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McCoy: No questions, only answers in Reds’ Opening Day rout of Tigers

The Reds celebrate after beating the Tigers on Opening Day on Friday, July 24, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
The Reds celebrate after beating the Tigers on Opening Day on Friday, July 24, 2020, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

On paper, the 2020 edition of the Cincinnati Reds are glossy and embossed. High quality.

And after waiting five months for the baseball season to unfold, on Friday night the Reds were afforded their first opportunity to take it to the field.

It was only one game, of course, and it was against the Detroit Tigers, losers of 114 games last season and 311 over the last three years.

But the Reds put some answers next to any early questions during a 7-1 victory in empty Great American Ball Park.

ExplorePHOTOS: Reds handle Tigers on Opening Day

QUESTION: Will Sonny Gray be as good as last season when he went 11-8 with a 2.78 earned run average. And in 31 starts he never gave up more than four runs.

ANSWER: Gray went six innings and gave up one runs and three hits. He struck out nine, including the 1,000th of his career. The only run came on a 447-foot Saturn shot into the left field upper deck.

On this night there was no gray area with Sonny Gray.

QUESTION: Will the acquisition of Mike Moustakas make a difference?

ANSWER: It did on Friday night. Moustakas had hits in his first two at bats wearing the wishbone-C, a single and a double with two RBIs. There was a question about his defensive range, but he made the play of the game in stopping a bullet train up the middle.

ExploreShogo Akiyama makes Reds' Opening Day history

And to straighten the question mark into an exclamation point, Moustakas launched a two-run home run in the seventh inning, giving him four RBI in his magnificent debut.

QUESTION: Will the acquisition of right fielder Nick Castellanos make a difference?

ANSWER: It did on Friday night. Castellanos was hit by a pitch in his first Reds at bat, then singled home a run in his second at bat and walked, three times on base.

QUESTION: Will the acquisition of Shogo Akiyama make a difference?

ANSWER: With left handed Matthew Boyd starting for the Tigers, Akiyama didn’t start. But after Boyd left, Akiyama pinch-hit in the sixth against right hander Jose Cisnero.

In his first at bat, the first Japanese-born player to appear in a game for the Reds, he singled sharply to center field to drive in a run.

Defense? He tracked a long drive to deep left and snagged it while running into the wall, stealing a double from Cameron Maybin.

QUESTION: Will the normally slow-starting Joey Votto start slowly again or will be put his foot on the throttle right away

ANSWER: His foot had the accelerator on the floor boards. He singled in the first inning, lined hard into a double play in his second trip, then launched the team’s first home run of the season in his third at bat.

QUESTION: The bullpen was not stellar last season and was perhaps the team’s most problematic this season.

ANSWER: Lucas Sims replaced Gray in the seventh, walked the first hitter, then went 1-2-3. Newcomer Nate Jones made his debut with a 1-2-3 inning, recording his first strikeout.

Another newcomer, Brooks Raley, a refugee from the Korean Baseball Organization, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and struck out Miguel Cabrera.

While Castellanos and Akiyama were impressive, Moustakas was otherworldly.

“The only thing better would have been if there was a sold out crowd here tonight,” said Moustakas, in a post-game interview via Zoom.

“It was a perfect game,” he said. “Sonny Gray did a phenomenal job, it was a great team win and it’s always fun to be part of something like that.”

Moustakas knows contributions offensively from the new guys is tantamount to this team’s success, but realizes where the real domination resides.

“Our pitching staff did a phenomenal job and that’s our backbone throughout this season,” he added. “Watching Sonny dominate makes it fun playing defense behind him.”

Of the other new guys, Moustakas said, “It was awesome that we three new guys produced the way we did. There was that huge at bat by Shogo. Nick got on base a bunch of times and had a big double. We have a deep lineup and that’s what we will try to do every day.”

This day, though, belong to Gray and The Moose, who was certainly on the loose.