Matt Holliday jogged in from leftfield to shake hands with teammates after they St. Louis Cardinals 1-0 win over the Reds on Opening Day. "Yaddy wins," Holliday said.
Public enemy number one at Great American Ball Park, Yadier Molina, hit a solo home run off Johnny Cueto for the only run of the game.
While it was the glaring winning moment, there were other influences that his teammates, manager and opponents are tuned to.
He turned one dribble in front of the plate by Joey Votto into a double play.
Before the game, there was anticipation of a matchup between the swift Billy Hamilton and Molina but Adam Wainwright, who picked up his 100th career victory was able to strike out Hamilton four times.
"Because pitchers have confidence in Yaddy's ability to block balls in the dirt, Adam (Wainwright) and the others can throw that big curveball," Matheny said.
Hamilton led off the third inning. He struck out chasing a ball in the dirt and took off for first. Molina blocked it and threw him out. Phillips walked. Votto made contact with another low sweeping curve and topped it in front of the plate, almost like a sacrifice bunt. Molina pounced on it and fired to second to start the double play.
"It was a big emphasis to keep Hamilton off base," Wainwright said. "In a 1-0 game, that's a big deal. He stole two bases off us in September against the best catcher in the game."
After a good spring, Hamilton had a tough day at the plate. He struck out nine times in 61 plate appearances this spring.
"He went against Adam Wainwright who is pretty good," Reds' manager Bryan Price said. "I know he wanted to be a bigger influence in our offense but he will be out there the day after tomorrow."
It was Price's debut as manager that ended in disappointment.
"I was thinking there was a win at the end of it," Price said. "I was trying to keep this from being about me but about what we do as a team.. There were a lot of positives. The end results wasn't great. I spent 15 years as a pitching coach."
The frustration built for the Reds. They had runners on first and third with no outs in the eighth.
Wainwright was gone but the St. Louis bullpen is young with a lot of hard throwers. Newcomer Pat Neshak has an unorthodox underhand delivery. Neshek walked Phillips to start the inning. Matheny brought in left-hander Kevin Seigrist, who throws about 98mph, to face Votto and Bruce back-to-back. Remember this is what former Reds' manager, Dusty Baker, tried to avoid. Baker broke up Votto and Bruce to force the opposing manager to use two pitchers. Votto rolled a ball up the middle that should have been turned into a double play. Rookie secondbaseman, Kolten Wong, tried to rush it and missed the ball completely putting Phillips at third and Votto at first with no out. Matheny could leave Siegrist in to face Bruce. Bruce hit a one hop grounder to Matt Adams at firstbase. Phillips was running on contact.
"We had Brandon running on contact. If they turn a double play we still score but Adams made the play," Price said.
Adams threw home to get Phillips in a rundown. Phillips stayed in it as long as he could but neither runner advanced. Matheny went to Carlos Martinez, who is the youngest player on the Cardinal roster at 22 to pitch to Ryan Ludwick.
Ludwick grounded one to second to give Wong a chance to redeem himself. He flipped to Pete Kozma at shortstop. Adams flat out dropped the relay to give Frazier a chance to drive in the tying run. Martinez struck him out looking.
"We didn't get the hit we needed," Price said. "It was disappointing but we're going to have disappointments along the way."