Reds blast Nationals in opener


CINCINNATI — Nick Martini said he felt a jolt in the Reds’ opening-day crowd when he lined his second homer of the afternoon 405 feet into the right-field stands.

The 33-year-old was in the lineup batting eighth as the designated hitter, the first opening-day start of his big league career. He responded with a two-run homer in the second inning and a three-run drive in the third as Cincinnati cruised to an 8-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Thursday.

“I know it’s only one game, but it feels good in front of that many fans and the city,” said Martini, the first Reds player to hit two homers on opening day since Adam Dunn in 2007. “I kind of felt it, especially after the second one. I kind of just felt how loud it got. It was just awesome.”

Frankie Montas pitched six shutout innings in his Cincinnati debut.

Montas (1-0) joined the Reds with a $16 million, one-year deal as a free agent and the 31-year-old right-hander allowed four hits in six innings, striking out four and walking none in his 100th career start. He had labrum surgery last Feb. 21 while with the New York Yankees and made his only big league appearance of the year on Sept. 30.

“I was just trying to go out there and have fun and just put in a good performance,” Montas said. “I know what I can do when I’m healthy. People know what I can do when I’m healthy. This is a healthy Frankie Montas. This is a healthy version of me. So I’m just trying to enjoy every part of it.”

Martini is playing with his fourth major league team since 2018 and got the opportunity Thursday because of spring training injuries to TJ Friedl and Matt McClain. He hit a first-pitch slider out to right in the second inning and lined a 2-1 cutter into the same neighborhood the next inning.

“We’ve known this guy can hit, so for it to all come out opening day and his first one, which us surprising or shocking when you think about it because this guy has been a good player for a long time,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We saw a pretty good sample of what he is able to do and why he is good.”

Spencer Steer had two hits and two RBIs for Cincinnati.

Up next

Lefty Patrick Corbin is scheduled to start for the Nationals against Reds right-hander Hunter Greene as the series continues on Saturday.

Looking ahead

Cincinnati’s promising young infield, led by Elly De La Cruz and McLain, took a hit when Noelvi Marte was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

But the Reds have several different ways to replace Marte while he is out. Jeimer Candelario signed with the team in free agency, and 2021 NL Rookie of the Year Jonathan India also could be a factor in the infield alignment.

Injuries for Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft turned Cincinnati’s rotation into a patchwork mess last season, but Andrew Abbott and Brandon Williamson gained some valuable experience that could pay off this time around. Montas also joins the rotation after an injury-decimated stint with the Yankees.

Associated Press writer Jay Cohen contributed to this report.

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