Scoring from 2nd ... on a pickoff? Just part of Elly's show in Milwaukee

June 16th, 2024

MILWAUKEE -- had one of those days where it felt like he could do it all and also give the Reds a big win on Sunday. But De La Cruz seemingly couldn't overcome his club's bad mojo against the Brewers.

De La Cruz had a triple, a home run, two walks and scored three runs -- including one from second base in stunning fashion on a bad pickoff throw. Those runs, plus one more on Spencer Steer's homer, were still not enough to defeat first-place Milwaukee during a 5-4 loss at American Family Field.

“It was a tough one," De La Cruz said. "It was a really good game.”

After winning a wild first game on Friday, the Reds dropped the last two and have lost eight consecutive series to the Brewers and 12 of 14 series dating back to 2021.

“They always find a way, that team," second baseman Jonathan India said. "They did that to us in this series. It will turn. I know it will. It will be our time soon.”

Cincinnati had a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning when reliever Lucas Sims replaced starting pitcher Frankie Montas after he gave up a single and a walk to his first two batters.

A first-pitch slider from Sims was at the bottom of the strike zone but over the plate for Milwaukee shortstop Willy Adames to crush to center field for the go-ahead three-run homer. Fernando Cruz is often the first choice to put out fires, but manager David Bell stayed with Sims, who had been warming for batters further down in the order.

"I absolutely trust Lucas there," Bell said. "He’s done it many times – in the sixth inning, eighth, ninth, whatever the situation. For sure, Fernando was going to factor in the game, but we had Lucas ready right there.”

A Christian Yelich squeeze bunt in the seventh inning scored Brice Turang with a key insurance run for Milwaukee. The only reason Turang was on base was that De La Cruz couldn't make a spectacular leaping catch when the ball hit the heel of his glove and fell for a single.

“I just missed it. I just leaped too high," De La Cruz said.

De La Cruz got one run back when he led off the eighth inning with his 12th homer of the season, a drive to left field.

In the top of the ninth inning with two outs, Stuart Fairchild was on second base when Santiago Espinal came through with a softly-hit single to center field. Brewers outfielder Blake Perkins was shaded in and scooped up the ball and fired home in time to nail Fairchild trying to score as he slid into catcher William Contreras at the plate.

“Off the bat, we all thought it was a run for sure with Stuart’s speed," Bell said. "In the end, it was just a great play by their center fielder. He got to it quick, was playing pretty shallow and made a perfect throw.”

Early on, it didn't feel like a game that would be determined by the final play. That was because of De La Cruz. In the first inning, he hit a one-out triple to right field and came home easily on Jeimer Candelario's sacrifice fly.

In the top of the third inning, De La Cruz drew a two-out walk from pitcher Colin Rea and subsequently stole second base -- the shortstop's MLB-leading 36th steal of the season.

As he led off with Candelario batting in a 1-2 count with two outs, Rea made an ill-advised pickoff throw attempt. The ball zipped between De La Cruz's legs and into center field.

De La Cruz bolted for third base and kept running on the error. As Perkins retrieved the ball, De La Cruz was already on his way home. Perkins made a good throw to the plate but De La Cruz beat it with a headfirst slide to make it a 2-0 game.

There was never any thought of stopping at third base.

“I saw the ball and I said, 'I’ve got to go home.' I know I can do that," De La Cruz said.

According to Statcast data, De La Cruz reached a sprint speed of 30.4 feet per second.

“It’s insane," India said. "It’s not even a surprise anymore. We kind of knew he was going home on that. He's the fastest man in the league. He’s got that talent to do it and he capitalizes on it. That’s why he’s a special player.”