Hunter Greene split his name in the first two innings Friday afternoon against the Philadelphia Philllies during the Cincinnati Reds 5-2 loss.
In the first inning, he was the hunter. He struck out the side.
In the second inning, he was as green as the green jacket presented to the winner of the Masters golf tournament. He walked three batters in a row and forced in a run.
His high fastball in the first inning was untouchable. In the second inning, most of his fastballs were 100 and 101 mph, but most were out of the strike zone.
It was Opening Day in Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies, who came in with a 1-5 record, but the amped-up sellout crowd aided them.
“Just another tough inning,” Greene said of his 35-pitch second inning. “I was getting behind a little bit. “Obviously you can’t do that at this level. I made some good pitches and was able to come back after that second inning.”
Greene was demonstrably upset when interim manager Freddie Benavides came to get him with two outs and nobody on in the fifth with the score tied, 2-2.
But he was at 93 pitches.
“He worked hard the first three innings, threw 53 pitches in the second and third innings,” said Benavides, standing in for manager David Bell, who was back in Cincinnati after a minor surgical procedure. “He was electric when he first came out. He was electric. Then he kinda lost his zone a little bit there.
“He bounced back and had a couple of nice innings,” Benavides added. “But they had a run of left handers and (taking him out) paid off.”
Lefty Alex Young struck out the side in the sixth inning, but Derek Law gave up a game-deciding home run to J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia’s All-Star catcher in the seventh inning.
“The pitch was a mistake,” said Benavides. “He threw a real good cutter to him a pitch or two before that and he just happened to make a mistake to a real good hitter and he hit it out of the ballpark.”
Said Greene, “I would have loved to go deeper in the game and put the team in a better position. That was probably the most intense game I’ve pitched so far. Pitching in two Opening Days (Cincinnati and Philadelphia) is pretty cool.”
Benavides took over managerial duties on his 57th birthday and watched Greene strike out the side in the first inning on 12 pitches.
Former Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos was 0 for 13 when he led off the second with a first-pitch double to left
Greene retired the next two and had an 0-and-2 count on Jake Cave, who spent one spring with the Reds as a Rule 5 draft pick. Greene walked him.
Then he walked Kody Clemens, a son to former MLB pitcher Roger Clemens, on a full count to fill the bases. And Greene issued a third straight walk, this one to force in a run and give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
The Reds were facing Phillies ace Zack Wheeler, who put together a 1.85 earned run average in 13 starts at home last season.
He took a one-hit shutout into the fifth and had two outs with nobody on. But Spencer Steer doubled to left, Will Benson walked and Jose Barrero singled to center to tie it, 1-1.
Trea Turner, a home run-hitting monster to Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, singled to lead off the fifth and circled the bases on Kyle Schwarber’s double to right field and the Phillies barged back ahead, 2-1.
Greene retired the next two but was at 93 pitches and Benavides decided enough was enough and removed him.
The Reds tied it, 2-2, in the sixth on a double by TJ Friedl and a double by Tyler Stephenson.
Then the Reds’ bullpen was at its ugliest.
Turner once again led off the seventh with a single off Law and Realmuto unloaded a 448-foot home run deep into the left field seats, a two-run shot that gave the Phillies a 4-2 lead.
Lowe had worked the count to 2-and-2 by pitching him away, but his fifth pitch drifted over the plate and Realmuto put a real explosive swing on it.
For good measure, pinch-hitter Edmundo Sosa crushed a home run off Reiver Sanmartin.
The Reds put two runners on in the ninth against Philadelphia closer Craig Kimbrell on a leadoff single by Wil Myers and a two-out walk to Stuart Fairchilld. But Barrero, the potential tying run, swung at Kimbrell’s first pitch and grounded to short to end it.
The Reds had only six hits. And with stolen bases up all over baseball with the bigger bases, the Reds are lagging, only one stolen base in six games. Barrero tried but was thrown out by Realmuto, who led baseball last season by throwing out 27 runners attempting to steal.
Will Benson entered the game 0 for 12 with nine strikeouts, but singled in the third and walked in the fifth.
The Reds were done-in by the top four Philadelphia hitters. Turner had two hits and scored two runs. Schwarber had a double, an RBI and a walk, Realmuto had two hits, a homer, drove in two and scored one and Castellanos had two doubles, scored a run and a walk.
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