Pitcher’s duels don’t often take place in Great American Ball Park, but that happened on Friday night as Brett Kennedy and Jose Berrios traded zeroes before handing the game over to the bullpens. Cincinnati’s outlasted Toronto’s in this one as the Reds got a walk-off home run from Christian Encarnacion-Strand to top the Blue Jays 1-0.
|Toronto Blue Jays (67-56)
|Cincinnati Reds (64-59)
|W: Diaz (5-4) L: Hicks (2-8)|
|Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread|
Brett Kennedy was tested right out of the gate. Whit Merrifield led off with a single and stole second base with one out. Cavan Biggio then worked a 2-out walk to put two men on, but Kennedy buckled down and got a strikeout to get out of the jam unscathed. In the next inning he’d get into trouble again when Daulton Varsho doubled with one out, but a lineout and a ground out ended the inning and kept the game scoreless.
In the bottom of the 2nd the Reds would get a walk from Spencer Steer to lead off the inning and a 2-out walk from Tyler Stephenson, but a strikeout ended the threat. Toronto got back to it in the top of the 3rd when Brandon Belt singled and then Brett Kennedy hit Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with a pitch. Kennedy was helped out by Matt McLain when he made a diving stop and got a force out at second before a fly out stranded runners on the corners.
Neither team would do much of anything through the 5th. Cincinnati turned the game over to Buck Farmer to begin the 6th and he sat the Blue Jays down in order. The Reds were hitless entering the bottom of the 6th, but Matt McLain picked up the clubs first hit on a hard grounder into center. Elly De La Cruz followed up with a walk to put two men on base with just one out. The Reds would come up short with back-to-back grounders turned into outs.
Ian Gibaut entered the game for Cincinnati to start the 7th and he got three fly outs on 10 pitches to keep the game at 0-0. In the bottom of the inning Tyler Stephenson singled with one out, but he got doubled up when Will Benson popped up on the infield grass and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. let it land before fielding it, then flipped to first base before Whit Merrifield fired to second to get Stephenson with a tag to end the inning.
Lucas Sims took over for the Reds in the top of the 8th. He would strike out the first two batters he faced, but then walked Brandon Belt after a 9-pitch battle. Sims locked in and got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to pop up to end the frame and keep things scoreless. Cincinnati would try to get a 2-out rally going with a single from Matt McLain and a walk from Elly De La Cruz, but a strikeout would strand both runners and push the game into the 9th inning without a run having been scored.
Alexis Diaz trotted out to the mound to face the middle of the Toronto lineup in the top of the 9th. It took a little bit of work, but Diaz put together a 1-2-3 inning to give his team an opportunity to win the game with just one run in the bottom of the frame.
Joey Votto hit the ball hard, but he lined out to right field just short of the warning track. Christian Encarnacion-Strand made sure no on could catch the ball he hit unless they had a ticket as he hit a 411-foot homer into the upper deck in left field for a walk-off home run to seal a 1-0 victory.
WALK US OFF, CES?? pic.twitter.com/W1p3b6eFIS
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 19, 2023
Key Moment of the Game
Christian Encarnacion-Strand giving a souvenir to a fan in the bleachers in the bottom of the 9th.
Notes Worth Noting
The Cubs lost earlier in the day, leaving the Reds in sole possession of second place.
Matt McLain was the only player in the game for either team to have multiple hits. He went 2-4 and pushed his average to .301 on the season.
Brett Kennedy stepped up in a big way for Cincinnati, making a spot start and throwing 75 pitches in five shutout innings. The bullpen followed up with four hitless innings.
Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds
Toronto Blue Jays vs Cincinnati Reds
Saturday August 19th, 6:40pm ET
Chris Bassitt (11-6, 3.95 ERA) vs Brandon Williamson (4-2, 4.33 ERA)