By Hal McCoy
The magic and the karma possessed by the Cincinnati Reds continued on a steep upward plane Tuesday morning/afternoon in Washington.
Strapped for starting pitchers, as they have most of the season, the Reds reached into the independent Atlantic League for help and found Brett Kennedy.
And what better name to send to the mound on Independence Day in Washington than a Kennedy.
“A lot of times I thought I might be out of the game,” said Kennedy before the game. “I’m going to try not to disrupt what is going on here.”
Disrupt? The only thing he disrupted on this day was the swings of the Washington Nationals’ bats during the Reds 8-4 victory.
Kennedy’s debut, the 32nd different pitcher to take the mound for the Reds, was made easier by the offense behind him, a 16-hit, three-homer assault.
The Reds hit three home runs, two by Jonathan India and a three-run rip by Nick Senzel, who showed why he only starts against left-handed pitchers.
The Reds, least known for power, have hit at least one home run in 18 straight games, longest home run streak for them since 2000.
In addition, the Reds swiped five bases, giving them 100, most for a season since 1995 and they haven’t even reached the All-Star break.
Nobody was more appreciative of Kennedy’s contribution than India.
“Unbelievable. . .I just met him this morning,” said India during a post-game interview with Bally Sports Ohio. “Out of nowhere he just comes in and deals. That’s great. That’s what we needed. We didn’t have a fifth starter, so he comes in and did his job and I can’t thank him enough.”
And the Reds’ win on Independene Day as the self-anointed America’s Team?
“Look what what we did, we came out and won,” said India. “We won on America’s day and we’re America’s Team. What more can I say?”
Without saying, the Reds did it all with their Bat Attack.
Ellly De La Cruz contributed four singles, India had three hits after entering the game 2 for 22, and Spencer Steer had four hits.
It all added up to Cincinnat’s 18th win in 22 games and its 17 win in its last 20 road games.
Through four innings, the Nationals had only two base runners against Kennedy, a double and a walk, while the Reds dissambled Washington starter Patrick Corbin.
Corbin beat the Reds twice last season, but on this day when the game began at 11 a.m. the Reds had six runs and 10 hit before noon.
Kennedy hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2018 and was working for the independent Long Island Ducks when the Reds rescued him on May 13 and placed him at Class AAA Louisville.
And the last games he pitched in the majors in 2018 was for the San Diego Padres against the Reds. He threw 44 pitches in the first inning and gave up four walks and four runs.
There was no sign of that Wednesday, until the sixth inning when he gave up a walk and a single. At that point, he had given up only two runs and the Reds led, 7-2.
He was replaced by Fernando Cruz and he gave up two straight hits and both the runners that Kennedy put on base scored to cut Cincinnati’s advantage to 7-4.
Cruz hit Riley Adams to fill the bases with no outs. He struck out CJ Abrams, struck out Derek Hill and retired the Nationals best hitter, Lance Thomas, on a foul fly to left, preserving Kennedy’s win
The Runnin’ Reds attacked Corbin early and often. They scored two hustle runs in the first. With one out, Matt McLain turned a routine single to left into a hustle double. He scored on India’s single.
De La Cruz singled and India hot-footed it to third, enabling him to score on Steer’s bloop single to left that plopped to earth between three Nationals defernders.
De La Cruz opened the third with a single and, as usual, easily stole second on the first pitch before Steer walked. Senzel unloaded his three-run homer and the Reds led, 5-0.
The Nationals scored a run off Kennedy in the third on Abrams double, a ground ball and a sacrifice fly.
India’s first home run came with two outs in the fourth. His second home run, on back-to-back at bats, came in the sixth, a leadoff explosion that carried over the center field wall.
After Cruz escaped the Nationals bases-loaded with no outs mess in the sixth, the Reds tacked on a run in the eighth. McLain walked, stole second, moved to third on a ground ball and scored on what was scored a sacrifice fly, but was a line drive to center on whlch Hilll made a diving catch, robbing De La Cruz of a fifth hit.
And, of course, there was late-inning drama. Daniel Duarte started the ninth with an 8-4 lead and walked the first two Nationals, forcing manager David Bell to pull him and bring in Lucas Sims.
Sims struck out Thomas, Luis Garcia flied to left and ended Jeimer Candelario’s 10-game hitting streak by striking him out, preserving Cincinnati’s third straight victory.