McCoy: Reds ‘Freeze’ Out Phillies After Seven-Hour Delay

By Hal McCoy

The original schedule said the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies would throw the first pitch Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m.

With a foreboding weather forecast, on Tuesday they moved the time back to 4:05.

That didn’t work, either. Both teams hibernated all afternoon in their clubhouse as a tarp covered Citizens Bank Park while rain poured down and wind straightened all the flags above the grandstands.

Philadelphia ace Zack Wheeler threw the first pitch at 8 p.m. as a few hearty ski-masked masochists sat in the stands on a night more fitting for a Bengals-Eagles NFL game.

The Reds survived the elements with an economical six-hit attack to post a 4-1 win, taking the series two games to one.

Five of the Reds six hits were for extra bases, four doubles and a triple.

They scored two unearned runs in the third on one hit. Nick Martini reached on second baseman Bryson Scott’s error. Jonathan India was hit by a pitch and with two outs Christian Encarnacion-Strand pulled a two-run double to left.

The Reds pushed their advantage to 3-0 in the sixth with back-to-back two-out doubles by Jake Fraley and Elly De La Cruz, extending his hitting streak to 11 games going back to the end of last season.

Wheeler pitched six innings and gave up one unearned run and struck out 10, but was slapped with the loss.

Frankie Montas, Cincinnati’s newly-acquired ace, pitched like the Abominable Snowman for five innings — no runs and three hits, and the first two hits were infielders.

In his second start in a Reds uniform, Montas extended his scoreless streak to 11 innings.

He ran out of petrol in the sixth when Kyle Schwarber drilled Montas’ firsrt pitch into the right field seats.

With two outs he gave up a solid single to J.T. Realmuto and walked the next two, filling the bases.

Manager David Bell went to left-hander Justin Wilson. Strangely, Phillies manager Rob Thomson permitted left-hander Brandon Marsh to bat when he had right-handed Alex Bohm sitting in the dugout.

Wilson induced a foul pop from Marsh to wipe away the threat and preserve the 3-1 lead.

Lucas Sims pitched a scoreless seventh with a walk and two strikeouts, Fernando Cruz was assigned the eighth and went 1-2-3.

The Reds added an insurance run in the ninth for closer Alexis Diaz on a triple by Spencer Steer and a singler by Nick Martini.

Diaz finished the frigid night for his first save. He struck out the first two, Whit Merrifield singled on the 11th pitch of the at bat and Bohm flied to right.

Before Diaz took the mound the umpires stopped him and frisked him as if they feared he was carrying a concealed weapon.

All four umpires huddled and permitting him to pitch and he showed the only weapon he had was his unconcealed right arm.

“One umpire said I had something there (on his hand) and when all the other umpires looked at it and said there was nothing too crazy and let him go pitch,” said Diaz through a translator on Bally Sports.

It was the second straight strong outing for Diaz after he blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning to the Washington Nationals during the second game of the season.

When the Reds arrived in Philadelphia, pitching coach Derek Johnson left a message for Diaz: “See me.”

“He told me, ‘I need you the next day at the ball park early because we have some stuff to look at,’” said Diaz. “We did and he gave me a couple of drills that we needed to work on and sure enough right after that I felt confident that I was going to be able to throw strikes and get batters out. It added clarity to what I was supposed to do.”

Reds pitchers held the first four batters in the Phillies’ order to 2 for 11.

And the Reds won despite striking out 15 times. They struck out 42 times in the three games and still took two out of three.

“We’re ready to compete against any climate, weather, you name it — we’re ready to compete under any conditions,” said Diaz. “That’s why this team is so united. We go out there and compete with each other and against everyone else. We know we can take it a long way from here.”

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