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Bullpen implosion dooms Cincinnati Reds in 10-5 loss to Cleveland Guardians

It was ugly early, fun for a bit, and really, really ugly late.

Minnesota Twins v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

A bloop fell into shallow CF to plate a pair of unearned Cleveland Guardians runs. On said bloop, the Reds biggest offseason signing injured himself as he slammed into the team’s most oft-injured player beside him. Shane Bieber held a no-hitter as the scoreboard reached the Bottom of the 6th, and that all came on a day when the COO of the Cincinnati Reds twice taunted fans with the idea that they’d just pack up shop and move the team if we didn’t fall in line.

It wasn’t exactly the typical Opening Day, and that’s beside the fact that it’s April 12th and the Reds entered the day having already played four games. Despite all of that noise, however...

...the Cincinnati Reds rubbed some dirt on it, rolled up their cliches, and punched their way back into contention in the GABP opener. For a time, at least, (and I really didn’t feel like re-writing most of this for a third time).

A double by Jake Fraley followed a Kyle Farmer walk in the home-half of the 6th, Fraley’s two-bagger breaking up the Bieber no-no bid. Jonathan India then followed with a 2-run double that chased the Cleveland ace, with lefty Anthony Gose brought on to face Tyler Naquin in a big spot.

Naquin, of course, has been pretty much a platoon-bat only since joining the Reds, but since Tommy Pham had previously exited after his collision with Nick Senzel in CF, Aristides Aquino - normally the other-half of the Naquin platoon - was already in the game. That left Naquin up in a big spot against his former club, and he responded by socking the everloving hell out of a ball, a 2-run dinger off the batter’s eye in CF that leveled the score at 4-4 and brought the entirety of the sold-out GABP crowd to life.

Unfortunately, that was the end of the good vibes on the day. Kyle Farmer singled to lead off a would-be rally in the Bottom of the 8th, but was doubled off 1B on a flyout to LF because he’d taken off to try to steal on the pitch. That sucked the life out of the stadium, as did the decision to turn to Hunter Strickland for the 9th after Tony Santillan looked brilliant in an 11 pitch Top of the 8th.

As it turns out, that call got magnified immediately courtesy of a leadoff double and an eventual 2-run dinger by Andres Gimenez. Strickland later exited after letting another pair of Guardians reach base, prompting David Bell to turn to Daniel Duarte to try to get out of the jam.

It kept right on jamming, however. Steven Kwan, who has never been retired in the history of ever, reached to load the bags ahead of José Ramirez, who parked a grand slam into the RF seats to further salt these wounds of ours. That left the scoreboard at 10-4 in favor of Cleveland, and while the Reds picked up a run in the Bottom of the 10th, that’s all she wrote on this Opening Day.

Reds lost, 10-5.

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

It’s Naquin, whose homer was the biggest memory-searing event of the day from the Reds.

Honorable Mentions are due to: Tyler Stephenson, who threw out three (!!!) would-be Cleveland base-swipers on the day; and Tony Santillan, who fired another filthy-clean IP in the 8th.

Tony Graphanino

Other Notes

  • Pham stayed in the game initially after the sliding collision, but exited an inning later with what’s being described as a ‘wrist injury.’
  • Tyler Mahle wasn’t quite as sparkly as he was on the actual Opening Day of the season, but his defense didn’t exactly help him out. A passed ball and an error of his own commission led to 3 of the 4 runs he allowed being unearned, but that also ran up his pitch count to the point where he was chased after just 4 IP. His final line: 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 4 K on 81 pitches.
  • Tomorrow’s series finale against the Guardians will also be an afternoon affair, but earlier - it’s a 12:35 PM ET start at GABP. Nick Lodolo will get the nod for his big league debut, even though the Reds haven’t made a roster move to technically make that official just yet. Triston McKenzie will toe the rubber opposite Lodolo.
  • Tunes.