Reliever Matt Wisler balked in free runner Mark Kolozsvary with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Cincinnati Reds a 2-1 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays Friday night.
Wisler (2-3) was facing pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin with runners on first and third when Wisler appeared to flip his glove to his catcher to ask for new signs when home plate umpire Edwin Moscoso immediately jumped from behind the plate and called the balk and pointed Kolozsvary home.
It was the third walk-off win in seven games for the Reds, who had none before last Sunday’s win over Atlanta.
The Rays had a golden opportunity in the top of the 10th against Reds reliever and winner Joel Kuhnel (1-1) when Josh Lowe singled free runner Francisco Mejia to third with none out. But Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer took over, throwing out Mejia at the plate on a Yandy Diaz grounder to short and then catching a looping liner to short by Wander Franco and stepping on the bag to double up Lowe at second.
For the first six innings, the game was the pitcher’s duel expected from staff aces Shane McClanahan of Tampa Bay and Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo.
The Rays broke out on top in the third when Ji-Man Choi singled sharply up the middle with two outs, scoring Diaz from third for a 1-0 Tampa Bay lead. The liner narrowly escaped the pitching hand of the Reds ace right-hander, as Castillo waved at the line drive.
Brandon Drury connected on his team-leading 18th home run when he got the green light on a 3-0 count against McClanahan. He drove the 95-mph fastball 423 feet to the facade of the upper deck in left to tie the game 1-1.
But a walk to Tommy Pham, McClanahan rebounded to retire the next 10 Cincinnati batters before leaving the game after six innings. He allowed just the Drury solo home run and two other hits while striking out eight and walking two.
McClanahan became the first pitcher in American League history with 11 consecutive starts of at least six innings, at least seven strikeouts and less than three earned runs allowed.
Castillo kept pace with McClanahan, striking out eight while walking one over seven innings. Castillo retired 13 of his final 14 batters faced following Choi’s RBI single in the third.
In his last three starts, Castillo has allowed just two earned runs and 15 hits over 20 innings, good for an 0.90 ERA.
The much-maligned Reds bullpen came through with its third strong effort in four games. Alexis Diaz struck out three batters and yielded a walk in the eighth in his return from a right biceps tendon injury, and Hunter Strickland pitched around a pair of two-out walks in a scoreless ninth.
–Field Level Media