Elly De La Cruz worked a 3-ball count before squibbing a dribbler to the shortstop that he legged out for an infield single, and he later swiped 2B as the Cincinnati Reds looked to give themselves a chance for an epic comeback Tuesday night. So began the Bottom of the 9th in tonight’s game against the Seattle Mariners, a game that - much like every game played by the Reds these days - featured both the unpredictable and the never-yet-played.
Christian Encarnacion-Strand followed Elly’s havoc with a walk-off single into RF that gave Cincinnati a 7-6 victory, but that barely scratches the surface of how the Reds walked themselves into said situation in the first place.
As the entire team’s pitching staff has fallen injured/sick over the last few weeks, they’ve had to turn to rookie after rookie after journeyman after journeyman to help keep them afloat. Tonight, though, it was heralded prospect Connor Phillips being tasked with his MLB debut, doing so against the team that originally drafted him prior to the deal that sent him to Cincinnati in exchange for Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker. And while Phillips flashed gas early, he was eventually tagged for 5 ER that put the Reds in a hole that seemingly lit the fire underneath them once again.
The crux of the game came down to Nick Martini in the Bottom of the 8th, too - a guy who had clubbed a grand total of 2 homers in his entire MLB career across 2018-2021 with a trio of different franchises. As we now know, though, Nick has a penchant for stepping up large, and he once again did so with a 3-run homer that tied the score at 6-6 off reliever Justin Topa, giving the Reds the breath of life they needed to even approach the Bottom of the 9th with a chance.
They seized it, of course, with CES’s single giving them an MLB-best 10th walk-off win of the 2023 season.
It’s hard to truly encapsulate this team at this point. We don’t know who most of these guys are because most of these guys have never done anything like this at this level before. We don’t know who’ll be on the roster each day because of the churn needed to keep the pitching staff afloat. What we do know, however, is that there’s a culture now in place that cares not for our previously accrued knowledge, as this dugout is going to be rocking and rolling and knocking the snot out of the ball regardless of who’s tasked with doing so at any given moment, and the club continues to gel around that premise.
Reds 7, Mariners 6, and a spot in the National League Playoffs as a Wild Card team is still firmly within grasp despite the decimation to the roster over the last few weeks.
Go get ‘em, Redlegs!