The city of Cincinnati is abuzz. The Reds are riding high. And people outside of Cincinnati are taking notice, too. Last night saw Elly De La Cruz hit for the cycle in just his 15th game played. Joey Votto crushed two home runs for the first time in 21 months. The Reds came back from a 5-0 deficit to beat the team with the best record in the National League. It extended their winning streak to 12 games.

Joey Votto of The Cincinnati Reds

On Elly De La Cruz:

I’ve never seen anything even remotely close to this. He is not from this world.

Has there been a better switch-hitting, speed, power guy? The only comp I can think is Mickey Mantle, a young Mickey Mantle. And that’s unfair to put on Elly, maybe one of the greatest players of all time. Elly’s got plenty of time to entertain the fans, but he hit a ball off the wall today as hard as I’ve seen anybody hit a ball. And then he’s trying to score on a pick. And he almost did – you had to get a perfect throw from a gold glove caliber first baseman. There’s no comparison. I’ve got nobody to compare him to. There’s no precedent I’ve seen in my experience. How lucky are we here in Cincinnati to have him? He, like every player, is going to go through stretches where he’s going to have to adjust and refine his game. But just the core of it, the base of what he has, it’s out of this world.

On the Reds:

If I were a paying fan, this is a team I show up for. This is a team I want to sit in the stands and watch live. This is not a sell – my contract is guaranteed so it doesn’t move me – but truly, the television doesn’t do it justice. Watching these guys live is just bigger, faster, dirtier. The game is faster. This is the most enjoyable version of baseball I think I’ve ever seen.

I’m hitting 6th on the team, happily because I get to watch what’s going on in front of me. I’m not in the way. I get to watch these guys zoom around the bases, take the extra base.

It is a real enjoyable experience playing with these guys. And I’m not just saying this because we’re in the middle of a nice streak. If we had a different record or if we were in a losing stretch I would say the exact same thing because the way these guys play is just different. It’s different. When I put my baseball fan hat on, it’s the version of baseball that I think I’d love to show up for.

While what Votto said certainly holds a lot more water than anything else, others also have some thoughts about the Reds, Votto himself, and Elly De La Cruz.

Matt Snyder of CBS Sports

Something special has happened in the ensuing months, though. Remember that Friedl walk-off above? If we start with that game, the Reds have gone 34-20. Only the Braves and Giants have better records in all of baseball in that span and both are only 1/2 game better than the Reds.

The fans are noticing, coming out in droves, and are a pleasure to watch. Great American Ball Park had a sellout 43,086 in attendance Friday night. That April 24 game had a reported attendance of 8,810 and it looked a lot more sparse than that. The fans Friday created an atmosphere that brought out superlatives like “electric” and “rocking.” Rightfully so! It was all that and more.

You can read the full piece here. You can also watch Matt Snyder and Hakem Dermish talk about Elly De La Cruz’s historical night here.

David O’Brien of The Athletic (Braves beat reporter)

Ben Clemens of Fangraphs

The Reds are so much fun that I thought about making an entire five things column out of things I’m loving in Cincinnati these days, but I think we just call that an article, so I’m going to settle for writing about one of the best parts of their recent winning streak. As fun as it’s been to see the baby Reds gain confidence and romp to the top of the NL Central, there was something missing. All these kids are fun, but they were missing the team’s best player in a generation while he rehabbed in preparation for what will almost certainly be his last ride.

I started to get excited when Joey Votto’s goofy bus driver persona resurfaced. But I won’t lie to you: I was worried that he might not fit in as well as hoped. The infield was already packed with contributors, and Votto might lead the team to some tough playing time decisions they didn’t really want to make. He wasn’t even that good last year! It was definitely not preordained that everything would work out.

Clemens included this in his five things article for the week and it certainly would appear that he wrote it prior to last night’s game since he didn’t mention Votto’s two home runs. Still, Votto’s return has him feeling good.

12 Responses

  1. David

    The winning is great, the team is truly exciting and fun to watch.
    The winning streak is really remarkable.
    I am thrilled for all the players and the legion of Cincinnati Reds’ fans that have suffered through years of lousy teams and mediocrity, at best, in others.
    The starting pitching is a weakness, but I have no easy answers.

    And lastly, I am glad that Joey Votto is back. He was playing with a lot of pain for years, until it just got to be too much for him last year. He had a serious surgical procedure, which could have been the end. But he worked hard at rehabbing, because Joey is s grinder and hard work does not deter him.
    And now he is back and has had a great week. I am so glad for him, in particular.

    “This field, this game, reminds us all of what was once good, and could be again.
    People will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

  2. Mark Moore

    Joey’s post-game may have been the best ever (so far). He reflected a veteran’s perspective with enthusiasm and awe at what’s being accomplished. I’m glad you wrote about it, Doug.

    I bought my City Connect gear (shirt and hat) and it will arrive by the middle of the week. Happy belated Father’s Day to me 😀

    I keep having to remind myself that no matter what happens the rest of this weekend, we’re watching a young, talented team who is in it for all they’ve got to give. It’s beyond something special. And so unexpected.

  3. Mark Moore

    Lineup is posted. Senzel and Newman in to hopefully mash the LHP. Joey at 1B and Steer in LF. Friedl will have a lot of ground to cover with Senzel in RF, but I get it. Casali in to coach Ashcraft through his first start back. Now we just wait for the transaction report.

    • LarkinPhillips

      I assume it will be Bracho or Busenwitz (sp?) Going back down. Also got to root for the lookouts today. A win today or smokies loss and the Lookouts win the first half of season division.

  4. Melvin

    Funny thing is, this team hasn’t “peaked” by any means. It’s not even playing with all of it’s best players. CES in the lineup last night would have made it not just very good but awesome. There are ways to get him regular playing time. I don’t know why they haven’t done it yet. Add him and Chapman if at all possible and this team becomes scary for any team to face. We have good starters. Just need to get them all up and back from injury. I would think Phillips will be called up to AAA soon with Hinds and Marte not far behind. What a huge lift it would be if Phillips became as successful in the bigs as Abbott has been.

  5. Soto

    +1000 Melvin. The trick will be to continue to improve while not disrupting the mojo and not giving up the wrong future pieces. Enjoy the ride! Unleash CES!

  6. Kevin Patrick

    I’m so surprised by so much. What’s next? Seriously! I had been feeling pretty good after St. Louis and Kansas City. I was getting kind of giddy after the Houston series. The Colorado up through now time I’ve been wandering around my house aimlessly listening to all things baseball news on the radio with brief trips to rewatch the highlights. I’m anxious and numb all at the same time. Lets all badmouth Ashcraft, Newman, and Senzel so that they can make us all look stupid and prove why they belong on the all star team too.

  7. Cincinnatus Rex

    You know the Reds are fun when even the post-game interviews are popcorn-worthy. Votto’s pressers these days are filled with raw emotion, rooted in sheer disbelief of this team’s meteoric chemistry. GO REDS

  8. MBS

    So Lively is dealing with a peck issue, and is a no go tomorrow. Phillips is scheduled to start today. It would be cool to see him not make that start, and instead take Lively’s spot tomorrow.

  9. Scott C

    The best thing about these Reds is the fun they are having. The Fur cape, the curved bat, India and De La Cruz posing with each other. None of that was there last year, the best thing last year that happened was a high five. These guys are fun to watch and they are having fun, and that started before they were winning.

  10. CFD3000

    Regardless of what you hoped for, we all knew Matt McLain might struggle to adapt to the majors. No matter what you wished for, we all knew Andrew Abbott might get clobbered by MLB hitters. Despite the hype, we all knew Elly De La Cruz might need some seasoning to mature into an impact player. No matter how good he was as a rookie, we all knew that Alexis Diaz’ success last year was a bit unexpected and might not be repeatable. And no matter how good Joey Votto has been, he keeps getting older and he just had two major surgeries, and we all knew he might not be an impact player ever again.

    But for the first time in a looong time, our doubts and our questions have been resolved with almost universal success. Matt McLain is a little dynamo. Andrew Abbott is mature beyond his experience. Elly De La Cruz is indeed a video game star. Alexis Diaz is Lights. Out. And Joey Votto Still Bangs. And that’s just five of the 26 Reds astonishing us against our not unreasonable fears, night after night.

    I do not know if this will last. I do not know if Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft, and Nick Lodolo will make this club even better. I do not know if CES or Phillips or other hot young prospects will join the party. I do not know if India and Steer and Fraley and Stephenson and Friedl and Benson and most of the bullpen will continue to be solid contributors. I do not know who will get hurt, or when. But I do know this stretch has been an entertaining, captivating, glorious surprise and a gift from the Reds to Cincinnati and beyond. And I can’t wait to see what happens next. Go Reds!

  11. Will the Red

    Going forward, Krall and company will be earning their money to manage the roster in a way that continues to support the development of the “kids,” but also enables them to keep being successful on the field. A challenge to be sure, but something we, as fans, are here for!