McCoy: Elly De La Cruz puts on a show as Reds handle mighty Dodgers

On paper, it appeared the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of beating the Los Angeles Dodgers Thursday night was the same as a snowstorm hitting Dodger Stadium.

The Reds, though, shredded that paper and created a confetti snowstorm, an improbable and implausible 7-2 victory.

The Dodgers were on a streak of 22 straight games of giving up four or fewer runs and the Reds wiped that slate clean, loud clear.

So why the skepticism?

The Dodgers had won 11 of their last 13 games and owned an eight-game lead in the National League West.

The Reds had lost 12 of their last 14 games and were eight games out of first place in the National League Central.

Los Angeles starter Tyler Glasnow was 6-1 with a 2.53 earned run average and had struck out nine or more batters in his last five starts.

In contrast, it was Nick Lodolo’s turn to start, for the Reds, but he was placed on the injured list with a groin injury, so the Reds had no starting pitcher.

They resorted to a Bullpen Day.

And what a day it was. Seven Reds relief pitchers put an extremely large muzzle on the high-powered LA offense — two runs, both scored in the ninth, and four hits.

Brent Suter was the opener and pitched just two-thirds of the first inning. Emilio Pagan followed with an inning. Justin Wilson faced one batter and struck out James Outman on three pitches.

Then came the workhorse. Nick Martinez pitched five scoreless innings and gave up one hit, didn’t walk a batter and struck out four during his 68-pitch night. Then it was a 1-2-3 eighth by Lucas Sims.

Sam Moll and Buck Farmer shared the ninth and gave up two runs, both charged to Moll, ending his 24-inning scoreless streak.

The only Reds relief pitchers not used were Fernando Cruz and Alexis Diaz.

On offense, Elly De La Cruz put on a show-stopper — his first four- hit night, three runs scored and four stolen bases.

Will Benson served notice in the first few minutes of overstuffed Dodger Stadium. He hit Glasnow’s seventh pitch of the game 439 feet into the right field seats for a home run.

De La Cruz then singled, stole second and scored on Tyler Stephenson’s two-out double to left and the Reds led, 2-0, before the Dodgers could catch their breath.

De La Cruz led off the third with a double and stole third. Glasnow nearly escaped by striking out Mike Ford and Spencer Steer. But Stephenson singled to right to score De La Cruz for a 3-0 lead.

De La Cruz stole a run, literally, in the fifth. He walked, stole second, stole third and scored when Steer struck out but reached first base when the ball eluded catcher Austin Barnes.

That pushed the Reds ahead, 4-0, and rid themselves of Glasnow. They collected four runs and six hits against him, with a walk and he recorded eight strikeouts.

De La Cruz reached base for the fourth time in the seventh with a single, his third hit. With a chance to tie the team record with five steals in a game, he was thrown out at second.

He could have made it a monster night when he came to bat in the ninth with the bases loaded. He did reach base on an infield single that produced the Reds’ sixth run.

The Reds blew the game open with a three-run ninth as Jeimer Candelario extended his hitting streak to six games while Stuart Fairchild and Ford each singled home runs.

De La Cruz finished the night with 30 steals on the season, including 13 steals of third.

His big night came a day after manager David Bell gave him his first day off of the season Wednesday in Arizona.

Before his public showing Thursday, De La Cruz was 11 for 51 (.216) with only two RBI the previous 13 games.

“That’s because this is my city,” De La Cruz said on Bally Sports Ohio. “My first time in the U.S. was here. When I was a little kid, I liked the city. I used to say I was born here. This is my city; L.A. is my city.”

With 30 stolen bases, by far the most in MLB, De La Cruz has more stolen bases by himself than 19 teams.

Asked about his stolen base goal, he said, “Eighty-plus. I just go out there to have fun every game, play hard every day.”

At his pace, he’ll run right past 80 and steal close to 120.

For sure, De La Cruz has refined his approach in the batter’s box without changing his swing.

“It’s the same swing, the same one,” he said. “I’m being more patient at the plate, taking bad pitches and looking for good pitches to hit. It’s going pretty well.”

There were 53,527 in Dodger Stadium on Shohei Ohtani Bobblehead Night and the parade of Reds pitchers held him to a walk and a stolen base. The crowd was the largest to see an MLB game this season.

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