It was always going to be a tall ask for the Cincinnati Reds to roll into Yankee Stadium and simply, y’know, compete. Despite getting most of their Opening Day lineup back healthy and with Aaron Judge even getting an off-day, let’s face it - this is the club who started 3-23 up against the team with the best record in baseball who owns that on purpose.
Put Gerrit Cole on the mound for New York and a rookie in Graham Ashcraft on the bump for Cincinnati and, well, the script pretty well seemed to have written itself.
I’ll give credit to Ashcraft, who battled while allowing 3 ER in 5 IP against the most potent lineup in the game in their bandbox of a home park, and in doing so gave the team the chance they needed to pull off a late miracle. While he was forced to wait out a rain delay and actually got to experience what it’s like to pitch in a full big-league ballpark, he managed to settle in and never truly look overmatched despite a series of hits that found their way. His final line - 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K on 106 pitches - showed just that, and it was surely a learning experience for a guy whose right arm talent was plenty good enough to be featured in this contest.
The offense, though, simply evaporated against Cole, as tends to happen for most every offense out there in similar scenarios. The Yankees ace fanned 11 against a lone walk and 4 hits in 7.0 scoreless frames, looking every bit the part of the guy the Yankees gave a gobwad of money to a few years back. Coincidentally, Cole had struggled against Reds hitters in his previous life as a Pittsburgh Pirate, so the baseball gods assuaged his career stats with tonight’s outing.
That said, the Reds managed to get an incredibly rare outing from Clay Holmes in the Top of the 9th, as the All Star closer simply could not find the plate. He missed wildly, hitting Tyler Stephenson while issuing a walk and a single to Joey Votto to load the bags, while Tyler Naquin the singled to make it a 3-1 game. Holmes then hit Kyle Farmer, too, forcing in a run to make it 3-2 with none out before being pulled for - you guessed it - former Red Wandy Peralta.
With the bases loaded, Peralta managed to induce back to back grounders on the infield by Donovan Solano and Nick Senzel, both of which were fired home for force-outs. That set the stage for tonight’s Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game, though, as Jonathan India battled and battled before poking a 2-run single into CF that gave the Reds a remarkable 4-3 lead, one that Alexis Diaz would make hold up even though he got to face Judge in a pinch-hit spot.
Hoo buddy, that was a fun one!
Mike Minor will get the chance to showcase himself for the trade market with a start tomorrow opposite Luis Severino, with first pitch set for 7:05 PM ET in that one (barring more weather).