We're still in the first week of 2016, but it still feels good to know that the Reds are 3-0. No, this doesn't necessarily mean that Cincinnati will finish with a much better record than expected. However, that doesn't mean that Reds' fans can't enjoy it, and there's been a lot to enjoy. The late inning heroics. The arrival of the newcomers. The Cardinals' struggles. April baseball has been pretty good.
While the 3-0 start to the season has been nice, where does it rank in terms of Cincinnati's best starts to a season? Throughout their long and storied history the Reds have had a handful of noteworthy winning streaks to start a new year. While you're taking a few moments to enjoy the early season sweep of the Phillies, lets take a trip down memory lane. What were other memorable starts to the season in Cincinnati?
2011 Reds Start the Season 5-0
|Game 1: Reds 7 - Brewers 6:||Game 4: Reds 8 - Astros 2|
|Game 2: Reds 4 - Brewers 2||Game 5: Reds 12 - Astros 4|
|Game 3: Reds 12 - Brewers 3|
Opening day starter Edison Volquez got the year off to a precarious start. In the first game of the season he surrendered 5 R over 6 IP, and left Cincinnati in a 5-2 hole when he exited. Things looked bleak headed to the bottom of the 9th and the Reds trailing 6-3.
Brewers closer John Axford entered the game, but the Reds were able to keep hope alive. Brandon Phillips opened the inning with a single, and Joey Votto promptly walked on five pitches. Scott Rolen grounded in to what appeared to be the first out, but Casey McGehee missed the tag on Phillips at 3rd. With the bases loaded and no one out Jay Bruce struck out. They were able to cut the lead to 6-4 thanks to a Johnny Gomes sac fly, but that still left them trailing by two with two outs.
Who was coming to the plate? Ramon Hernandez. What did he do? Well, you remember, but why not enjoy the video again?
The Reds would go on to win four more in a row, but none of those wins matched the dramatic finish to Opening Day. There were some other notable performances scattered throughout. In game two Travis Wood only allowed 1 ER in 7 innings, and he was aided by a two run Scott Rolen homer in the first. Game three featured an offensive explosion marked by two Ryan Hanigan home runs.
Unfortunately the party had to end on April 6. In the third game of their series with the Astros the Reds fell 3-2. The game was tied heading into the 9th, but Nick Masset allowed a two out RBI double to pinch hitter Matt Downs. The Reds couldn't conjure up another comeback, and that was the end of the winning streak.
Final 2011 Record: 79-83 (3rd in NL Central)
1990 Reds Start the Season 9-0
|Game 1: Reds 8 - Astros 4||Game 4: Reds 5 - Braves 2||Game 7: Reds 2 - Padres 1|
|Game 2: Reds 3 - Astros 2||Game 5: Reds 13 - Braves 6||Game 8: Reds 11 - Padres 7|
|Game 3: Reds 5 - Astros 0||Game 6: Reds 5 - Braves 3||Game 9: Reds 8 - Braves 1|
It was obvious from the get-go that the 1990 Reds were going to be a force to be reckoned with. However, one of the best starts to a season in Reds history almost never happened. An owners' lockout prior to spring training wasn't settled until March 19. The delayed start meant that Opening Day was pushed back to April 9th, and the Reds opened the year in Houston.
However, the lockout wasn't the only thing that almost stopped the Reds streak before it began. Cincinnati would need extra innings to finally overcome the Astros. The game was deadlocked at 4-4 all the way into the 11th inning. Houston reliever Charlie Kerfeld opened the inning by issuing a walk to Joe Oliver. Hal Morris followed up with a single, and Ron Oester moved everyone over with a sacrifice bunt. Following an intentional walk to Chris Sabo, Kerfeld was able to strikeout Billy Hatcher on three pitches. Barry Larkin played the hero by clearing the bases with a triple, and he eventually scored on an Eric Davis single. Randy Myers closed the door in the bottom of the 11th, and the Reds were off and running.
The final game of the series with Houston featured a combined shutout by Jack Armstrong and Rich Mahler. In game five the Reds teed off on Atlanta. Billy Hatcher, Eric Davis, and Chris Sabo all homered in the 13-6 romp. The final win of the streak was once again due in part to strong pitching by Armstrong. He only allowed one run through 6 innings of work. Norm Charlton, Tim Layana, and Kip Gross only surrendered one hit in the final three innings.
The streak finally game to an end on Saturday, April 22. The Reds fell 3-1 to the Braves and Tom Glavine. The Atlanta starter only surrendered one run over 7 2/3 innings, and Cincinnati had no luck against closer Mike Stanton. After the first inning the Reds didn't allow another run, but the Braves didn't need anymore than Dale Murphy's three run homer.
Final 1990 Record: 91-71 (1st in NL West)
And oh yeah...
1980 Reds Start the Season 8-0
|Game 1: Reds 9 - Braves 0||Game 4: Reds 5 - Braves 0||Game 7: Reds 5 - Giants 3|
|Game 2: Reds 6 - Braves 0||Game 5: Reds 6 - Giants 5||Game 8: Reds 4 - Braves 1|
|Game 3: Reds 5 - Braves 4||Game 6: Reds 8 - Giants 3|
In 1980 Cincinnati got off to a fast start in large part thanks to their pitching. Frank Pastore threw a complete game shutout on Opening Day against the Braves. Mike LaCoss followed that performance up with six shutout innings of his own in a rain shortened game two (6 innings). Atlanta finally scored on Cincinnati in the 7th inning of the third game of the season. It was a four run 7th, and it gave the Braves a promising 4-1 lead. The Reds were able to cut the lead to 4-3 heading in to the 9th. In the bottom of the 9th, Dave Concepcion hit a two run walk off homer to keep the streak alive.
The Reds followed up their sweep of the Braves with a sweep of the Giants. However, Cincinnati needed an incredible 9th inning rally to take game one of that series. The Giants entered the 9th with a 5-1 lead thanks to starter Bob Knepper. With two outs that Reds were able to push home two runs on base hits by Dan Driessen and Junior Kennedy. A Ken Griffey walk loaded the bases for Dave Colins and he proceeded to hit the rare bases clearing walk off triple against Gary Lavelle.
For the third series of the season the Reds headed to Atlanta, and they finally dropped a game on April 18th. The Reds couldn't scratch together any offense, and Rick Matula pitched a complete game shutout for the Braves. Following the loss the Reds would win three more in a row to get to 11-1.
Final 1980 Record: 89-73 (3rd in NL West)
Honorable Mentions: The Reds had three other seasons begin with a least five wins to start the season. In 1919 the Reds opened the season with seven straight wins, and they would go on to win the World Series over the White Sox. In 1897 the Reds started 6-0. The 1887 Cincinnati Red Stockings opened the season 5-0.