Reds get last word vs. SD with walk-off

Stephenson delivers game-winning hit in 9th after Farmer ties game with HR

July 2nd, 2021

CINCINNATI -- Twice on Thursday night, the Padres intentionally walked so they could face with the bases loaded. The first time, Padres starter Ryan Weathers induced a flyout to end the second inning.

The second time, with the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, it backfired, as these clutch moments seem tailor-made for the Reds’ rookie catcher.

After one called strike, Stephenson lifted a cutter from MLB saves leader Mark Melancon for a single to right field that scored for a 5-4 walk-off victory that salvaged one game from the season series.

“Let me tell you, he’s going to have a really good career, and it’s because there’s no moment that’s too big for him,” Castellanos said of Stephenson. “He just gets one clutch hit after another, and he’s been doing it from the moment he put a big league uniform on.”

During a 52-minute rain delay before the fifth inning, talked with Stephenson about the first time Castellanos was walked.

“Joey asked me, ‘What do you think about that?’” Stephenson recalled. “[I replied], ‘I don’t know, it is what it is and stuff.’ He was like, ‘No, you have to take that personally; they don’t think you’re as good or anything like that.’

“Sure enough, it comes up again and I make them pay for it.”

It was a 3-3 game in the top of the eighth inning with runners on first and second base when Eric Hosmer hit a two-out ground ball to third base. Rookie Alejo Lopez fielded it cleanly, but his throw to Votto was in the dirt and skipped away for an error that scored Manny Machado with the go-ahead run.

In the bottom of the ninth inning with one out, slugged a 2-0 cut fastball from Melancon to center field for the game-tying home run.

“It feels good to put a good swing on him,” Farmer said. “But you know, I got into a hitter’s count, and that was important for me. And, you know, kind of threw the hands at it.”

Melancon walked pinch-hitter to put the go-ahead run on. India followed with a drive to left field that appeared to be caught by Jurickson Profar before he fell down and lost control of the ball. It was ruled a double and put runners on second and third base.

With the infield playing in, grounded into a fielder’s choice to second base, with pinch-runner getting thrown out at the plate. Following Castellanos’ intentional walk, Stephenson delivered the game-winner.

After he rounded first base, Stephenson flung his helmet into the air and the celebration was on.

Coming into the game, Stephenson was 2-for-2 this season with the bases loaded with four RBIs. He also has handled some big moments. In San Diego on June 17, he hit a game-tying pinch-hit single off Melancon in the top of the ninth inning.

“It’s fun. I don’t ever try to put too much pressure on myself and just go out there and compete and give it all I’ve got,” said Stephenson, who batted .305 with three homers and 10 RBIs in June. “I know sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Hopefully, the more times it works, the better. It’s exciting. It’s obviously a great way to fight back.”

The Reds finished their season series 1-6 vs. the Padres with all but one of the games decided by two runs or fewer.

“With all the losses, I still feel like we played them tough,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I feel great about that. Not taking anything away from them. They are very good, and they beat us. To get a win there at the end, I felt like that was deserving just from the standpoint that I felt like we played them tough really the whole time.”

Now the Reds, 40-40 and eight games behind the first place Brewers in the National League Central race, must promptly turn their attention to the second-place Cubs. Chicago has lost six in a row entering the three-game series.

“I think more importantly that we got this win before we have a big series against the Cubs,” Farmer said. “I think that we have momentum going into this weekend, and the Cubs are a great team, as well. We’ve always battled it out, so I think having a win coming into this weekend is probably good for the locker room.”