CINCINNATI (AP) — Oneil Cruz homered shortly after a pitch clock violation and later drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, helping the Pittsburgh Pirates open the season by beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 on Thursday.
The game was played in 3 hours, 2 minutes under new rules this season designed to speed things up. There were a combined 15 walks and 26 strikeouts which contributed to the game’s length.
There were two pitch-clock violations in, committed by Reds starter Hunter Greene in the third and Pirates starter Mitch Keller in the fourth. Both at-bats ended with home runs.
Keller fanned eight over 4 1/3 innings.
Reds third baseman Spencer Steer hit a solo homer in the fourth.
Greene committed the Reds’ first clock violation turning an 0-2 count to 1-2 against Cruz leading off the third. Cruz hit a tying, solo homer on a 3-2 pitch.
Greene, 23, became the youngest pitcher to start for the Reds on opening day since Frank Pastore in 1980. He stuck out eight and walked three in 3 1/3 innings.
Fernando Cruz replaced Greene and allowed three runs on two walks and a wild pitch, all coming with the bases loaded.
Keller’s pitch clock violation occurred in the fourth on 1-2 pitch to Steer who homered to the opposite field two pitches later.
Reds first baseman Jason Vosler, a non-roster invitee to spring training, had a two-run triple to tie it in the fifth.
The Reds are hoping for a better start after going 3-22 to begin last season. Only the 1988 Orioles had a worst start.
Reds: OF Nick Senzel who had surgery in November to repair a fractured toe on his left foot, will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville next week. … 1B Joey Votto who underwent left shoulder surgery in August, will begin a Triple-A rehab stint March 31 when Louisville opens its season at Nashville.
Reds LHP Nick Lodolo who went 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA in five spring training starts, will face 43-year-old LHP Rich Hill who’s making his Pirates debut on Saturday.