CINCINNATI – In a game so long that everything became blurred, catcher Chris Iannetta had one thing clearly in mind when he dug in for his final at-bat.
Don’t strike out again.
He didn’t. Iannetta singled with the bases loaded in the 13th inning Monday, sending the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in an opener that set a few records and emptied both bullpens and benches.
Not what you script for the first day going on, said Iannetta, who caught all 13 innings.
The first interleague season opener in major league history showed what happens when first games are played in Ohio. Last year, the Blue Jays beat the Indians 7-4 in 16 innings in Cleveland, the longest opener in major league history.
Iannetta hit a solo homer in the third inning off Johnny Cueto, then grounded out and struck out three times, including with the bases loaded in the seventh inning to keep it tied at 1.
It was a long day at that point, Iannetta said. I’d had some pretty forgettable at-bats. I was just trying not to strike out.
Hoover walked two and hit Hank Conger – the Angels’ final position player – to load the bases with two outs. Iannetta worked the count full, fouled off a couple pitches, then singled to left.
With that, the Reds were headed to a loss in their longest season-opening game since 1975, when they beat the Dodgers 2-1 in 14 innings.
That was a heck of an opening day game, Hoover said. It would have been better if we’d have come out on top.
Mark Lowe pitched two innings for the win. Ernesto Frieri, the Angels’ seventh pitcher, completed an impressive showing by the Angels’ bullpen, which allowed only one hit over the final seven innings.
A team that sunk $125 million into acquiring outfielder Josh Hamilton to upgrade its offense pulled this one out with a bullpen that has a few questions to start the season.
I’ve been hearing some mixed stories about whether that’s going to be our weak point, said starter Jered Weaver, who allowed two hits in six innings and gave up a run on a wild pitch. That’s what it’s going to take to win some key games.
Angels pitchers fanned 13 in all, their highest total on opening day.
Shin-Soo Choo had a solid debut as the Reds’ leadoff hitter, reaching three times. He doubled in the third and came around on a groundout and Weaver’s wild pitch.
The Reds also suffered their first injury of the season on the run-producing play. Left fielder Ryan Ludwick dislocated his right shoulder while sliding headfirst into third base on Weaver’s wild pitch. He’ll have an MRI today to determine the severity.
The ground was a little wet, and when I hit the ground my hand stopped, Ludwick said. Normally, it slides with you. My shoulder popped out. This wasn’t the best opening day.
Hamilton was returning to Cincinnati, where he had started his comeback on opening day 2007 after years of drug abuse. Hamilton, who received a loud ovation Monday, was 0 for 4 with two walks.