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Dietrich proving to be shrewd signing for Reds

Infielder hits tiebreaking home run and now leads team with four
@m_sheldon
April 14, 2019

MONTERREY, Mexico -- When Reds Spring Training opened in February, veteran infielder Derek Dietrich was still a free agent searching for a job. Dietrich signed a Minor League deal with Cincinnati on Feb. 19, and the addition has already proven bountiful. In a 5-2 Reds victory over the Cardinals on

MONTERREY, Mexico -- When Reds Spring Training opened in February, veteran infielder Derek Dietrich was still a free agent searching for a job. Dietrich signed a Minor League deal with Cincinnati on Feb. 19, and the addition has already proven bountiful.

In a 5-2 Reds victory over the Cardinals on Saturday at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey in the first game of the Mexico Series, Dietrich hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the seventh inning against Adam Wainwright. He added a two-run triple in the eighth inning to help put the game away.

On a club with Eugenio Suárez, Yasiel Puig and Joey Votto, Dietrich is another hitter with power. Although a role player, he has already made six starts at second base and is the unlikely team leader in homers with four. Dietrich has also won two games for Cincinnati with long balls. His pinch-hit three-run homer on Opening Day March 28 provided the win over the Pirates.

“He’s a great example, and he’s doing a great job,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He’s made the most of his opportunities. We know that he’s going to be a big part of this team, both off the bench and as a starter.”

The Reds’ lineup was largely kept still early as Wainwright carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, with two walks, and held a 1-0 lead. At a facility that was not lacking for atmosphere, it still felt like the crowd of 16,886 fans was itching for something exciting to happen.

Fans, and the Reds, got what they wanted with one out in the sixth once Jesse Winker pounced on a 1-0 pitch. Winker drove it the opposite way for a home run to the left-field bullpen that made it a 1-1 game.

“It was like everything [Wainwright] wanted to do, he was executing. Really, my game plan going into it, I was just trying to get a cover over the plate,” Winker said. “I think it speaks volumes of our offense that we were no-hit through 5 1/3 innings and we chip away there and we come out with a win.”

All three of Winker’s homers this season have come in the past four games. His previous one, on Wednesday vs. Miami, was an eighth-inning game-winner.

“Waino, we’ve all seen it many times and he’s pitching a great game, and Winker broke the ice there and came up with the huge home run,” Bell said. “That shifted the game a bit. [Wainwright] was in complete control, and the hit by Wink was huge.”

Like Winker, Dietrich has shown his capability to step up in a big moment.

Leading off the bottom of the seventh, Dietrich lifted a full-count pitch for a homer that landed in the right-field bullpen.

“The pitch was a 3-2 cut fastball on the inner half. He had thrown me that a few times in the at-bats prior. I put good swings on them, but just missed them,” Dietrich said.

“We knew the tide was going to turn. You never anticipate getting no-hit, so we knew good things were about to happen. Just put good swings up there, and [we're] fortunate that we got the lead and maintained it. It was a good win. A lot of fun here in Mexico.”

Against reliever Mike Mayers in the eighth, Phillip Ervin led off with a pinch-hit triple and scored on Scott Schebler’s two-out single. Dietrich followed with a drive to right field that went off the glove of diving right fielder Tyler O’Neill to score two more runs.

Following Dietrich’s Opening Day moment, the Reds dropped eight games in a row. Now they’re riding a four-game winning streak.

“When you see the home runs, usually that’s what gets highlighted or strikeouts or something like that for the pitchers,” Dietrich said. “There’s a lot of things that you can do to help the club win, and the more we continue to do that and realize that, the better off we’re going to be. I’m excited. Four in a row and we’re playing good ball. I really like our team.”

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.