Elly De La Cruz homered once, homered twice, and led the Cincinnati Reds to an 11-7 comeback victory over the Cleveland Guardians on Monday night, earning the club an 81st victory on the season that secures a non-losing record. Given that the club lost an epic 100 games during the 2022 regular season, that’s a pretty monumental step in the right direction for this club, even if what could have been is a question many of us will still ask for years upon this season’s completion.
Cincinnati fell behind early 3-0 as Hunter Greene struggled to put anyone away, and despite their fight back to claim a 4-3 lead just minutes after that initial hole, Greene served up enough batting practice to allow Cleveland to blast back into leads of 6-4 and 7-5 before the big Cincinnati bats put things away. Former Cleveland catcher Luke Maile homered as part of his own big game (3 for 4, 3 ribbies) while Christian Encarnacion-Strand continued to put any pitcher on the mound through his own personal terror dome with another homer as part of a 2-hit day.
TJ Friedl? Yeah, he homered, too. That’s just what the team’s 2023 MVP does anymore, and his 4.3 fWAR on the season now ranks ahead of lefty outfield peers like (/checks notes) former MVPs Cody Bellinger (4.2) and Christian Yelich (3.8). TJ Friedl!
It wasn’t totally roses for the Reds on the evening, however, as the scoreboard watching they’ve put us in position to follow didn’t all come up Milhouse. Yes, the Chicago Cubs blew a game in epic fashion in their 7-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves, but the Arizona Diamondbacks dropped 11 consecutive runs on the Chicago White Sox after trailing early to run away with that victory. Miami, meanwhile, saw their game banged against the Mets due to rain and will play a doubleheader today.
The Reds, as things stand on Tuesday morning, are still 1.5 games out of the final Wild Card spot needing to jump both Miami and the Cubs for said position. Maybe, just maybe, they can continue to get some sunshine from the Baseball Gods like the play below to help bail them out.
Anyway, it’s now cemented that they will not lose more games in the 2023 regular season than they win, and that makes this team not losers. Here’s to winning at least another game so they can go down in history as a winning ballclub.