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Jun 16, 2024 6:26 am

Reds await more potential surprises from Brewers

joey ortiz reds

A warning to managers facing the Milwaukee Brewers this season: the bunt sign might actually be the home run sign.

Saturday in Milwaukee, Brewers leadoff man Joey Ortiz squared to bunt in the fifth inning of a scoreless tie, hoping to advance teammates Jackson Chourio and Brice Turang from first and second base, respectively, with no outs.

He fouled the pitch from Cincinnati Reds’ lefty Andrew Abbott back to the netting. Ortiz took the next pitch for a ball, then changed his mind about the bunt on the third pitch of the at-bat.

Ortiz swung and crushed Abbott’s changeup 398 feet for a home run to left-center, giving the Brewers the three runs they would need for a 3-1 victory to square up this series with the Reds. The teams will play the series finale on Sunday.

Brewers manager Pat Murphy said the play was the fourth time this season that he’d given the bunt sign, then have his batter switch things up and hit a home run instead.

“It’s happened four times now, so I think it’s a thing,” Murphy said. “Three times no, but four times — it’s a thing…. Sometimes, in the pitcher’s mind, ‘Hey this guy’s bunting, I’m not as concerned about the edge (of the plate)’.”

The Brewers held on to win, thrilling a home crowd that saw legendary hip-hop entertainer Snoop Dogg — in town for a concert Saturday night at the nearby Potawatomi Casino — throw out a surprise first pitch before watching the game with the Brewers’ broadcasters.

Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz amazed the crowd in the second inning with a backhand and a strong throw across his body to gun down Milwaukee’s speedy Turang, causing Snoop Dogg to exclaim: “Who is that with that rocket? Oh Lord, he’s got a rocket in his pocket.”

Cincinnati manager David Bell wasn’t surprised.

“If it’s possible to make those plays look easy, (De La Cruz) did,” Bell said. “But it’s not lost on us watching those plays. Nobody else makes that (Turang) play.

“I’m constantly evaluating our defense, and I believe in the importance of it. Our approach is good.”

The defense is one reason the Reds are 9-4 in June, while the National League Central-leading Brewers have won just five of their past 11 games. The Reds posted a 6-5 win on Friday.

In Sunday’s series rubber game, Milwaukee’s Colin Rea (5-2, 3.31 ERA) is scheduled to oppose the Reds’ Frankie Montas (3-5, 4.55) in a matchup of right-handed starters.

Rea has struck out 48 hitters in 70 2/3 innings. He is 4-0 lifetime against Cincinnati but with a 5.47 ERA over six appearances (five starts). He has given up 29 hits and struck out 29 batters in 26 1/3 innings against the Reds.

Montas has made two career starts against the Brewers, with an 0-1 record and 7.56 ERA spanning 8 1/3 innings.

Milwaukee’s bullpen has been excellent of late, with opponents hitting just .180 in the June against Brewers relievers, who have pitched to a 1.94 ERA over the month as of Saturday.

“Our relievers, they shut this Reds team down, and the Reds are hot and they’re good,” Murphy said. “Our defense was great today. Offensively we’ve got a ways to go, but we’ll get it back, we’ll get our edge back.”

– Field Level Media

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