Duvall, Schebler do it all for Reds in desert
Left fielder's grand slam ties game before right fielder's go-head homer
PHOENIX -- Deciding this week to table their four-man outfield rotation and sit prospect Jesse Winker in favor of Scott Schebler and the struggling Adam Duvall was not going to be a popular move for the Reds and their interim manager, Jim Riggleman. But at least during Wednesday's 7-4 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field, all the right buttons were pushed with the lineup selection.
Both Duvall and Schebler provided the two things Winker has lacked in 2018 -- power and defense. When the Reds and Sal Romano were down, 4-0, in the fourth inning, Duvall slugged a game-tying grand slam against D-backs lefty starter Patrick Corbin. Schebler put Cincinnati into the lead with a two-run home run in the top of the sixth.
"You know, guys like me and Schebler, big swingers, we've got to get our timing, we've got to get the contact point," said Duvall, who hit more than 30 homers in each of the past two seasons. "When you have some at-bats in a row, it does help that. It does help to meet the ball where you want it."
Tucker Barnhart led off the fourth with a single and Joey Votto followed with his own single before Eugenio Suarez's walk loaded the bases for Duvall. He managed to foul-tip a 1-2 slider to stay alive in the at-bat and got another slider from Corbin that he definitely did not miss.
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Duvall drove his 10th homer of the season into the left-center-field seats. It was the second grand slam of his career and his first since April 18, 2017, vs. the Orioles. Statcast™ projected it at 441 feet, making it his third-longest homer since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015 and the third-longest for Cincinnati this season. Suarez's monster 451-foot shot from Tuesday's loss is the Reds' longest this year.
"I was telling somebody that at-bat went from real bad to real good real quick," Duvall said. "I took a first-pitch strike right down the middle, first-pitch fastball that I thought was a slider, then the next pitch or the pitch after that, I swung at one kind of in the dirt. It was good to see one up and get the barrel to it."
Following a 0-for-20 slump -- the longest hitless streak of his career -- Duvall came into the game with three hits and four RBIs in a stretch of nine at-bats.
"It's such a rhythm sport. You play every day," said Schebler, who hit 30 homers in 2017. "It was a tough situation for all of us. I think the best thing about it is we still cheered for each other. We talked to each other a lot about how we were feeling about certain things. It can be frustrating. You never know if you're going to be in the lineup the next day and [you might] start pressing a little bit. It's not the easiest thing to do, especially since it's the first time any of us had done it."
With one out in the sixth, Schebler connected on a 1-0 hanging slider from Corbin for a two-run homer to right field. Statcast™ data showed the homer had an exit velocity of 109.5 mph and a projected distance of 433 feet.
"I got that one pretty good," Schebler said. "He threw me about eight straight sliders. I just finally got one up. He's got a good one, so I was kind of sitting on it after he threw me that many. It seemed like he was going to keep coming with it until I proved I could hit it."
It's been a rough season for Duvall, who is batting .181/.270/.401 but has 32 RBIs. After a hot start in April, Schebler has cooled in May, and he's batting .244/.327/.415 with six homers and 20 RBIs. Winker, often used in the leadoff spot, is batting .245 with a strong .354 on-base percentage but he's slugging only .325 after he hit seven homers and batted .298 in 47 games last season.
Not only did they combine for more homers in one day than Winker has for the season (one), the Duvall-Schebler tandem produced six RBIs -- half of Winker's 12 for the season. But defensive ability also played in the decision-making. Both Schebler and Duvall also made big catches in the outfield to help their pitchers.
"That's the cool thing. Even when we're not hitting, we'll play defense and make something happen that will help the team," Schebler said.
Duvall, a two-time National League Gold Glove Award finalist, came into the day with plus-eight defensive runs saved (DRS), according to FanGraphs. Schebler had zero DRS, but Winker has struggled often to make plays in left and right field and had minus-10 DRS.
Romano earned the win after surviving a three-run first inning that included a two-run homer by second batter Paul Goldschmidt. Romano gave up four earned runs and seven hits over five innings with no walks and three strikeouts as Cincinnati salvaged a game from the three-game series at Chase Field.
"The team was able to come around like they always do. Homer by Duvy, homer Schebler, Reds win," Romano said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Big catches for Duvall: In the second inning, Duvall made a nice running catch for the first out on a Nick Ahmed fly ball to short left field. But a bigger play came in the ninth inning with the tying run at the plate in Jake Lamb. On a shallow fly ball, Duvall again ran in and made a nice sliding catch to save at least one run.
"That's something that I think we can bring every single day is that defense," Duvall said. "Hitting is going to come and go for anybody. Defense, especially in the outfield, it can save you some runs."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
To end the sixth with Wandy Peralta on in relief, Ahmed hit a drive toward the wall in right-center field, but Schebler tracked it down at the warning track with a nice running grab. According to Statcast™, it was a five-star catch, as Schebler had to cover 93 feet in 5.0 seconds for a 13-percent catch probability.
"Defensively, you watch Duvy and Hamilton, you don't want to be the weak link out there. You've got to kind of pull your weight," Schebler said.
HE SAID IT
"We got six RBIs from our corner outfielders. You never can ask for that. But you've got to get production from your corner outfielders." -- Riggleman
Following a road trip break in San Diego on Thursday, the Reds will resume play Friday at 10:10 p.m. ET against the Padres in the opener of a three-game series at Petco Park. Tyler Mahle will pitch for Cincinnati after recording a no-decision over five innings with four earned runs vs. the Rockies in a 6-5 win on Saturday. He blew a pair of early leads, however, and issued four walks to tie a career high. San Diego's starter for Friday had yet to be announced by the end of the Reds' win on Wednesday.