McCoy: Bryce Was Not Nice To Reds (Three Home Runs!!!)

By Hal McCoy

On a freezing night in Citizens Bank Park, the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies were as cold as ice on a Tuesday night more suited for outdoor hockey.

That is with the exception of Philadelphia’s $330 million man, Bryce Harper.

Harper, 0-for-2024 when the frigid night began, smacked, smashed and smoked three home runs and drove in six runs, the catalyst for Philadelphia’s 9-4 drubbing of the Reds.

Harper drove home runs through a wind-swept rain his first two at bats against Graham Ashcraft, then unloaded a grand slam off Brent Suter, Harper’s seventh career grand slam.

And it was a red-faced night for Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz. He made three errors.

They were career homers numbers 307, 308 and 309 for Harper. The second home run was his 1,000th career run scored.

The wind-chill factor was 33 degrees with gusting winds at 25 miles an hour and the 28,115 fans were dressed like Himalayan sherpas. Harper heated them up.

The Phillies started Spencer Turnbull, a guy who pitched a no-hitter a few years back for the Detroit Tigera, but has fumbled to find his way ever since.

But he was in fine form Tueday night and held the Reds to one unearned run through five innings. He gave up three hits and no walks. His seven strikeouts were his most since the night he pitched the no-hitter.

Ashcraft retired the first two Reds in the first before Harper drove one 420 feet over the center field wall.

The Reds tied it, 1-1, with an unearned run in the third. With one out, Tyler Stephenson grounded to shortstop Trea Turner. He looked at the ball in his hand, then threw a snowball over first baseman Harper’s head.

Stephenson landed on second and scored on Will Benson’s double to right.

Harper struck again on Ashcraft’s first pitch of the fourth. Harper drove it into the right field seats, 365 feet away, scoring the 1,000 ruu of his career.

Then Cincinnati’s defense was defenseless, leading to six Phillies runs in the sixth and seventh.

Trea Turner led the sixth with a single and took second on Ashcraft’s wild pitch, then moved to third on a sensational diving catch on Harper.

But with two outs, Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz nonchalanted a weak ground ball hit by Bryson Stott. He flipped the ball underhanded, low, wide and ugly. Turner scored on the error to make it 2-1.

De La Cruz muffed one again in the seventh, opening the door as wide as the Delaware River, leading to five Phillies runs.

It began with a single by Brandon Marsh. Johan Rojas hit a double play ground ball to De La Cruz, but he had difficulty extracting the ball from his glove, then threw wild to first base.

Instead of two outs and nobody on, there were two on and no outs.When Ashcraft walked Turner to fill the bases, Suter was brought in to face Harper.

And 428 feet later, Harper had his grand slam and the Phillies had an 8-1 lead.

While all this was transpiring, the Phillies were forced to go within an unknown commodity on the mound.

It was reported that four members of the Philliies bullpen were unavailable, so the Phillies called up Ricardo Pinto from the minor just before the game.

They sent a car to Rochester to fetch him and they got stuck in traffic and the game was underway when Pinto arrived. He barely had time to pull on uniform No. 52 and say hello to manager Rob Thomson when he was on the mound.

And this Pinto turned into a horse after being a globe-trotting pitcher. He played in China, Japan and Mexico to keep his MLB hopes burning.

He lit his candle on this night — finishing the game with four innings. Three were solid, no earned runs, but he got tired in the ninth and gave up two harmless runs and three hits.

The Reds scored the unearned run on Pinto in the eighth, but the Phillies retrieved it in the bottom of the eighth with another home run — no, not by Harper. This one, off Buck Farmer, was hit by Brandon Marsh.

And De La Cruz made his third error.

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