The Cincinnati Reds’ pursuit of a season’s best six-game winning streak ran into a pin-striped roadblock Wednesday night in Yankee Stadium.
But the Reds didn’t go down without a blow-to-blow fight before the Yankees walked it off in the 10th inning on back-to-back wild pitches by Reds relief pitcher Alexis Diaz, a 7-6 Yankees victory.
That ended Cincinnati’s five-game winning streak and concluded New York’s three-game losing streak.
And they lost despite hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs, three in a row, in the second inning.
The 10th inning began with ghost runner D.J. LeMahieu on second. Diaz struck out Aaron Judge, who is hitless during the first two games of the three-game series.
Anthony Rizzo was walked intentionally and with Giancarlo Stanton at the plate, Diaz threw a wild pitch to put runners on third and second. And his next pitch was in the dirt and eluded catcher Tyler Stephenson as LeMahieu scored to end it.
It was the Yankees utilizing the walk-off after the Reds did it four times last week. And the Reds have won seven of their last one-run games.
For the first time in 20 games, the Reds scored a run in the first inning. Yankee starter Luis Severino walked Jonathan India on a full count to open the game.
Brandon Drury singled and with one out Joey Votto grounded to second, scoring India for a 1-0 lead.
Then came the rolling thunder, back-to-back-to-back home runs by the seventh, eighth and ninth batters in the Reds order.
Kyle Farmer started it, leading off the second with a home run deep into the left field seats on a 1-and-2 count. Next was Mike Moustakas and he pulled a home run into the right field seats on a 1-and-1 pitch.
Then it was Stuart Fairchild, a late insertion into the lineup for scratched center fielder Nick Senzel. Fairchild, called up from Class AAA Louisville on Wednesday, swung at the first pitch he saw wearing a Reds uniform and pumped it into the front row of the left field seats, his first career home run and a 4-0 Reds lead.
After the Reds grabbed the 4-0 lead, Bally Sports TV analyst Jeff Brantley said, “This game is not over. This will be a good game. The Yankees ain’t 61-26 for nothin.’
He hit the bullseye.
Brantley’s words were still in the air when the Yankees put five runs on the scoreboard in the third. It happened because the Reds gave the Yankees six outs.
It began with Reds starter Mike Minor walking Joey Gallo, who was 3 for his last 44. LeMahieu singled to center. After Judge struck out, Rizzo bounced what should have been an inning-ending double play. But India booted it. . .no outs and a run scored.
Giancarlo Stanton flied to center for the second out. Gleyber Torres singled to make it 4-2. On the play, Rizzo was caught in a rundown, should have been the third out, but nobody covered second and he escaped back to second.
Josh Donaldson walked on a full count to load the bases. Isiah Kiner-Falefa unloaded them with a three-run double to left center for a 5-4 Yankees lead.
The Reds displayed their recently acquired resiliency by reclaiming the lead with two runs in the fifth against relief pitcher J.P. Sears.
India led off with a double and Drury walked. After Tommy Pham struck out, Votto doubled to left to tie it and Tyler Stephenson hoisted a sacrifice fly to right for a 6-5 lead.
The Yankees, owners of 146 home runs, most in the major, didn’t homer in the first 15 innings of this series. Stanton ended that leading off the eighth against Reds relief pitcher Ian Gibaut, an opposite-field to the second row of the short porch in right field.
That was Stanton’s 23rd home run and tied the game, 6-6. Gibaut then struck out the side.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone tempted fate in the ninth when he sent closer Clay Holmes to the mound.
Holmes took the mound in the ninth inning Tuesday with a 3-0 lead, faced five hitters and didn’t retire anybody. The Reds scored four runs to win, 4-3.
Holmes’ problem Tuesday was that he walked Pham to open the inning. On Wednesday, he opened the ninth by walking Fairchild.
This time he struck out India. But Drury beat an infield hit to third, putting runners on second and first with one out. He fell 3-and-0 to Pham, then retired him on a full-count flu ball to right.
That left it up to Votto and the count went to 3-and-0 again. He fouled off the 3-and-0 pitch, then grounded out to shortstop, leaving it at 6-6.
The Reds put runners on third and first with no outs in the 10th, a rally that died when pinch-hitter Matt Reynolds (batting for sore-back Senzel) struck out and Farmer grounded into a double play.
Then came the wild, wild finish — or wild pitch, wild pitch finish.
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