Mahle gives Reds a boost with six shutout innings

Reds starter Tyler Mahle pitches against the Cubs on Monday, April 2, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

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Reds starter Tyler Mahle pitches against the Cubs on Monday, April 2, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Rookie starter strikes out seven as Reds win first game of 2018

Tyler Mahle showed emotion once Monday. He figures everyone missed it because no one was watching him at that moment — a rare occurrence on a day when all eyes were on the Cincinnati Reds rookie starter at Great American Ball Park.

Mahle pumped his fist after shortstop Cliff Pennington speared a hard ground ball and Scooter Gennett turned a double play to kill a rally by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning.

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Other than that, Mahle was one cool customer on the mound. He had plenty of reason to jump up and down in his first start of the season but stayed calm and pitched six scoreless innings, leading the Reds to a 1-0 victory, their first of the 2018 season.

“A lot of the young guys we have are extremely composed for as young and inexperienced as they are,” Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “To see him go out there and do that today, it’s awesome to see that and be a part of it, but it’s not surprising because he did that all spring.”

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Mahle was 1-1 with a 4.56 ERA in seven appearances in spring training. He made three starts. Last September, when he made his big-league debut, he provided hope for a young pitching staff looking for someone to step up. In four starts, he was 1-3 with a 2.70 ERA.

Mahle had two scoreless outings last season against the Pirates and Cardinals, but considering he allowed only one hit in this game and struck out seven, this goes down as the best start of his young career.

“I was able to locate my fastball really well,” Mahle said. “The slider and change-up came along in the last couple of innings, but for the most part, I was able to take over the game with my fastball.”

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Most importantly, Mahle helped the Reds (1-3) get in the win column after being swept by the Washington Nationals in the first series of the season.

“It was huge,” Mahle said. “It was going to happen regardless. I’m glad it could happen on a night I started. So many guys helped contribute, playing great defense, and the relief pitchers came in and did a great job. It was an all-around team win even though it was only 1-0.”

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