The wee hours of the morning saw Matt McLain unleash a 2-run homer as part of a 3-run 8th inning that put the Cincinnati Reds game against the Los Angeles Angels on ice for good. Alexis Diaz fired a scoreless 9th inning to lock down the 7-3 victory, and that paired with the afternoon’s 9-4 win gave the Reds a sweep of the doubleheader day and a sweep of the series as a whole.
The Reds are simply inpenetrable on the road anymore, their record now swelling to 29-12 over their last 41 contests away from Great American Ball Park. And with a pair of series remaining on this western road trip - first in Arizona against the Diamondbacks before a crucial series in San Francisco against the Giants - I’m beginning to wonder if this youthful club still has something more up its sleeve in this roller-coaster season.
McLain’s homer came on the heels of another, earlier Tyler Stephenson 2-run blast, a welcome return to some pop for the former slugging catcher. It was his second homer in his last 3 games played, and it would do wonders for the right-side hitting portion of the lineup if he could return to his mashing ways. Spencer Steer, meanwhile, walked twice more while singling in another run, running his team-best ribbie count up to 70 for the season.
On the mound, Lyon Richardson’s overall numbers won’t look too special to the casual baseball eye - 4.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K - but that doesn’t truly tell the entire story of his evening. He’d not gone more than 4 IP in any outing at any level this year, his first year back after missing serious time with Tommy John surgery, and through 4.0 IP he’d been not only effective, but was flashing routine 98 mph heat and a bending curveball that he was able to place for strikes. For some reason, however, David Bell opted to not only send him out in the 5th, but to send him out to face lefties Noah Schanuel (who’d already been on-base a hundred times on the day) and superstar Shohei Ohtani despite lefty Sam Moll warming. Both recorded hits, Richardson was pulled, and both then promptly scored on a soft single by Luis Rengifo, denting Richardson’s overall line despite a second career outing that flashed a whole pile of promise.
The Reds rolled out an infield composed entirely of rookies to flank their rookie starting pitcher. They rolled out rookies in the 1-5 spots in their lineup, while rookie (by some accounts) Will Benson went 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored from the 9-spot, TJ Hopkins had a pair of hits in the 8-spot, and that gave them 7 consecutive rookies in the order for much of the night. TJ Friedl - a rookie all the way back in 2022 - had a 3-hit night that included a triple. The youth here, folks, is simply astounding.
The Reds will take on an Arizona club that they sit 0.5 games ahead of in the National League Wild Card standings tonight at 9:40 PM ET. They enter the day 3.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central race (tied with the Chicago Cubs), with the Reds and Cubs current occupants of the final NL Wild Card spots.