McCoy: Reds Beat Yankees. . .But How Did They Do It?

By Hal McCoy

Somehow, some way, the Cincinnati Reds scored an improbable and implausible 3-2 win over the New York Yankees Wednesday night.

How does a team win with only three hits?

How does a team win with only one hit over the last seven innings?

How does a team win when the first four in the batting order — Jonathan India, Elly De La Cruz, Jeimer Candelario and Spencer Steer — go 0 for 14 with five strikeouts?

But they did it in raucous Yankee Stadium, a second straight one-run win over the Bronx Bummers, losers in eight of their last 11.

It clinched the three-game series after the Reds lost four and split two of their last six series. And it was their first back-to-back wins since June 13 and June 14 over Cleveland and Milwaukee.

So how did they do it?

Start with starting pitcher Andrew Abbott. The 24-year-old left-hander pitched around four walks while holding the Yankees to no runs and three hits while he was on the mound for 6 1/3 innings.

Mix in the long ball. Two of the three hits were home runs that curled just inside the left field fair pole.

The Reds figured to have a pre-Fourth of July batting explosion. They were facing left-hander Carlos Rodon, who had lost three straight and given up 20 runs and 28 hits in only 13 2/3 innings in those three games.

Rodon gave up a one-out single to Tyler Stephenson in the second inning, bringing up Noelvi Marte, 0 for 16 since his three hits in his first game after his 80-game suspension.

Marte drove a two-run home run into the left field corner.

Stuart Fairchild planted one in almost the same spot, a home run leading off the fifth for a 3-0 lead. And that was the Reds’ last hit.

So many games come down to one or two at bats. For the Reds, it was two Yankee at bats.

Abbott gave up a one-out double in the sixth to Jahmai Jones and manager David Bell replaced Abbott with Fernando Cruz.

Cruz was far from on cruise control. He walked pinch-hitter Austin Well and gave up a two-run double to Anthony Volpe and the Reds lead was cut to 3-2.

Then he walked Juan Soto on a full count to put two on with two outs and a tissue paper thin one-run lead. Cruz had faced three hitters and all reached base.

It was time for Incident No. 1. Coming to the plate was Aaron Judge. Pitchers would rather face a federal court judge on tax evasion than Aaron Judge.

Alas, Judge swung at the first pitch and grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Fast forward to the ninth inning with the Reds still leading, 3-2. It was Alexis Diaz time. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninh on nine pitches to save Cincinnati’s 5-4 win Tuesday.

He quickly jumped ahead of Wells 0-and-2, then threw a pair of balls. On the 2-and-2 count, he thought he struck out Wells. When umpire Jim Wolf called it ball three, Diaz spread wide both arms in disgust.

On the 10th pitch of the at bat he walked Wells, the potential tying run.

It was time for Incident No. 2. Anthony Volpe swung at the first pitch and another 6-4-3 double play was enacted. When Juan Soto popped weakly to left, it was game, set and match, Diaz’s 19th save.

As for Diaz, it was, “What, me worry?”

Asked about how he went from 0-and-2 to a 10-pitch walk to Wells, Diaz told Bally Sports Ohio through a translator, “That was a really good at bat right there. That batter really gave it everything.

“Sure enough, two guys got on base and I was just trying to get that double play right there, no matter what, I wanted that double play,” he added.

After the double play, he had to face the ever-dangerous Soto. And if he didn’t he’d have to face Judge and his 32 homers and 84 RBI.

“The plan was the same thing I do with every batter,” he said. “Attack the zone, attack the guy. He is no different than any other batter so I just attack him and try to get him out.”

And his attack plan worked to perfection.

De La Cruz, standing nearby during the post-game interview, asked Diaz in Spanish if he were nervous. Diaz said, “Never nervous. Never.” And De La Cruz said with a broad smile, “That’s my guy.”

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