By Mark Sheldon and Tom Singer
MLB.com |@m_sheldon |
CINCINNATI -- At the dawn of Opening Day, not many would have predicted that the Reds would open the season with a sweep, nor that the Pirates would start out winless. Well, that's exactly what happened as Cincinnati completed a three-game series sweep on Thursday with a 3-2 victory on an error by right fielder Gregory Polanco for a walk-off ending.
It was a 2-2 game when Todd Frazier led off the bottom of the ninth with a double scorched to the wall in left field against reliever Rob Scahill. A groundout to shortstop by Devin Mesoraco advanced Frazier to third base before Jay Bruce was intentionally walked. That set up Marlon Byrd, who hit a liner to right field off of Polanco's glove that scored Frazier without a throw to the plate. More >
"I tried to backhand the ball. It curved more than I expected," Polanco said. "Then I slipped, and couldn't keep it in front of me. "If I slide, I make the catch easy. But I wanted to stay up, so I can make the throw home."
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth inning with two strikeouts to get the victory.
"The Pirates are definitely one of our toughest competitors, especially in our division here," Mesoraco said. "We had so many division games here early that we know we have to get off to a good start. [To be] 3-0, I'm very happy with where we're at."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Votto goes deep: On the heels of hitting a walk-off RBI single in the 11th inning on Wednesday, Joey Votto came through again on Thursday. In the sixth after Pittsburgh took its two-run lead, Votto hit A.J. Burnett's 1-2 pitch for a game-tying two-run homer to center field. It was Votto's first home run since May 10, 2014, vs. the Rockies' Jordan Lyles. It also was also Votto's first extra-base hit in eight career hits against Burnett. Through the first three games, Votto is batting .357, but he is not putting too much thought into his, or the team's hot start.
"It's just Game 3," Votto said. "I'm not getting terribly excited about it. I'm content about the wins. I think we all are."
The rain can only delay Burnett: Not wanting to become a hanger-on may be one reason Burnett decided this would be his final season. Hanging around is another matter. The veteran remained in the game on the other side of a one-hour, 14-minute rain delay, blanking the Reds for two more innings before Votto broke his spell and ended his day. Burnett allowed four hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings, with a walk and seven strikeouts. More >
DeSclafani waits out the storm: In his Reds debut, Anthony DeSclafani gave up two earned runs and five hits over his six innings with one walk and six strikeouts. Like Burnett, he returned to pitch following the delay. More >
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• All three games in the series featured a rain delay. Add the delay times together, and it's four hours, 23 minutes.
• Pedro Alvarez's sixth-inning home run was No. 2,500 at Great American Ball Park; the Bucs have hit 134 of those, breaking a tie with the Cubs for the most by a visiting team.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: The Bucs move on to Milwaukee to continue their season-opening trip with a weekend series against the Brewers. Jeff Locke, who won his only 2014 decision in Miller Park, gets the opening assignment Friday at 8:10 p.m. ET/7:10 CT.
Reds: The Reds remain at home for another three-game series, this time vs. the defending division-champion Cardinals. Jason Marquis, a former Cardinal, will make his Reds debut when he pitches the opener at 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday.