Albert Pujols homers twice in Opening Day win

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New season, same best player in the world.
Albert Pujols went 4-for-5 with two homers, three RBIs, and four runs this afternoon as the Cardinals blew out the Reds in Cincinnati.
He now has the following career numbers in 142 games versus the Reds: .365 with 42 homers, 48 doubles, 121 RBIs, and 131 runs. But wait, here’s the truly amazing part: That works to a 1.129 OPS, which Pujols has actually topped against the Pirates, Padres, and Nationals (and Royals, if you count frequent interleague opponents).
Colby Rasmus also had a big game for the Cardinals, going 2-for-4 with a homer and a walk while also robbing a potential homer off the bat of Scott Rolen. Oh, and Yadier Molina broke the game open with a late grand slam, showing that the strained oblique muscle that had him questionable for Opening Day is seemingly just fine.

Corey Knebel sets modern record for consecutive appearances with a strikeout

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Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.

Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.

Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.