Reds vs. Cardinals (Reds take series 2-1)
Holy Moly! What an exhilarating start to the season. In fact, so much happened, it’s tough to process.
Game 1: Reds 6-11 Cardinals
It looked cold. MLB reported 4℃, so no wonder Luis Castillo struggled to grip the ball. Reds’ ace starter gave up six earned runs in the first inning and St Louis never relinquished the lead.
Reds chased Jack Flaherty out of the game after four innings, thanks to homers from Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez. Did the Cardinals really take offence at the Reds’ right fielder’s celebration? That’s what the media thought – retribution would follow in Game 2.
Jonathan India went 2-for-4 in his MLB debut with a double, but really the damage was done by 10 runs (eight earned) on Castillo’s watch.
Man of the match: Jonathan India
Game 2: Reds 9-6 Cardinals
This was a cracker.
Tyler Mahle struck out nine batters over five innings and allowed just two earned runs … both solo homers from Cardinals’ shortstop Paul DeJong.
Veteran starter Adam Wainwright looked in control until it spiralled away from him with a six-run third inning. Tyler Naquin got on-base in his first at-bat of the inning and then hit a two-RBI single when he appeared for the second time.
With the exception of Tucker Barnhart‘s two-run homer, the damage was being inflicted by hard-hit singles.
6-1 after three innings. It felt like Reds season had begun. But little did we know what was in store.
Cardinals first-round pick from 2015, Jake Woodford replaced Wainwright to start the fourth inning, and immediately disposed of Mahle and Jesse Winker. He then let a wayward pitch veer into Castellanos’ ribs. Was it deliberate? Probably. Was it in retribution for Castellanos’ celebrations two days previously? Probably.
Yadi Molina acted as a barrier to ensure that the situation did not escalate, but the Reds’ right fielder was still able to pick up the ball and offer it back to the pitcher.
Joey Votto singled to allow Castellanos to move to third. We all know that the way to make a pitcher pay for hitting you is to score a run. Woodford’s wild pitch flew over Mike Moustakas‘ head and Molina’s glove and Castellanos slid onto home plate while Woodford tried to cover.
Jubilant, Castellanos leapt to his feet and “flexed” – is that the term? before walking towards the dugout. Talk about over-sensitive, the Cardinals went wild. Molina tried to grab Castellanos by the neck and the benches emptied.
Scuffles ensued. It seemed like a deliberated attempt by St Louis to derail the Reds’ momentum. Unless they really were that incensed, in which case they need to get a life.
Disregarding the MLB rule that “players or managers who leave their position to argue with umpires, come within six feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager for the purpose of argument, or engage in altercations on the field, are subject to immediate ejection” no-one on the Cardinals team who entered the field of play were ejected or was Molina, who instigated the first physical contact. No, only Castellanos was sent for an early bath.
Woodford then hit India which enabled Votto to increase the score to 8-2. The Punisher, Aristides Aquino, went deep to take the tally to nine, and Reds minds were already on Game 3 when Sean Doolittle and Sal Romano allowed a couple of consolation runs late on.
Man of the match: Nick Castellanos
Game 3: Reds 12-1 Cardinals
This was the pivotal game. Was yesterday’s victory over the mighty Cardinals – the division favourites – an anomaly, or were this Reds team the real deal?
Let’s be honest. Rockies reject starters are not usually this good, but Jeff Hoffman had an outstanding start with six strikeouts over five innings of one-run ball.
For the Cardinals, Carlos Martinez looked equally dominant, and by the middle of the fifth inning it was one run apiece, with the Reds on the board courtesy of Votto driving in Castellanos (who else?).
Tyler Stephenson and Kyle Farmer were both on base when Castellanos broke the game open with a three-run homer.
Tejay Antone came on for his season debut in the sixth. A hit, a walk and a wild pitch showed rustiness, but a scoreless inning was all that mattered.
Six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, and the Reds were seeing the ball like the Astros had during their trash-can banging exploits. Suarez (walk), Senzel (walk), India (single), Stephenson (single), Antone (reached on fielder’s choice), Tyler Naquin (home run), Votto (single).
At 10-1, the Reds still weren’t done. Alex Blandino joined the party in the seventh inning with a two-RBI double scoring Moustakas and Stephenson.
Man of the match: Nick Castellanos (2-for-4 with a home run & triple)
I fell out of love with football (soccer) many years ago. Towards the end of my love affair, Chelsea cheated against Monaco to get a man sent off and enjoy the 11 v 10 advantage. Spanish striker, Fernando Morientes, was so incensed he transformed into a man possessed and single-handedly ripped the victory away from Chelsea. I felt like Nick Castellanos was the 2021 version of Fernando Morientes.
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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