the Reds will most likely pass on him as that seems to be their history with players as of late. They’ll fall back on the squad of fielders to replace him.

        -Naquin will most likely cool down to the point that he’ll be on the bench most innings.

        -Votto will give up time at first base to rest but he’ll still get a majority of play time for the next few years.

        So even though we have a packed house it’ll sort it’s self out at the season plays on.

        I just wish Aquino could play a full season. He’s a 40 hr guy with potential.

  13. Roger Garrett

    Great team win and yes they should have and did sweep the Bucs.You still have to play each game with a focus and they did do that.Got off quickly and it was basically over and thats what you like to see with 5 in the first.Didn’t even let the Bucs think they had a chance.Young guys playing with energy and the Reds are playing fast with India and Senzel.Whats not to like right now?Naquin has really quick hands to the ball and it jumps off his bat.Now if we can get Eugenio on board and I think it will happen soon we just get better.

  14. Rut

    What is the opposite meme from Milton the goat? Because that is what I am feeling right now!

  15. Indy Red Man

    3 of the 4 Reds hrs were oppo today. You don’t have to kill the ball in gabp to do damage…especially during the day. More importantly its the right approach to take on the road where you may be able to live off HRs.

    Its been fun so far! Alot of guys contributing! Big 2 run double for Farmer in the 1st. That felt like the game winner right there! Actually Farmer gets the Game Winning RBI! I liked that stat. I don’t know why they brought it in and then killed it so quickly. Granted it can be very random, but so are alot of things.

  16. Jim t

    Would really like to see Winker get some reps at 1st. Base. That would open up some playing time for our young outfielders and hopefully the rest will help Joey. It’s also looking like when Joey’s contract ends 1st base would be a nice spot for him.

    • Indy Red Man

      What about Castellanos at 1B? He’s 6’4 and he used to play in the infield.

      • jim walker

        Just a short shoutout here for Aristides Aquino. In 6 game appearances, he has made 10 plate appearances for an OPS slash of .300/1.000/1.300 with 3 extra base hits (1 double; 2 HR).

        Yes, the sample size is ridiculously small; but, he is doing exactly what a bench player is supposed to do, contributing when given a chance.

    • MBS

      Winker will be a FA when Joey’s contract ends.

  17. Jimbo44CN

    Just so much fun to watch/listen to these games. brings me back to when I was a kid with a transistor radio, with a couple of friends, listening to Nuxhall in the 70s. Keeping score with a pencil and piece of paper while walking around our little town screaming each time May, Perez, Bench or Morgan did something great. I know it probably will calm down, but what a time to be a Reds fan. !!

    • TR

      Little by little it’s dawning on me that the Reds GM has a plan.

      • Roger Garrett

        Nope its just that the younger guys are getting a shot and have energized this team.You have to let them play to see what they can do.None of the vets on this team have ever had to worry about losing their job and now when the young guys play and play well the questions start pouring in.

      • Jefferson Green

        Roger, don’t you think that is part of the plan? The Reds signed ‘extra’ talent last offseason to create the extra outfielder and paid Moustakas even though third base seemed locked up for years to come.

  18. Redsfan4life

    I would pump the brakes just a bit on worrying about getting so much playing time for Naquin.

    • MBS

      They will be pumped, Winker should be back Friday. At best he gets a start here or there, but they won’t bench NC, NS, or JW to give TN an everyday spot.

    • Roger Garrett

      Jefferson,you could be right but I think it was more of a one year shot to see if they could make the playoffs but had to give one guy 2 opt out years,one a 4 year deal and one a 3 year deal just for the shot.Now they have them all and with India pushing and getting a job,which he never ever would have got if the Reds had signed a shortstop the young uns are pushing the vets.The young catcher is pushing for playing time,he is not Tuck on defense yet but he did pretty well handling Castillo yesterday.Naquin is on fire and Senzel and Big Nick play if healthy so what happens with Shogo and Wink.Aquino is a threat against lefties and coming off the bench.Regardless the money always plays.Hindsight is always what we look at but just think we could have paid for a short stop,started India at second and left Suarez at third and have Wink,Senzel and Naquin in the outfield with Aquino as the number 4 guy out there.No Big Nick,No Shogo and No Moose and a bunch of money.Just something to think about.

  19. RojoBenjy

    Hey MLB

    Based on the precedent you set with Castellanos suspension, Contreras should get about 7-10 days in my estimation

  20. Votto4life

    I was all set to love baseball for the sake of baseball this season. Now recalibrating.

  21. VaRedsFan

    @Doug, or anyone. Is sending a player to the alternate site the same as optioning them?

  22. Hotto4Votto

    Good bounce back for Luis. Expected nothing less. Great to get the sweep. Love how the offense is clicking right now.

    The outfield mix will be interesting to follow when both Winker and Akiyama are back. If I recall correctly, Naquin seemed to found out he made the team before Aquino. Don’t think the Reds would risk losing Aquino for nothing though, but it’s also tough to carry 6 outfielders. Maybe an early trade is in order. Weren’t there some rumors regarding Aquino and the White Sox? Or was that just speculation?

    • GreatRedLegsFan

      Tough decisions lies ahead, Castellanos and Senzel are fixtures, leaving three spots for four players. So far Naquin has been impressive and Aquino has no options. Winker is a solid LH hitter and arb eligible in 2022, but poor defender and base runner, he may be a good trade bait. Akiyama is yet to show anything for the two seasons left in his $23MM contract.

      • MBS

        Aquino is batting .300 with 2HR’s and a 2B as a pinch hitter. That’s playing well, and very valuable. I think the average pinch hitter is a .200 AVG guy. I am increasingly of the mind of carrying 6 OF, using Aquino and Naquin as PH, and LIDR players.

    • Jimbo44CN

      We dont need to trade Aquino. Naquin has been great, but bound to cool off. Trade for who? The guy has 3 hits in 9 at bats, two of them homers. Where do you find guys that come off the bench and do that? You dont.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Sure, the hope is that the OF will naturally sort itself out. If Naquin cools off and is optioned, or someone else hits the IL (hoping not), then it’s all good for roster management. But I also think the Reds may like Naquin’s defensive flexibility and experience better, which is why I noted he was told he made the club before Aquino. He seems to be ahead in the pecking order as far as the Reds are concerned (also evidenced by getting starts over Aquino with Winker out). But with Aquino being out of options, he can’t be sent down without the risk of losing him. I’d bet he’d be picked up off waivers. So, in the specific scenario where you’d lose him for nothing or trade him, I’d try to get something for him. That’s all.

      • MBS

        I wonder if it was Castellanos down, if Aquino would have been getting the starts? Not sure but I know how Bell like to construct his lineup.

  23. Davy13

    I still believe that India was safe!

    • JayTheRed

      Yes I do too, I think NY or wherever they do the review they missed that call.

    • 2020ball

      I dunno, I think he got him on the heel just barely. It was an awkward tag and it was hard to see, but I think they couldn’t really overturn the call based on it.

  24. 2020ball

    Fun times boys and girls, glad baseballs back. Hopefully they can keep this offensive machine rollin’

  25. Still a Red

    I like Garrett’s swagger, I think he keeps it in bounds…but a little humble pie might do him some good…glad it didn’t hurt us. I think a Garrett/Sims closing duo would be ideal.
    Is Naquin a Gennett/Dietrich or an Aquino?? Too early to tell. If the former, may be hard to bench him. Too early to talk trading anyone…God forbid injuries down the road. I like the suggestion of giving Winker some time at first (not sure how good he is there??) Noticed that Blandino is spelling Joey there for now.
    Suarez given a seat. If Castellanos can convince him to go with the pitch, Suarez will be fine. No harm with Farmer at SS until then.
    Have noticed quite a few of the Reds HRs have come on pitches out over the plate. That probably won’t last.

    • Jimbo44CN

      I told my wife that listening to the game yesterday. He needs to tone down the talk a bit until he backs it up on the mound. In a non blowout game that would have been big trouble.

  26. ClevelandRedsFan

    Doug, any chance any of the outfielders can play 1B to spell Votto?

    I know Castellanos used to be a 3B.

    It’s easy for us fans to move guys around like it’s a video game. But hey, Reds moved suarez to SS and don’t seem to be moving him back.

    • TyGuy88

      The Reds hopefully have a plan for Votto’s regression. It’s plain as day and has been happening for years. Having the OF rotation or Moose work in at 1B seems like a good solution.

  27. ClayMC

    Since the start of the Live Ball Era (1920-), this was just the 9th time a Reds team has scored 57+ runs in a 6-game stretch. First time since 2005. Not sustainable, obviously, but I also said that after game 4, and again after game 5. I’ll keep saying it and crossing my fingers that I continue being wrong!

  28. Krozley

    Good start for Naquin, but let’s not be hasty. All games count, but outside of his one big game, he’s hitting .200 in the other five, albeit with a solid .833 OPS. Senzel and Winker are mostly likely going to be injured at times during the year, along with Shogo, so everyone will get a chance. Naquin has options and still may get 250 ABs. Aquino will get his chance against lefties. I think the potential failure was not getting Senzel some infield time in ST along with Winker or NC some reps at 1B. That would open up some flexibility and playing time for the outfielders (at the expense of Blandino) while letting everyone get needed off days. No way anyone should be traded at this point.

  29. Old Big Ed

    Akiyama is a month away from playing, so there isn’t much point to worrying about the roster for the time being. Having said that, Akiyama might be a good fit for the Angels, who need a LH-hitting outfielder. They do have Brandon Marsh in the high minors, and a 35-year-old switch-hitting Dexter Fowler.

    As I’ve said, a situation like this always seems to work itself out. An injury here, a slump or hot streak there, or something.

    They likely need one of the outfielders, probably Winker or Naquin, to learn some first base. Moustakas would work, but for a team with a lot of third basemen, the Reds don’t really have anybody who slots in there right now, without leaving a bigger hole somewhere else.

    Nick Senzel has been quietly outstanding, in all parts of the game. A healthy Senzel can be an All-Star level player.

  30. Ponyboy

    I’ve been saying for 3 years that I don’t get why they’re not grooming Winker to take over for Joey at first. Other than the DH factor? What could I possibly be missing? That Jesse just can’t pick it? Somebody help because it has seemed beyond obvious that he should be Votto’s successor.