McCoy: Round 1 of Battle of Ohio goes to Guardians

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

After the traditional noisy pomp and circumstance of Opening Day in Great American Ball Park, the Cleveland Guardians applied a silencer on the Cincinnati Reds.

The Guardians broke apart a tie game in the top of the ninth with six runs, with the point of emphasis a grand slam home run by Jose Ramirez.

The grand slam off rookie Daniel Duarte gave Ramirez six RBI for the day.

»PHOTOS: Opening Day in Cincinnati

After scoring 27 runs in their previous two games against Kansas City, the Guardians hit double digits again Tuesday afternoon in a 10-5 win.

The Guardians utilized a strikeout-wild pitch, a walk, an error and one hit to build a 3-0 lead in the third inning against Reds starter Tyler Mahle.

The one hit was a two-run triple by Ramirez that traveled only 286 feet because outfielders Tommy Pham and Nick Senzel collided, and the ball squirted free.

Cleveland added a fourth run in the fourth on Owen Miller’s double and a triple by Andres Gimenez.

Mahle pitched four innings and gave up for runs and four hits, but the Reds took him off the hook in the sixth. Only one of the four runs off Mahle was earned, but his error opened the gates for three of the runs.

Former Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber put a muzzle on the Reds for five innings. He didn’t give up a hit but walked two. Both those runners were erased via double plays, so in five innings Bieber faced the minimum 15 batters.

The Reds finally got to him in the sixth and tied the game with a four-run outburst. Jonathan India provided a two-run double and Tyler Naquin tied it with a 428-foot home run far over the center field wall.

And that’s the way it stayed, mostly because for eight innings the Reds had only four hits, three in the sixth inning.

The left-handed Naquin’s home run came against his former team and against a left-handed pitcher, only the sixth of his career against a southpaw.

“Any time you hit a homer, it’s a lot of fun,” said Naquin during his post-game media interview. “At the end of the day, you have to come out with the ‘W,’ but we fell a little bit short. It is a game of momentum, and we had it for a little bit (with the four-run inning to tie the game).

And hitting the home run against a lefty?

“It means a lot, especially when you know what you are up against,” he said.

After the Reds tied it, relief pitchers Jeff Hoffman, Art Warren and Tony Santillan kept the Guardians off the board.

But not Strickland nor Duarte, the guys who gave up the six runs in the ninth.

“Hunter is going to be one of our guys,” said Reds manager David Bell. “He is going to pitch in close games, and he will get opportunities to close the game. He will be back out there, maybe tomorrow. He is here for a reason, and he has pitched in big spots. That was an easy decision.”

Strickland started the ninth, asked to protect the 4-4 tie. But he gave up a leadoff double to Miller and with one out Gimenez ripped one into the right-center field seats for a 6-4 lead.

Strickland then hit Austin Hedges (0 for 13 on the season) and Myles Straw doubled.

Bell summoned rookie Daniel Duarte out of the bullpen, and he walked Steven Kwan on a full count to fill the bases.

Ramirez then unloaded on a Duarte fastball and unloaded the bases and unloaded the seats, populated by a full house of 43,036 fans when the game began.

The Reds scored one run in the bottom of the ninth on Naquin’s double and a couple of wild pitches, but the home team went quietly after that.

“Bieber was so tough in the beginning of the game,” said Bell. “We made a great comeback with Tyler Naquin’s homer off the lefty to tie the game. It was a great inning and gave us a shot.

“Hoffman, Warren and Santillian gave us an opportunity to win … a good game and when you fight back like that you want to win the game. We gave ourselves a chance against a really tough starter.”

Early in the game, the Guardians tried to steal second base three times and catcher Tyler Stephenson threw them all out. He gunned down two in the first inning.

The defeat put the Reds one game down in their chase for the Ohio Cup, currently in possession of the Guardians. The Reds need to win three of the four scheduled games against Cleveland this season to snatch it way.

Nick Lodolo makes his major league debut when he starts for the Reds on Wednesday afternoon, hoping to do as well as rookie Hunter Greene did in his winning debut Sunday in Atlanta.

But beating Cleveland in GABP has been a major challenge for the Reds. They’ve lost 13 of 18 to Cleveland at home.

And winning any interleague game is a task for the Reds. They are 176-239 in all interleague games, a .421 percentage, the worst interleague mark of all 30 teams.

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