Friday was a great day for baseball in Cincinnati. Low 60s, a smattering of clouds in the sky. It was a prototypical sold-out Opening Day, made better by the Cards' 8-3 victory.
The win was propelled by a solid Jack Flaherty start and three Matt Carpenter runs from the leadoff spot, as he doubled, drew a walk and singled. Other offense came from a fifth-inning, two run homer from Paul DeJong, and solo shots from Tyler O'Neill and Kolten Wong.
The game may be most remembered, though, as the start of the Dylan Carlson Era, as the highly touted rookie grabbed the start in center ahead of Harrison Bader. Carlson doubled once in his four at bats, driving in a run, and showed exceptional range in the field on a tailing line drive off the bat of Mike Moustakas.
Flaherty threw 84 pitches in his five innings. All three runs came in the fourth inning on a Jesse Winker home run with one out, following a walk to Joey Votto and a single by Moustakas' fellow Reds newcomer, Nick Castellanos.
"I didn't have my very best stuff," said Flaherty, who struck our three, topped out at 95 mph, and surrendered four hits and three walks. "But I felt pretty good and they were mostly chasing and topped a bunch of pitches. so that made it a bit easier."
Reds starter Luis Castillo had the same issues plaguing him as he saw in spring training -- a fastball that had little movement, and breaking balls that either couldn't find the plate at all or too much of it. Castillo has had two weak springs in a row, but showed long stretches of dominance last season that made him the anointed ace of the staff.
The Cards lineup was altered in part because of the lingering elbow issues facing regular first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Carpenter and Fowler took the first two spots but O'Neill stepped into the 3 hole and left field, followed by Molina. Tommy Edman batted fifth, followed by DeJong, Wong and Carlson.
Manager Mike Shidt started Carlson "on the road, to ease the pressure for the young man. Bader will get plenty of opportunities to play. We have a team that has some versatility and will give everyone plenty of chances to contribute."
Carpenter started the offense out by doubling to left center in the first, and with two outs, scored on a sharp Molina grounder up the middle. He was once again plated by the catcher in the sixth, and on a base hit by Fowler in the eighth.
Three Cardinals relievers finished out the game without a run. Left Kwang Hyun Kim handled the sixth and seventh, surrendering only a hit, while John Brebbia and Ryan Helsley had little issue in the final two frames.
NEXT GAME: The Cards go again in Cincinnati tomorrow, with Dakota Hudson taking the mound against Sonny Gray.