Elly adds another dazzling chapter to first week in Majors

June 11th, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- Another day, another jaw-dropping performance from .

The 21-year-old phenom, playing in just his sixth Major League game, had a pair of hits, walked twice, drove in a run and scored twice to lead the Reds to a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Sunday.

But it was his sprint to home on the game-winning run in the eighth that proved to be the latest in a highlight-filled first week for De La Cruz.

After drawing a walk, he advanced to second on a groundout and to third on a passed ball. He then scored on a grounder to a drawn-in infield, just beating Paul DeJong’s throw to Willson Contreras at the plate to break the tie. De La Cruz reached a sprint speed of 29 feet per second on the play according to Statcast.

“I just know that whenever they're not going to pitch to me, that gives me an opportunity to contribute when I'm on base,” De La Cruz said through an interpreter. “So, there's a good chance that whenever I'm on base, I'm going to be able to score, so I'm just looking for that to happen.”

Reds manager David Bell’s instincts would tell him to hold the runner in that situation, but not with De La Cruz.

“You're taking a chance there and you can't wait around to see how hard it’s hit, you got to break on contact,” Bell said. “Yeah, I think my instincts did tell me that, but not in that situation. I knew we had a chance because of his speed.”

The Cardinals got exactly what they wanted in that situation as grounded sharply to DeJong, who fielded it cleanly. Even though Contreras dropped the ball, it appeared that De La Cruz was already under the tag.

“I turned around and I see safe and I’m like, 'What?'” Stephenson said. "He's an incredible talent."

De La Cruz used his legs to beat out a routine ground ball in the first for an infield single and followed that by barreling a 72 mph curveball from Adam Wainwright into center for an RBI single in the third to tie the game at 2. The ball left his bat at 109.4 mph.

De La Cruz worked a walk from Wainwright in the sixth, promptly stole second for his third stolen base in as many attempts and scored on Stephenson’s single to tie the game at 3.

“This is my first glimpse and a bunch of our first glimpses of what he can do,” Stephenson said. “You always hear about it in Spring Training with all the Minor League guys. I was actually talking about that with [Andrew] Abbott on the bench, and we're talking about, obviously the play where he scored and he's like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s just like an average Tuesday.’ … That's pretty surreal.”

De La Cruz is an astounding 8-for-12 when he puts the ball in play to begin his career. While he has struck out 10 times, he now has five walks.

“The speed is incredible, and it gives you more incentive to put the ball in play,” Bell said. “He's not going to cut down on his swing and give up anything just to put it in play, but when he can put it in play, he has the ability to beat it out and at any time that can lead to a run.”

worked 5 1/3 innings and gave up three runs in his first start since June 1 after being pushed back due to right hip stiffness. He allowed six hits, struck out nine and walked two.

Early traffic hurt Greene as the Cardinals’ leadoff man reached in four of the six innings that he pitched in, including the second and third when he gave up the runs.

“I knew that I was going to deal with some stuff coming back even though I wasn't out for a long period of time,” Greene said. “Being on a five-day or a six-day [routine] consistently, it is a little different when now you're on a 10-day. So, just being aware of that and still trying to stay within myself.”

The Reds have won five of their last seven games and took their first series at St. Louis since June 3-6, 2021. They hope to pack that momentum with them to Kansas City for a three-game series beginning Monday night.

“Especially coming from last year, like we're having fun,” Stephenson said. “Everybody's producing and that's all throughout the lineup.”