McCoy: Reds take advantage of shaky Dodger pitching in 9-6 win

The Cincinnati Reds wore their black City Connect pajamas-like uniforms in Great American Ball Park Friday night, so perhaps the Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t recognize them.

The Dodgers pitched as if they thought the 2024 Cincinnati Reds, a team with one of the lowest team batting averages in MLB, were the 1976 Reds.

They walked nine and hit two batters that helped the Reds pile up a pile of runs in a 9-6 victory. The Dodgers outhit the Reds, 11-6.

Planted within the free bases were three Reds home runs, including a grand slam home run by Jonathan India that broke a 5-5 tie.

In the first and fifth innings, the Reds scored nine runs on three hits.

LA starter James Paxton entered the game 5-and-0 and hadn’t walked a batter in his previous two starts. But he walked Stuart Fairchild and Jeimer Candelario in the first.

Spencer Steer provided the only hit of the inning, reversing Paxton’s 3-and-1 fastball into the left field seats for a 3-0 lead.

Those three runs in one inning were more than Reds starter Graham Ashcraft was used to getting. They had provided him 2.5 runs a game for his starts.

Ashcraft wasn’t used to the prosperity. He gave up four runs in the top of the second to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.

Two runs scored on Chris Taylor’s double when Taylor was 6 for 62 with 30 strikeouts and all six hits were singles.

Ashcraft also gave up a solo home run to Will Smith in the fifth for a 5-3 lead.

Then came a bizarre fifth inning for the Reds ... six runs on two hits.

Stuart Fairchild started it with a home run. With two outs, Paxton walked Steer on four pitches.

LA manager Dave Roberts opted to bring in Yohan Ramirez, signed a week ago after the New York Mets released him.

And he showed why the Mets jettisoned him. He threw 13 pitches, only one for a strike.

On a 3-and-0 pitch, he hit Tyler Stephenson. He walked Santiago Espinal on a 3-and-1 pitch. He hit Nick Martini on a 3-and-0 pitch, forcing in a run that tied it, 5-5.

That was it for Ramirez, replaced by left-hander Alex Vesia to face Jonathan India. Earlier in the game, India doubled, his first extra base hit in 46 at bats. Against Vesia, he went to 3-and-0 and then 3-and-2 and then explosion, a crushed grand slam home run into the left-field seats. It was the third grand slam of his career and it gave the Reds a 9-5 lead and the game.

“We really needed the win,” said India during a post-game interview with Bally Sports Ohio. “We’ve really been struggling as a team and I’ve been struggling personally.

“It’s gonna turn, I feel it,” he added. “We’re just grinding and we haven’t turned our backs yet. We’re going to give 100 percent every game. We don’t care what our record is (21-30), we’re going to keep playing hard. This game is very hard and I think it’s the hardest game in the world.

“All you do is get your work in, make sure you prepare the right way and stick to your process. Then everything will take care of itself, no matter how bad it is or how good it is.”

After the Reds grabbed the 9-5 lead, Fairchild did his defensive thing in center field, an area he has turned into a no-fly zone.

In the sixth inning, he chased down a line drive hit by Mookie Betts, leaping against the wall to snag a ball that would have hit the top of the wall for a double. With that hit, Betts would have gone 4 for 4.

Fairchild one-upped himself in the seventh. Freddie Freeman led off the inning with a single. Will Smith, whose homer in the fifth gave the Dodgers a 5-3 lead, drove one to deep center. Fairchild fled to the wall, crashed against it as his glove reached over the wall and brought the ball back, preventing a two-run home run.

This was after Fairchild, batting leadoff, walked to open the first and scored. Then he homered on a full count in the fifth, banging the ball off the left field foul pole. And he walked on a full count in the sixth.

“I’ve had some awesome opportunities this year (to make highlight catches), y’know,” said Fairchild. “I’ve improved as an outfielder and I continue to get better.”

When asked which catch was better, he didn’t say what Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays said when asked that same question, “I don’t rate ‘em, I just catch ‘em.” Fairchild, a stand-in in center field for injured T.J. Friedl, catches ‘em all, too, and said, “I think the second one was better. A runner on base, a tougher catch, I had to run a little bit farther and it would have been a homer.”

About the big win, Fairchild said, “It was huge. Obviously, a really good team that we’re playing. It was awesome to see what we’re capable of doing. We just need to keep it going.”

A capacity house of 40,074 stuffed GABP, most of them coming to see Cincinnati’s Elly De La Cruz and LA’s Shohei Ohtani. Amazingly, in a game that produced 15 runs, five homers and 17 hits, neither De La Cruz nor Ohtani factored into anything. De La Cruz was 0 for 3 with a walk and strikeout with two men on. Ohtani was 0 for 4 and stranded four runners.

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