Cincinnati Reds whack Washington for Opening Day win

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds scored eight runs on Opening Day, but they barely needed half that.

Frankie Montas shut out the Washington Nationals for six innings Thursday at Great American Ball Park, and Nick Martini hit a pair of home runs to send 44,030 fans home happy as the Reds won 8-2 to move to 1-0 on the season.

The triumph was Cincinnati’s 71st home-opening victory, but the first since they beat the Detroit Tigers 9-7 in an empty stadium during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

The Reds offense was busy early against Josiah Gray, a former Reds farmhand making his first career Opening Day start.

Jake Fraley beat out a grounder to third base for a single to start the second, stole second base then came home on a single to right field by Spencer Steer.

Martini then smashed a 2-1 pitch into the right field stands for a 2-run home run that gave the Reds a 3-0 lead. They put two more on before the inning was over, but Christian Encarnacion-Strand popped out to first in foul territory to leave them there.

That turned out to be no big deal because the Reds struck for four more in the third inning, including three on another blast into the right field seats by Martini. That brought around Elly De La Cruz and Steer, who had knocked in Fraley with a double in the previous at-bat.

Meanwhile, Montas was masterful, punctuating his day with a strikeout of former Red Jesse Winker to end the sixth inning.

The free-agent signee allowed four hits and struck out four without walking anyone in six innings. He threw 81 pitches, including 53 for strikes.

In his place, Emilio Pagán was not so good. Another free-agent signee, he allowed a 2-run home run to Eddie Rosario to break up the shutout in the top of the seventh.

Cincinnati Moeller grad Brent Suter followed him and struck out the side in his Reds debut before working a perfect ninth.

Gray, a Reds second-round draft pick in 2018 who was part of the Yasiel Puig trade that December, gave up seven runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out six.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

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