Reds ‘in a good spot’ after winning season-opening series vs. Pirates

Six different players hit home runs in first three games

A chess set sat on a table in the middle of the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse on Opening Day last week. First baseman Joey Votto has picked up the game. It’s a good bet he had a hand in placing it there.

Although Votto has made his latest moves away from the chess board and from Cincinnati, starting the 2023 season on a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Louisville bats, the Reds made most of the right moves in their season-opening series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Reds won the first series of the season for the second time in manager David Bell’s five seasons and found themselves tied for first three games into the season — something they could never say last season when they started 3-22.

“It’s huge,” outfielder TJ Friedl told reporters in Cincinnati on Sunday after a 3-1 victory at Great American Ball Park. “Losing on Opening Day, it is what it is, but like we’ve said all spring, we know the guys we have and we know the talent we have. It was never a worry at all. We knew we were going to bounce back from that and go out and play our A game like we do every day and come out with a series W.”

Here are three takeaways from the opening series for the Reds, who opened a three-game series at home against the Chicago Cubs on Monday:

1. Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft got off to strong starts: After Hunter Greene failed out to get out out of the fourth inning in a 5-4 loss on Opening Day, the next two starters pitched the Reds to victory.

Nick Lodolo allowed two earned runs on seven hits in five innings while striking out nine in a 6-2 victory Saturday.

Graham Ashcraft lasted seven innings Sunday. He allowed one earned run on four hits and struck out six. He built on a solid spring that saw him go 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA in five starts.

“It’s great knowing things are still carrying over,” Ashcraft said. “There’s still a lot to work on, but I’m in a good spot. We’re in a good spot as a team and we have a lot to look forward to.”

2. The offense showed its power: The Reds hit six home runs in the series. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who hit seven home runs in their first four games, were the only National League team with more home runs through Sunday.

Jake Fraley, Jonathan India, Kevin Newman, Jason Vosler, Spencer Steer and Friedl all homered in the first three games. Last year, the Reds didn’t hit their sixth home run until their seventh game.

Vosler, one of three new Reds in the Opening Day lineup, hit .375 (3 for 8) in the series. He started the first and third games at first base.

“It’s been a great weekend,” Vosler said. “Obviously, we got the series win, too, so that was huge. I had my whole family out here. For me personally, it was definitely a great weekend. I felt good at the plate. I felt pretty good in the field, too.”

3. The pitch clock had a dramatic impact: Fifteen walks on Opening Day helped lead to a game that lasted three hours and two minutes.

Saturday’s game lasted 2 hours, 24 minutes. Sunday’s game ended in 2 hours, 16 minutes. Those would have been the fifth- and third-shortest games for the Reds in the entire 162-game 2022 season.

Across Major League Baseball, the average time of games on the first four days of the season was 2:38. That’s 32 minutes shorter than last season.


Cubs at Reds, 6:40 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410

About the Author