Monday, April 6, 2015

Opening Day: Red Blasts Sinks Bucs 5-2

Todd Frazier saved Johnny Cueto from from first inning blues. With Polanco on first via a single, Cutch rocketed one inside the 3B line, ticketed for the corner, but Frazier laid out for the grab, Joey Votto picked the throw, and Cueto took care of the rest, K'ing The Kid with a little help from ump John Hirschfield. The Reds had a little action in the second, with a pair of walks; it was drizzly, but the passes were the result of patience by Cincy, not the raindrops. A fine sliding catch by Marte on a no-you-take-it pop and a pair of whiffs doused that threat.

Josh Harrison dropped a two-out double just inside the LF line in the third, but was left when El Coffee was caught looking; the bottom of the strike zone is low today, both ways. Cueto opened the Red half by drawing a walk; Frankie's third. Billy Hamilton's force followed by Joey Votto's single to right center put Redlegs on the corners, and a balk - Frankie flinched his shoulder - brought home a run. He got a K and pop after that, but walk the pitcher...

The Bucs went quietly in the fourth; Votto crushed a down-the-middle 1-2 heater into the stands to make it 2-0. The fifth flew by, with Fran Cervelli's two-out walk all the action before the tarp was pulled across the field as a storm approached. 35 minutes later, the cell rolled through and Cueto reclaimed the hill. He left several balls over the dish, but Cutch's two-out single was the only dent. Frankie cruised too - he was at seven punch outs; Cueto had eight.

Cueto helped himself in the seventh. After a two-out knock by Cervelli, Jordy drilled a liner up the middle; Johnny knocked it down and finished the play, the third nice piece of leatherwork by the Reds today. Liriano had an easy 1-2-3 frame.

Vet Kevin Gregg took the mound; Andrew Lambo fought him for 13 pitches before lining out to the track in straight center. Josh singled, and El Coffee sent Marlon Byrd crashing into the wall to haul his drive in. But there was no denying Cutch, who dropped one into the first row in right center to tie the game, bringing on Manny Parro. The Kid greeted him with a knock, then Jumbo Diaz came in to end the music by whiffing Marte.

Cutch was clutch, but the Bucs weren't today (Photo: Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
Tony Watson toed the rubber and Sean Rodriguez took over at first. After a K, Hamilton tapped a bouncer into center. Votto, surviving a close check swing call, slapped a 3-2 pitch into left. The Bucs conceded third to Hamilton; he took it without a throw. No diff; Frazier turned on a heater right at the belt and down the middle, driving it 432' into the GABP seats.

Aroldis Chapman looked for the close and got it. It took him seven pitches to whiff Rodriguez and Cervelli, and Jordy popped out foul to left to end the misery.

The game played into the Pirate hands; tying it and holding that score would have taken Chapman out of the equation. But Watson couldn't seal the deal, a rarity. Joey Votto was in the middle of all the Reds scoring, so he looks like he's back with a vengeance after an injury cursed 2014 season. Cueto, as usual, made the Pittsburgh hitters look like sandlotters. He used three different motions and had them swinging at little changes on their shoetops all day. C' est la vie; 161 games to go. Gerrit Cole and Mike Leake meet Wednesday night.

  • A couple of random stats: Red pitchers struck out 13 Pirates and walked just one, and offensively, Cincinnati had eight baserunners and five scored.
  • Starling Marte opened the 2015 season with the longest active hitting streak in baseball at 13 games. His streak ended today; his best opportunity was taken away when Hamilton charged in and made a sliding catch of his sinking liner.
  • Brewer Ryan Braun left his game with a ribcage strain and will be evaluated tomorrow. Geez, already?
  • Travis Snider went 3-for-4 with a double, 2 RBI and a throw-out at home while Steve Pearce added a homer as Baltimore drubbed Tampa Bay 8-0.
  • Jason Grilli is back in the closers role, winning the Atlanta job pretty much by default when Craig Kimbrel was traded. He wasted no time, notching save #1 today in a 3-1 Bravo win against Miami.

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