Derek Dietrich’s three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning rallied the new-look Reds to a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, an encouraging start for a Cincinnati team looking to escape last place.
Playing their first game under manager David Bell , the Reds got starring performances from two players signed for backup roles last month. They also ended the game with a relief pitcher playing center field, a sign of Bell’s openness to new ideas.
Two players who joined the organization last month on minor league deals became part of Cincinnati’s opening day lore.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias doubled twice and drove in a run. After Jose Peraza’s homer off Jameson Taillon (0-1) tied it in the seventh, Dietrich put the Reds up 5-2 with his pinch-hit homer off Richard Rodriguez . Dietrich got a curtain call from the crowd of 44,049, the largest for a regular season game at Great American Ball Park.
Newcomer Zach Duke (1-0) retired the two batters he faced. Closer Raisel Iglesias came on in the eighth and gave up a solo homer by Corey Dickerson. Bell replaced him with two on in the ninth — another unconventional move. David Hernandez loaded the bases with a walk to Pablo Reyes before retiring Dickerson on a grounder to end it, getting his first save since 2017.
Reliever Michael Lorenzen got into the game as a pinch runner in the seventh and played the last two innings in center field. He didn’t have a ball hit his way.
The win opened a notable season for the Reds. Commissioner Rob Manfred was grand marshal of the pregame parade that kicked off baseball’s 150th anniversary celebration of the first all-professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.
The Reds gave themselves an offseason makeover with three trades, including the addition of Yasiel Puig from the Dodgers. The right fielder got one of the loudest cheers — fans chanting “PUUUUIIIIIIG!”— during pregame introductions and went 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts.
Pittsburgh’s Jung Ho Kang singled home a pair of runs in the sixth, an early return on the $3 million, one-year deal he signed last November.
The Pirates open the season with a depleted outfield. Right fielder Gregory Polanco is recovering from shoulder surgery, and fill-in Lonnie Chisenhall went on the injury list pregame with a broken right index finger. Adding to the problems, center fielder Starling Marte was a late scratch from the lineup because of a migraine.
Pirates: In addition to Chisenhall, the Pirates put fifth-starter Jordan Lyles (sore right side), C Elias Diaz (virus), RH Dovydas Neverauskas (oblique) and OF Jose Osuna (neck) on the injury list. They also moved RH Edgar Santana (Tommy John surgery) to the 60-day list.
Reds: Put INF Alex Blandino, 2B Scooter Gennett and LH Alex Wood on the 10-day injury list.
Pirates: After an off-day Friday, Trevor Williams (14-10) tried to build upon his second-half success last season. His 1.38 ERA after the All-Star break was second-best in the majors behind Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell (1.17).
Reds: Sonny Gray (11-9) makes his third career against the Pirates. The Reds got him in a trade with the Yankees on Jan. 21 after he agreed to add three years to his deal worth $30.5 million through 2022.