Saturday saw the Cincinnati Reds trail the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0 in the Top of the 6th inning. Saturday saw the Reds blow all of a 7-4 lead in the Bottom of the 10th. Saturday saw the Reds roll out a starting lineup in which 7 of the 9 starters had spent non-rehab time at some level of the minor leagues this season, while it also saw them use a pitcher to start who had not once appeared as a starting pitcher in any of his 46 appearances this season.
This Reds club is missing future Hall of Famer Joey Votto. They are missing Captain America (ugh, what a dull nickname) Jonathan India. They’re without Jake Fraley, who was their most potent left-handed bat. They’re down Nick Lodolo, their ace from 2022. They’re also devoid of significant trade deadline additions, instead a club who has been losing players left and right while their peers aimed to make additions for a run this year.
And still, the Redlegs walked away with a win last night to stay within a half-game of a playoff spot. Balked away, I should say, as that’s what pushed in the go-ahead run in the Top of the 11th after the game turned on its head for half an hour.
Arizona had completely dominated until the 8th, with only a Matt McBang solo homer getting the Reds off the floor at all. It was at that point that the Reds finally began to scrape their way back into play, and it began with some havoc by Elly De La Cruz. He walked and moved up to 2B by tagging up on a deep fly ball by Spencer Steer. Elly then stole 3B and later raced home to score on Nick Martini’s RBI-single into RF, and the Arizona lead had been halved.
The Top of the 9th saw more shenanigans, this time against reliever Paul Sewald, who the Snakes had picked up from Seattle at the deadline four weeks ago. He walked Noelvi Marte to lead things off, a move that ultimately haunted as those things are wont to do. The Reds rookie stole 2B, moved to 3B on a sac-fly, and scored on Tyler Stephenson’s double. Mike Siani was then brought in to run for Stephenson, and that proved to be the run that sent things to extras after a TJ Friedl single and a productive groundout by McLain.
The Rallyin’ Redlegs had rallied to extend things, but their rallyin’ was far from done. The Top of the 10th saw the Manfred Man start at 2B, and the Reds responded with back to back RBI doubles and a later Christian Encarnacion-Strand single to seize what appeared to be a commanding 7-4 lead with closer Alexis Diaz warming for the save. However, Diaz was greeted immediately with a leadoff single that scored Arizona’s own Manfred Man, but after Ketel Marte flied out meekly with a pair of runners on, Diaz induced what had all the makings of a routine 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
This game needed further twists, however, and McLain simply airballed his attempt to field the grounder, and the game’s would-be final play turned into another run for Arizona with the game’s tying run just 90 feet away at 3B. Christian Walker then sent a sac-fly into CF to plate it, and the game reached the 11th inning in the most unlikely of scenarios.
The unlikeliness escalated further when, with a pair of outs, Arizona pitcher Nabil Crismatt was called for a balk, a balk that allowed TJ Friedl to trot home and give the Reds an 8-7 lead after he had moved up a bag on Spencer Steer’s dribbly infield single. And despite the fact that Cincinnati’s All Star closer had already been spent, Lucas Sims came on to hammer down a clean Bottom of the 11th, and the Reds walked away with a win that simply felt like stealing.
Perhaps that’s just how they’ll have to eek this all out, after all. The gaping holes in the would-be roster are obvious, and the experience from what’s still around is nearly null and void, they’re so young. There will be no Lodolo to ride in and rescue, there’s been nary a sniff about Tejay Antone getting back, and the latest significant returnee - Hunter Greene - has been positively abysmal in his two starts. If the Reds, now 68-63 and a half-game back of the final Wild Card spot, are truly going to find their way into the postseason, it’s going to take some unlikeliness, some incredible fortune, and a whole lot of stealing bags they weren’t supposed to have in the first place to get the job done.
Last night, that recipe cooked up a helluva tasty victory. Here’s to hoping they can close out the Arizona series this afternoon at 4:10 PM ET in much the same way.