ANALYSIS: 3 takeaways from Reds’ Opening Day victory

Nick Martini drives in five runs in first Opening Day start of his career

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

CINCINNATI — Frankie Montas took the podium first in the revamped interview room outside the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse on Thursday. He deserved that spot but quickly recognized the man second in line would be an even more popular subject for the reporters waiting to ask questions.

Nick Martini, who like Montas was making his first Opening Day start for the Reds, followed Montas in the postgame press conference and spoke about a day he’ll long remember.

“How would you describe a performance like that?” a reporter asked Martini.

“I don’t know if I can, to be honest with you,” Martini said. “To be able to contribute on Opening Day — and I know it’s only one game — but to be able to do it front of that many fans and the city, it was a lot of fun.”

Martini hit two home runs and drove in five runs as the Reds opened the 2024 season with an 8-2 victory against the Washington Nationals at Great American Ball Park. The Reds ended a three-game losing streak on Opening Day with their most lopsided Opening Day victory since an 11-4 victory against the Colorado Rockies in 1997.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Here are three takeaways from the 148th home Opening Day in Reds history:

1. This was the first true Opening Day victory for the Reds since 2019: A crowd of 44,030 watched the Reds win. The last crowd to watch the Reds win on Opening Day officially numbered zero. That was the announced attendance in the 2020 opener played on July 24 during the pandemic.

The Reds lost 11-6 to the Cardinals in the 2021 opener, which was played under attendance restrictions, and then 10-5 to Cleveland in 2022 and 5-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates last season.

This was the first Opening Day victory in front of the typical sold-out stadium since March 28, 2019, when the Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3.

“It’s important,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Any game’s important. But when we have a crowd like that, it’s important to us and it affects the way we play.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

2. Martini was the surprise star: The Reds took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Spencer Steer in the second inning. The next batter, Martini, hit a two-run home run.

“It felt unbelievable,” Martini said. “That one I knew. It was just an incredible feeling.”

The Reds added four runs in the third, taking a 7-0 lead when Martini hit a three-run home run. It was another big moment for a player who had never started a season in the big leagues.

Martini, 33, spent eight years in the minor leagues before making it to the big leagues in 2018 with the Oakland Athletics. His career took a detour to Korea in 2022 before he signed a minor-league contract with the Reds in February 2023.

Martini spent most of last season with the Triple-A Louisville Bats but was called up to the Reds in August. He hit .264 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 29 games.

Martini said everything came together at once for him to make the Reds roster out of spring training.

“I’m extremely happy for Nick,” Bell said. “At the same time, we’ve known this guy can hit. For it to all come out on Opening Day, his first one, it’s surprising or shocking when you think about it, but this guy’s been a good player for a long time. It’s great that he’s a part of our team. He deserves it. He’s worked incredibly hard for years.”

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

3. Montas excelled in his first start with the Reds: The fifth different pitcher to start Opening Day for the Reds in the last five years, Montas threw six scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and did not walk a batter. He struck out four.

“A lot of emotions,” Montas said. “Everybody knows the tough year I had last year — being out. Being able to go out there and not just for me but for the people of Cincinnati — I know how special Opening Day is in Cincinnati — and put on a good performance, it means the world.”

Montas didn’t get to watch the Opening Day parade on Thursday morning but heard about it from his family. He probably didn’t notice the parade of former Reds who participated in the pregame festivities either because he was warming up.

Former Reds Pokey Reese, Sean Casey, Dmitri Young and George Foster had roles in the festivities. Marty Brennaman, the longtime radio voice of the Reds, was honored 50 years after calling his first game on 700 WLW.

All in all, it was a perfect day for the Reds, and the starting pitcher played a big part in it.

“Frankie came in feeling great,” Bell said. “He’s been working hard to get to this day but also to pitch the whole season for us. It was a great start for Frankie today, his 100th career start. He’s got a long way to go. We saw a pretty good sample of what he’s able to do, why he’s good.”


Nick Martini became the first Red to hit two home runs on Opening Day since Adam Dunn did it on April 2, 2007, against the Chicago Cubs. One other Red has hit two home runs on Opening Day: Frank McCormick in 1941 against the St. Louis Cardinals.


Three Reds pitchers — Frankie Montas, Emilio Pagán and Brent Suter — did not walk a batter. The Reds walked at least one batter in their first 20 games last season.


The Reds play game No. 2 of the 162-game season at 4:10 p.m. Saturday. Hunter Greene will pitch for the Reds against Patrick Corbin, of the Nationals.

As part of Kids Opening Day, local mascots will walk the red carpet at 11:15 a.m., followed by Reds players at noon. Fans 14 and younger will receive a Reds cap while supplies last. Kids can run the bases after the game.


Nationals at Reds, 4:10 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410

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