The stars were all aligned Tuesday night for the Cincinnati Reds in Kauffman Stadium. And when it looked as if all was lost, Joey Votto was, as usual, the brightest star of all.
The Reds were down, 1-0, in the ninth inning when Tucker Barnhart homered to tie it, only the fourth hit all night for the Reds.
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The game rolled into the 10th inning and Votto cleared the bases with a three-run triple, followed by a run-scoring single by Eugenio Suarez and the Reds scored an unfathomable 5-1 victory.
For the first time this season the Reds were playing a team with a worse record than theirs. The Kansas City Royals came in with a 22-44 record to Cincinnati’s 23-43.
And they were facing a pitcher with a Homer Bailey-like record. Ian Kennedy was 1-6 with a 5.76 earned run average. In addition, Kennedy had won only one of his last 26 starts at home.
On the down side for the Reds was that they had lost nine of the last 10 games to the Royals. And Sal Romano started for the Reds and he was 1-4 with a 10.72 earned run average over his last five starts.
Amazingly, Kennedy and Romano engaged in an unbelievable pitching duel.
Kennedy pitched eight shutout innings, giving up three hits and three walks.
Romano? Fantastic. He pitched eight innings, the first Reds starter this year to cover eight innings. He gave up one run and four hits with one walk. His one armor chink was a fifth-inning leadoff home run by Hunter Dozier on a 3-and-2 pitch after Romano had him 0-and-2.
And with the way Kennedy was scything down he Reds, it looked as if that might be enough.
Kennedy left after eight with that 1-0 lead and the Reds were facing Royals closer Kelvin Herrera, he of the 0.71 earned run average.
Barnhart, though, opened the ninth with his home run to right field on a 2-and-2 change-up. Herrera hadn’t walked a runner all year, none over the last 125 batters he faced going back to last season. But after Barnhart’s home run, he walked both Joey Votto and Jesse Winker. But the Reds couldn’t capitalize.
Kansas City’s Kevin McCarthy came in for the 10th and what a bizarre 10th it was.
Jose Peraza hit a grounder to third and Mike Moustakas threw it away, a hit and an error as Perez barely made it to second base.
Billy Hamilton put down an awful bunt, just a couple of feet in front of the plate. Catcher Salvador Perez threw Peraza out at third.
Scott Schebler singled, sending Hamilton to third. And that’s when the Reds caught an incredible break. Barnhart hit one hard back to the pitcher. Hamilton broke for home and pitcher McCarthy threw home. Hamilton tried to retreat to third and was caught in a rundown.
As Alicides Escobar tried to apply the tag, Hamilton jumped to the grass in foul territory and then dove back into third, avoiding a tag. But he was out of the base-line and should have been called out. The umpires missed it and that play is not reviewable.
So Hamilton was safe and the bases were loaded. Votto then unloaded them with his three-run triple and the comeback-of-the year was complete.