ATLANTA (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds watched with admiration as the Atlanta Braves celebrated their championship.
Then the Reds launched a new season by outplaying the champions.
Tyler Mahle allowed only an unearned run in five innings to outpitch Max Fried, Brandon Drury hit a three-run homer and the Reds beat Atlanta 6-3 on Thursday night to spoil the Braves’ World Series celebration.
The Braves unveiled their World Series pennant in right field in a pregame ceremony after two parachutists landed in the outfield carrying championship banners.
“It was great,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It was fun to be part of that atmosphere, really.”
Fried, the winning pitcher in the World Series-clinching Game 6 win over Houston, couldn’t repeat that success in his opening day start.
Fried (0-1) allowed five runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He left the game with two runners on base before Drury’s homer off Collin McHugh, making his Braves debut, landed in the Reds’ bullpen behind the left field wall.
Austin Riley hit a two-run homer for Atlanta off right-hander Dauri Moreta in the eighth.
Mahle (1-0) was sharp in his first opening day start, allowing only three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Mahle said he wasn’t distracted by the Braves’ pregame ceremony.
“I didn’t really watch any of it, actually,” Mahle said. “I kind of heard it, but I was doing my own thing.”
Bell said he was impressed by Mahle’s perfect fifth inning.
“We’ve seen him do it a lot where he gets stronger during the game, but today said a lot about him because he hadn’t really got that deep in a game in spring training,” Bell said.
Tony Santillan pitched a perfect ninth to earn his first career save.
Kyle Farmer’s second-inning single drove in Tyler Stephenson, who was hit on his foot by a pitch from Fried, for a 1-0 lead.
Fried was faced with the first bases-loaded, no-out situation of his career in the third. Joey Votto’s single drove in Jonathan India. Aristides Aquino scored on Stephenson’s lineout to right field for a 3-0 lead.
Reds: The rotation could look much different by the end of the month. LHP Mike Minor (left shoulder soreness) will throw a simulated game in Atlanta on Friday. RHP Luis Castillo (right shoulder soreness) played catch on Thursday and will throw in the bullpen this weekend. Bell said Minor is “slightly” ahead of Castillo and both could come off the 10-day injured list this month. … IF Donovan Solano (left hamstring strain) will have at-bats in the simulated game.
Braves: Throwing fastballs timed at 100 mph, rookie right-hander Spencer Strider recorded five strikeouts in two perfect innings. … Hall of Famer Chipper Jones threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The celebration continues on Sunday, when players will be presented their World Series rings.
SPLIT VOTES ON WRIST BAND
Bell says his players enthusiastically support baseball’s new PitchCom wristbands. The technology made available this year allows catchers to call pitches by punching a button on the wristband instead of flashing signs which can be stolen.
“Going into this, every one of our pitchers and catchers are going to use it,” Bell said, adding “They loved it. I was shocked.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker says his players “didn’t warm up to it” and won’t be using the new technology.
“I think at some point it might become a reality but our guys didn’t embrace it very well,” Snitker said. “They didn’t seem too eager to try it. And not to say we won’t.”
When asked why his players didn’t like the PitchCom wristbands, Snitker said “I didn’t ask.”
CAREER FIRST FOR VOTTO
Votto, 38, entered the fifth inning with 6,724 career at-bats — and had never popped out to the pitcher. Votto experienced that career first when he ended the fifth with his popout to Fried.
Votto did an interview with the ESPN broadcast team while playing first base in the fourth inning, providing insight on his positioning and strategy, and reflecting on his 15-year career between pitches. He also joked about combatting his mid-life crisis with a gold or diamond tooth.
Reds LHP Reiver Sanmartin (2-0, 1.54 ERA in 2021) is scheduled to face Braves RHP Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.34) on Friday night. Each of Sanmartin’s wins in his first two major league starts late last season came against Pittsburgh. Morton showed no limitations this spring in his return after suffering a broken leg when hit by a grounder in Game 1 of the World Series.