That changed in the first inning on Friday, when Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall hit back-to-back homers, and Sal Romano pitching 5 1/3 solid innings, to lift the Reds to a 4-1 victory over the Marlins at Great American Ball Park.
"It was a really good start," said Suarez of the big first inning. "When you score those four runs in the first inning, everybody gets comfortable. When we put it all together -- defense, pitching and hitting -- we can win a lot of games."
Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen ran into trouble in the first by allowing a single and a walk to begin Friday's game. His 1-2 pitch to Suarez, an 82-mph slider, landed in the upper deck in left field, putting the Reds ahead, 3-0. It was Suarez's fourth homer this season.
"It was a slider down a little bit," Suarez said. "I was just thinking about driving in one run there and I put a really good swing on it, and hit it out."
Duvall followed with a line-drive homer, his fifth, on a 1-1 pitch from Chen. Duvall's drive barely cleared the right-field wall to make the score 4-0. His homer had a 16 percent hit probability, and had a 10 percent chance to land in the seats according to Statcast™.
It was the second set of back-to-back homers this season for the Reds.
"That was big right there," said Riggleman. "After that inning, we didn't do a whole lot. It was not going to feel good to get four in the first and let it get away."
Chen (1-1) allowed four earned runs and five hits in four innings. He also walked four.
Romano (2-3) retired 10 straight before Lewis Brinson's fourth home run of the season made the score 4-1 with two outs in the fifth. It was only the second hit allowed to that point by Romano, who allowed a run and three hits.
The Marlins had runners on first and second leading off the second inning, but Romano got Miguel Rojas to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, helping him escape the threat.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED In the sixth inning, the Marlins forced Romano out of the game, and left-handed specialist Wandy Peralta entered to walk the only batter he faced and load the bases. But left-hander David Hernandez induced a pair of hard line drives from Brian Anderson and Martin Prado that were caught by Duvall in left. The Marlins managed only two hits the rest of the way against the Reds' bullpen.
"They barrelled those two balls up pretty good," Riggleman said. "Duvall made a couple nice plays."
The Marlins knew a golden opportunity slipped away in the moment.
"I thought a few times we had something going, and it seemed like we would fizzle [out] and really couldn't put anything truly together," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "The chance we had with the bases loaded, that's where this ballpark will really hurt you. [Prado] flips that ball into left, and usually that's a hit right there because you're playing a little more shallow here. We couldn't get anything going."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS In the third inning, Romano made a barehanded play on a hard grounder from Chen, then calmly threw to Joey Votto at first for the first out of the inning. Trainers briefly visited Romano on the mound and he threw one warmup pitch, but he was able to continue. It was the second straight start that Romano has used his pitching hand to field a ball.
"I probably need to stop doing that, but it's a reactionary thing," he said.
UP NEXT Tyler Mahle had his best outing of the season on Sunday against the Twins at Target Field, allowing a run on four hits through 6 1/3 innings in an 8-2 win. He'll be looking to build off that performance tonight when he faces the Marlins at Great American Ball Park for the first time in his career, trying to help the Reds take the first two in the series. Mahle has 38 strikeouts to lead all Major League pitchers 23 years old and younger. Caleb Smith will toe the rubber for Miami, with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati.