CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Reds opened the 2015 season by allowing a 2-0 lead get away before coming right back with Todd Frazier’s three-run homer to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 at Great American Ball Park.
How it happened: Frazier hammered a Tony Watson 1-1 pitch 432 feet into the second deck with one out and two on in the eighth inning to snap a 2-2 tie.
Andrew McCutchen tied the game with a 383-foot, two-run homer off of Kevin Gregg in the top of the eighth, ruining the right-hander’s Reds debut. McCutchen now has 21 career home runs and 50 RBIs against Cincinnati.
Right-hander Johnny Cueto set an Opening Day career-high with 10 strikeouts and allowed four hits and one walk in seven innings. He allowed no runner past second base in his fourth Opening Day start. Billy Hamilton scored from third on a Francisco Liriano balk in the third inning and Jay Bruce lasered a ball 403 feet into the right-field seats in the fourth. Bruce hit a career-low 18 home runs while dealing with left knee problems in 2014.
The crowd of 43,633 was a record for a regular-season game at Great American Ball Park.
What it means: Liriano was making his first start since signing a three-year, $39 million contract, the largest ever given by Pittsburgh to a free agent. The left-hander allowed two hits and three walks and struck out seven in seven innings, but simply was outdueled by Cueto, who’s in the last season of the long-term deal he signed before the 2011 season and, at 29, is hoping to cash in on a big payday.
Familiar foes: The game was the first of 22 in a row for the Reds against NL Central teams to open the season. The Pirates, by contrast, have three games against Detroit and three against Arizona mixed into their April schedule.
“I didn’t know the schedule,” shortstop Zack Cozart said. “It definitely is a time to see what kind of ballclub we have.”
“Many of the teams we’ll be facing finished above us last year,” Reds manager Bryan Price added. “We’d like to think we’re going to change that trend. We’ll be playing each team close to 20 times this season. When we play them is inconsequential.”
Rules violation: Rain with thunder and lightning delayed the start of the sixth inning by 35 minutes, and one press box observer noted that it was a definite violation of MLB’s new pace-of-game protocols. The time of the game without the rain was 2:30.
Up next: After taking Tuesday off, the Reds and Pirates get back at it Wednesday with a 7:10 p.m. game at Great American Ball Park. Right-hander Mike Leake (11-13, 3.70 ERA in 2014) is Cincinnati’s scheduled starter, and right-hander Gerrit Cole (11-5, 3.65) is scheduled to pitch for Pittsburgh.