Elly amazes with first HR, triple: 'It's freaky'

June 8th, 2023

CINCINNATI -- Call it the  effect.

De La Cruz's second game was better than his first, and the result was the same -- a comeback, walk-off win for the Reds over the Dodgers for the second straight night. Wednesday’s was an 8-6 walk-off victory on Will Benson's first career home run

“This whole team has some kind of vibe," De La Cruz said through interpreter Jorge Merlos. "A really positive vibe. It's kind of like a vibe of going to a World Series."

That might be getting ahead of schedule on the rebuild in most folks' minds. But consider this: Before De La Cruz was called up on Tuesday, the Reds had lost seven of their past nine games to the Dodgers at Great American Ball Park since 2019. Since his arrival, they’ve walked off Los Angeles in back-to-back games.

"He's a special player,” Benson said. “I can, hands down, say I've never played with a player like that. I've played with good hitters like Elly. I never seen a complete package like that. I'm a pretty good athlete myself. To see that, honestly, it's freaky."

In his first at-bat, De La Cruz crushed a 91.9 mph four-seam fastball from Noah Syndergaard to right -- and it kept going, traveling 458 feet and coming inches away from leaving the park. It left De La Cruz's bat at 114.8 mph, the second-hardest-hit ball by a batter for his first home run in the Statcast era (since 2015).

"I knew that ball was gone after I hit it," De La Cruz said. "I just looked at my teammates and gave them the 4-4."

De La Cruz’s number is 44, the same number Adam Dunn wore with the Reds. The home run landed in Dunn territory, but what De La Cruz did next, Dunn could only imagine.

In his second at-bat, De La Cruz lined a ball into the right-center gap, and he showed no hesitation rounding second and made it to third easily. His time from home to third? 10.83 seconds, the fastest in the Majors this year.

"I'm always thinking about a triple," De La Cruz said, "getting to third base, any time I get it in the gap. Always."

The Reds trailed twice, and De La Cruz was part of both comeback rallies. His homer in the first tied the score at 2 an at-bat after fellow rookie Matt McLain had singled.

In the third, McLain led off with a triple and scored on Jonathan India's sac fly. Spencer Steer followed De La Cruz’s triple with an RBI single, and Tyler Stephenson tied it with his fourth home run of the year, an opposite-field shot to right to tie it.

It stayed tied until Benson’s homer.

“We don’t give up,” De La Cruz said in English.

“You just want to watch Elly play the game,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We don’t want to put anything on him. He doesn’t label anything. We want to watch him do his thing and be Elly De La Cruz.

“That’s all he needs to do. He’s a great kid, very respectful. Loves to play the game. We’re going to let him do his thing.”