MLB: After winning opener, Reds send Hunter Greene to face Nationals

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Fresh from an off day, when they were able to savor a feel-good Opening Day, the Cincinnati Reds look to make it two in a row when they host the Washington Nationals on Saturday afternoon.

In Thursday’s season opener before a sellout crowd of 44,030, the Reds got a power boost from Nick Martini, who was making his first Opening Day start at the age of 33. Cincinnati also received six shutout innings from right-hander Frankie Montas in an 8-2 win over the Nationals.

With Matt McLain and TJ Friedl on the injured list and Noelvi Marte suspended, Martini stepped up and cracked a two-run homer in the second and a three-run shot an inning later.

Martini spent 2022 playing professionally in South Korea before returning in 2023 to hit six homers in just 29 games for the Reds in the final five weeks of the season. He also belted 15 home runs at Triple-A Louisville.

“Obviously, we’re extremely happy for Nick but at the same time, we’ve known this guy can hit,” Reds manager David Bell said. “So for it all to come out Opening Day, his first one, which is surprising or shocking if you think about it because this guy’s been a good player for a long time. He’s always been able to hit.”

Montas recorded the win after making just one major league appearance last season, while Cincinnati native Brent Suter tossed two perfect innings to close out the win.

The Reds, who prevailed in their home opener for the first time since 2020, turn to right-hander Hunter Greene in the second game of the season. Greene was 4-7 with a 4.82 ERA over 22 starts in 2023, striking out 152 batters in 112 innings before a hip injury sidelined him in July and three weeks of August.

The 24-year-old Greene is facing the Nationals for the first time in his career.

Greene, who is 9-20 lifetime with a 4.62 ERA in 46 career starts, is looking reach his high ceiling in 2024.

Despite heading into the offseason as the assumed ace of a talented and rising Cincinnati rotation, Greene did not receive the Opening Day nod.

“(Staff ace) is a tough label to put on somebody at such a young age,” Greene said. “I embrace it. I’ve always wanted to have that extra pressure, that position or title. Those guys that have thrown a lot of innings and have gone complete seasons and won Cy Youngs and been All-Stars, I totally see myself in that light.”

The Nationals counter with left-hander Patrick Corbin, who enters his sixth season with the Nationals. He is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his last three starts in Cincinnati going back to 2021.

Last Aug. 4, he allowed three runs on four hits and three solo home runs over 6 1/3 innings and received a no decision as the Nationals rallied for a 6-3 win in 10 innings at Cincinnati.

Offensively, Washington cleanup hitter Joey Meneses will look to build off Opening Day, when he went 2-for-4, while Eddie Rosario provided the only run production with his two-run homer in the seventh.

“Opening Day is always weird, a lot of adrenaline,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We uncharacteristically chased a lot of pitches. We didn’t do that in spring (training). We’ve got to get the ball in the zone. If we get the ball in the zone, we hit the ball hard.

“Joey had a good day swinging the bat. On the whole, we’ve got to get the ball in the zone and be ready to hit.”

–Field Level Media

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