Balk-off! Reds win in bizarre fashion

July 9th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- A balk-off? Sure, why not?

The Reds earned their third walk-off of the season, but Friday's 2-1 win in 10 innings over the Rays qualifies as unique, if not bizarre. In the bottom of the 10th inning, the winning run scored on a balk called against Rays reliever Matt Wisler.

"I didn’t see that at all, but I’ll definitely take it," Reds manager David Bell said. "Getting to that point, so many things happened."

Since 1920 (live-ball era), according to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been 23 games that ended on a walk-off balk. Two have been to the Reds' benefit, and this was the first since April 28, 1965 vs. the Cubs.

In the top of the 10th inning, Tampa Bay had runners on the corners and no outs when Yandy Díaz grounded to shortstop as the Reds played their infield at in between depth. As Francisco Mejía broke for the plate on contact,  instinctively fired a perfect throw home to catcher Michael Papierski, who made the tag in time.

"If it’s hit softly and they go home, I go home. But if it’s hit hard, I turn two," Farmer said. "I just read it well, Papi made a good tag at home and it was a good play."

The Rays challenged both that Papierski blocked the plate illegally and didn't get the tag in time, but the out remained on review. The next batter, Wander Franco, hit a soft liner to Farmer, who was perfectly positioned and stepped on second base for a double play to get Josh Lowe out and end the inning.

"It was a weird play," Farmer said. "I was surprised he didn’t go back to second base, but I was at the right place at the right time, and it was kind of meant to be."

In the 10th against Wisler, Nick Senzel laid down the first sacrifice bunt of his career and a rare one this season ordered by Bell. It moved the automatic runner, pinch-runner , from second base to third base.

On a 1-2 count to pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin, Wisler was called for a balk by home plate umpire Edwin Moscoso, saying the pitcher flinched after being set. Cincinnati, which had no walk-off wins until July, has three in the last seven days.

“I feel like I’ve done that move a lot of times," Wisler said. "Obviously it sucks the way we lost the game, with the way the guys pitched today. Just unfortunate we didn't get that chance [at the plate]."

Kolozsvary was ordered home into a waiting gaggle of celebratory Reds teammates. He didn't notice what Wisler did.

“I have no idea. I was kind of focused on other things. I’m going to say he did though. The umpire called it," Kolozsvary said. “It was a really good feeling, obviously, getting to celebrate with all the guys and coming into the dugout there was really cool.”