The Real McCoy

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy shares his thoughts on the Cincinnati Reds
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McCoy: Ervin’s walk-off bomb lifts Reds to extra-inning win over Giants

Pat Kelly was a man caught in the middle — should he go left or should he go right or should he stay right there in the middle.

Kelly is the bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds, manager Jim Riggleman’s right hand man. On Friday night, Kelly’s son, Casey Kelly was San Francisco’s starting pitcher against the Reds.

“In a perfect world, you want Casey to pitch six perfect innings and then have your team beat their relief pitchers,” said Pat Kelly. “As a competitor, you want your team to win. But you’re a dad and you want your son to be successful.”

It wasn’t perfection. It was escapism. Kelly gave up nine hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings, but only one run and left with a 1-1 tie as the Reds stranded seven runners while he was in the game.

Coach Kelly got what he wanted — a decent performance from his son and a win for the Reds, and what a dramatic win it was.

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Phillip Ervin, who entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter, cracked an 11th-inning leadoff walk-off home run over the left center wall to give the Reds a 2-1 victory.

Ervin, the Reds No. 1 draft pick in 2013, has had a long, rough road to the majors, still trying to show he can make it. With outfielders Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler on the disabled list, Ervin is getting a strong look and making himself noticed.

Pat Kelly could have pled the fifth amendment when asked if he furnished his son with tips on how to pitch to the Reds or if he told the Reds what to expect from his son.

Instead, the laughed it off.

“I told the Reds that he is a 5-foot-9 side-armer,” said Kelly, knowing his son is 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and throws in a conventional manner.

“Our guys wanted to know if he could hit or not,” said Kelly. “I went to breakfast with him and he wanted to know about our hitters. It was a pretty quiet breakfast.”

Kelly didn’t have to face Ervin, but he did face his old teammate at Sarasota High School, Scooter Gennett, who had three hits in the game, collected two off Kelly.

The real pitching conversation piece should have been Cincinnati starter Anthony DeSclafani. He pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up one run and only six hits. But his teammates couldn’t provide him any run support.

Joey Votto was placed on the disabled list before the game so manager Jim Riggleman had a scrambled lineup. He played catcher Tucker Barnhart at first base, his debut at that position.

And for the first time since April 26 Billy Hamilton batted leadoff instead of ninth. 

Hamilton led the first inning with a single to extend his hitting streak to nine games. But Kelly picked him off first base, costing the Reds a possible run when Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez both singled before Preston Tucker ended the inning with a fly to right.

The Reds scored in the second on Tucker Barnhart’s double and a single by catcher Curt Casali. The Giants tied it in the third on Steven Duggar’s double and Andrew McCutchen’s single.

Through the first eight innings the Reds stranded nine runners and left at least one on in every inning.

DeSclafani retired the first two in the eighth before McCutchen singled. DeSclafani struck out Alen Hanson on a pitch in the dirt, but the ball eluded catcher Casali and Hanson reached first and McCutchen took second.

Riggleman brought in ground ball guru Jared Hughes and sure enough to coaxed an inning-ending ground ball from Buster Posey.

The Giants put runners on third and first with two outs in the 10th against Raisel Iglesias but Alen Hanson struck out on three pitches.

Ray Black pitched the 10th for the Giants and struck out the side — Jose Peraza, Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez — with a barrage of 99 miles an hour fastballs.

Black, though, went to a slider to Ervin, leading off the 11th, and the game was quickly over, Ervin’s first major league walk-off home run.

After DeSclafani left, the Reds bullpen of Jared Hughes, Raisel Iglesias (two innings) and David Hernandez provided 3 1/3 scoreless innings as the Reds ended a four-game losing streak with their sixth walk-off win this season.

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