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Nick Senzel clubs walk-off homer to back Graham Ashcraft, Reds in sweep of Rangers

What a series!

MLB: Texas Rangers at Cincinnati Reds Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Graham Ashcraft battled his emotions as he made today’s start for the Cincinnati Reds just days after the death of his grandmother. That became evident when he burst into tears in the dugout after recording his final out of the day, with hugs from teammates and coaches a clear indication of not just how much she meant to Graham, but how much he means to his teammates these days.

Whether the emotion of the moment did not get to him, or if it provided all the fuel needed to get him through it, Ashcraft once again put the Reds on his back and carried them on the day. He limited the Texas Rangers to just 2 ER in 6.0 IP, firing a season-high 101 pitches to get the job done.

A truly impressive outing from a young arm who clearly had many more important things than just baseball on his mind today. That’s your Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game for the day, though it was eventually Nick Senzel who provided the game’s signature moment.

One of Tyler Stephenson’s pair of hits on the day was an early double that put him in prime scoring position for Henry Ramos’ later triple, with Ramos coming home later in the Bottom of the 2nd on a Kevin Newman groundout to give Cincinnati an early 2-0 lead.

That lead held up until Ashcraft ran into some trouble in the Top of the 5th, when Nate Lowe doubled in a run and the Rangers scraped across a game-tying run later on a sac fly. The Reds struck back immediately with some productive ball of their own, with Nick Senzel singling and taking 2B on a sac-bunt by Curt Casali, stealing 3B, and scoring on a sac-fly to give Cincinnati a 3-2 lead.

From there, things progressed smoothly until the Top of the 9th when back to back hits off Ian Gibaut put the tying run on 3B with nobody out, and a quick sac-fly against Lucas Sims leveled the score at 3-3, setting the stage for the kind of late drama on which the Reds have thrived of late.

Kevin Newman motored all the way to 2B to get the action started in the Bottom of the 9th, his grounder to short paired with an errant throw to 1B giving him the chance to take the extra base. What base he was on mattered not in the end, however, as Senzel’s blast into the LF bleachers completed the sweep of the Rangers by the score of 5-3.

The Legend of Senzelda, so often shelved, is healthy and bashin’ these days, folks.

Tony Graphanino

[Link to interactive FanGraphs WPA chart & box score]

Other Notes

  • Senzel’s homer was the first by any Reds hitter since the storming of the Bastille in July of 1789.
  • The Reds will take their 3-game win streak on the road as they’ll next take on the struggling Oakland A’s on Friday after a much needed, long awaited day off on Thursday. Friday’s game will commence at 9:40 PM ET, and will do so with Luis Cessa on the bump for Cincinnati. Oakland has yet to name their starter.
  • Tunes.