First, it was Scooter Gennett being mentioned in the same breath as Babe Ruth.
Friday night, Lou Gehrig joined the club.
Gennett’s first inning grand slam in Cincinnati’s 5-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox was his fourth of the season, setting a franchise single-season record and adding another layer to the historic lore of Gennett’s magical 2017 season.
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According to Elias Sports Bureau, Gennett is the only player in major league history with a four-homer game and three or more grand slams in the same season, and he and Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig are the only players with a four-homer game and four or more grand slams in any season. Gehrig had a four-homer game in 1932 and hit four grand slams in 1934.
On Aug. 14, Gennett became the first player since Babe Ruth to hit his 20th home run of the season in the same game in which he pitched. Ruth did it in 1921.
“That’s a little weird,” Gennett said about matching or surpassing Hall-of-Famers’ accomplishments.
“It’s a nice topic,” manager Bryan Price said. “Scooter’s been a really good topic to talk about all season.”
The Reds, with a lineup bolstered by the return of center fielder Billy Hamilton and third baseman Eugenio Suarez, pounced on beleaguered Boston right-hander Rick Porcello. The first four batters in Cincinnati’s lineup scored, but Sal Romano couldn’t make the 4-1 lead stand up as the Reds lost to the American League East Division leaders.
Zack Cozart collected three hits for the Reds, who outhit Boston 7-6 but still lost a fourth straight game for the first time since a six-game losing streak from July 24 through July 29.
The game ended on an unusual double play with Votto grounding out to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who tagged first before catching Cozart in a 3-6-1-4 walkoff rundown.
Hamilton got two hits in his first start since fracturing his left thumb while trying to bunt on September 6. Suarez was 0-for-4 after rejoining the lineup after missing the three-game series against St. Louis due to the birth of his daughter.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the first against Sal Romano, but the rookie right-hander got out of the jam with just one runner crossing the plate.
Hamilton lined the fourth pitch he saw from Porcello – the major league loss leader going into the game with 17 – into right field for a leadoff single and went to third on Cozart’s double. Joey Votto walked and Gennett clubbed the first pitch into the right-center field seats for his 27th homer of the season.
“In that type of situation, I think it’s important to jump on an early strike,” Gennett said. “I try to slow things down in those situations – not get pumped up – and focus. I like to be in that situation. I’ve got to remind myself to stay relaxed.”
He broke the single-season club record of three grand slams set by Frank Robinson in 1962 and tied by Lee May in 1970, Ray Knight in 1980, Eric Davis in 1987, Chris Sabo in 1993 and Devin Mesoraco in 2014.
“That seems to be what Scooter does. Some people are extremely comfortable in that situation. He’s played really big for us on offense this year,” Price said.
Romano (5-7), who hadn’t walked anybody in his previous 13 innings over two games, issued four walks while giving up five runs in four innings, including three on Rafael Devers’ go-ahead three-run homer that capped Boston’s four-run fourth. Romano allowed five hits with three strikeouts and a wild pitch and left trailing, 5-4.
“He did a really good job getting out of the first inning,” Price said about Romano. “Then we get the grand slam and you think ‘Here we go.’ It’s a good feeling. Porcello came back to limit the damage. I thought Sal really battled in the first three innings and it caught up with him. They hit his breaking ball.”
“I hung a few breaking balls,” said Romano. “I wasn’t very sharp.”
The Reds will honor retiring pitcher Bronson Arroyo before the second game of the series on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. Another rookie right-hander, Robert Stephenson (5-5, 5.01 earned-run average) is scheduled to pitch for Cincinnati against left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (5-6, 4.15), and Arroyo is due to perform a a 40-minute post-game concert.