McCoy: Senzel to the Rescue as Reds Complete Sweeep

By Hal McCoy
Contributing Writer

The Cincinnati Reds completed a four-game sweep of Woeful Washington Thursday afternoon, 5-4 in 10 innings, a game that Nick Senzel saved twice with double dramatics.

First, he saved a walk-off win for the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth with the catch-of-the-year.

With the score tied, 3-3, Riley Adams doubled. CJ Abrams drove one headed for the bottom of Foggy Bottom. . .game over. Senzel, though, with mean intentions, leaped against the right field wall and snagged it off the top.

Enough? Nope. Senzel led the top of the 10th— doesn’t the guy who makes a sensational defensive play always lead off the next inning.

With free runner Tyler Stephenson on second, Senzel picked on pitcher Hunter Harvey’s first pitch and drove a high 98 miles an hour fastball 408 feet over the left field fence, a two-run home run.

Senzel only starts games against left-handed pitchers, so was in the lineup against Nationals starter MacKenzie Gore.

But after Elly De La Cruz led the second with a single, a steal of second and a sprint to third after a catch in left field, a rain deluge attacked Nationals Park.

They waited out a 1-hour-43-minute delay and when play resumed Gore didn’t return, replaced by a right-hander. But manager David Bell permitted Senzel to remain in the lineup and he was 0-for-3 when he launched his game winner.

The victory was Cincinnati’s fifth straight, 20th in 24 games and 19th road win in their last 22 stops in visiting venues.

In addition, it was their 32nd come-from-behind victory, they are 7-3 in extra inning games and 20-15 in one-run games, all positive numbers associated with winning teams.

The degree of difficulty intensifies. Their next six games are against second place Milwaukee, two games behind the Reds in the National League Central. The next three over the next three days are in Milwaukee. After the All-Star break, Milwaukee visits Cincinnati for three games.

Senzel, wearing a river-wide smile, told Bally Sports Ohio after the game, “Before the game I said, ‘We’re nine games over (.500) and we’re not done yet. We have a long way to go and a lot of wins to take care of.

“A nice sweep, 4-and-0, and now we go play Milwaukee. We’re 1-2 (in the standings). We go head-to-head and how much more fun can that be?”

In the fifth inning with the Reds leading, 1-0, Senzel committed a faux pas when he permitted a pop fly to fall between him and fellow outfielder Will Benson.

The Nationals scored two runs after the muff to take a 2-1 lead. Senzel said he was thinking about that as he roared toward the wall in the ninth for his game-saving catch.

“I had to make up for it, some miscommunication (with Benson),” he said. “I let a couple of runs in. I had to recover, had to get ‘em back. I had no reservation about the wall at all. I said to myself, ‘I’m gonna make the catch.’ I wasn’t thinking about the wall. I was just thinking, ‘I gotta get this, I gotta catch it,’ and how much fun, huh?”

And then he upgraded his performance with the home run after going 0 for 3.

“I know there will be opportunities for myself and I just have to stay focused and ready,” he added. “The game didn’t start out great, but I stuck with it and kept fighting.

“I figured he would come with a heater on the first pitch to get ahead and I told myself I wasn’t going to miss it,” he added. “With his velocity, it shot out for me.”

Washington, losers in 14 of its last 15 home games, took a 3-2 lead in the seventh when number nine hitter Alex Cole blasted a 428-foot home run off Daniel Duarte.

And there was another major contributor with the bat for the Reds. Thet trailed, 3-2 after Call’s homer,

So in the eighth, Benson was on third after a double and TJ Friedl’s sacrifice bunted him to third..

Out of the dugout came Joey Votto to pinch-hit. Three times this season Bell has sent up pinch-hitters for Votto. This time Votto was the pinch-hitter, batting for Curt Casali.

He lined a single to center, tying the game, 3-3, setting it up for Senzel’s double duty heroics.

And there was adventure, again, from closer Alexis Diaz in the bottom of the 10th. He permitted the free runner to score and the Nationals put the potential tying run on third and the winning run on second. . .with no outs.

Diaz had the Nationals right in the palm of his slider-throwing right hand. He struck out Dominic Smith. Corey Dickerson grounded to third and first baseman Spencer Steer flopped on his belly, kept a foot on the bag, and snagged the throw. Keibert Ruiz flied to center and Diaz had a hard-earned save, his 25th save in 26 opportunities.

The winner was Tony Santillan. Who? Santillan, just activated after a year’s absence due to injury, pitched the ninth inning and gave up a double to Adams, then stood with jaw dropped as Senzel made his game-saving catch.

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