McCoy: Suarez bomb off one of baseball’s best relievers lifts Reds past Brewers

Cincinnati wins 4-3, moves to within 5 games of first-place Milwaukee

It wasn’t the improbable happening. It was the impossible.

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez stood tall and mighty Saturday night against arguably the best relief pitcher in all of baseball.

Josh Hader.

And Suarez hit one to Timbuktu, an opposite field home run that crash landed in the upper deck in American Family Field’s right field stands.

It came in the eighth inning. It broke a tie game. It gave the Reds a 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in a tense and volatile game.

Suarez’s home run came leading off the ninth and came on a 2-and-0 pitch after Hader’s first two pitches were extremely high out of the strike zone. It was only the second home run Hader has given up this season.

“I can’t believe how far that ball went,” said shortstop Mike Freeman. “I’ve never hit a ball that far pull-side and he hits one opposite like that. Impressive.”

Suarez’s batting average hasn’t cracked .200 all season, but manager David Bell has stuck with the guy who hit 49 home runs in 2019. And he stuck with him just for these moments.

“He is working so hard,” said Bell. “Sometimes facing guys like that who is so dominant and throws so hard can have a carryover. The team is just thrilled for Geno and came against one of the best in the game.

“He deserves it because he continues to stay with it and be a great teammate, support his teammates no matter what is going on,” Bell added.

Said Suarez, “So far I think that is the best at bat I had this year. My thought was, ‘Don’t let him beat you. Be on time. Put your best swing on it. He missed with that fastball and I got it very good.”

By taking Game Three of the four-game series, the Reds crept back to within five games of the first-place Brewers.

Anybody who believes that baseball isn’t a game of inches, or an inch, should ask pitcher Freddy Peralta and his Brewers teammates.

The Brewers owned a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning. The Reds had two runners on base and Peralta had a 2-and-2 count on Nick Castellanos.

The next pitch was down in the zone, oh so close to strike three. Umpire Gabe Morales called it ball three. Peralta angrily stomped around the mound.

The next pitch crashed against a back wall in left field, a three-run home run to give the Reds a 3-1 lead.

To show the intensity of this series, three different uniformed personnel were ejected from the game in three different incidents by three different umpires

Peralta was pitching a no-hitter through five innings. But he hit Jonathan India with his first pitch of the sixth, the 66th time a Reds batter has been hit, an all-time major league record for most times a team has been hit by pitches before the All-Star break.

Jesse Winker then punched a single to the left side against Milwaukee’s shift, setting it up for Castellanos’ eventful at bat.

The home run was his 18th and it ballooned his RBI total to 57.

Peralta was added to the National League All-Star team Friday night and pitched with All-Star aplomb for five innings.

But he had nothing on Reds rookie pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez. He gave up a run in the first inning, then nothing more. He went six innings and gave up only two hits over his final five innings after allowing two hits in the first inning.

It was a busy night for the umpires in a volatile atmosphere.

After the Castellanos home run, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell was ejected by Morales when he barked about the 2-and-2 call.

Then in the bottom of the sixth, Christian Yelich led off with a bunt and beat it for a hit. Pitcher Gutierrez’s throw skipped past first. Second baseman India picked up the ball and walked up to Yelich and tagged him. First base umpire John Libka called Yelich out, ruling Yelich made a move toward second base. Yelich yowled in protest and was ejected.

In the Cincinnati eighth, third base umpire Doug Eddings ruled that Joey Votto did not check his swing and called him out on strikes. Votto overly protested and he, too, was ejected.

That left both teams without a former MVP player their lineups.

After Gutierrez left, Amir Garrett pitched the seventh and struck out the side.

Then, more umpiring intrigue. Brad Brach began the eighth and walked Luis Urias on a border-line pitch. Up stepped Tyrone Taylor, the player who replaced Yelich.

On a 3-and-2 count, Taylor cleared the left field wall for a game-tying home run as Brach yelled his displeasure at home plate umpire Morales, who refused to give any pitcher the low strikes.

Omar Narvaez doubled and with two outs and Avasail Garcio was walked intentionally. Lefty Josh Osich was brought in to face left hander Jace Peterson and Osich struck him out to leave it at 3-3.

Then it was Eugenio Suarez Time.

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