De La Cruz hits 2 HRs as Reds keep playoff hopes alive
Published 11:07 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023
CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie Elly De La Cruz had his first two-homer game and drove in four runs, Luke Maile had three RBIs and the Cincinnati Reds improved their slim playoff hopes with an 11-7 victory over the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday night.
Cleveland played its second-to-last home game under manager Terry Francona, who called his impending retirement, “The worst-kept secret ever.”
De La Cruz hit a solo shot in the fourth off Lucas Giolito and hammered a 467-foot rocket to right in the eighth against Xzavion Curry. Fellow rookie Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Maile and TJ Friedl also homered for Cincinnati.
Email newsletter signup
“That’s why I love this team, we’re always helping each other,” De La Cruz said through an interpreter. “You have to finish strong, no matter what happens. We’re still going to continue to battle. That’s the mentality.”
The Reds moved within 1 1/2 games of the third and final NL wild-card spot held by the Cubs. Cincinnati has four games remaining and won its season series with Chicago 7-6.
De La Cruz snapped a 29-game homerless streak — going deep for the first time since Aug. 23 at the Angels — and became the second rookie in history with 13 homers and 33 stolen bases in their first 94 career contests. Gary Redus was the first in 1982-83.
“He didn’t have a stolen base tonight,” Maile noted, laughing. “It’s tough to steal bases when the ball goes 600 feet.”
Sam Moll (2-3) got the win with two scoreless innings of relief, combining with Fernando Cruz and Lucas Sims to retire 14 straight batters.
Bo Naylor belted a three-run homer and Kole Calhoun had a two-run shot for the Guardians.
The Reds took an 8-7 lead in the fifth on Maile’s two-run double off James Karinchak (2-5), scoring Joey Votto and De La Cruz. Friedl led off the sixth with a homer off Nick Sandlin, going deep for the fourth straight game.
“I guarantee we’d trade places with them right now,” Francona said.
Guardians starter Lucas Giolito gave up five runs over 3 1/3 innings, including three homers that gave him the AL lead with 40. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 6.93 ERA in five outings since being claimed off waivers from the Angels.
Cincinnati right-hander Hunter Greene matched his shortest start of the season, allowing seven runs in three innings, six of them scoring on homers.
“Right from the beginning of the game, it seemed like a great night to hit,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Elly looked really good at the plate and, obviously, he really helped our team.”
TITO APPRECIATION NIGHT
The Guardians are honoring Francona at a pregame ceremony Wednesday. Fans will receive “Thank you Tito” t-shirts upon entering Progressive Field.
Francona’s 919 victories and six postseason appearances are franchise records.
“Once you give out t-shirts, man, you can’t be going back,” he said. “It was an honor of a lifetime to be here for 11 years. My 11 years here have been so good, I’m grateful for them.”
The 64-year-old Francona still hasn’t officially announced his departure, but spoke with his players about the situation Tuesday.
“I did take a minute and talk to the guys because I felt like I owed them that,” he said.
Reds: SS Matt McLain (right intercostal strain), who was two games into a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville, re-aggravated his injury and will not be activated during the regular season.
Guardians: 2B Andrés Giménez (right knee bruise) exited after fouling a pitch off his knee in the seventh inning. He completed his at-bat, striking out against Cruz, and was scheduled to have X-rays taken.
Guardians RHP Shane Bieber (5-6, 3.91 ERA) takes on Reds LHP Andrew Abbott (8-5, 3.70 ERA). Bieber, the 2020 Al Cy Young winner, will make his second start since returning from a two-month stint on the injured list with right elbow inflammation.
Reds 11, Guardians 7
|India 2b||4||0||0||0||Kwan lf||5||0||0||0|
|Friedl cf||4||2||1||1||Ramírez 3b||4||1||1||0|
|Steer lf-1b||5||1||1||1||J.Naylor 1b||5||0||1||1|
|Encrncn-Strnd 1b||5||2||1||2||Calhoun dh||4||1||1||2|
|Díaz p||0||0||0||0||Giménez 2b||4||2||2||1|
|Votto dh||2||1||0||0||Tena ss||0||0||0||0|
|Fairchild pr-lf||0||0||0||0||Arias ss||2||0||0||0|
|Marte 3b||4||1||1||0||Freeman ss-2b||2||0||0||0|
|De La Cruz ss||5||3||3||4||Brennan rf||4||1||1||0|
|Benson rf||3||0||0||0||B.Naylor c||3||2||1||3|
|Maile c||4||1||3||3||Straw cf||3||0||2||0|
E–Morgan (2). LOB–Cincinnati 6, Cleveland 5. 2B–Straw (18). 3B–Steer (3). HR–Maile (6), Encarnacion-Strand (12), De La Cruz 2 (13), Friedl (18), B.Naylor (10), Calhoun (6), Giménez (15). SB–Ramírez (28), Benson 2 (17), India (14), Maile (2).
|Karinchak L,2-5 BS,0-3||2-3||2||1||1||0||1|
Greene pitched to 2 batters in the 4th, Morgan pitched to 3 batters in the 5th.
Umpires–Home, Mike Muchlinski; First, Sean Barber; Second, Jim Wolf; Third, Alan Porter.
T–3:11. A–29,189 (34,788).