The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Sports

April 1, 2013

Iannetta’s hit in 13th sends Angels over Reds 3-1

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.

This one was a fitting follow-up at the other end of the state. And Iannetta was in the middle of it.

He 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 base three times. He doubled in the third and came around on a ground out 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.”

The bulllpens decided an opener between two teams that think they can contend for the playoffs right from the first pitch — which was a 92 mph fastball by Cueto for a called strike.

The Angels’ biggest offseason move was signing Hamilton, who had a nostalgic start to the season. He started his comeback in Cincinnati on opening day 2007 after years of drug abuse.

He got a standing ovation that day before his pinch-hit appearance in 2007, a fly out. Hamilton got another loud ovation on Monday from fans who wished he’d stayed for more than a year. Cincinnati traded him to Texas after one season.

Hamilton was 0-for-4 with a pair of walks. Albert Pujols also failed to get a hit, leaving the Angels with nothing out of their power spots.

Nobody on the Reds looked forward to the opener more than Cueto, who strained muscles in his side on his eighth pitch in the playoff opener last year. He had to sit and watch as the Reds blew a two-game advantage and lost to the Giants in the first round, in part because his injury left the rotation in disarray.

Fully healed, the right-hander was back on his game. He gave up three hits and fanned nine, including Iannetta and pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck with the bases loaded in the seventh to keep it tied at 1.

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