Game One – Cubs 16 vs. Reds 7
Updated – 8:18pm C.T. with a Photo Gallery from Opening Day
The day started off like any other, roll out and stumble to the coffee pot in order to become a functioning human being….instant human, just add coffee. But this was not any other day, it was Opening Day in the Queen City, it was the Cubs vs. the Reds, it was time for baseball. The scene down by the river (thank you Chris Farley) was unbelievable; I have never seen anything like Opening Day in Cincinnati. All of those fans with so much hope and optimism; does that sound familiar?
The atmosphere was electric and full of red, unlike other Reds/Cubs games I have been to in Cincinnati, where the stands are mostly blue. The singing of the National Anthem, the huge flag and the flyover would have been enough, then our President stepped out from the Reds dugout and the entire stadium exploded….this was a once in a lifetime moment.
Then after all the pre-game, the Cubs took the field…. On a day when Carlos Zambrano did not have his best stuff, the Cubs offense was able to pound out a win with a little help from the Reds defense. Before a crowd of 42,591, Juan Pierre stepped to the plate and promptly took Aaron Harang down the first base line and before a blink of an eye he was sliding into 3rd….lead off triple, not bad. Todd Walker then doubled him home and after working the count to 3-2; Derrek Lee walked, Ramirez singled and Chris Speier held up Todd Walker….and that was the right call. Walker scored on Adam Dunn’s first error of the game off of the bat of Jacque Jones. Edwin Encarnacion doubled A-Ram off second on a good play; but the play should have gotten the Reds out of the inning. This was the first defensive mishap of the day by the Reds, they should have turned a triple play, but the indecisive play of Encarnacion cost them those precious seconds. Matt Murton was given a chance to hit and took a 2-2 pitch from Harang over the right center field wall. Murton should have never gotten to the plate.
The Cubs offense was quiet until the 6th inning when they unloaded for a 7 run inning and sent 12 batters to the plate. Barrett started the inning with a walk and was involved in a hit and run with Matt Murton. Murton had a softly hit infield single, but by starting Barrett from first it took the easy out away from the Reds….good move Dusty Baker. Cedeno was up next and after missing his first two-bunt attempts; he laid one down and beat out the throw….bases loaded. Angel Pagan was hitting in the 9 hole after a double switch in the 5th and he blooped a single into left field that Adam Dunn should have caught….he called Lopez off; RBI for Pagan. Juan Pierre then added an infield single off of the Reds’ pitcher Chris Hammond; RBI for Pierre. Todd Walker then singled to left with the infield in; Cedeno and Pagan scored. Then the play of the day happened for the Reds, in Adam Dunn’s defense (or lack there of) that was one of the windiest games I had ever attended and Derrek Lee’s double off the left field wall was an adventure to say the least for Dunn, he turned every way but the right way to catch the ball; Walker to third. A-Ram was intentionally walked (one of two on the day and if Dusty cannot find someone to protect Ramirez, this is going to happen all year), Neifi singled with the infield in; Walker scored. Barrett ground into a double play; Derrek Lee scored. Matt Murton drew a walk and Cedeno ended the inning with a strike out.
Although this game was very similar to last season’s opener, I think it was different in a lot of ways. Only one home run, solid defense other that Derrek Lee dropping one ball, 18 hits and 9 left on base. A good start for the offense and the Cubs reserves/bench made an impact. Angel Pagan went 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored; Jerry Hairston and Neifi Perez each had hits as well.
Carlos Zambrano looked off from the start, when he took the mound for his warm-ups he looked stiff, like he could not loosen up. At one point he even did a windmill motion to get loose. Zambrano threw 105 pitches in 4 2/3 innings of work; 47 balls and 58 strikes. The home plate umpire was calling it close for both sides, but Z could not get on track. He allowed 5 runs on 7 hits, including 2 home runs; one by Adam Dunn to tie the game and a 3-run shot by Scott Hatteberg. The Cubs have to win games when the starting pitching does not have it and on Monday they did and the bullpen did a great job.
Will Ohman was credited with the win, but Ohman, Scott Williamson, Scott Eyre, Bobby Howry and Ryan Dempster held the potent Reds’ offense to only 2 runs and 4 hits over the last 5 1/3 innings of the ballgame. While Williamson had a bad day, his other bullpen mates were as good on Opening Day as anyone could have expected. The lone run allowed by Scott Eyre, it was unearned, came off an error by Derrek Lee when he dropped a perfectly thrown ball by Aramis Ramirez.
The horrible Reds defense helped the Cubs to victory on Monday, but in years past they were not able to take advantage of the gifts that less talented teams have tried to give them.
The Cubs are off on Tuesday and will play the Reds again on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park; Glendon Rusch will take the hill for the Cubs. Talkin’ Cubs Live here at the CCO went well today and will be back on Wednesday…don’t miss it.
This was a day this thirty something man will never forget….
Click Here for the CCO Photo Gallery from Opening Day in Cincinnati, over 100 pictures.