NEW YORK -- The Reds showed Tuesday night that they were not going to give up so easily against the Yankees, the team with the best record in the Major Leagues. Down by three runs going into the top of the ninth inning, Cincinnati scored four runs to edge New York, 4-3, at Yankee Stadium.
A lot of players on the Reds called it the best victory of the season. Since starting the season 3-22, Cincinnati has played respectable baseball, going 30-32 since then and riding a five-game winning streak.
“It shows a lot of fight and who we are, what kind of team that we are,” second baseman Jonathan India said. “I’m happy we did it with this group, because this group doesn’t [give up] fighting ever. We’ll keep going until the break, and we’ll go after that.”
It looked like the Yankees had the game in the bag. Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole dominated the Reds for seven scoreless innings, striking out 11 batters, while Michael King shut down Cincinnati in the eighth.
In the ninth, the Reds had to face Clay Holmes, arguably the best closer in baseball this season. Entering Tuesday’s action, his 0.46 ERA was the lowest among Major League relievers. But shockingly, Holmes had nothing in the tank.
“The sinker just didn’t feel right, and I started letting myself lose some direction there,” Holmes said. “Once it happened, it was really hard to start righting the ship. There were a ton of uncompetitive pitches. I just didn’t really give the team a chance to win right there.
“I’ve definitely had innings where I’ve had to make adjustments. I just couldn’t do it tonight. I really couldn’t get the sinker feel back. Maybe I should have gone to a different pitch a little sooner. I don’t know. I think you definitely learn from these. I look forward to getting back out there and giving the team a chance to win next time.”
After Holmes left the game, left-hander Wandy Peralta entered and was able to get two quick outs. India then came to the plate and was one strike away from recording the final out, but he poked a single to right-center field, driving in two runs and giving the Reds the lead.
“I knew Peralta had a good changeup. I was just battling,” India said. “… But he threw me a fastball, and I hit a single to the right side. I was just trying to do something simple.”
Manager David Bell said India strives to be in big moments like he was on Tuesday. But India’s game-winning hit wasn’t the only thing that stood out. In the seventh inning, it looked like Gleyber Torres had an easy leadoff triple off reliever Ian Gibaut. Outfielder Nick Senzel retrieved the ball and threw to India, who was the cutoff man, and India then threw Torres out at third base.
“[India] wants to be the guy in those situations,” Bell said. “I thought there was no chance [to throw Torres out]. It took a perfect throw. That's what he did. That was a big play in the game.”
The bottom of the ninth wasn’t an easy task for Reds closer Alexis Díaz. He started the inning by facing pinch-hitter Aaron Judge, whom he struck out on a slider. After DJ LeMahieu walked, Torres ended the game by hitting into a double play.
“I don’t think there is a game or environment that is too big for Díaz,” Bell said. “He is still a very young player. He still has a long way to go, a lot to learn. He has already shown that he wants to go up against the best. He is not afraid of any situation.”
That was especially the case against Judge, who leads the Majors with 30 home runs. Judge was supposed to have the day off, but there he was trying to tie the score with a big swing, though Díaz prevented that.
“It’s a special moment, because he is one of the best hitters in the league and he is one of the hottest hitters as well,” Díaz said through interpreter Jorge Merlos. “You are going to face good hitters. It’s a very special moment for me.”