By Hal McCoy
If there was a higher league than MLB, Elly De La Cruz would star in it.
Since there isn’t, De La Cruz continues to do unfathomable and uncanny things in the current league.
It was The Elly De La Cruz Show, an Emmy winner for sure, Saturday afternoon in American Family Field during the Cincinnati Reds 8-5 victory over the stunned Milwaukee Brewers.
It featured a straight steal of home by De La Cruz, but that was just the burning candles atop the cake.
On two pitches, just two pitches, he stole second, third and home, the first straight steal of home since Brandon Phillips did it in 2009.
And it was the first time a Reds player stole second, third and home in one inning since 1919. And that didn’t happen on two pitches.
So in little more than a month in the majors, the 21-year-old rookie has hit for the cycle and stolen home, two thins that most major leaguers never do during an entire career.
The Reds victory was impressive, a triple-comeback win that enabled them to retake their two-game lead over the Brewers. And it assured that the Reds would hold first place after Sunday’s game before MLB takes its
Back to De La Cruz.
With the score tied, 5-5, in the seventh inning, TJ Friedl was on second with two outs. De La Cruz, down 0-and-2, punched an opposite field run-scoring single to left, pushing the Reds in front, 6-5, for the first time all afternoon.
Then he stole an extra run. Literally. He stole second. He stole third when the Brewers didn’t cover the bag. Before a pitch was thrown, De La Cruz saw pitcher Elvis Peguero with his back turned as he walked toward the mound, staring at center field.
De La Cruz broke for home and slid head-first across home plate. And it was 7-5.
“I was looking at the guy (Peguero) walking with his back to home So I just slid into home and I was going whethere I was safe or out. Lucky enough, I was safe,” said De La Cruz during a post-game interview with
Bally Sports Ohio.
Before bolting for home, De La Cruz took off his helmet and adjusted his dreadlocks, but he said it wasn’t to lull the Brewers into not paying attention.
“There was a hair caught in my helmet so I had to remove it, get it all set up,” he said. “But I was looking at him. Once I saw him move back to the mound, I knew I had to go. That’s just one of the decisions you make right (at the time). I said, ‘OK, I’m going, here I go.’”
And away he went.
“I don’t necessarily think about robbing home when I’m on base. Whether it’s first to second, second to third or third to home, it’s on my mind that I have an opportunity to do that. Sure enough, today it was third to home,” he added.
Everybody who know there are stitches on a baseball knows the 2023 Reds are The Combackers.
They outdid themselves Saturday in coming back for the 33rd time this season. They came from behind three times.
They trailed, 1-0, in the first. They tied it, 1-1, in the third.
They trailed, 4-1, in the third. They tied it, 4-4, in the fourth.
They trailed, 5-4 in the fifth. They tied it, 5-5, in the fifth, 5-5.
Then came The Elly De La Cruz Extravaganza.
Cincinnati starting pitcher Luke Weaver gave up five runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings, including two home runs by Willy Adames, so his record stayed at 2-2. But the Reds have won his last eight starts.
Adames homered in the first, but the Reds tied it, 1-1, in the second on a home run by Will Benson. That extended the Reds’ home run streak to 22 straight, breaking the 1956 team’s record.
The Brewers scored three on Christian Yelich’s run-scoring double and a two-run homer by Adames for a 4-1 Brewers lead.
Cincinnati’s other poker-hot hitter, Joey Votto, tied it in the fourth with a first-pitch 423-foot three-run home run. Since his 0 for 21 absence, Votto has 14 hits, seven of them home runs.
Milwaukee barged back ahead, 5-4, in the fourth on Brice Turang’s run-producing triple.
With Matt McLain on second in the fifth after a single and stolen base, Brewers pitcher Bryce Wilson struck out Jonathan India and De La Cruz.
Then Brewers manager Craig Councell outthought himself. Despite Wilson striking out two straight, he brought in a relief pitcher to face Jake Fraley, who owns a track record against Wilson. He was 0 for 9 against Peguero.
But he lashed Peguero’s first pitch into right field, sending home McLain to tie it.
After Weaver left, relief pitchers Ian Gibaut, Daniel Duarte, Lucas Sims, Buck Farmer and Alexis Diaz held the Brewers to no runs and three hits over the final 5 1/3 innings.
The only problem after Weaver left was in the Milwaukee sixth. After two outs, they loaded the bases against Duarte and Sims, but Sims retired Christian Yelich, Milowaukee’s most dangerous hitter, on a ground ball to Votto, leaving the scored tied, 5-5.
Diaz struck out the first two in the ninth, gave up a ground ball single to William Contreras, then ended the game on a ground ball by Adames for his 26th save in 27 opportunities.