After Cincinnati fans gathered for Opening Day festivities and hopeful thoughts, the Reds came through on their end of the deal. After trailing the Philadelphia Phillies most of the game, the Reds rallied for five runs in the eighth inning. The sudden burst of offense helped them down the Phillies 6-2.
The game started as a pitcher’s duel. Raisel Iglesias started for the Reds. He was penciled in after Anthony DeSclafani was placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique in his left side. Per ESPN, Iglesias is the first Cuban pitcher to start on opening day for the Reds since Adolfo Luque in 1928.
The hard-throwing right-hander didn’t disappoint the crowd. Iglesias went six innings and struck out seven. He overcame a case of the jitters in the top of the first. After giving up a double to Cesar Hernandez, it was smooth sailing. Herrera struck out swinging, Franco flew out to left, and Ryan Howard grounded out to first.
The Reds jumped on top in the bottom of the first. Zack Cozart led off and doubled to deep right field. Eugenio Suarez reached first, on a throwing error, and Cozart scored. Joey Votto had the first of three strikeouts, and Brandon Phillips grounded out to shortstop.
Iglesias had a rough time in the second inning. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz started the action with a single to left. The right-hander regained his composure and struck out both Cedric Hunter and Peter Bourjos. The Phillies took the lead, when Galvis brought in Ruiz, with a home run to right field. Hellickson struck out swinging to end the inning.
Both pitchers settled into a groove and it looked like the Reds would suffer an Opening Day loss to the Phillies. Iglesias allowed the leadoff batter to get a hit in four of his six innings, but it was still a strong performance with two earned runs, six hits, and no walks. In his final inning, one of the perfect frames he had, Iglesias needed only six pitches.
The Reds trailed Philly until the eighth when reliever David Hernandez took over for Hellickson. He proceeded to load the bases with no outs on two walks and Scott Schebler’s pinch-hit double. James Russell took over, and Cozart lifted a sacrifice fly to short right field. Pinch-runner Tyler Holt scored on a headfirst slide just ahead of Peter Bourjos’ throw. The Reds had fought back to tie the game 2-2.
Votto came to bat, sporting a 0-3 slump. All of his plate appearances had been strikeouts. He quickly made the crowd forget his dreadful at-bats when he lined a 1-1 pitch into centerfield. Jay Bruce added two more insurance runs with a bases-loaded single. The Reds sent nine batters to the plate, during the game-winning rally.
In his first regular-season game since injuring his knee, Cozart went 3-for-3. He knocked in a run and scored an unearned run. He also contributed two doubles while looking fully recovered from the injury.
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson looked good in his six innings of work. Every Redleg, except Cozart, went without a hit against the big right-hander. According to CBS Sports, he needed just 79 pitches to get through his 18 outs. He struck out six and didn’t walk a batter. A midseason start may have seen him go further into the game. He’ll need more support from the rebuilding Phillies to post the wins they need.
Votto wiped the sweat from his forehead after delivering the game-winning hit. He was admittedly relieved to get the job done and prove he’s worth his salary. Votto was candid, via The Cincinnati Enquirer.
“That’s why they pay me the big bucks.”
The Reds’ first baseman went on to say that he prides himself on being able to get better. Each at-bat is a learning experience that helps him prepare for the next time he comes to the plate.
On Opening Day, Votto learned enough to start the Reds off in first place.
[Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images]