McCoy: Reds finally win a series in September

Cincinnati Reds' Kyle Farmer, left, celebrates his grand slam home run against the Washington Nationals with teammate Nick Castellanos during the sixth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
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Cincinnati Reds' Kyle Farmer, left, celebrates his grand slam home run against the Washington Nationals with teammate Nick Castellanos during the sixth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Credit: Jay LaPrete

Credit: Jay LaPrete

Farmer’s grand slam another memorable moment in a successful season for him

September is not a month to remember for the 2021 Cincinnati Reds. Entering the month, they had control of the second National League wild card spot.

But they let it slowly slip away by failing to win a series against nine straight opponents, some of them not very good opponents.

It isn’t over, but the only way to discern that the Reds are still breathing for that wild card spot is to hold a mirror under their noses.

The St. Louis Cardinals won their 16th straight game Sunday and lead the Reds by six games with six to play. One St. Louis win or one Reds loss and the Reds are eliminated.

On Sunday, though, it was a memorable day for Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer. In fact, it has been a memorable year for Farmer.

He crushed his first career grand slam home run in the sixth inning, turning a two-run lead over the Washington Nationals to a five-run lead and the Reds scored a 9-2 victory.

It was their third win in the four-game series, stopping the streak of nine series without winning one.

And it made certain that Tyler Mahle would win his 13th game and prevent the bullpen from blowing a Mahle win. The bullpen has blown eight saves for Mahle, tops in the National League.

Mahle pitched six innings and gave up no earned runs on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts, fluffing his ERA down to 3.54.

Mahle reached 204 strikeouts, but is prouder about not missing a start and pitching 175 2/3 innings.

“I’m very proud of the strikeouts,” he said, “but what is most meaningful is that I made all my starts and threw more innings than I have in the last few years. That’s what made me able to get 200 strikeouts. Without that, I wouldn’t have reached 200, so I’m more proud of that.”

It was a memorable day for rookie pitcher Dauri Moreta. He made his major league debut, replacing Mahle in the seventh. He faced four hitters, walked one and struck out one. He was one of 25 pitchers used by the Reds in the series — the most pitchers used in a series in club history.

And it was a semi-memorable day for Asdrubal Cabrera. After going 0-for-22 in a Reds uniform, he banged two singles Sunday.

And it was memorable for Delino DeShields. He was on base five straight times with two hits and three walks.

The Nationals scored first in the fifth inning, an unearned run on a rare error by rookie second baseman Jonathan India.

India made up for it leading off the next half-inning with a leadoff double. He scored on Tyler Stephenson’s home run and Nick Castellanos followed with a home run to make it 3-1.

And Farmer’s grand slam put the exclamation point on it.

Spring training began with the Reds in a frantic panic in search of a shortstop. Farmer got the early look, but the Reds decided to move Eugenio Suarez from third base to shortstop late in the spring.

Farmer? He worried he might not make the team. But Suarez was a failure at shortstop, so the team moved him back to third and returned Farmer to shortstop.

And Farmer firmly grabbed the opportunity and never let go. He played outstanding defensively and was one of the team’s best clutch hitters.

If the guy had any faults, it had to be dandruff, and that’s doubtful.

Manager David Bell firmly grasps what Farmer went through to get done what he has done.

“Really, it’s the first opportunity he’s had to play every day and he has stepped up, stayed ready, a great attititude the entire time,” said Bell. “He knew in his mind, he should be playing. He only needed the opportunity.

“If didn’t have a great attitude during that time, he wouldn’t have made the most of it. We’re just seeing who he is now, that kind of player he is.”

Farmer was more direct and more succinct when asked if he was proud of himself for overcoming any doubts the club had about him this spring.

“Oooh, yeah, I could talk about that all day,” he said. “It all starts with keeping a positive attitude and waiting for your opportunity and making the most of it.

“Be positive, stay with it, trust the process,” he said., “If I was a negative person, I’d probably be out of this game by now, with what I’ve had to go through. Baseball is an up-and-down game and you never know when you’ll get your shot.”

He finally got his shot and he took dead-aim and is hitting bulls-eyes.

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