With the score tied, 2-2, Steer led off the ninth with a double into the left-field corner. He took third on a wild pitch and scored on Jonathan India’s full-count infield hit to second base.
While it was an exciting finish, it was a meaningless game between two teams going nowhere, just Cincinnati’s 52nd win in 130 games.
The real story was the major league debuts of infielder Steer and pitcher Fernando Cruz.
When manager David Bell is gifted with new toys, he unwraps them and immediately puts them in play. That was the case Friday with Steer and Cruz.
They were the two September call-ups by the Reds and were thrust right into the center of Friday’s activities.
Steer, 24, is an infielder obtained from the Minnesota Twins in the trade that sent pitcher Tyler Mahle packing.
Steer was at third base Friday and worked a 10-pitch walk from Colorado Rockies pitcher Kyle Freeland in his first major-league at bat.
In his second visit to the batter’s box, Steer steered a home run over the center-field wall for his first major league hit. And he walked again in his third at bat. And in the ninth his leadoff double led to a victory.
The Reds heart-tugging story is the one owned by the 32-year-old Cruz. He was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2007 and until Friday had not thrown a major-league pitch.
In fact, from 2015 until the Reds signed him this year, he had not played in organized ball. To keep his dream alive, he pitched in his native Puerto Rico, in Mexico, in Venezuela, in the Dominican Republic and in independent ball.
And his debut? Sensational. Bell replaced starter Luis Cessa with Cruz in the sixth inning. The Reds trailed, 2-1, and he was asked to face the heart of the Rockies order. He struck out Brendan Rodgers, retired Charlie Blackmon on a fly to left and struck out C.J. Cron.
When the Rockies are on the road, instead of ‘Colorado’ on their jerseys they should wear ‘Cupcakes.’ They came to town with the worst road record in the majors, 20-44.
But they took a 2-0 lead in the third innings against Cessa on a two-run home run by rookie No. 9 hitter Sean Bouchard. And the Rockies put runners on third and second with two outs before Cessa averted more damage by striking out C.J. Cron.
Steer’s home run came in the fifth, cutting Colorado’s lead to 2-1.
Cincinnati threatened to break it open in the sixth when they filled the bases (Steer’s walk loaded the bases), but Jose Barrero struck out.
The Reds tied it when Jake Fraley pinch-hit for Chuckie Robinson and homered leading off the seventh. He was facing relief pitcher Dinelson Lamet and Fraley’s home run almost needed a passport, a 422-foot blast high into the right field moon deck.
Veteran Alex Colome started the ninth for Colorado and Steer pulled his double to left field. Steer took third on a wild pitch while Barrero was batting, then Barrero struck out..
Fraley was intentionally walked. That brought up India, who lengthened his hitting streak to 15 games in the first inning. On a full count, India chopped a slow roller toward second and there was no chance to throw Steer out at home plate.
Both teams came into the game with seven losses in their last 10 games, although the Rockies swept three games from the Reds in Denver in May.
With the one-run win, the Reds are 17-17 in one-run decisions while the Rockies are an extraordinary 20-23 … 43 one-run games.