September 27, 2022

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Reds show more fight with homers vs. LA

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LOS ANGELES — As Dodger Stadium slowly but surely filled with energy for the Dodgers’ Opening Day festivities, the Reds tuned out the pandemonium that came from live music bands and fighter jets on Thursday.

It was business as usual, with the hankering to add more numbers under the win column.

The Reds swung hard against Dodgers ace Walker Buehler in the first two innings. Three hard-hit balls scattered throughout the outfield showed there’s definite pop in the Reds lineup. Then, the fly balls found a landing zone over the outfield wall late in the game.

Cincinnati continued its recent efforts to spring up momentum for a comeback, although the result mirrored the others. After tying the game at 3, the Reds lineup couldn’t match the Dodgers’ timely hits, as they fell to Los Angeles, 9-3.

Aristides Aquino and Brandon Drury supplied the long-distance power to erase the Dodgers’ lead that was established in the first inning against Luis Cessa. The right-hander was tagged for three earned runs among the 22 pitches he tossed against seven batters in one inning.

“It was a really good game,” manager David Bell said. “Aquino with the big home run. Drury came into the game and tied it. Just a lot of good things happened, especially getting down 3-0. We’ll take our chances when we play a game like that.”

With the Reds trailing by three and two outs in the sixth, Aquino fell into an 0-2 hole quickly. By fouling and laying off the subsequent four pitches from Dodgers ace Walker Buehler, Aquino’s patience paid dividends when a 93.5 mph fastball was left over high and inside.

Aquino snapped out of his streak of seven strikeouts in seven plate appearances with a bang — more specifically, a 403-foot home run to center field with a 104.1 mph exit velocity.

The blast put the Reds within a one-run striking distance. Given that Reiver Sanmartin had only surrendered two hits in his five relief innings, the Reds were tasked to tie the game without Jonathan India in the lineup. The shortstop was removed from the game in the fifth inning after sustaining a right hamstring injury when trying to beat the throw to first on an infield hit.

“So far, we think it’s not bad,” Bell said. “Even to the point of coming in and getting treatment tomorrow. It might be just a day. That was really great news because you just never know. It’s definitely a hamstring. The fact there is even discussion of him playing in the next couple of days is all I needed to hear.”

Though India has had a slow start to the season, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year flashed glimpses that his bat was heating up with two hits in three at-bats Thursday night.

“With everything last year, I think he’s doing well,” catcher Tyler Stephenson said. “I obviously don’t have the insight. I’m obviously hoping that it’s nothing, it’s something minor.

“With the stuff nagging last year, I know he doesn’t want to come out of a game, that’s a fact. He was upset about that. Obviously, I’m hoping it’s nothing serious. Just from talking to him, he seemed optimistic and positive. That’s a good thing.”

Drury took over India’s spot in the lineup after he was assigned pinch-runner duties in the fifth. His moment, however, came at the plate in the seventh inning against David Price.

Drury worked the count in his favor against the left-hander as the first three pitches landed as balls. When Price let out his fifth pitch, the sinker stayed over the middle for Drury to hammer it 401 feet to center field.

Though the bullpen unraveled in the bottom of the eighth, as the Dodgers’ heavy-hitting lineup erupted for six runs to break the tie, the silver lining was Sanmartin’s scoreless five innings out of the bullpen.

The southpaw was looking for a bounceback performance after his last outing ended in 2 1/3 innings with five earned runs to his name. Sanmartin was unaware of when his number would be called during the game, but the temporary change from a starter to reliever didn’t phase him against the Dodgers.

“I was told that I was going to pitch today — I could’ve been coming in in the first or second or wherever, so I kind of knew that I was going to be prepared for any moment,” Sanmartin said. “I just went through my routine and felt like it was normal.”

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