McCoy: Reds Ride Steer’s Grand Slam To 6-3 Win

By Hal McCoy

The Cincinnati Reds’ flair for dramatics is insatiable and seemingly it is done with a cast of thousands.

This time, on a chill Monday night in the City of Brotherly love, it was Spencer Steer providing the heroics — a grand slam home run in the 10th inning to lift the Reds to a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Steer salivates with the bases full of teammates — 4 for 11 with 10 RBI. And the grand slam was the only hit of the inning and Steer’s first career grand slam.

The Phillies brought in Connor Brogdon for the 10th with free runner Bubba Thompson on second. He walked Will Benson and walked Jonathan India on four pitches to fill ‘em up.

And Steer steered his grand slam over the left field wall to provide the Reds with a win, their first road game of 2024.

“Yeah, yeah, that was a pretty cool moment,” said Steer. “I kind of blacked out running around the bases. I was just fired up to get an RBI in that situation. I kinda blacked out because it was one of those moments where you are running around the bases and you feel like your’re floating on a cloud.”

Cloud Nine, obviously.

Brogdon had thrown seven straight balls when Steer planted himself in the batter’s box. He took a fastball for strike one. Brogdon tried another fastball and Steer was poised and waiting.

“I knew he didn’t want to walk me in that situation,” said Steer. “He was struggling with the command of hs off-speed stuff, so I was looking for a fastball right there and I wanted to put a good swing on it and do some damage, drive in some runs.”

The damage was done, heavy damage.

Indeed, it’s a new year. In previous visits to Philadelphia, the Reds would be better suited to stay away from Citizens Bank Park and visit the Liberty Bell, City Hall or the Reading Terminal Market. They had lost six of the previous seven games in the Phillies’ home playground.

It looked like more of the same in the first inning when Reds starter Andrew Abbott gave up two straight singles and both scored on Alex Bohm’s two-out double off the end of the bat just inside the first base bag. Bohm owns a 14-game hitting streak against the Reds.

And it appeared that 2-0 lead might hold because Philadelphia starter Christopher Sanchez had the Reds mesmerized with a diving change-up.

At one point, he retired 11 straight with eight strikeouts. But when he walked Jonathan India on a full count and gave up a double to Steer, his night was over in the sixth.

The next two Reds, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Jeimer Candelario each singled home a run to tie it, 2-2.

And that’s where it stood until Steer’s deliverance.

Aided by a couple of Phillies’ base-running faux pas, Abbott kept the score at 2-2 through 5 1/3 innings — only one more hit and a couple of walks through five innings. He retired 11 of the last 12 he faced and the one exeception was a walk.

“Gotta give a shout-out to Abbott,” said Steer. “He gave up two in the first and shut ‘em down after that. That’s the fight we talk about on our team all the time. He fought every inning and did a heck of a job shutting them down after that first inning.”

There also was redeption for closer Alexis Diaz after he blew the second game of the season to the Washington Nationals.

With the score 2-2 in the eighth, Brent Suter threw two pitches and gave up singles to Kyle Schwarber and Trea Turner. After a flyout, manager David Bell brought Diaz into the high-leveraged situation

Pinch-runner Johan Rojas broke early for third base and Diaz picked him off. Then he finished the assignment by striking out J.T. Realmuto.

Realmuto has faced Diaz four times and has four K’s marked next to his name.

“That’ our guy and he’s always been our guy,” said Steer, referring to Diaz. “He is our closer and has all the confidene in the world when he runs out of that bullpen. It was awesome to see him get the results tonight, but he is our guy and is always going to be our guy going forward.”

After Steer’s home run, the dramatics were not over. The Phillies scored a run off T.J. Antone in the bottom of the 10th with two men on.

With two outs, Bryce Harper was the potential tying run at the plate.

And, of course, Antone dramatically struck him out.

Benson, lobbying heaavily to start against left-handed pitching, face lefties three times Monday and struck out all three times.

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