The Cincinnati Reds came into Friday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals looking to keep their season-starting win streak intact.
In the first inning, the Reds’ starter, former Cardinal Jason Marquis, walked third baseman Matt Carpenter on just four pitches. After a pitch got away from catcher Devin Mesoraco, Carpenter advanced to second, and later third after a strikeout by Jason Heyward still proved valuable as a sacrifice. Matt Holliday would then walk, putting runners on the corners with Matt Adams up to bat. Unfortunately, Adams popped out to shallow center, which left Jhonny Peralta to try and score Carpenter with two outs.
And with one swing of the bat, a shot right down the left field line, that’s exactly what he did, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
The bottom half of the first inning started off pretty rough for veteran pitcher John Lackey, walking Billy Hamilton, and allowing a two-run home run by Reds’ powerhouse Joey Votto, but he was then able to settle down and get out of the inning, with the Cardinals down only one run.
Kolten Wong started off the 2nd inning with a base hit into right field. Randal Grichuk, in his first appearance of the season, took the second pitch he saw from Marquis, and sent it deep into left field for his first home run of the season (and the Cardinals’ team in general), to give them a 3-2 lead. Lackey would shut the Reds down in the second half of the inning to keep their lead intact.
But when Votto stepped up to bat again in the bottom of the third, Lackey threw one bad pitch, and Votto made him pay, giving the Reds a one-run lead once again. Both pitchers would start to improve throughout the middle innings, as Marquis struck out four in a span of seven batters, and Lackey set the Reds down in order in both the fourth and fifth innings.
The Cardinals began to get a rally going in the top of the sixth inning, having runners on the corners with one out, but Marquis, crossing the 100-pitch plateau, struck out Yadier Molina, and got out Grichuk as well.
But the following inning, both starting pitchers were out of the game, and it was up to the bullpen (along with an offensive spark) to keep their respective teams alive. Jon Jay, who entered the game to pinch-hit for Lackey, hit a single into right field, and Heyward followed that by hitting a single that scored Jay, and tied the game at 4-4. With two runners on and two outs, Mark Reynolds entered the game, but would strike out, sending the game to the bottom of the seventh with the game still tied at four.
Seth Maness made his first relief appearance of the season in the seventh inning, getting Marlon Byrd and Brandon Phillips to fly out, and Zack Cozart to strike out. However, with Jordan Walden on the mound, Hamilton walked, and would later steal second to get into scoring position, and Todd Fraizer would hit a sacrifice fly sending him home, giving Cincinnati the 5-4 lead, a lead they would not let go of.
In the top of the ninth, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman entered the game, and shut down the Cardinals, helping the Reds take game one of the series, and improving their record to 4-0 on the season.
Saturday’s match-up features Michael Wacha for the Cardinals against Johnny Cueto for the Reds.
(AP Photo/David Kohl)