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Reds 5, Pirates 2: Todd Frazier's late blast backs Johnny Cueto's shutdown of Pittsburgh

Dominant pitching and late drama were the stories in today's Opening Day affair.

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Johnny Cueto may not be long for the Cincinnati Reds, but it sure looks like he's intent on being the eyeball slicer at the top of their rotation while he's here, and today he did just that while breezing through the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup.  Cueto brushed off a rain delay to throw 7 scoreless innings, striking out 10 and walking just a single hitter en route.  The Reds' ace allowed just 4 hits on the afternoon and threw 70 of his 100 pitches for strikes, which has come to be a pretty ho-hum outing for Cueto against his NL Central rivals to the East.  He's just been that good, and for that he cruises home with the first JNMHSotG of the young season.

Honorable Mentions are due to:  Jay Bruce, who walked and absolutely crushed a solo dinger; Joey Votto, who had a pair of singles; Billy Hamilton, who singled, stole a base, and scored twice; Aroldis Chapman, who tossed a perfect 9th inning for a save (while striking out the first 2 Pirates he faced); and Todd Frazier, who mauled a Tony Watson meatball for the 3-run dinger that sealed the victory.

Key Plays

  • Cueto struck out the side in the Top of the 3rd inning, the the last of which being the 1,000th of his career.  He then took the most casual walk I've ever seen in the Bottom of the 3rd, and that indirectly haunted Francisco Liriano.  Cueto was out at 2B on a Billy Hamilton groundout, but Hamilton then motored to 3B when Votto singled, and then scooted home when Liriano balked with Todd Frazier at the plate. Reds led, 1-0.
  • Bruce stepped to the plate against Liriano in a driving rain in the Bottom of the 4th, and at that point in his career he'd been 1 for 19 with 7 K's against the lefty.  He then smashed a calculator over his head and hit a pitch so hard I could feel it over the wall in right-center for a solo dinger.  Reds led, 2-0.
  • A fairly short rain delay halted play after the end of the 5th inning, and when play resumed later, Cueto stayed in to pitch the Top of the 6th.  No matter, though:  he K'd the first two Pirates he faced.
  • Kevin Gregg's repertoire hit the fan in the Top of the 8th, when everything he threw was clobbered, bashed, smashed, or lambasted.  Andrew Lambo almost did damage himself when he hooked a Gregg meatball just foul of the RF line for a would-be dinger, and after he lined out loudly, Josh Harrison singled to start the rally.  Polanco then hit a screamer that forced Marlon Byrd into a leaping catch at the LF wall before Bryan Price for some reason thought Gregg had shown enough to face McCutchen.  Welp, McCutchen smashed a game-tying 2-run dinger over the wall in CF.  Welp, welp, welp.  Game tied, 2-2.
  • The Reds wasted little time in putting the pieces back together, however.  In the Bottom of the 8th, Hamilton got the Reds back in action with a 1-out single off Watson, and he moved up to 2B when Votto followed with an opposite field single after being down in the count 0-2.  Frazier then launched a 3-run dinger into the upper deck in LF, his first hit in 9 PAs against Watson in his career.  Way to break the ice, Toddy Boop.  Chapman blew through the 9th for his first save of the season, and that was that.  Reds win, 5-2!

Tony Graphanino

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • I'm not privy to the language of the 2-year contract Todd signed before the season, so I'm not entirely sure if he gets paid to balk, or not.
  • Speaking of Frazier, he made a fantastic play to rob Andrew McCutchen of extra bases (and the Pirates of a run) in the Top of the 1st.  Gregory Polanco had singled a batter before the 2013 NL MVP, and would've scored easily had Frazier not made a diving stab on the laser hit to his right.
  • 43,633 fans turned out for this one, which broke the record for the largest crowd in GABP history.  Well done, Cincinnati.
  • The Tuesday off-day is already on my nerves.  STOP TEASING US, BASEBALL!
  • John E. Cueto.
  • Tunes.