By Hal McCoy
No matter the dire situation, no matter the situation, the Cincinnati Reds always play with their thumbs up and nobody’s chin is ever down on the second button of his jersey.
On Wednesday night in Camden Yards, the Reds scored four runs in the 10th inning to rescue another implausible storybook victory, 11-7 over the Baltimore Orioles.
The Reds led, 7-4, in the eighth inning, but Buck Farmer gave up three runs, including a two-run home run to number nine hitter Adam Frazier to tie it, 7-7.
Thumbs down? Heads down? Not the 2023 Reds.
In the ninth inning, Ely De La Cruz beat an infield hit to third base and stole second. With two strtikes, Nick Senzel bunted over the pitcher’s head for a single.
That put runners on third and first with no outs against Baltimore’s flame-throwing closer Felix Bautista. He struck out Joey Votto on a 101 miles an hour fastball, struck out Spencer Steer on a 103 miles an hour fastball. Tyler Stephenson grounded out. No runs.
Thumbs down? Heads down? Not the 2023 Reds.
They put the game away with emphasis in the 10th.
With free pass runner Kevin Newman on second, Will Benson missed a bunt attempt then lined a triple over the right fielder’s head, scoring Newman.
TJ Friedl, the team’s best bunter, turned around twice as if to bunt. Then he drilled a two-run home run into the right field seats.
Tyler Maile doubled off the center field wall and took third on center fielder Cedric Mullins’ error. He scored on a wild pitch and the Reds took the field for the bottom of the 10th with an 11-7 lead.
With the win, the Reds won two of three from the Orioles and won their sixth series of their last seven. And they maintained their pencil-thin half-game lead over Milwaukee in the National League Central.
There was no rain delay Wednesday in Camden Yards, but it rained runs and hits for 1 1/2 innings.
The Reds (43-38) and the Orioles (48-31) combined for 10 runs and 12 hits in the first inning-and-a-half but matters settled down after that and it became a bullpen battle.
The Reds two teams endured rain delays of 1:44 and 1:43 in the first two games of the series, but played straight through on Wednesday in a highly competitive back-and-forth affair.
The Reds scored three runs in the first inning against Gibby, who was nothing close to Bob Gibson. This was Kyle Gibson.
So Luke Weaver took the mound with a 3-0 lead and promptly gave up four runs, not unnatural for him. So far this season he has given up 22 runs in the first inning.
Thumbs down? Head down. Not the 2023 Reds.
They barged right back in the top of the second for three runs and a 6-4 lead.
Amazingly, both starters turned nearly unhittable after their early problems.
At one point, Weaver retired 10 in a row before leaving after 4 1/3 innings, the score still 6-4. He left after 4 2/3 innings and Reds manager David Bell wore out a path from the bullpen to the mound.
He used seven relief pitchers to tie a ribbon around this one. Alex Young, Daniel Duarte, Lucas Sims and Ian Gibaut kept the O’s off the board through seven innings. And the Reds added a run in the when Benson singled and stole second, Cincinnati’s fourth theft. He moved to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on Matt McLain’s ground ball,
Farmer gave up the three runs in the eighth to tie it, then Alexis Diaz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and Fernando Cruz put two men on in the 10th, but recorded three strikeouts.
Amazingly, even though his earned run average is close to 10.00 over Weaver’s last six starts, the Reds are 6-0 in those starts.
He gave up five runs last Friday in the first inning, but the Reds came back to beat Atlanta, 11-10. And he gave up four in the first Wednesday night.
And it was the Reds 29th come-from-behind victory, passing Baltimore, owner of the second most with 28.
The Reds were 7 for 19 with runners in scoring position and stranded11 while the O’s were 4 for 13 and stranded eight.
Friedl had three hits, scored three and drove in three. De La Cruz ended a 0 for 14 slide with a pair of hits but also struck out three times.
Jake Fraley had two hits his first two times up against Gibson. Fraley knows Gibson’s permanent address with five hits in his first six at bats against the Orioles starter.
Benson had three hits and scored three runs. It was a rough evening for Joey Votto, who went 0 for 6.