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Unlikely hero Iglesias shows off staying power

Reds infielder homers off Diaz in 9th and is making case to stick in starting lineup
@ladsonbill24
May 1, 2019

NEW YORK -- Shortstop José Iglesias was supposed to be no more than a backup player when he signed with the Reds in February. He was expected to provide solid defense in the late innings. But a groin injury to Scooter Gennett has allowed Iglesias to play every day, and

NEW YORK -- Shortstop José Iglesias was supposed to be no more than a backup player when he signed with the Reds in February. He was expected to provide solid defense in the late innings. But a groin injury to Scooter Gennett has allowed Iglesias to play every day, and it paid off for the Reds on Wednesday night against Mets closer Edwin Diaz.

For the second time in three games, the Reds were able to get to Diaz. This time, it was Iglesias who did the damage. He’s not known for the long ball, but his homer in the ninth inning helped Cincinnati edge the Mets, 1-0.

“It was a great game all around. It was a great pitching game all around,” Iglesias said. “I put a pretty good swing and hit it on the right spot.”

The Reds won a 1-0 game on the road for the first time since July 29, 2015 at St. Louis (Jay Bruce homered off John Lackey). That also was the last time the Reds hit a home run in a 1-0 win.

There was no score in the ninth inning when Iglesias took a 1-1 slider from Diaz and hit it over the left-field wall to give the Reds the lead.

Talk about deja vu. On Monday against Diaz, Jesse Winker’s homer helped the Reds beat the Mets, 5-4.

“It was a huge home run for us,” Reds manager David Bell said about the Iglesias bomb. “It says a lot about him as a player to hit in the big spots. To do it against Diaz is impressive. The runs aren’t easy right now, but the guys aren’t giving in to that. You keep going and … you never know when the big hit is going to come. In this series, we did it twice off a really good pitcher.”

The way Bell was talking after the victory, it seems Iglesias will stay in the starting lineup, and for good reason. He is more than just a defender; Iglesias is the Reds’ leading hitter with a .313 batting average.

“He has come up with big hits. I believe he is going to continue to get better as a hitter,” Bell said. “He is still young. … He is not afraid of any situation. I think those experiences like a game like tonight serve him well. He showed he is going to be a big part of this team, this lineup -- offensively and defensively.”

Iglesias said it’s a long season and every player has his ups and downs.

“I come to the ballpark and prepare myself the best way possible to put this team in the best position to win a game,” he said.

Although the Reds are 13-17, there is a really good vibe in the clubhouse. They feel they can compete in the National League Central Division. They stayed tough against Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom on Wednesday until they were able to beat Diaz with the homer in the ninth. deGrom had arguably his best outing of the season, pitching seven shutout innings and striking out six batters.

“This team sticks together even if [we are facing] deGrom, one of the best pitchers in the game,” Iglesias said. “We battled. Sometimes, you are going to get results. Sometimes, you don’t. Most important thing, we support each other as a team and that’s the mentality we have right now.”

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.