Shohei Ohtani’s walk-off single in 10th sends Dodgers past Reds

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On Sunday, Shohei Ohtani delivered an exciting finish for the Los Angeles Dodgers by hitting a walk-off single in the 10th inning. This clutch hit secured a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, adding another memorable moment to Ohtani’s remarkable career.

Early Game Highlights

Andy Pages started the game strong for the Dodgers, hitting a two-run homer early on. This gave the Dodgers a good lead, and they managed to keep the pressure on the Reds throughout the game. This victory marked the Dodgers’ 20th win in their last 26 games, demonstrating their dominance as they took three out of four games in this series against Cincinnati.

The Dramatic Finish

The 10th inning was where the excitement peaked. With the game tied, Will Smith came in as a pinch hitter and drew a one-out walk from Reds’ pitcher Alexis Diaz. Diaz then got Mookie Betts to fly out, but Ohtani stepped up and hit a single to right field, allowing Jason Heyward to score the winning run. This clutch hit by Ohtani sparked a loud celebration at Dodger Stadium, and his teammates showered him with water in jubilation.

Ohtani commented on his game-winning hit, saying through an interpreter, “I was looking to just put the ball in play, so I’m glad it worked out well. We dropped the first game of the series, so we really wanted to finish strong.”

Ohtani’s Walk-Off History

This walk-off hit was only the second in Ohtani’s Major League Baseball career. His first walk-off hit was an 11th-inning single for the Los Angeles Angels in a 6-5 win over Houston on September 4, 2020. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts praised Ohtani, saying, “He’s had a lot of big hits for us, but the first walk-off, certainly at home, was exciting.”

Ohtani’s Performance

Ohtani’s performance this season has been outstanding. This game marked his 21st multi-hit game, the most in MLB. He has been particularly impressive in May, hitting .393, which is the third-highest batting average among hitters with at least 20 at-bats in the month. Only Kevin Pillar (.447) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.407) have higher averages.

Cincinnati Reds’ Struggles

On the other side, the Cincinnati Reds have been struggling. Stuart Fairchild had two hits for the Reds, but it wasn’t enough to secure a win. The Reds have lost 15 of their last 18 games and have dropped seven consecutive series.

Key Performances and Injuries

Anthony Banda, who was recently acquired by the Dodgers from Cleveland, made a notable debut. He got three straight outs in the 10th inning, securing his first win since May 28, 2022, when he was with Pittsburgh. Banda has had a journeyman career, pitching for several teams including the Blue Jays, Yankees, Nationals, and Dodgers, while also spending time in the Guardians’ minor league system.

Cincinnati reliever Emilio Pagan had to leave the game abruptly in the ninth inning after throwing three straight fastballs to Jason Heyward. Pagan’s sudden departure forced Alexis Diaz to step in, who then struck out Heyward to send the game into extra innings.

Hunter Greene’s Performance

Hunter Greene, pitching in his second career start in his hometown, struck out eight batters and allowed only four hits into the seventh inning. Greene grew up in the Los Angeles area, receiving youth coaching at Compton’s Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy and playing high school baseball in Sherman Oaks. Reflecting on his performance, Greene said, “Just one pitch got the best of me, but other than that, I felt like I was pretty focused. Obviously, it’s not fun that we’re going through it, but we’re just going out there and trying to compete and do our best.”

Dodgers’ Pitching Strategy

Landon Knack started the game for the Dodgers, giving up one run on three hits over 4⅔ innings in his fourth major league appearance. Knack was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City for this spot start, seemingly to give regular starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto a full week of rest. Knack noted, “When you play for an organization that has as much talent as this one, you have to understand how your opportunities are going to be, and you just have to take them.”

Game Developments

Freddie Freeman got a single in the fourth inning, setting the stage for Andy Pages to hit a two-run homer off a poor slider from Greene. This was Pages’ fifth home run of his rookie season, giving the Dodgers an early lead.

The Reds were finally able to score after being shut out for 16 consecutive innings at Dodger Stadium. In the fifth inning, Fairchild and Santiago Espinal hit back-to-back doubles, scoring the Reds’ first run. Espinal’s hit was a catchable drive that fooled Dodgers’ outfielder Teoscar Hernandez.

Cincinnati managed to tie the game in the seventh inning. Pinch-hitter Spencer Steer, who had been struggling with an 0-for-16 slump, drew a bases-loaded walk on nine pitches from Dodgers’ pitcher Alex Vesia. Despite the pressure, Vesia was able to escape the inning without further damage.

Final Thoughts

The Dodgers’ victory over the Reds, thanks to Ohtani’s walk-off single, was a thrilling end to an intense game. Ohtani’s performance continues to impress, and the Dodgers’ strategic decisions, along with key contributions from players like Andy Pages and Anthony Banda, highlight the depth and talent of their roster. On the other hand, the Reds’ struggles persist, and they will need to find ways to overcome their recent difficulties as the season progresses.

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