'Electric' Elly races home with inside-the-parker after 450-foot jack

Reds' star is first to accomplish both feats in same game during Statcast era (since 2015)

April 9th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- There was already a total solar eclipse over Great American Ball Park on Monday afternoon. That evening against the Brewers, hit a home-run ball that seemed high enough to create a total lunar eclipse, too.

That home run was itself eclipsed by an even more exciting moment when De La Cruz hit the first inside-the-park homer of his career. Both homers proved critical in Cincinnati's 10-8 victory over Milwaukee.

“I feel great when I’m running the bases. That’s electric," De La Cruz said. "That’s electrifying for the whole stadium and that’s what I like. The fans like that. And I like it.”

You never know what you're going to see when De La Cruz is in a game. That point was underscored once again.

According to OptaStats, the 22-year-old switch-hitting shortstop became the first player in AL/NL history to homer from both sides of the plate, hit homers both over the fence and inside the park, score at least four runs and steal a base in the same game.

Because of an error by Brewers third baseman Joey Ortiz, De La Cruz also scored from first on a sacrifice bunt by Santiago Espinal during a six-run Reds fourth inning.

Cincinnati opened an 8-0 lead after four innings before the game nearly slipped from its grasp. It was an 8-3 lead in the fifth before De La Cruz launched his 450-foot drive off the batter's eye against Brewers righty reliever J.B. Bukauskas. It was his first homer of the season.

The Reds, who lost 10 of their 13 games against the Brewers in 2023, could take nothing for granted in their first meeting of ‘24. Starter Graham Ashcraft dominated through four scoreless innings, but he surrendered six runs over the fifth and sixth innings to make it a three-run game.

It could have been worse had right Stuart Fairchild not made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Willy Adames of a homer in the sixth.

“It’s so important for us," said De La Cruz, who was 3-for-4 with four runs scored. "We are trying to win games. Milwaukee, they won a lot of games against us last year so we’ve got to beat them. We put in a lot of work and we’re ready [to go] to the World Series.”

Milwaukee closed the gap to one run in the top of the seventh inning on Christian Yelich's two-run homer to left field against reliever Justin Wilson.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh against lefty reliever Bryan Hudson, De La Cruz hit a first-pitch liner to center field. Sal Frelick made a diving attempt, but the ball hopped away from his glove and rolled to the wall.

“When I saw him missing the ball, I said, ‘I’ll go home no matter what happens,'" De La Cruz said.

By the time right fielder Jackson Chourio retrieved it, De La Cruz had already rounded second base.

Waved around by third-base coach J.R. House as the cutoff throw reached the infield, De La Cruz scored with a headfirst slide as the relay bounced off the mound and to catcher William Contreras.

“Amazing," said designated hitter Will Benson, who hit a second-inning solo home run. "Honestly, I had my eyes glued in on J.R. just to see was he going to wave him or what. As soon as he waved him, I was excited, I knew it was going to be an inside-the-park home run. Incredible.”

“As soon as it got by him, everyone was yelling, ‘home run!’ It’s an exciting play, I think, if you’re a baseball fan and enjoy every second of that," manager David Bell said. "And it wasn’t that many seconds from home-to-home. Every second we did have, we enjoyed it.”

According to Statcast, De La Cruz's sprint speed was 30.1 feet-per-second and he rounded the bases in 14.96 seconds. It was the second two-homer game of De La Cruz's short career and first since Sept. 26, 2023, at Cleveland.

In one game, De La Cruz raised his average from .242 to .297. Monday marked his first superlative 2024 performance after a lackluster first nine games in which he struck out 17 times in 33 at-bats. The Reds are hoping this is the spark that gets him going.

“I said this last year. I think Cincinnati is truly blessed with a real superstar," Benson said. "He doesn’t change, regardless of what he’s going through or how he’s playing. It’s a genuine treat to be around an amazing person, an amazing teammate."