For the briefest of moments, it appeared Scooter Gennett might have added "All-Star hero" to the rapidly growing list of accomplishments he's piled up this year.
Instead, he'll have to settle for a heck of memory. Gennett and teammate Joey Votto both homered in the late innings of a record-setting Midsummer Classic on Tuesday night at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., but it wasn't enough for the National League in an 8-6 loss. Gennett hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning, and Votto a solo shot in the 10th of the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.
Gennett was the last position player on the National League roster to appear in Tuesday night's game, but he certainly made the most of his opportunity. Gennett -- appearing in his first All-Star Game -- came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning in a pinch-hit situation, representing the tying run as the American League held a 5-3 lead.
After Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto drew a one-out walk, Gennett took a fastball inside for a ball, and when a second pitch caught a piece of the plate on the inner-half, the Reds slugger pummeled it over the right-field wall for a home run to force extra innings.
The ball came off the bat at 100 mph and and traveled 396 feet, according to Statcast™.
It was another chapter in what has been a storybook season for Gennett, a Cincinnati-area native, who is having a second consecutive productive season for the Reds. Gennett is a first-time All-Star after a first half in which he led the NL in batting average at .326, ranked sixth in RBIs with 63 and is tied for fifth with a 3.4 offensive WAR. Gennett hit 16 home runs in the first half and is on pace to break his career-high for home runs in a season, 27, a mark he set in his first season with Cincinnati in 2017.
When asked if his All-Star experience was enhanced by the fact that he had previously been waived by the Brewers, Gennett was purely focused on the moment.
"I think even if I didn't get waived, it would still feel the same," Gennett said. "It would still feel amazing, and it's an honor. ... Being picked up by the Reds and then me making the All-Star team, it might make some people look really good, it might make some people look like they made a bad decision, but ultimately, I don't care too much about those things. It's just an honor to be here and be a part of it."
Votto, who entered the game in the top of the sixth inning at first base in place of Freddie Freeman, went 1-for-3 with a home run, which came in the bottom of the 10th inning after the AL plated three runs in the top half. He jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ and hammered it over the right-field wall for his first hit in an All-Star game.
"Every time I have an opportunity to join the National League roster, I am grateful. I'm very proud," Votto said Monday.
Votto leads the NL in on-base percentage and is third in walks with 73. He's hit nine home runs and has driven in 50 runs this season.
Eugenio Suarez also entered the game in the sixth inning at third base in place of Rockies' third baseman Nolan Arenado. He fielded a ground ball in the sixth and seventh innings and thew to Votto for a couple of putouts. Suarez came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning against Astros right-hander Charlie Morton. Suarez fell behind in the count, 0-2, but reached base when Morton ran a curveball in and hit the Reds' slugger. Suarez reached second base and was the recipient from some playful ribbing from Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor that was caught on FOX's television broadcast.
"It hit you, it's OK," Lindor said. "Don't cry."
Suarez chuckled in response. He struck out in his other at-bat in the ninth inning after Gennett's game-tying long ball.
It has been a career year for the Reds' third baseman who appeared in his first ever All-Star Game on Tuesday evening. Suarez signed a seven-year, $66 million deal during Spring Training and is batting .312/.399/.574 with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs, which ranks second in the NL. Suarez is tied with Arenado for the NL lead in offensive WAR (3.7), third in OPS (.973) and tied for fifth in batting average (.312), despite having missed two weeks in April due to a broken thumb he suffered when he was hit by a pitch in Pittsburgh.