The Cincinnati Reds won two games in a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Taking a series from one of the model organizations in baseball is a nice accomplishment on its own. Considering the the Reds’ bevy of young talent played an instrumental role in that, it is even more impressive.
Rookie shortstop Matt McLain hit .500 for the series, delivering two extra-base hits and a walk-off single in game one. McLain drove in one run and stole a base as well. Fellow rookie Spencer Steer had just two hits but also stole two bases and drove in another two runs in the series.
Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson each collected four hits, driving in a combined six runs. Will Benson continued his hot streak, going 3-6, including a walk-off two-run blast in game two.
Finally, this series brought the highly anticipated debut of Elly de la Cruz. De la Cruz is currently ranked as MLB.com’s No. 4 prospect in their latest prospect rankings. Through three games, he is showing that his ceiling might be even higher than that.
The Reds rode a three-run ninth inning to victory, topping the Dodgers 9-8. The Dodgers started Cy Young candidate Tony Gonsolin, who was only able to finish five innings. Gonsolin gave up four runs on five hits and an uncharacteristic three walks.
After Gonsolin, the Reds tagged reliever Brusdar Graterol for one run on four hits in just a single inning of work. After Evan Phillips sat the Reds down in order in the eighth inning, the Reds’ comeback began.
Left-hander Caleb Ferguson had been stellar all season going into Tuesday night. Ferguson could not seem to find the strike zone and walked Spencer Steer, Stuart Fairchild and Curt Casali in the ninth. Tyler Stephenson snuck a soft line drive into center field in between Steer and Fairchild’s walks to load the bases.
Casali’s walk brought the deficit to one. Ferguson then hit Jake Fraley on the wrist to tie it up and Great American Ballpark was buzzing. Shelby Miller relived Ferguson after the hit-by-pitch and quickly gave up a long single to McLain which proved to be the game-winner.
De La Cruz showed his talent in game one, smashing a 112-mph double to the wall in his second big league plate appearance. But in game two, he put the baseball world on notice in the first inning.
De La Cruz’s home run was just the beginning of a night that was glimpse into the future of Cincinnati Reds baseball. Matt McLain scored on De La Cruz’s home run after singling and stealing second base.
McLain would add a triple in the third inning, which De La Cruz immediately matched with a triple of his own in the same inning. Those two love playing together and that energy is permeating through the rest of the team.
Rookie TJ Hopkins added two hits of his own as he continues to adjust to life in MLB. Will Benson finished the night off with a missile into the right-field bleachers for the Reds second consecutive walk-off win, an 8-6 victory.
The Reds dropped game three 6-0 as future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw blanked Cincinnati for seven innings. Steer, Stephenson, Hopkins, Jose Barrero and Curt Casali combined to go 1-17 in the game at the bottom of the order.
The top four hitters (Kevin Newman, McLain, India and De La Cruz) each had at least one hit, with McLain recording two. De la Cruz stole his first base of the season as well.
As expected in a six-run, shutout loss, that is where the positives end. Struggling pitcher Graham Ashcraft continued his recent slide. Ashcraft left the game due to injury in the third inning after giving up three runs in 2 2/3 innings. Ashcraft took a line drive off his foot, but sounded upbeat after the game discussing his performance.
Reliever Fernando Cruz gave up the other three runs in the following 1 1/3 innings. Alex Young, Eduardo Salazar and Ian Gibaut threw a combined five innings of shutout baseball out of the bullpen. If the Reds can figure out a way to manufacture some more quality starting pitching depth, the wins could start to pile up as the young hitters continue to improve. The Reds did get solid work out of Luke Weaver and Brandon Williamson to start the series.
Next up is a three-game series in St. Louis against the Cardinals. Set to start are ben Lively, rookie Andrew Abbott and Hunter Greene, respectively. If the offense can hold up its end of the bargain, the Reds have to like their chances to take a second consecutive series from a traditional national league power.
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Featured image courtesy of Reds.com
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