Reds' newest stars pave way to win over Cardinals

Once again, De La Cruz flashes speed and Abbott makes history

June 10th, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- The Reds’ youth movement took center stage on Saturday.

Whether it was Andrew Abbott working another strong outing or Elly De La Cruz making another highlight-reel play, the rookies’ fingerprints were all over the Reds’ 8-4 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

“Their level of preparation when they've gotten here is really incredible,” Reds manager David Bell said. “So we've talked about how our player-development system deserves a lot of that credit, and they're just really good players. So it's been an easier transition than maybe it should be so far.”

Matt McLain’s leadoff triple started a key two-run rally in the third. De La Cruz singled him home, rifling a fastball up the middle that left his bat at 106.4 mph. Spencer Steer followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Reds a 5-0 lead.

“It's really special to be on a team like that, that's always running and always competing,” De La Cruz said through an interpreter. “So every time that we go out there, every time we get either a base hit or just try to get the ball in play, we're always running as fast as we can. So it's really awesome to be a part of that.”

De La Cruz’s sprint from first to home on a Steer two-run double in the seventh was another glimpse into the phenom’s ability. He made the trip in 11.48 seconds, running through the stop sign from third-base coach J.R. House, and slid around the tag of Andrew Knizner after making it from third to home in 3.17 seconds, according to Statcast.

“I see the stop too late; I said, ‘I can’t stop, it's too late,’” De La Cruz said in English. “And when I see the catcher moving forward, I say, ‘I got it.’”

De La Cruz almost caught up to Jonathan India, who had a 90-foot head start scoring from second on the play.

“When I crossed the plate, I turned around and he was already sliding. ... He's the fastest human I've ever seen on a baseball field,” India said.

De La Cruz was just a couple of strides past third when the ball came to the Cardinals’ relay man … and he still scored.

“You look at where Elly was when the relay man had the ball, there shouldn't be really any chance that he scores,” Bell said. “So that was fun to watch.”

Abbott (2-0) tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings. The 24-year-old became the first Reds pitcher to win both of his first two Major League starts since left-hander Reiver Sanmartin did so on Sept. 27 and Oct. 3, 2021.

Abbott’s second start resembled his first, with the left-hander overcoming early control issues before settling down and putting zeros on the board. He walked the bases loaded in the first before getting Paul DeJong to fly out to right, and he retired 10 of the next 12 batters he faced from that point.

“What a great way to begin your Major League career,” Bell said. “They're important games for us. Didn't give up any runs, and probably what was most impressive is how hard he had to work in the first inning to get out of that. And to keep them from scoring right there, that was a big part of the game today.”

Abbott has not allowed a run in his first 11 2/3 innings of his MLB career, becoming the first Reds pitcher to begin his career with that long of a streak since Amir Garrett began his career in 2017 with 12 scoreless innings. He is also the first Reds pitcher since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893 to begin his career with consecutive starts of at least five scoreless innings, according to Elias Sports.

“It's just go out and have fun,” Abbott said. “There's a lot of excitement on the team, and you’ve just got to kind of harness it and put it towards the right areas, and just go out and do your job at the end of the day.”

India believes the best is yet to come.

“It’s amazing what we have going on here,” India said. “Once we hit our stride with this crew, everyone in the lineup is raking, it's going to be a scary thing for sure. It's going to be an unbelievable team. It already is. So I'm excited to see what the future brings.”