Elly De La Cruz tripled and scored before Friday evening’s game had finished its first breath, and the Cincinnati Reds sped out to an early 3-0 lead on Jake Fraley’s homer a blink later. It was the kind of tone-setting Top of the 1st that came to define Friday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a game that featured suspense, comebacks, and the kind of atmosphere you’d expect from two teams barreling towards the playoffs in Cincinnati’s 6-5 victory.
Brandon Williamson battled early, and battled often, ultimately holding the Dodgers to just 2 ER in 5.2 IP despite the Trollies moving to the basepaths like they were retirees headed to Arizona. The Reds rookie lefty gave up 8 hits and 4 walks in his time on the bump, but he induced a trio of key double plays to somehow manage to limit the damage, something the bullpen - despite the struggle of Lucas Sims and Ian Gibaut - managed to hold onto.
That was largely due to Alexis Diaz, the Cincinnati closer who came on to escape damage in the Bottom of the 8th and later breezed through the Bottom of the 9th to pick up his 31st save of the season. He earned the Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game for the day and lowered his ERA to 2.14 in the process.
Fraley’s early homer was backed-up late by a solo shot from California native Spencer Steer, who tucked one inside the left field foul pole in the Top of the 7th. Matt McLain, fellow California native, doubled twice and walked in yet another polished performance as the team’s offensive anchor. All told, it was an impressive effort from top to bottom on a Cincinnati Reds roster that, for now, seems to be in stasis.
That’s a far cry from what the Dodgers are up to, however. They’ve already struck deals to land Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly from the Chicago White Sox while also adding Enrique Hernandez (from Boston) and Amed Rosario (from Cleveland). They’ve dealt off their active roster in sending Noah Syndergaard to Cleveland, and they’ve also been connected with a pursuit of Nolan Arenado of St. Louis and Justin Verlander of the New York Mets. The Reds, meanwhile, continue to drift along in a bit of trade deadline purgatory, barely connected with any of the big-name players who’ve seen their names in the lights so far.
There is ample time for that to change, obviously, and the Reds are notoriously tight-lipped on all deals they strike. As these two teams prep for tonight’s 9:10 PM ET second game of the series, however, it’s hard not to notice the dichotomy of approaches to the trade deadline by the two clubs so far.