By Hal McCoy
What else can Jake Fraley do to help the Cincinnati Reds win baseball game? Well, what magic did he produce Saturday afternoon in Miami’s loanDepot Park?
How about another three-run home run to go with the three-run home run he hit Friday night to give the Reds a 7-4 victory over the Miami Marlins?
How about an eighth-inning game-tying single?
How about a stolen base in the eighth inning to put him in position to score the go-ahead run on a Henry Ramos single?
How about throwing out Bryan De La Cruz at third base to end the seventh inning?
That, and much. much more added up to a 6-5 Reds victory Saturday — their 12th come-from-behind win, their fifth win in seven games and their 12th win in 17 games.
And they stopped Miami’s record-setting 12 straight one-run wins and they did it against Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Sandy Alcantara.
To add more mystique, scheduled Reds starter Nick Lodolo was scratched and sent back to Cincinnati to have a sore ankle and sore calf examined.
That meant for the second time in threes games manager David Bell had to concoct a Bullpen Day. And once again he started bullpenner Derek Law. By game’s dramatic end, seven Cincinnnati pitchers had toed the rubber.
After the Reds took a 6-4 lead in the eighth inning with three runs, Casey Legumina took the mound. He gave up a single then took a shot off his leg from Yuri Gurriel. He scrambled to retrieve the ball and threw out Gurriel, but limped off the field. That forced Bell to bring in closer Alexis Diaz.
Bell was asking Diaz for five outs for the first time this season. He got those five outs, but it took him nine batters to get it.
He struck out Gregory Hampson to open the ninth, But he walked Jorge Soler on a full count and Luis Arraez doubled to right, scoring Soler.
It was 6-5 with one out and the tying run on second. He walked De La Cruz. After Peyton Burdick flied to right, he walked Jean Segura to fill the bases.
That put the tying run on second and the winning run on first. Before Gurriel could step in the box he had a strike on him for a clock violation.
And Diaz struck him out on an 0-and-2 count to end it on his career-high 40th pitch, registering a shaky ninth save in nine tries this season.
After Diaz walked De La Cruz, Bell came to the mound as Diaz shook his glove as if to say, “Go back, go back. I got this.”
Bell kept going and second baseman Jonathan India translated.
“I told him I was going to do this thing,” said Diaz to Bally Sport after the game. “I’m going to do it no matter what. That was the first time I had to do something like that in my career (five outs, 40 pitches).
“He asked me if I felt all right and I said, ‘Yes, I guess I feel OK,’” he added. “I just gave it my all, let it hang out there.”
Fortunately for the Reds, he didn’t hang a pitch.
The Reds banged away at the struggling Alcantara with six runs and seven hits over 7 2/3 innings to drop his record to 1-and-4.
The Reds trailed, 1-0, when the bottom of the order set it up for Fraley in the fifth, just as it had in Friday’s win. Jose Barrero doubled and Curt Casali walked on four pitches
And just as he did before Fraley’s three-run game-winning home run Friday, Jonathan India struck out. But Fraley pulled one down the right field line, just inside the foul pole for his third home run in two games, and the Reds led, 3-1.
Jazz Chisholm homered with one out in the sixth off Ian Gibaut, the first home run off Gibaut this season. Soler singled and with two outs De La Cruz walked. Peyton Burdick singled to push the Marlins in front, 4-3, but Fraley threw out De La Cruz trying to go from first to third. . .a huge out that ended the inning.
The Reds scored three in the eighth to grab a 6-4 lead. India walked and stole second, Fraley singled home India and promptly stole second. Ramos doubled off the center field wall, scoring Fraley to put the Reds in front, 5-4, and Stuart Fairchild singled home the sixth run, as it turned out, the winning run.
Law, The Opener, pitched 1 1/3 innings. He was followed by Levi Stoudt, making his second major league appearance. He gave the Reds three one-run, two-hit, three-walk innings.
Buck Farmer followed with 1 2/3s of one-run, one-hit innings. Lucas Sims replaced Farmer with one on and two outs in the seventh and threw one pitch to retire Jacob Stallings.
Ian Gibaut gave up two runs and three hits in one inning, but was credited with the win when the Reds scored their three runs in the eight. Legumini followed Gibaut, left after getting drilled with the line drive, and Diaz finished it, albeit shakily.
In all, the seven Cincinnati pitchers gave up five runs, nine hits, walked eight and struck out eight.
The Reds go for a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon with Luke Weaver on the mound.