The Ashland Beacon
Never in a million years could we have guessed how different our lives would become between now and the last time we enjoyed a game at Great American Ballpark. September 26 is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. Not only because it's my sister’s birthday but also because it was Marty’s last game as the Voice of the Cincinnati Reds. Now, just shy of a year by two months, baseball is finally back at GABP and so so much has changed.
I could not possibly add to the discussion of the global COVID pandemic so I will just stick with baseball and in particular this 2020 Reds team. Before we knew much about this virus Marty and I spent 3 weeks in Arizona for spring training and actually got to watch about 6 games before we flew back to Cincinnati. The next day, March 12, baseball was shut down and the whole world changed.
Between the end of baseball to the start of spring training the ownership and baseball operations went out and spent some money to improve the product on the field. On paper, this team looks to be as good as just about any team in the National League. Adding Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, Wade Miley, Pedro Strop, Shogo Akiyama and others, the Reds served notice that 2020 is going to be an impactful year.
Moustakas was signed to a four-year deal after the Brewers did not exercise their 2020 option. He will be playing second base and adding a big bat to the lineup. Castellanos, signed through the 23 season, last year hit .289 with 27 home runs and 73 RBI’s with the Tigers and the Cubs and will be playing right field. Wade Miley was signed to a two-year contract after winning 14 games for the Astro’s in 2019. He is a left-hander and that makes him much needed in the Reds rotation. Right hander, Pedro Strop, since 2012 one of the most reliable relief pitchers in all of baseball. He will give the Reds much needed depth in their bullpen. Shogo Akiyama becomes the first player born from Japan to wear a Reds uniform. Shogo was signed to a three-year contract and the Reds are looking to him to provide power and speed while playing in the outfield.
As we all know, the games are not decided on paper but on the actual field and the season finally kicked off July 24 against the Detroit Tigers in front of zero fans. Opening day is truly a citywide holiday in Cincinnati but this year was very different with no fanfare or large crowds but with even more anticipation for this team to take the field and for baseball to return to America
Marty and I spent our Opening Day at the Hilton Netherlands Plaza Hotel in Downtown Cincinnati at a socially distant watch party. Around 100 people were on hand at tables spaced well apart to watch a very impressive first game. Sonny Gray got the start and he was absolutely lights out going 6 innings, allowing 3 hits and 1 run one to go along with his 9 strikeouts. The offense showed up in a big way as well. The new acquisitions can quickly make a lot of fans with their performance. Moustakas went 3 for 4 and crushed a monster of a home run in the 7th inning. Shogo got his first major league hit and made a fine play in left field. Team veteran Joey Votto got off to a hot start, going 2 for 4 with a home run in the 5th inning. The Reds won their first game by a score of 7-1.
Quality starting pitching continued for the next two games of the home opener series with Luis Castillo pitching 6 innings, giving up 6 hits with one run and an impressive 11 strikeouts. Trevor Bauer took the mound for the 3rd game going 6 1/3 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 run and an unbelievable 13 strikeouts. Those numbers are outstanding and sound like mid-season form. Unfortunately, the bullpen and the offense provided no real help to get Castillo and Bauer two well deserved wins.
With a much shorter season every loss is magnified, and every win means just a little more. Hopefully losing two straight to a team that might be one of the worst in baseball is just a small blip on the screen and this team looks more like what we see on paper and not what we saw on the field last Saturday and Sunday.
Until next time,
Amanda Ingram Brennaman