CINCINNATI -- For the first time since 2014, Homer Bailey made it to the start of a season healthy and able to pitch. For the first time in a big league career that began in 2007, Bailey started on Opening Day.Although Bailey delivered a sound six-inning performance, while able to
CINCINNATI -- For the first time since 2014, Homer Bailey made it to the start of a season healthy and able to pitch. For the first time in a big league career that began in 2007, Bailey started on Opening Day.
Although Bailey delivered a sound six-inning performance, while able to command and execute pitches like he did before elbow injuries betrayed him three times, he couldn't match Nationals ace Max Scherzer in a 2-0 loss on Friday.
"I think I will be a little bit more satisfied when we pull out a win for that one," said Bailey, who gave up one earned run and four hits with three walks and three strikeouts. "At the end of the day, you can look at [the fact] you threw well, but it's still an 'L.' That's what is most important."
Scherzer struck out 10 over his six brilliant innings, with five hits and a walk. For Bailey, the game started with Adam Eaton's single. With one out and two on, Ryan Zimmerman grounded to third base for a potential inning-ending double play. But Bryce Harper made a good slide into second baseman Scooter Gennett that forced a throw in the dirt as Eaton scored.
"Baseball, win or lose, it's typically going to be by one or two runs. It's the little things that were the difference-makers in this game," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Gennett went 4-for-4, including three hits off of Scherzer, but Cincinnati wasn't able to solve him enough to get any runs home.
Bailey, who had a 6.43 ERA in 18 starts last season after his return from a third elbow surgery, kept Washington off of the scoreboard the rest of the day. Washington scored its other run on Brian Goodwin's sacrifice fly in the ninth against reliever Jared Hughes.
"It's been a while," Price said of Bailey. "He had a really good idea of what he wanted to accomplish in Spring Training -- to get really good command of his fastball, re-introduce the curveball in the mix. He had, really, all of his pitches and very, very good fastball command. If this is a sign of things to come, it's a heck of a first start."
Bailey wasn't willing to take the moral victory. The real thing would have been much more to savor.
"Every game, you can find things you did well. You can find things you didn't do well," Bailey said. "To be satisfied with a good loss is just not really in my nature or the rest of this stuff. We kind of hold ourselves a little bit higher. Hopefully we can help the team pull out a few more wins."
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Fighting through fourth inning: The Reds appeared to run Scherzer's pitch count up in a two-out jam in the fourth inning. First, Gennett dueled in a 10-pitch at-bat and fouled off five straight pitches before hitting a single. Scott Schebler worked to a 3-1 count before fouling off three in a row and hitting a single. But Scherzer shut the rally down by striking out Tucker Barnhart.
"We grinded out some at-bats against some tough pitching," Price said.
Collision in left-center: Bailey had the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth and escaped the jam with his 104th pitch, but not before some drama. Michael A. Taylor's fly ball to left-center field brought left fielder Jesse Winker and center fielder Billy Hamilton together. Both called for the ball before the two collided. Winker came up with the catch for the third out. Neither player was injured, and Hamilton could be seen laughing while lying on the ground. For the past two seasons, Adam Duvall has been next to Hamilton in left field, but there is now an outfield rotation in place.
"Off the bat, I got a read on it. I peeked for Billy really early, and then I didn't peek again," Winker said. "It's his outfield. I'm just over there to catch the balls to left. It's my fault. That one is on me."
"We kind of had him on the ropes and he just got out of it, fairly easily. I guess he just executes his pitches. I'm looking forward to facing him again. As a rookie, as anybody, those are the matchups you look for -- Max Scherzer, the aces of anybody's staff. Hopefully I can build a better of a book, results-wise, against him next time." -- Winker, on Scherzer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last Reds player to get four hits in an Opening Day game was Ramon Hernandez, who went 4-for-5 in 2011 and hit the walk-off home run that defeated the Brewers.
When the Reds continue their Opening Series with the Nationals on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. ET, Luis Castillo will get the start against Stephen Strasburg. Gennett could be particularly dangerous for Strasburg, as he's 4-for-11 (.364) with three homers, a double and six RBIs against him over his career.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.