The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Nick Castellanos hit a 2-run homer rather hard in Thursday’s Opening Day contest against the St. Louis Cardinals, part of a multi-hit day that helped power the Cincinnati Reds offense in a game they ultimately lost. His offensive game kept right on clicking on Saturday, too, as he came to the plate twice and managed to score both times.
That’s, uh, burying the lede a bit on my part. While Nick singled and scored his first trip to the plate, he took a fastball to the left arm when in the box the second time, and it sure didn’t look like a pitch that had slipped. After taking exception to it a bit, he offered the ball back to pitcher Jake Woodford, and after his teammates moved him around the diamond to 3B, he raced home and scored on a head-first slide that just beat a diving Woodford to the plate.
Then came the flex that Reds fans won’t soon forget, as Bally Sports Cincinnati relayed:
The Reds' and Cardinals' dugouts have emptied after Nick Castellanos scores on a wild pitch. pic.twitter.com/M8sSctUjbo— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) April 3, 2021
Benches cleared, tensions flared, and the Reds/Cardinals rivalry instantly had a shot in its arm that may well require a second dose in four weeks.
Anyway, Nick Castellanos might not have been the face of the Reds four hours ago, but he pretty well made that leap today in a drama-packed win for the Reds.
Honorable Mentions are due to: a lot of Reds, including Tucker Barnhart for socking a dinger, Tyler Mahle for a rock-solid outing (5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K); Jonathan India for doing absolutely everything; Aristides Aquino for bonking a homer; and Tyler Naquin for ribbying, walking, and taking a plunk.
- Mahle left a meatball over the plate to Paul DeJong in the Top of the 2nd, and DeJong deposited said meatball in the LF seats for a solo homer. Reds trailed, 1-0.
- The Reds finally got a lead in 2021 in the Bottom of the 3rd. Naquin coaxed a leadoff walk off Adam Wainwright, and Barnhart followed with a 2-run Tuck Job into the seats in right-center. Later, both Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos poked singles, each moved up a bag on a Barry Larkin Approved Productive Out [TM] by Joey Votto, and that proved large when back to back dinked singles by Eugenio Suarez and Mike Moustakas each drove in additional runs. The BABIP Gods kept right on smiling with Jonathan India’s infield single down the 3B line to load the bases, and Naquin followed with a 2-run single to keep the pile-on rolling and chase Wainwright to an early shower. Reds led, 6-1.
- DeJong sauced another Mahle meatball in the Top of the 4th, though it was once again fortunately just of the solo variety. Reds led, 6-2.
- Nick Castellanos was plunked by an inside heater from Jake Woodford in the Bottom of the 4th, and his reaction to it was rather entertaining to behold. A Votto single and Suarez walk later loaded the bases, and a wild pitch led to Castellanos flying home and sliding in under the tag/tackle. Castellanos flexed on Woodford, chaos ensued, the benches cleared at least twice, it’s still a damn pandemic with one MLB in quarantine with games postponed, and did I mention chaos ensued? Anyway, Castellanos ended up ejected and Woodford eventually was back on the mound to walk Moose to re-load the bases, and he hit India with a breaking ball on the elbow to drive in another Reds run. Reds led, 8-2, after an inning I’m sure both sides will quickly forget and move on from.
- Mahle’s day ended on a laser of a single into LF from Nolan Arenado that led off the Top of the 6th, and Cam Bedrosian came on to relieve him. A walk followed, but what would’ve been the final out of the inning ended up kicking off the glove of Aristides Aquino in LF for an error, a ball he dropped while fighting a vicious sun at that time of the day. Arenado scored, and the Reds held an 8-3 lead.
- Aquino got that run right back, though, blasting an Andrew Miller meatwad way the heck over the LF wall, a laser that flew off the bat at an absurd 112 mph. Reds led, 9-3.
- Cionel Perez was electric for a time on the mound, but he exited with 1-out in the Top of the 8th after allowing a walk and a single. Sean Doolittle came on to clean up the damage, but after a walk to Yadier Molina loaded the bases, a Dylan Carlson flyout to RF allowed DeJong to tag and score. That would-be rally ended there, however, and the Reds held a 9-4 lead.
- Sal Romano was given the task of wrapping things in the 9th, and that admittedly came against the heart of the Cardinals order. That didn’t go so well, as Romano walked Paul Goldschmidt before Arenado smacked a 2-run tater into the LF seats to make it 9-6. That, though is how this eventful game would finally end.
- Somehow, Nick Castellanos was the only player ejected after the 4th inning fracas, which is completely ridiculous.
- Jay Bruce is no longer on the Cincinnati Reds, but today marked his 34th birthday. He chipped in with a snazzy defensive play at 1B for the New York Yankees and even added a 2-ribbie single. Happy birthday, Jay!
- The Reds got at least one hit from every spot in the order except 9th on the day.
- Tomorrow will see the Reds and Cardinals wrap their series, and it’ll mark the official Reds debut of righty Jeff Hoffman. He’ll be countered by veteran righty Carlos Martinez of St. Louis, with first pitch set for 1:10 PM ET.