McCoy: Opportunity knocks for Reds, who complete sweep of Angels

Former Cincinnati Reds manager Jack McKeon had a favorite saying: “When Mr. Opportunity knocks, you walk over, open the door, and say, ‘Come on in.’”

The current Reds have opened that knock on the door with regularity this season, none so prevalent as during Sunday afternoon’s 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

It completed a three-game sweep and was their eighth straight win over Angels teams.

The Reds were helpless against the Angels’ Jose Soriano for five innings. Not only did they not have a run, but they also didn’t have a hit against the right-hander making his third major-league start.

Then Mr. Opportunity knocked in the sixth and the Reds rushed to the door and opened it wide.

It began with the Reds’ first hit, a one-out infield hit to second base by Elly De La Cruz. Spencer Steer lined out for the second out. Nick Martini grounded to second, the apparent third out. But Mr. Opportunity was present.

Second baseman Luis Rengifo booted the ball for an error. Instead of an inning-ending grounder, the Reds had two on with two outs.

With the door wide open, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 0 for 6 in the series, crushed a two-run double off the center field wall and Jeimer Candelario tripled to make it 3-0.

Encarnacion-Strand entered the game batting .182 and Candelario was hitting .183. Both missed games last week with illnesses. Jonathan India and Jake Fraley were absent Sunday with illness.

First baseman Encarnacion-Strand and third baseman Candelario each started startlingly good double plays. CES executed the difficult 3-6-3 double play in the fourth. Candelario made a backhand stop of a sizzling grounder and started an around-the-horn 5-4-3 double play in the sixth.

“Every day, every single day I work on my defense,” said

Candelario during a post-game interview with Bally

Sports Ohio. “I want to get better. I want to help my team win in many, many ways. That’s what I’m doing, and I’ll keep working hard so I can do it every single day.”

And Mr. Opportunity knocked on the Reds’ bullpen gate and the relief corps swung it open and invited him in.

Reds starter Frankie Montas was knocked out of the game in the first inning when the third batter, Taylor Ward, lined one off Montas’ arm. He left the game with a forearm contusion.

The bullpen seized the opportunity and completely shut down the Angels. Brent Suter pitched 3 1/3 innings (four hits), Emilio Pagan pitched two innings (one hit), Fernando Cruz pitched one inning (one hit, one walk), Lucas Sims pitched one inning (one walk) and Alexis Diaz closed proceedings with a perfect ninth.

“We’ve got warriors here,” said Candelario, talking about the bullpen. “We had guys in the bullpen ready to throw some zeros. They set the tone, put us in a great position to win a ballgame.”

Mr. Opportunity knocked on the Angels door, but it never was opened. They stranded five runners in the first five innings, two each in the first and second and the Reds turned those two double plays in the fourth and sixth innings.

Montas walked the leadoff batter, Aaron Hicks to start the game. He reached third on two ground balls and Suter walked Miguel Sano, putting runners on third and first. Suter struck out former Red Brandon Drury.

Two one-out singles in the second put Angels on third and first, but Suter struck out Zach Neto and Hicks lined out to right field.

The Angels’ best chance surfaced in the seventh against Cruz when he walked the leadoff hitter and issued a one-out single to Nolan Schnauel, placing runners on second and first.

Cruz escaped by inducing a fly ball from Neto and by striking out Hicks.

The Angels were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine. LA’s superstar outfielder, Mike Trout, was invisible all three games — 1 for 12 with seven pop-ups or shallow fly balls to the outfield.

Soriano baffled the Reds with knuckle curves and close to 100 mph fastballs.

He struck out the side in the first and retired the first nine line in order. The Reds’ first baserunner was a leadoff walk to Elly De La Cruz in the fourth and he reached third base on two ground balls before Encarnacion-Strand popped out.

The first two Reds reached in the fifth when Candelario was hit by a pitch and Tyler Stephenson walked. But Santiago Espinal struck out trying to sacrifice bunt and Luke Maile lined into a double play.

Then came the sixth and Cincinnati’s three-run game-winning three-run inning.

With the sweep, the Reds improved to 12-9 with an upcoming four-game series in GABP against the Philadelphia Phillies, beginning Monday night.

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