By HAL McCOY
When Jesse Winker took his place in the batter’s box in the ninth inning of a tie game in Citi Field, he was facing one of the best closers in baseball — the New York Mets’ Edwin Diaz.
Diaz hadn’t given up a hit to a left hander all season.
So he confidently threw a 97 miles an hour fast ball right down the Appian Way and Winker jumped on it like a German Shepherd on a fugitive’s pant leg.
The baseball sailed far over the right field fence, a two-out home run that carried the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-4 victory Monday night.
All that was left was for Reds closer Raisel Iglesias to strike out the side in the bottom of the ninth to end a wild night — wild as in a whole bunch of walks.
Mets starter Zach Wheeler, usually a control freak, walked the first two batters in the second inning and it led to four Reds runs.
After the walks, Tucker Barnhart singled for a run, Jose Peraza doubled for a run and Eugenio Suarez hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.
Manager David Bell shuffled his lineup again. After batting Joey Votto leadoff for nearly two weeks, he dropped him back to the No. 2 slot. Slump-ridden Jose Peraza has been batting in the lower end of the order, but Bell put him in the leadoff spot and he responded with two hits.
Reds starter Tanner Roark, though, wasn’t up to holding that 4-0 lead because he needed GPS to find home plate.
Given the 4-0 lead in the top of the second, Roark gave two back in the bottom of the second on doubles by Michael Conforto and Wilson Ramos and a single by Amed Rosario.
It got plug ugly for Roark in the fourth after he retired the first two Mets. He had a 1-and-2 on count Juan Lagares and walked him and the water rushed over the top of the dam.
He gave up a two-out single to pitcher Zach Wheeler and he walked Jeff McNeill to load the bases. Then he walked Pete Alonso on four pitches to force in a run and his night was over.
Wandy Peralta entered and promptly walked Brandon Nimmo on four pitches, forcing in the tying run — 4-4.
Then both teams spent the rest of the night positng threats without scoring. After Peralta’s walk, the Reds bullpen went 5 1/3 innings and gave up no runs and two hits.
Michael Lorenzen pitched 1 1/3 and gave up no runs, one hit, Amir Garrett retired the two hitters he faced, one with a strikeout, David Hernandez retired the two hitters he faced, one with a strikeout and Iglesias pitched the final two innings and gave up a double in the eighth and nothing else, striking out four including all three in the bottom of the ninlth.
The Mets put two on with two outs in the sixth but Garrett arrived to retire Brandon Nimmo on a weak ground ball.
The Reds had the bases loaded with one out in the eighth. Peraza scorched a grounder to third baseman Todd Frazier and he stepped on third and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
That set it all up for the first pitch of the top of the ninth, the home run by Winker who didn’t flip his bat or stand and admire what he did. He danced out of the batter’s box.
The Reds made the most of nine hits, two by Peraza and two by Iglesias and were aided by seven walks from Mets pitchers.
The Mets made the most of six hits, aided by seven walks from Reds pitchers.
Scoring four runs against Wheeler was unexpected. In his previous start he pitched seven scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies and struck out eight.
2 thoughts on “Winker’s 9th-inning homer saves the night for the Reds”
Jesse Winker is fast becoming a very good major league hitter. I thought he needed to play over Kemp and he’s proving it. Platooning should include Schebler not Winker. Inker can play center well enough to stay in the line-up.
I’m glad they won but I’ll “secretly” admit a metropolitan’s win for their bench coach Jim Riggleman would have been fine with me. No slap at Mr. Bell intended but I still feel Riggleman got a raw deal from the Reds. Hold our breath’s, a hard schedule coming up.