By HAL McCOY
Of the 19 home runs Scooter Gennett has launched this season, none tasted better than the one he hit Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Brewers, the team that unceremoniously released during spring training two years ago.
Gennett broke a tie game with two outs in the top of the ninth to push the Cincinnati Reds to a 9-7 victory in one of the most bizarre games of the season.
If the Brewers harbor hopes of catching the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central, or grabbing one of the two wild card spots, they have to play better than the way they played the fourth inning.
Nothing out of Williamsport was as bad as the what the Brewers concocted in the fourth inning when the Reds scored four runs without getting the ball out of the infield.
But first, more about Scooter Gennett.
After the Reds and closer Raisel Iglesias blew a 7-5 lead in the eighth when Milwaukee tied it, 7-7, Milwaukee’s Taylor Williams retired the first two Reds in the ninth.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell decided to bring in a left hander Dan Jennings to face the left handed Gennett.
The first pitch, a breaking ball, was blasted into the right field seats by Gennett. After one pitch, Jennings was replaced by former closer Corey Knebel and he gave up a single to Eugenio Suarez and a triple to Mason Williams to make it 9-7.
The drama wasn’t over, though. Iglesias gave up two hits and Travis Shaw nearly hit one out of the park that was caught by the wall by Billy Hamilton. Finally, Iglesais struck out Keon Broxton on three pitches to end it and Iglesias went from a blown save to a victory.
This one went like this: Milwaukee led, 4-0, 4-3 and 5-3. The Reds led 7-5, it was tied 7-7 and the Reds won 9-7.
Sal Romano started for the Reds and gave up four runs in the first inning on four hits and two walks. One of the walks was intentional to Eric Thames, but No. 7 hitter Erik Kratz singled for a run and No. 8 hitter Orlando Arcia, hitting .210, banged a two-run single to make it 4-0.
The Reds scored three in the third, the first scoring on a Romano single. The second scored in Phillip Ervin’s single and an error by right fielder Eric Thames and that’s when the Brewers began to unravel.
Travis Shaw homered in the bottom of the fourth to push the lead back to 5-3.
Then, as Gennett later described it, “A just insane half inning.”
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Mason Williams doubled and Tucker Barnhart singled to put runners on third and second with no outs. The Reds then scored four times without hitting the ball out of the infield.
Dilson Herrera struck out. Brandon Dixon grounded to third baseman Mike Moustakas. His throw home had Williams dead. But the throw was in the dirt, an error and it was 5-4.
Romano struck out for the second out. Billy Hamilton one back to the mound that ricocheted off pitcher Junior Guerra, an infield hit to fill the bases.
Phillip Ervin hit a hard ground ball that was destined to go directly to second baseman Travis Shaw, the third out. But it hit umpire Hunter Wendelstadt and rolled into center field. By rule, it was an infield hit and the ball was dead, but Barnhart scored to tie it, 5-5.
With Scooter Gennett batting, catcher Erik Kratz picked Brandon Dixon off third base. But Moustakas dropped the ball.
Gennett then checked his swing and rolled a slow roller between the pitcher’s mound and third base, a run-scoring infield hit to push the Reds in front, 6-5.
To finish the ghoulish inning, Eugenio Suarez swung and missed a pitch. Catcher Erik Kratz missed it, too, and another run scored and it was 7-5.
That’s the way it stood until Milwaukee’s eighth. Relief pitcher David Hernandez gave up a leadoff home run to Jonathan Schoop, his first for Milwaukee after hitting 17 for Baltimore before he was traded and it was 7-6.
Erik Kratz singled and Keon Broxton ran for him. He tried to steal second and was out. . .except Reds shortstop Jose Peraza dropped the ball and he was safe.
After Hernandez struck out Orlando Arcia, manager Jim Riggleman brought in Iglesias. It didn’t work, just as Counsell bringing in Jennings to face Gennett didn’t work. After Iglesias threw two strikes past Ryan Braun his third pitch was whacked into left center for a game-tying double.
And that set it up for Gennett’s dramatic home run.