|Washington Nationals (2-0)||13||14||1|
|Cincinnati Reds (0-2)||7||12||0|
|W: Stephen Strasburg (1-0) L: Luis Castillo (0-1)|
|FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score | Game Thread | Statcast|
Nothing like scoring 7 runs and losing by 6
— ɴɪᴄᴋ ᴋɪʀʙy (@Nicholaspkirby) March 31, 2018
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
Remember how nice it was to open the season against the Phillies two years in a row? The Reds didn’t get that luxury for a third consecutive season, instead drawing the Washington Nationals and the best hitter in baseball right now. No, not Bryce Harper. Nope, not Ryan Zimmerman either. Anthony Rendon? Negative.
Adam Eaton. The Washington leadoff hitter went 5-for-5 on the afternoon, including two doubles, four runs scored, and a home run, to lead the onslaught against Reds pitching.
Here’s how it all went down:
The 2017 offense showed up today.
Scott Schebler was responsible for the first run of the year when he took Stephen Strasburg deep in the bottom of the fourth inning. That was the first time Strasburg had allowed a home run since August 19 of last season. Schebler also doubled in the eighth inning.
Adam Duvall (solo) and Eugenio Suarez (two-run) also homered. Jesse Winker went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Scooter Gennett picked up two more hits and an RBI; he’s now hitting .667 after two games, and we can safely say the batting title will come down to him and Eaton.
But the Cincinnati offense also missed some rather large opportunities. The Reds loaded the bases with no outs twice against Strasburg and managed just two runs.
After a nice outing by Homer Bailey on Opening Day, Luis Castillo couldn’t follow suit. Castillo flashed his electric stuff today, but he left a few balls out over the plate and paid for it. In five innings, the right-hander struck out six but allowed six runs (including two homers) on six hits and a walk. Castillo also had some shaky defense to blame. In the third inning, Schebler took a poor route on a fly ball over his head that resulted in a double for Eaton (more on that later), who would come around to score later.
On the bright side, Castillo’s velocity was fine (95.9 mph average fastball velocity and a maximum of 98.3 mph) and he got a ton of swings and misses. His changeup, per usual, was really working. He threw it 28 times and got 15 whiffs, and five of his six strikeouts came on the pitch.
That’s where the positives end, though, as the bullpen was also knocked around.
Austin Brice made his season debut in the sixth. He pitched two innings and gave up one run on three hits. The run came on a round-tripper by
Barry Bonds Eaton, who the Reds should probably just intentionally walk four times tomorrow.
Jackson Stephens threw an inning and allowed two runs on two hits. Kevin Quackenbush was lit up in in the ninth, giving up a grand slam to Brian Goodwin after a single and two walks. Jared Hughes had to clean up the mess and got the final out on one pitch.
Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, and David Hernandez can’t come back soon enough.
- It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of Castillo, but he’s going to have days like this. He’s only 25 and has just 16 big-league starts under his belt, after all.
- Billy Hamilton was out of the lineup today, and it became quickly apparent how much the Reds need his defense. The center fielder was Schebler, and his first opportunity to make a play did not go well. Eaton hit a deep fly ball over his head that got Schebler turned around and dropped just out of his reach for a ground-rule double. The play would’ve been a routine one for Hamilton, and it demonstrated why he’ll still get plenty of playing time this season despite his offensive shortcomings.
- It’s been a rough couple of days for Jose Peraza. He struck out two more times today, giving him five in eight plate appearances. Through two games, he’s faced 26 pitches and swung at 17 of them. He’s obviously gone against two top-quality starting pitchers, but the way he’s chased pitches out of the strike zone is concerning. Plate discipline has been a problem for him and it has to improve if he’s going to be a productive big-league player.
- Phil Gosselin and Cliff Pennington, who both made the roster for some reason, each made their Reds debuts as pinch hitters. Gosselin struck out on three pitches and Pennington singled.
Sal Romano (4.45 ERA, 4.47 xFIP in 2017) will make his season debut on Sunday in the series finale against the Nationals. He’ll duel against left-hander Gio Gonzalez (2.96 ERA, 4.24 xFIP), yet another Washington pitcher who finished in the top-six in NL Cy Young voting last year. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. ET.
Growing up just north of Cincinnati, Matt has been a Reds fan for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he was often found leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 and imitating his favorite players (Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns) in the backyard. One of his earliest baseball memories is attending the final night game at Cinergy Field. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in the Dayton area. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.