McCoy: Reds rally falls short vs. Rockies

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

One run short. One big rally, but one short. One big swing of the bat needed, but one run short.

The Cincinnati Reds, down four runs in the ninth inning, staged a big-time rally against Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Jalen Beeks.

They scored three times to cut the lead to one. And they had the potential tying run on third base.

And they had the right man walking to home plate — All-Star Elly De La Cruz.

But there would be no Elly Effect, no Elly Element. He grounded to short to end it, a 6-5 loss to the 32-60 last-place Rockies.

The Reds were put into that dire ninth-inning strait because Reds starter Frankie Montas served up a couple of gopher balls to Sam Hilliard.

When Hilliard made his major league debut with the Rockies in 2019, he crushed a 455-foot home run in his first game.

It remains the longest home run hit by a player in his first major league game.

Since then, though, he has been up-and-down, mostly down in the minors, including most of this season.

Hilliard was recently recalled from the minors and was 2 for 11 with five strikeouts entering Wednesday’s game in Great American Ball Park.

And he was batting ninth.

But in his first two at bats Wednesday, he homered twice. Neither traveled 455 feet, just 344 and 382, but they drove in three runs.

The first one, the 344-footer, was to right field, a two-run shot on a 2-and-1 91 mph cutter in the third inning to give the Rockies a 2-0 lead.

The second one, the 382-footer, was to left center, a solo affair on a first pitch 85 mph cutter to give the Rockies a 3-1 lead.

The Rockies scored one in the sixth when Montas walked Brenton Doyle and he scored on Jake Cave’s double to right.

Brent Suter started the eighth and gave up three straight singles on seven pitches, a run scoring on Doyle’s single to make it 6-2.

That one run turned out to be gigantic.

Tyler Stephenson led the ninth off with a home run, chasing relief pitcher Victor Vodnik and bringing in Beeks.

The Reds saw him in Coloardo and they scored five late-game runs off him ... and history nearly repeated itself.

Austin Slater, playing his first game for the Reds, singled for his second hit and Noelvi Marte singled for his third hit.

Rece Hinds flied to right, but Santiago Espinal singled home Slater and it was 6-4. Jonathan India flied to right, a sacrifice fly that made it 6-5.

But there would be no heroics from De La Cruz.

To make matters worse, there was the seemingly daily base-running blunder. With the Reds down, 5-1, in the seventh, Stephenson shot one into the right field corner with no outs.

For some head-scratching reason, third base coach J.R. House waved for Stephenson to keep running for a triple attempt.

To call it unwise, is gross understatement. Stephenson is no Elly De La Cruz and was out from here to way over there.

Colorado starter Kyle Freeland was 0-3 with a 6.62 earned run average, but the veteran 31-year-old left-hander had the Reds knuckling under, a devastating knuckle curve. He struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings, one off his career best.

But the Reds extracted eight hits off him, collecting hits in six of seven innings. Nevertheless, the only run off him in the first six innings was a third inning solo home run by India.

A one-out double by Marte, and a run-scoring single by Hinds chased Freeland in the seventh and pulled the Reds within 5-2.

Then came the big, big run off Suter in the eighth and the just-short Reds rally in the ninth.

The Reds had won eight straight over the Rockies, including the first two of this four-game series, and had won 12 of the last 13 in GABP against Colorado.

And the Rockies were 12-33 away from Coors Field, the worst road record in MLB.

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