First inning dooms Reds in Opening Day loss to Cardinals

David Bell interview, postgame (April 1, 2021)

Luis Castillo gives up six runs in first and eight runs in start

Good feelings, or good vibes as shortstop Eugenio Suarez likes to call them, pervade every Opening Day in Cincinnati. It doesn’t matter how the Cincinnati Reds performed in spring training — and they were the worst team in baseball this March. It doesn’t matter what they did or didn’t do in the offseason. It doesn’t matter what the oddsmakers think of the team’s chances.

Optimism abounds when the real games start, and it was high when first baseman Joey Votto bounced out of the dugout at Great American Ball Park during a pregame ceremony on Thursday, pointing both hands in the sky and saluting the fans who hadn’t seen their favorite team play in person in 20 months.

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Eleven minutes later, all the good feelings had vanished. That’s how long the St. Louis Cardinals needed to build a 6-0 lead in the first inning. The Reds offense did show up after failing to score in 22 postseason innings last year, but it couldn’t keep up with the Cardinals, who won 11-6 on the 145th Opening Day in Cincinnati.

The fans dealt not only with that stunning first inning but also with one of the coldest openers in history. It was 37 degrees when the game began. Snow flurries fell at times during the game.

Fans barely had to time to digest an emotional pregame ceremony in which the Reds paid tribute to the late legend Joe Morgan and manager David Bell’s younger brother Mike, who died Friday, and other members of the Reds family when starter Luis Castillo gave the Cardinals an early cushion.

After a leadoff groundout by Tommy Edman, six straight Cardinals reached base. Dylan Carlson’s three-run home run put the Reds in a six-run hole one third of an inning into the season.

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Castillo escaped the first inning without any more damage, but he left the mound in the fourth inning. He allowed eight earned runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. It was the worst outing of his career. He allowed eight earned runs once previously — also against the Cardinals — on Aug. 16, 2019, but lasted 4 1/3 innings in that game.

The first pitcher to follow Castillo, new Reds reliever Cam Bedrosian, didn’t help matters when he gave up a two-run home run to the second batter he faced, Tyler O’Neill. The Reds trailed 11-3 at that point.

Reds relievers Sal Romano and Carson Fulmer each pitched two scoreless innings and Sean Doolittle threw a scoreless ninth to keep the Cardinals from scoring again.

NOTES: Center fielder Nick Senzel left the game with a shoulder injury. He was hurt while making a diving catch in the fourth inning. ... Jonathan India became the first Reds second baseman to make his big-league debut in a start on Opening Day since Pete Rose in 1963 and the first Reds infielder to debut in a start on Opening Day since Chris Sabo in 1988. India doubled in the fourth inning and singled in the sixth. ... In his first start at shortstop since 2018, Suarez committed two errors: a fielding error in the first and a throwing error in the second. ... Suarez and Castellanos hit home runs for the Reds.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Cardinals at Reds, 4:10 p.m., Bally’s Sports Ohio (formerly Fox Sports Ohio), 700, 1410

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