The pitching of Bronson Arroyo and the clutch hitting of Jonny Gomes led the Reds to a 2-1 win over the Cardinals Thursday afternoon at Great American Ball Park. The win salvaged the series for Cincinnati, who looked bad in dropping the first two games of the season to St. Louis, 11-6 and 6-3.
The fifth-largest crowd in GABP history (42.493) enjoyed one of the all-time best weather days in Opening Day history, with sunshine and temperatures climbing into the upper 70’s Monday afternoon. On the field, though, the Reds couldn’t contain Albert Pujols. Two homers for Albert the Great, plus a 9th inning grand slam by Yadier Molina kept the Cards in front all day. Cincinnati had gotten to within 3-2 on 4th inning homers by Joey Votto and Scott Rolen, but an ill-conceived 2-out pickoff play by starter Aaron Harang in the 5th resulted in a throwing error allowing Pujols to score sending Cincy’s mo out the door. It was a memorable day for Reds rookie reliever Logan Ondrusek as he made his major league debut by retiring the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the 8th.
Pujols struck again on Wednesday night. Reds SS Orlando Cabrera erased a 2-0 deficit with a 1-out 2-run homer to left off Cy Young runner-up Adam Wainwright in the bottom of the 6th. But a stumble by Ondrusek gave the Cardinals the runs they needed to come back. Ondrusek came in for Daniel Ray Herrera with 1-out and 1-on in the top of the 7th. He promptly walked Brendan Ryan on four pitches, then gave up a broken-bat single to Pujols to score Skip Schumaker. Matt Holliday followed with a 2-run double over the head of Drew Stubbs in center and St. Louis was on their way to the win. The star for the Reds was Cabrera, who had made some spectacular plays in the field along with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate, including a double, homer and 3 RBIs.
There was much dismay on the part of Reds fans at this point, but, honestly. The Reds were facing Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in games 1 and 2. Those guys are arguably the best one-two punch in baseball. Quite frankly, I didn’t look for much from Harang on Monday – at least he did better on Opening Day than the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano – and Wainwright picked up where he left off last season. Carpenter and Wainwright are why I picked the Cardinals to win the division. St. Louis won 91 games last year to win it, and I don’t see a drop-off for them. The Reds will have to keep it close and then try to steal it at the end, or work hard to get the Wild Card.
That made Thursday’s Business Day special all that more important for the local 9. My favorite starter, Bronson Arroyo, was on the hill and he didn’t disappoint. He had his work cut out for him going against Brad Penny. Penny was 7-2 all-time vs. the Reds and hadn’t lost a decision to Cincinnati since July 21, 2001 when he was a member of the Florida Marlins. But he matched Penny pitch for pitch – and then some. A Colby Rasmus line drive in the 2nd struck Arroyo in the right calf and he pitched – and hit – through some serious pain. The word from the clubhouse is that he might miss his next start, which would be a first for the Key West native. Arroyo gutted out eight innings of work, throwing 109 pitches in his first start of 2010 and 75 for strikes. And before everyone goes all nuts about manager Dusty Baker leaving him in, I saw nothing to indicate Arroyo was losing anything on his stuff.
At the plate, Arroyo gave the Reds their first lead of 2010 by knocking in Ryan Hanigan on a 2-out single to left in the 5th. St. Louis got the lead back on a GABP-aided home run to left by Matt Holliday. Cardinals TV analyst Al Hrabosky said, “(Homers like) that (are) why this ballpark is a joke.” No one but Reds fans were laughing when Gomes smacked a 2-2 fastball from Jason Motte deep into the seats in left with 1-out in the bottom of the 9th to win it. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa brought the right-handed Motte in specifically to face Gomes, but Gomes ruined the strategy with the walk-off game-winner. It made a winner out of closer Francisco Cordero, who worked a perfect 9th with two strikeouts. One more item about Arroyo’s day. He picked up his 1,000th career strikeout in the fourth inning. His victim was Pujols.
Looking ahead, the Reds (1-2, T-4th) will welcome the Cubs (1-2, T-4th) to town for a three-game weekend series. The Reds and Cubs will battle 16 times this year, with nine games in Cincinnati and seven at Wrigley Field. Chicago salvaged their 2010 opening series at Atlanta with a 2-0 win Thursday night at Turner Field, as the Braves took two of three games. Friday’s pitching matchup pits Carlos Silva against Homer Bailey at 7:10. It will be singles night as “free agents” receive a special ticket discount, t-shirt giveaway for the first 20,000 and activities for singles before the game. Here’s a pic of Drew Stubbs modeling tonight’s t-shirt giveaway, courtesy of the Reds:
On Saturday, I’m taking the over. The starters are Carlos Zambrano (0-1, 54.00) vs. Aaron Harang (0-1, 5.40) at 1:10. Sunday brings the major league debut of Reds rookie Mike Leake against lefty Tom Gorzelanny for Chicago also at 1:10. The first 20,000 fans to arrive will receive a Reds magnetic schedule/car magnet. Leake has not been added to the Reds roster as of this writing, but it is expected that the Reds will option Juan Francisco to AAA Louisville to make room on the roster as Leake is in town. All three games will be televised on FS-Ohio HD.
RED HOTS… 2008 first-round draft pick Yonder Alonzo may not be trade bait after all. Alonzo has been assigned to AA Carolina for the purpose of learning left field. According to Mark Sheldon’s blog, Alonzo will also see some time at first base. It sure sounds like they want to make room for him somehow… Aroldis Chapman will get his first professional start on Sunday. Chapman will go for the AAA Louisville Bats at Toledo to face the world famous Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field.
About the Author
Written by Dave Allen
I'm a lifelong Cincinnati sports fan who has been following the Reds and Bengals ever since I can remember. My first Reds game was Game 6 of the '72 World Series and my first Bengals game was an October 1975 clash with the Steelers. I've been involved in sports media since Junior High, when I assisted with scores for Bob Trumpy SportsTalk in 1979 on WLW Radio. My biggest Reds highlight came in 1998 when I was chosen to be the public address announcer at Riverfront Stadium (then called Cinergy Field) for Opening Day and the entire first homestand. I am thrilled to be involved with PSB and I hope you enjoy my entries!