Winker sees a Diaz fastball and doesn't miss it

Reds outfielder rips go-ahead HR off Mets closer in 9th, bullpen goes 5 1/3 scoreless

April 30th, 2019

NEW YORK -- Reds outfielder was at a hitter’s meeting on Monday afternoon at Citi Field, and Mets closer Edwin Diaz's name came up. Hitting coach Turner Ward told Winker and his teammates that Diaz loves to throw the fastball.

Winker remembered what Ward told him, and it paid off in the ninth inning later that night. On the first pitch he saw from Diaz, Winker put a good swing on the ball, which went over the right-center-field fence to help the Reds edge the Mets, 5-4. The home run broke a 4-4 tie.

“I just wanted to put a good swing on it, and it got up and got out,” Winker said. “It was one of those games you are fighting for a run any way you can. Luckily, it got up and it got out. It was a cold one tonight. It was a great game to walk away with a win.”

How impressed was Mets manager Mickey Callaway with Winker? He called him arguably Cincinnati's best hitter.

"It just leaked back over the middle,” said Callaway about the pitch Diaz threw to Winker. “And that kid can hit a little bit. He's probably their best hitter, especially with [Joey] Votto not going great. It just leaked back too much and got him."

Reds manager David Bell said Winker has a good approach at the plate, and he was not surprised that Winker took Diaz deep. How much has Bell relied on Winker? Enough to make him the cleanup hitter.

“He just seems to get better and better,” Bell said. “He can hit. He works at it, he cares about it. It’s nice to see him have success in a big situation right there.”

Winker has a career-high eight home runs this season, but this is not the time to talk to him about numbers.

“I just play ball," Winker said. "When the dust settles at the end of the year, I’ll take a look. But right now, I’m just trying to help this team win.”

Cincinnati had to rely on its bullpen, and it was lights out, pitching 5 1/3 innings without allowing a run while striking out seven batters. Four of those were from Raisel Iglesias, who pitched two scoreless and struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth.

The bullpen’s stellar performance came after starter Tanner Roark allowed four runs on four hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. What made it worse was that he was staked to a 4-0 lead, but Roark had a tough time throwing strikes in the fourth inning and left the game with two outs in the frame.

“They were amazing. They did one hell of a job, picking up my poor outing,” Roark said of the Reds’ relievers. “They were putting up zeros, attacking guys, going after guys and not giving in. It was very impressive. I loved watching them.”