The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Zack Cozart ended his 2015 season with a shredded knee, one that prematurely ended what had been a breakout season for him. The Cincinnati Reds SS then had to watch as Eugenio Suarez replaced him with solid results and as the Reds then acquired Jose Peraza - also a capable SS - as the big piece of their offseason rebuild. Not to be outdone, Cozy busted his tail to get his knee rehabbed, to get in shape in time for Spring Training, and to stake yet another claim that he's the team's best option to play the most important spot on the defensive diamond.
Then, he found out this week that he'd be the team's leadoff hitter. No pressure, Zack.
Cozart responded with a whale of an Opening Day, going 3 for 3 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored. While he's undoubtedly more of the guy who entered the game with a career .284 OBP than what he showed on Monday, it's hard to deny he was the spark the team's offense needed to start the season on this cold April day. So, have the first official JNMHSotG trophy of the year, Zack, and welcome the heck back.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Raisel Iglesias, who took the mound for his first Opening Day start and was nails, tossing 6 innings of 2 ER, 7 K, 0 BB delightfulness; Jumbo Diaz, who threw 1.1 perfect innings in relief; Scott Schebler, who yanked a crucial pinch-hit double; Joey Votto, who crucially crucial'd a 2-ribbie single to give the Reds a late lead; and Jay Bruce, who notched one of those 2-ribbie singles, too.
- The Reds wasted little time getting on the board in this one, thanks in large part to Cozart's leadoff double down the RF (!) line in the Bottom of the 1st. That was followed by a slow roller to the SS off the bat of Eugenio Suarez, a grounder that looked like it would be nothing more than a productive out. Ryan Howard was at 1B, though, his -15.8 career dWAR in tow, and he booted the throw to allow Suarez to reach and Cozart to round 3B and score. Reds led, 1-0.
- That lead was quickly erased, however. Carlos Ruiz smacked a leadoff single to start the Top of the 2nd, and three batters later Freddy Galvis lifted a GABP special into the first row in RF for a 2-run dinger. Reds trailed, 2-1.
- After inning after inning of fruitless efforts from the Reds offense - largely against Jeremy Hellickson, who was dominant through 6 innings - they finally made some noise against reliever David Hernandez in the Bottom of the 8th. Adam Duvall took a leadoff walk (which haunted), Tyler Holt came in to pinch-run for him, and Schebler chipped in with his pinch-hit double to put runners on 2B and 3B. Billy Hamilton then walked to load the bases, James Russell took over for the wild Hernandez, and Cozart then lifted a sac-fly to RF to tie things up. Eugenio Suarez then walked to set up a bases loaded scenario for Votto, who responded by smoking a 2-run single to CF to put the Reds back on top. Hector Neris was then tasked with trying to retire Reds only to plunk Brandon Phillips to re-load the bases, and Bruce then followed with a 2-run single to CF. All told, nine Reds made it to the plate, and the good guys left leaving 6-2.
- J.J. Hoover took over for the Top of the 9th, and after outs from highlight-reel catches in LF by Holt and in CF by Hamilton, he got a slow grounder to 1B to wrap things up. Reds won, 6-2!
- Today is Scott Rolen's 41st birthday. Happy birthday, Scott Rolen!
- Devin Mesoraco caught Iglesias for the first time in an MLB game in this one. When asked after the game about the ridiculous movement on Iggy's pitches in the interview in my head that never actually happened, Mes replied, "the movement on his pitches, it's ridiculous."
- Joey Votto struck out in each of this first three plate appearances, at times looking totally confused by Jeremy Hellickson's offerings. I do not expect that to be a trend.
- 43,683 fans were in GABP for this one, making it the largest regular season crowd in stadium history.
- Tuesday is, unfortunately, an off-day in Cincinnati, but these two teams will butt heads again on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET, with Aaron Nola scheduled to face Brandon Finnegan. Both rain and the presence of 15ish Red Reporters are in the forecast, so bring your liquid-proof jackets.