Cincinnati Reds: Sonny Gray overshadowed by offensive explosion

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 24: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JULY 24: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Sonny Gray set the tone for the Reds Opening Day victory.

While most fans will focus on Cincinnati Reds offensive performance during Friday’s Opening Day victory over the Detroit Tigers, the impact that Sonny Gray had on the game cannot be overstated. Given the current circumstances surrounding the 2020 season, Gray’s performance was nothing short of spectacular.

After getting roughed in his Reds debut last season, Sonny Gray opened the 2020 season much differently. The right-hander went six, strong innings, allowing just three hits, one run and struck out nine batters. As C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic pointed out, Gray has now gone 34 consecutive starts, allowing six runs or fewer.

With newcomers Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas wreaking havoc on the Tigers pitching staff, it’s easy to overlook Gray’s performance. Moustakas and Castellanos accounted for five of the Reds seven runs.

Coming into the 2020 season, fans knew that the starting pitching was going to be the strength of this year’s team. However, given the long layoff and quick restart due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gray’s start speaks volumes to the Nashville native’s conditioning.

Gray got the call to be the team’s Opening Day starter over Cincinnati ace Luis Castillo. At the time, the move was a bit questionable, but the results speak for themselves. Outside of Chicago Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who went nine scoreless innings against the Milwaukee Brewers while striking out nine batters, no one had a better Opening Day pitching performance than Sonny Gray.

Castillo takes the hill tonight against thee Detroit Tigers, and fellow hurler Trevor Bauer gets the call on Sunday afternoon. Left-hander Wade Miley will get the ball against the Cubs on Monday. Anthony DeSclafani, the team’s No. 5 starter, ended up on the 10-day injured list with a mild right teres major strain. He’ll be replaced in the interim by Tyler Mahle.

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If Gray’s performance is a sign of things to come, sign me up. The Reds offense was dominant, the starting pitching never let the Tigers out of the box, and the relief corp did their job, holding Detroit hitless over the final three frames. If the Reds continue to get this type of production in 2020, there’s going to be October baseball in the Queen City.