McCoy: Candelario cracks two HRs, Reds top Red Sox

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox staged their version of baseball’s Boston Tee-Off Party in the first three innings Friday night in Great American Ball Park.

The first five runs all came on solo home runs, three by the Reds and two by the Red Sox.

Two of the Reds came off the torrid bat of Jeimer Candelario, the second providing the impetus for a 5-2 Reds victory.

It concluded Boston’s five-game winning streak and wins in seven of their last eight. And with the Chicago Cubs’ loss to the New York Mets, the Reds scrambled out of last place in the National League Central into fourth place.

Cincinnati starter Andrew Abbott gave up home runs in the second and third innings, then nothing more. The Red Sox managed only two more hits off the Reds’ left-hander, who struck out a season-high 10 in 5 2/3 innings.

He gave up an infield single to Romy Gonzalez to open the seventh and he took second on a passed ball charged to catcher Luke Maile.

Abbott struck out the next two to protect the 3-2 lead, but the second strikeout came on his 90th pitch. Manager David Bell decided that was enough on the monstrously hot 90-degree night.

He brought in Fernando Cruz to face right-handed Connor Wong and Cruz struck him out.

The Reds scored two insurance runs in the eighth when the defensively deficient Red Sox defense made three errors.

Candelario hit one home in March, two in April and three in May and was hitting .189 at the time. In June he has hit eight homers and lifted his batting average to .255.

It was his second two-homer game of the month and the sixth of his career.

“I’ve been working real hard this whole season to find my rhythm, put the barrel on the ball and finally I’m getting better every single day,” he said during a post-game interview with Bally Sports Ohio.

“I just can’t wait to get up and contribute to the guys and do some special stuff today against Boston, a very good team,” he added.

Candelario first home run came on a fastball from Boston starter Kutter Crawford. And he didn’t learn his lesson. He tried to sneak another fastball past Candelario on the first pitch of his second at bat.

Candelerio hit the second one farther than the first one.

“I want to be ready when the pitcher makes mistakes,” he said. “I want to attack pitches in the strike zone and for me it is getting my reps the right way.”

Candelario was not head-hunting for a fastball after his first home run came on a fastball and he said, “No, I was not thinking about a fastball. I was thinking about being early (with his swing) and being able to swing at strikes I just look to put myself in a good position to drive the ball.”

He drove those two home runs like a PGA golfer on a tee box.

And here is the chronology of the five home runs, the first five hits of the game:

REDS FIRST: Candelario hit a 2-0 91 mph fastball 373 feet into the right field bleachers. Reds, 1-0.

RED SOX SECOND: Connor Wong hit a 1-and-2 98 mph fastball 375 feet over the left field wall. Tied,1-1.

REDS SECOND: Jonaathan India hit a first-pitch 93 mph fastball 370 feet over the left field wall. Reds, 2-1.

RED SOX THIRD: Jarren Duran hit a 0-and-1 84 mph change—up 401 feet into the right field bleachers. Tied, 2-2.

REDS THIRD: Candelario hit a first-pitch 91 mph fastball 410 feet high into the right field bleachers. Reds, 3-2.

It stayed 3-2 until the Red Sox played fumbleball and throw-it-away in the eighth and the Reds scored two insurance runs.

It began with Santiago Espinal’s routine grounder that second baseman Emmanuel Valdez threw over the first baseman’s head for error No. 1.

Luke Maile pushed a hit-and-run double over the first base bag, sending Espinal to third. T.J. Friedl, a man of many talents, dropped a first-pitch bunt. Pitcher Cam Booser, who just entered the game, threw it over the catcher’s head for error No. 2 as both Espinal and Maile scored to make it 5-2.

Just to show that the Red Sox add meaning to the term defensive indifference, third baseman Rafael Devers heaved a throw past the fiirst baseman on Spencer’s Steer’s two-out grounder.

That was error No. 3 in the inning. The Red Sox lead MLB in errors with 55.

After Cruz replaced Abbott with a strikeout, Sam Moll pitched a perfect seventh with a strikeout, Nick Martinez pitched a scoreless one-hit eighth and Alex Diaz annexed his 17th save with a scoreless one-hit ninth.

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