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Homer Bailey solid, Reds fall to Nationals 2-0 on Opening Day

Max Scherzer has won back to back Cy Young Awards for a reason, y’know.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of folks groaned loudly when it was announced that Homer Bailey, he of the 6.39 ERA since 2015, was announced as the team’s Opening Day starter. The Homer we’d seen of the last three years wasn’t who manager Bryan Price was tabbing with that honor, though, as it was clear he was hoping the first full, healthy offseason Bailey’d had in that time would lead to greatly improved performance.

Bailey sure looked like the Homer of very old against the Washington Nationals on Friday, holding them to a lone run in a quality start. Unfortunately, the Reds were also tasked with facing three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer through the first two-thirds of the day, which isn’t exactly conducive for offensive production. That paired with a revamped Washington bullpen conspired to keep the Cincinnati offense off the board completely, as the Nats took home a 2-0 victory.

It should absolutely be noted that this is an incredibly good Washington Nationals club. Opening Day losses are bummers, but there was still a lot of good to take away from this one.

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Homer fired 6 excellent innings in the cold on Friday, going as toe-to-toe with Scherzer as the Reds could have hoped. The lone run he allowed came after his defense couldn’t quite put their best foot forward early, and he dialed up his K-game late when he needed it most.

His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 3 K on 104 pitches. On top of that, he added a single with his bat. If that’s anything close to the Homer we get to watch this year, the Reds rotation might actually take the steps forward we’ve hoped for.

Honorable Mentions are due to: Scooter Gennett, who had a 4 for 4 day (that included a double); Scott Schebler, who singled and swiped a bag; and Amir Garrett, who fanned a pair in a scoreless inning of relief.

Key Plays

  • The Reds’ defense didn’t exactly do Homer any favors in the Top of the 1st. Adam Eaton began the game with a legit single into RF, and he moved to 3B on a single up the middle by Bryce Harper that should’ve been an out, as it bounced off Jose Peraza’s glove despite him being positioned well on the shift. That left runners at the corners, and what could’ve been a 5-4-3 double play almost ended the inning, but Gennett’s bounced throw to 1B kicked off Joey Votto’s glove, and Eaton scored. Reds trailed, 1-0.
  • Michael Taylor dropped a bunt single down the 3B off new Reds reliever Jared Hughes to begin the Top of the 9th, and after swiping 2B and moving to 3B on a productive Matt Wieters groundout, Taylor scored on a sac-fly into LF off the bat of Brian Goodwin. That wrapped the scoring - or lack thereof - and the Reds fell, 2-0.

Tony Graphanino

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • As Better Off Red’s Jamie Ramsey noted, today’s crowd was the largest regular season crowd in GABP history.
  • Jesse Winker and Billy Hamilton collided on the warning track in left-center in the Top of the 6th, though fortunately a) both were OK and b) Winker made the catch, since the bases were loaded with 2-out. Some tweets are actually good sometime, like this one from The Enquirer photographer Kareem Elgazzar.
  • Saturday’s game will feature Luis Castillo and Stephen Strasburg as the starting pitchers, as the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals tangle in the second game of the series. First pitch is set for 2:10 PM ET.
  • Welcome the heck back, baseball.
  • Tunes.