And this one belongs to the Reds!
Those beautiful words were uttered on Saturday night and this afternoon as the Reds defeated the Cardinals in two out of three games to win the season’s inaugural series. Cincinnati scored 27 runs over the course of three games after only scoring 25 runs in their first nine games against St. Louis last season.
That type of offense is what was expected from this lineup a season ago, but a league-worst .212 batting average was the result instead. Nick Castellanos is off to an incredible start, Tyler Stephenson added a three-hit game today, and rookie Jonathan India is 5-11 at the plate to begin his big league career.
There is a lot of optimism going forward in Cincinnati after starting the season with a series win over the National League Central rival St. Louis Cardinals. Not only was the offense incredible, but the pitching was pretty consistent outside of staff ace Luis Castillo on Opening Day. The Reds have a number of bullpen arms at their disposal and everyone got a chance to get some work this weekend. The bullpen depth will be the key to surviving a full 162 game schedule and making it to the postseason.
As we will do after each series, a breakdown of each individual game is provided below along with a quick look ahead to the next series.
Game 1: Cardinals 11 Reds 6
On the coldest Opening Day in Cincinnati history, the Reds fell to the Cardinals 11-6. The Cards put a six-spot on the scoreboard in the first inning and never looked back from there. Eugenio Suarez made an error on his first fielding chance at shortstop and Tyler O’Neill cleared the bases with a three-run home run to bust the game wide open.
Luis Castillo exited the game after just 3 1/3 innings allowing 10 runs, 8 earned, on 8 hits. It was Castillo’s first career game where he failed to strike a batter out. It was clear that the Red’s Opening Day starter just didn’t have his best stuff. However, the bullpen stepped up for several innings of encouraging work. Sal Romano, Carson Fulmer, and Sean Doolittle combined to allow just one hit and no runs over the final five innings while striking out six batters.
At the plate, the Reds put together competitive at-bats all game long which was good to see. Jesse Winker had the two hardest-hit balls of the game (110.9 and 112.6 exit velocities) going 2-4 with two runs scored. Nick Castellanos stayed hot coming out of Spring Training with a 3-5 day driving in two runs while scoring twice as well. Jonathan India added a 2-4 performance in his MLB debut while also playing a spectacular second base. Overall, the Reds pieced together 10 hits and drew five walks to register their six runs.
The Reds were good enough offensively to win this game, and the bullpen did their job, but a couple of early defensive miscues, and Luis Castillo not being sharp, dug too big of a hole to climb out of.
Game 2: Reds 9 Cardinals 6
The Reds offense busted out for six runs in the bottom of the third inning, including a two-run home run from catcher Tucker Barnhart. Aristides Aquino added a home run in the eighth inning as well. Mike Moustakas and Jonathan India each contributed multi-hit games as the Reds had nine different players get a base knock.
On the mound, Tyler Mahle earned the win by striking out nine batters over five innings of work. Paul DeJong hit two home runs off of Mahle which would be the only earned runs that he would surrender.
The storyline of the game ended up being a bench-clearing scuffle between the two rivals. Nick Castellanos was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning and wound up scoring on a wild pitch. As he crossed home plate he gave a strong yell and flex to the sliding Jake Woodford who was trying to make a play at the plate. Castellanos was held back as tempers flared but still wound up earning an ejection. The bad blood could be felt throughout the rest of the series.
The benches empty in Cincy after Nick Castellanos scores on a wild pitch ?
— Stadium (@Stadium) April 3, 2021
Game 3: Reds 12 Cardinals 1
In today’s rubber match, Cincinnati blasted the Cardinals to secure the series victory. Rookie catcher Tyler Stephenson went 3-4 at the plate in his first start of the season. Nick Castellanos continued his scorching hot start to the season by blasting a three-run home run in the fifth inning and also had a triple in the game. Castellanos is now batting .545 with a ridiculous 1.364 slugging percentage.
Jeff Hoffman made his Cincinnati Reds debut on the mound and turned in five quality innings of work scattering just three hits and allowing one run while striking out six. In relief, Tejay Antone, Carson Fulmer, and Sal Romano combined to allow just two hits over the final four innings.
Also of note is that Jesse Winker was out of the lineup due to an illness. Winker had left Saturday’s game after starting to not feel well. It is unclear when he will be able to return and we will continue to monitor that situation.
Upcoming: Pittsburgh Pirates
The Reds will remain at Great American Ball Park for a three-game series against the Pirates beginning Monday night at 6:40 p.m. Eastern Time. Jose De Leon will get the ball for his first start as a Red on Monday night. Then, on Tuesday, Wade Miley is scheduled to start before the rotation turns back over to Luis Castillo for a 12:35 p.m. Eastern Time getaway day game.
The Pirates won on Opening Day against the Chicago Cubs before falling 5-1 and 4-3 this weekend. They will be without rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes who was placed on the Injured List with wrist inflammation. JT Brubaker, Trevor Cahill, and Chad Kuhl will be the starting pitchers for Pittsburg.