Elly has one word to describe 3 SB/3-run HR night: 'Electric'

April 20th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- An injured Nick Lodolo’s 2023 season ended a month before made his big league debut on June 6. On Friday as the Reds faced the Angels, Lodolo got to see the De La Cruz Show up close, and also benefited from the outcome.

De La Cruz stole three bases and supplied a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure a 7-1 Reds victory over the Angels at Great American Ball Park.

“I never got to watch him play that much. I wasn’t in the dugout," said Lodolo, who missed most of the '23 season with a stress fracture in his left tibia. "I was like most fans, just watching him on TV. Elly is a great kid. He works hard. You can definitely see the talent. It’s unbelievable.

“I think actually seeing how fast he is in person is pretty incredible.”

Lodolo pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed one run and seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Through two starts, he is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA. But he needed some offensive help from a depleted lineup that has struggled this week.

With Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Jeimer Candelario missing one and two games, respectively, in Seattle with illnesses, Cincinnati batted .132 (12-for-91) with 31 strikeouts, scoring only five runs while being swept in three games. Both batters were out again on Friday.

De La Cruz, who has been one of the Reds’ hotter hitters in the young season, is batting .290 with a 1.002 OPS while playing in all 19 games. He brought some spark that single-handedly created the game's first run in the bottom of the second inning.

After bouncing a two-out grounder past the glove of second baseman Luis Rengifo, De La Cruz stole second base. As he swiped third base, catcher Logan O'Hoppe's throw went into left field for an error that allowed De La Cruz to score the game's first run.

It's usually against baseball coda to attempt stealing third base with two outs. Not for De La Cruz.

“I always think about stealing the next base. Always aggressive," De La Cruz said.

"In that situation, we would’ve been out of the inning and everything is great. You just don’t want to put him on base," Angels starter Tyler Anderson said.

De La Cruz, who stole 35 bases in 98 games last season, already has 10 steals in 2024. That has him on pace to have 85 stolen bags for the year.

"Elly understood the situation. He understood the pitcher," Reds manager David Bell said. "He studies, and he maybe didn’t have great jumps right there. In a lot of cases, he outran the throw. That was a big part of the game for us. He has a lot of confidence in his ability on the bases, and it showed up tonight.”

The Angels were kept scoreless by Lodolo until there were two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Rengifo hit a single to left field and stole second base before scoring on Jo Adell's RBI single to left field.

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Tyler Stephenson attacked Anderson's first-pitch fastball and launched it into the second tier of the left-field upper deck for his second home run of the season.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Reds loaded the bases with one out when Adam Cimber walked Stephenson on four pitches. Cimber hit Nick Martini with a pitch to force in a run, and new reliever José Cisnero threw a wild pitch to De La Cruz to bring in another run.

On a 2-1 pitch from Cisnero, De La Cruz put the game away. His opposite-field drive bounced off the top of the left-field wall into the stands for his team-leading sixth homer of the season.

“It feels great. It’s just so exciting," De La Cruz.

Hitting to the opposite field has been part of De La Cruz's offseason adjustment of waiting longer on a pitch before committing to a swing. That was his second opposite-field homer from the left side this season.

“I’m just looking for a good pitch to hit and I swing at it," he said.

De La Cruz is the fifth Reds player since 1901 to have three stolen bases and a homer in one game, joining Dave Concepcion, Pete Rose, Reggie Taylor and -- most recently on June 3 of last season -- Jake Fraley. De La Cruz, 22, passed Concepcion, 24, as the youngest Red to do it.

How would De La Cruz describe his effort on Friday evening?

“Electric," he said. "It was electrifying.”