The Cincinnati Reds struck first in the first game of this, the 2022 Major League Baseball season that finally, mercifully got around to getting started. That came in the Top of the 2nd after Tyler Stephenson took a curveball off his foot, moved up to 2B on a Nick Senzel single, and later scored on a ribbie off the bat of Kyle Farmer to take a 1-0 lead.
That proved to be a lead the Reds would never relinquish.
The Top of the 3rd had a similar tune, though it was a pair of bloops into RF for singles and a Tommy Pham walk that set the stage for an RBI-single by Joey Votto, all of which came with nary an out. The inning’s initial out came on a Stephenson sac-fly into RF that allowed Aristides Aquino to trot home, and it was a 3-0 lead for the Reds behind a cruising Tyler Mahle.
That cruise ended in the Bottom of the 3rd, however, as Mahle ran into a bout of wildness. He walked back to back batters with 2-out, and lead runner Eddie Rosario came in to score when Austin Riley’s grounder to 3B Brandon Drury forced a late throw that actually hit Riley as he reached 1B. It was scored a single and an error to allow the run in, and Mahle got himself out of the jam by catching a 104.5 mph comebacker off the bat of Marcell Ozuna a batter later. Reds led, 3-1.
The Reds finally chased Max Fried in the Top of the 6th, and did so after the Reds had again blooped their way into a pair of baserunners. Atlanta turned to Colin McHugh in relief, and Drury promptly took him yard for a 3-run blast over the LF wall that put the Reds ahead, 6-1.
The game calmed quickly, at that point, but heated up again in the Bottom of the 8th, thanks mostly to Austin Riley’s 2-run tater off Dauri Moreta that made it a 6-3 ballgame. From that point on, though, Moreta settled in, handed it off to Tony Santillan for the 9th, and the Reds rolled home with a 6-3 win in an Opening Day game outside their own friendly confines.
The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Tyler Mahle came out spinnin’ aces, barely missing the strike zone in any of his first pair of innings against the defending World Series champs. He ran into a small bout of wildness eventually - as one does - but pitched out of it as part of a 5 IP, R (0 ER) Opening Day outing that I’m sure he’ll remember forever.
He yielded just a trio of hits despite some hard contact here and there, walked a pair (back to back) and fanned 7, all the while filling the role of first up starter admirably for the Reds.
Well done, Tyler. Here’s to hoping this somehow manages to work in home games as well as road tussles this season.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Brandon Drury, who socked a huge 3-run dinger to break the game wide open; Jonathan India, who socked a pair of singles from the leadoff spot, scored a run, and made at least one tremendous diving play at 2B; Justin Wilson, who looked like his velocity had ticked up a couple MPH in a perfect IP of relief (with 2 K); and Tony Santillan, who shut the door in the 9th to pick up the save.
- During the Bottom of the 4th inning - while Atlanta was batting and the Reds were trying to play defense - Joey Votto was mic’d up with the ESPN broadcast. It was absolutely tremendous to watch, as engaging as I might have ever seen an MLB player be in that kind of circumstance, and while I can only begin to fathom how distracting it must have been for him, I’m so excited we got to see it.
- It was glorious. I’m searching for more clips.
- Friday’s game between these two will feature Reiver Sanmartin on the bump for the Reds opposite veteran righty Charlie Morton. First pitch in the Atlanta suburbs is slated for 7:20 PM ET, which is certainly a time for baseball games to start.