CINCINNATI — Slugger Yasiel Puig is the newe face of the revamped Cincinnati Reds, but on Thursday fellow newcomers Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias were the stars.
Iglesias, a shortstop signed as a free agent, went 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles, a run scored and another batted in, and Dietrich, a free agent acquisition as an infielder/outfielder, smashed a pinch-hit three-run home run to help the Reds defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 on Opening Day at Great American Ball Park.
Dietrich said he was stunned when he received a curtain call from appreciative fans after the home run.
“I was in the dugout taking it all in with the guys and they told m to get out there,” said Dietrich, who tipped his cap from the top of the dugout steps. “I was just like, ‘Thank you, Lord.’”
The Reds struck first when Iglesias doubled in Jose Pereza with two out in the bottom of the second inning.
The Pirates had done little until two were gone in the sixth and Josh Bell singled to right field, prompting Cincinnati manager David Bell to lift starter Luis Castillo for Jared Hughes. Francisco Cervelli met Hughes with a single and Jung Ho Kang followed with a hit to left to drive in two runs to give the Pirates the lead.
Castillo, who effectively mixed a 97 mph fastball with offspeed pitches ranging from 86 to 88 mph, gave up one run on two hits, struck out eight and walked three in his first Opening Day start.
“My change-up was really good,” Castillo said. “My fastball was working, as well.”
Pirates starter Jameson Taillon cruised through the first six innings, allowing one run on four hits with three strikeouts and one walk before Peraza hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the left-center field seats for a game-tying home run. After Tucker Barnhart walked, Iglesias pulled a double into the left field corner to put runners at second and third and chase Taillon, who took the loss.
Reliever Richard Rodriguez came on to face Dietrich, who smashed a three-homer to right-center to give Cincinnati a 5-2 lead to the delight of the Great American Ball Park regular-season-record crowd of 44,049, the fifth-largest in Stadium history.
Pittsburgh got a run back in the eighth when Corey Dickerson homered off reliever Raisel Iglesias, who walked two batters in the ninth before being replaced by Amir Garrett. After Garrett struck out Adam Frazier for the second out of the ninth, David Hernandez walked Pablo Reyes to load the bases, then coaxed Dickerson to ground out to second to end the game and a 12-pitch at bat.
“I had a few good pitches to hit, but fouled them straight back,” Dickerson said. “[Hernandez] is up there to battle, too. He’s grinding and I’m grinding up there and thinking and doing what I can.”
Zach Duke threw two-thirds of an inning of relief to earn the victory.
The clubs take Friday off before resuming their three-game series at 2:10 p.m. Saturday, with the finale scheduled for 1:10 p.m. Sunday.