Heisey ends Reds' scoring drought, delivers first win
Knocks in game-winner; Cingrani fans nine over seven shutout innings
CINCINNATI -- For all of the offense the Reds and Cardinals can boast in their respective lineups, the first two games of the 2014 season have been all about pitching, resulting in a pair of 1-0 contests.
Including Wednesday's 1-0 walk-off Reds win on a Chris Heisey pinch-hit single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, there have been only 13 1-0 games played at Great American Ball Park in its 12-year history.
For manager Bryan Price, it was coveted victory No. 1 for his career.
"It feels great from a selfish standpoint. From a team standpoint, it feels even better because it's just important to get that first one and get the ball rolling," Price said. "We know we're playing a good club. It certainly makes for a better feeling tomorrow when we get to the ballpark."
With the game still scoreless heading into the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Ludwick began the inning against reliever Carlos Martinez with a lined single to left field. Todd Frazier followed with a rolling single to left field before Zack Cozart's perfect sacrifice bunt toward third base moved the runners up 90 feet. Brayan Pena was intentionally walked to load the bases for Heisey.
St. Louis moved right fielder Allen Craig in to give it five infielders as Heisey stepped in.
"To be honest with you, I realized [Cardinals manager Mike] Matheny was waving somebody around, but I was so focused on just getting the barrel on the ball, I didn't see him standing up the middle," Heisey said. "Guys were telling me, but I couldn't have told you where. I was just up there trying to hit the ball hard -- sacrifice fly, anything to get the job done."
Heisey scorched an 0-1 pitch for a line drive into left-center field to end a night that began with a two-hour and 40-minute rain delay before the first pitch.
"There's nothing like sitting around for about 10 hours and then getting one at-bat and doing something good," Heisey said. "That's the ups and downs of pinch-hitting. You get a hit and you feel great. If you don't, it's your one at-bat and you failed. It was nice to get a hit and have it be a game-winner at the same time."
Thus ended the Reds' stretch of 17 scoreless innings to start the season, which was the longest streak in modern franchise history. The 1909 and 1934 teams both started their seasons with 13 scoreless innings.
"He was in a tough spot because Martinez throws that hard sinker," Price said. "He's 96-99, 100 mph, powering the ball in close to you. That, to me, is what made it a good matchup because Chris can hit the fastball extremely well regardless of velocity."
Because showers delayed their "Opening Night" first pitch, the Reds made the inspired move to have their scheduled postgame fireworks show begin before the game.
Once it got going, young starting pitchers Tony Cingrani and Michael Wacha prevented any hitting fireworks.
Cingrani began his second big league season impressively with seven scoreless innings and two hits allowed. He walked two and struck out nine.
Combining Cingrani's night with Johnny Cueto's performance on Opening Day, Reds starting pitchers have allowed one run and five hits with three walks and 17 strikeouts. Neither was able to notch a win.
Through his first six innings, Cingrani struck out eight batters and faced one over the minimum. Just as impressive, Wacha gave up three hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings with one walk, one hit batsman and seven strikeouts. Two of the hits were provided by Joey Votto, who notched career hit No. 1,000 with a first-inning two-out double.
Going back to his rookie 2013 season, Wacha has held the Reds scoreless for 16 2/3 innings.
"I really don't worry too much about what the other guy is doing," Wacha said. "You notice when he's putting up zeros, though, that you have to be more sharp out there on the mound and be that much more stingy on the mound."
St. Louis threatened in the seventh during Cingrani's final inning when Jhonny Peralta drew a leadoff walk and Craig hit a one-out single. With two outs, Cingrani threw five-straight fastballs to Adams before striking him out with an 81-mph slider away. Cingrani practically bounded off the mound with excitement.
"I was a little jacked up," said Cingrani, who threw 92 pitches. "It's the Cardinals and you want to win. There's nothing else like it -- the first game of the season, first time starting up here. It's pretty good."
In the eighth against Reds lefty reliever Manny Parra, Kolten Wong hit a one-out double. There were two outs when Carpenter lofted a soft liner to shallow center field. Cozart made a spectacular diving catch to prevent a run-scoring hit.
"It hung up a little bit," said Cozart, who made a similar nice catch in the second inning against Craig. "I was kind of shaded to the middle with Carpenter. I knew Manny was probably going to throw him a couple of sliders, and he got out in front of it. I saw how soft he hit it, so I kind of put my head down to get a couple of sprints in and looked up and was getting closer. I was like, 'I've got to catch this,' because obviously it was a big part of the game."
Through 18 innings in two games, the Reds have one run and eight hits. It's the exact same total for the Cardinals. Both teams have split the first two games of the three-game series.
"It's been kind of crazy the first two days with these 1-0 games," Cozart said. "We've had studs pitching for us and studs pitching for them. I'm glad we were on top tonight."