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Opening impression: Moustakas leads Reds over Tigers 7-1

CINCINNATI – Mike Moustakas drove in four runs in an emphatic first impression, teaming with fellow Cincinnati newcomers Shogo Akiyama and Nick Castellanos to turn the Reds’ long-delayed opener into a 7-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday.

The Reds tried to make themselves relevant again by spending $165 million on free agents in the offseason. Moustakas and Castellanos each got $64 million as cornerstones of the rebuild.

They combined to produce Cincinnati’s first three runs, and Moustakas added a two-run homer as the Reds were off and running.

Akiyama, signed as a free agent after a stellar career in Japan, singled home a run in his first at-bat as a pinch hitter. Joey Votto added a solo homer.

“We’re just so talented on the offensive side of the ball, it’s just scary,” starter Sonny Gray said.

Gray (1-0) fanned nine and gave up three hits in six innings, including C.J. Cron’s homer that clanked around the empty metal bleacher seats in the upper deck. Gray extended his major league record to 34 consecutive starts without allowing more than six hits.

“A lot of great things happened tonight,” manager David Bell said.

Baseball returned to its professional roots Friday – 120 days after originally scheduled – without the traditional trimmings. Missing were the pregame parade, flyover and red-clad fans celebrating a city-wide holiday in the home of baseball’s first pro team in 1869.

This one belonged to the newest Reds, right from the start.

Matthew Boyd (0-1) had trouble in his first opening start, immediately loading the bases on a walk, hit, and a hit batter. Up came Castellanos – a former Tiger – and he got plunked, too, getting his first RBI with the Reds without swinging the bat.

“Unfortunately, this game’s on the starting pitcher,” Boyd said. “You come out and set the tone. Tonight’s on me.”

Moustakas followed with a run-scoring single that got two Reds mascots dancing in an empty club area in center field.

Castellanos doubled and scored on Moustakas’ single in the third, drawing cheers from the grounds crew seated in the stands beyond third base.

“It was definitely strange,” Moustakas said. “What was great was the grounds crew was out there cheering.”

Boyd needed 26 pitches to get the first out and 30 overall in the first inning, when manager Ron Gardenhire got his bullpen warming up. Boyd lasted five innings and gave up four runs on six hits.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

All the Tigers knelt while 15 Reds stayed on their feet during Major League Baseball’s pregame recognition of Black Lives Matter, which included a moment of silence. In all, eight players remained kneeling during the anthem.

THE NEW NORM

Gardenhire most missed the fans in pressure situations.

“The intensity level normally ramps up when you’ve got the fans in the big situations, and you don’t have that,” he said. “These guys have to dig down, and it’s not easy to do when you’ve got a pitcher out there throwing the ball the way Sonny Gray did today.”

TRAINING ROOM

Tigers: Left-hander Daniel Norris threw a bullpen session Thursday. He’s on the injured list after missing most of summer workouts following a positive test for COVID-19. Gardenhire plans to go slow with him.

Reds: Akiyama wasn’t in the starting lineup because the Tigers were starting a left-hander.

UP NEXT

Tigers: Ivan Nova makes his Detroit debut. He’s made 12 career starts against the Reds, going 5-7 with a 4.24 ERA.

Reds: Luis Castillo makes his first career appearance against the Tigers.

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