CINCINNATI -- Scooter Gennett wasn’t supposed to be in Tuesday’s Reds lineup.
A brief rain storm on Monday caused the Reds’ batting practice to be cancelled, meaning Scott Schebler couldn’t test his left shoulder that caused him to leave Saturday’s game.
Reds manager Bryan Price had already planned on giving Adam Duvall the day off in left field and starting Patrick Kivlehan. Price wanted Schebler to have a full workout under his belt, so instead of putting Duvall back in the lineup, he decided to give Gennett the start in left field.
So on a day that he wasn’t even supposed to start, Ryan Joseph “Scooter” Gennett became the first Cincinnati Red and 17th Major League Baseball player to hit four home runs in a game.
He also became the first player in Major League history to have four home runs, five hits and 10 RBI, as the Reds cruised to a 13-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nobody expects to hit four home runs in a game, but Gennett didn’t even come to the ballpark knowing he’d be in the lineup.
“I’m glad I was, though,” Gennett joked afterwards.
He’s not alone.
“When you’ve got Scooter on your team, everything’s easy,” Reds starter Tim Adleman joked after he went seven innings allowing just one run on three hits to earn his fourth win, and he was pretty much an afterthought as reporters waited for Gennett to finish stripping down to his underwear so that every single thing he wore – aside from his underwear – could be authenticated by Major League Baseball officials.
By the time Gennett spoke to reporters, he still didn’t have the words to describe his historic night.
“That’s something I never thought I would do,” Gennett said. “Even three home runs would be too crazy for me.”
It wasn’t but a day earlier that four hits, much less four homers, sounded far-fetched. Gennett was 0-for-his-last-19 heading into the seventh inning of Monday’s game against the Cardinals when he hit a two-run double that end up being the difference in the team’s 4-2 Reds victory.
In his first at-bat on Tuesday, Gennett blooped a single to left to score Billy Hamilton from first with two outs in the first to put the Reds in front of Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals. It was just his sixth hit in 25 at-bats against Wainwright in his career.
Gennett came to the plate in the third with bases loaded only because Cardinals manager Mike Matheny decided to give back an out and take a run off the board. With one out in the inning and runners on first and third, Eugenio Suarez hit a sacrifice fly to right field. The replay clearly showed the ball hit the wall before Cardinals right fielder Stephen Piscotty caught it. Instead of falling behind 2-0 and having two outs, Matheny challenged it, putting Zack Cozart back and third and Suarez back at the plate. Suarez ended up walking to load the bases. Gennett still would have come up in that situation, but with two on and and two outs.
Although he’d never homered against Wainwright, Gennett hammered a 92-mph fastball 404 feet to right-center for his second career grand slam, putting the Reds up 5-0.
An inning Later, Suarez hit a two-out bases-clearing triple, chasing Wainwright from the game. Gennett once again went to a full count, this time against right-hander John Gant, and again he got a fastball. This one he sent to center field to make it 10-0.
Gennett faced Gant again in the sixth, this time hitting a 3-1 pitch down the left-field line for his third homer of the game, doubling his season total, and drawing a curtain call from the 18,620 fans at Great American Ball Park.
At this point, with the Reds leading 11-0, all that was left to do was the math, to see if and when Gennett could get to the plate again.
The Reds would need just one batter to reach for Gennett to get a chance at history. But the next two batters in the sixth went in order. The Reds then went three-up, three-down in the seventh.
But then Schebler, who entered in the seventh in right field and in Joey Votto’s spot, came up. Schebler, whose absence allowed Gennett to start, then worked a walk, allowing Gennett to get another at-bat (as long as Suarez didn’t hit into a double play, which he didn’t).
“I didn’t even think about it, because I didn’t know exactly where he was in the order,” he said. “I was watching the game, but I wasn’t really instinctually seeing the lineup and all that. I guess that may have helped me that I didn’t put pressure on myself.”
Gennett watched the first pitch go by for a strike. He swung at the second one and went down to a knee as he missed. He said he didn’t really swing that hard, it just looked worse because his hand got stuck in his batting glove and his top hand flew off the bat.
The third was a 93-mph fastball from John Brebbia. He didn’t miss.
“Just by the noise of the barrel,” Brebbia told reporters afterward, “I thought what that sounds like, sounds like I’m not going to use that ball again.”
Gennett said he just laughed as he rounded the bases. He, like everyone else, couldn’t believe that of all the players that have played for baseball’s first professional team, from Frank Robinson to Johnny Bench to Tony Perez to George Foster to Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn, not to mention Schebler, Duvall and Votto, that it was Scooter Gennett, born in Cincinnati, that became the first ever Red to hit four home runs in one game.
“It really is (special), especially when you think of a guy like me, not a huge guy,” said the 5-foot-10 Gennett, who was claimed off of waivers by the Reds in the waning days of spring training. “That’s baseball. It’s not how big or strong you are, it’s how efficient and sometimes lucky.”
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