Elly De La Cruz has stolen his way into the Cincinnati Reds history books…
The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player became the first Reds player since 1919 to steal second, third and home in the same inning, the latest electrifying feat from the franchise-changing rookie.
De La Cruz broke a 5-5 tie with the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh inning with a two-out RBI single off Elvis Peguero, then got to work making the reliever’s life miserable. He stole second. Then, on a 1-2 pitch from Peguero (1-2), he swiped third without a throw.
The rattled reliever caught the ball from his catcher in front of the mound and turned his back as he walked slowly toward the rubber. Pausing only to put his helmet back on, De La Cruz walked down the third-base line, broke into a sprint and easily beat Peguero’s rushed throw to the plate.
“I kept checking on him, checking on him to see if he was going to go back or if he was checking on me or anything like that,” De La Cruz said through a translator. “When I saw him walk back to the mound, he was at kind of at a slow pace. He didn’t look back over there at third, so I decided there to go.”
De La Cruz bounced up in jubilation and skipped toward the dugout, leaping to high-five his teammates.
After Joey Votto made the last out, Peguero was booed off the field. Cincinnati ended up winning the game 8-5.
De La Cruz became the first player in the past 50 years to steal three bases in a single plate appearance. The last player to steal all three bases in the same inning was Miami’s Jon Berti in a 3-0 win at the New York Mets on Aug. 25, 2020.
“It’s on all of us really, on all of us,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “It was a good baseball by him. We weren’t aware enough, like, all over the place, on the field, in the dugout, everywhere.”
Reds manager David Bell could only marvel at the rookie’s derring-do.
“It’s so much fun to watch, so much fun to be part of,” Bell said. “It’s one of those plays that’s so rare, especially on two pitches to steal a base like that. The speed is obvious, just elite speed like maybe we’ve never seen, but also how heads-up it was.”
The surging Reds, who were 27-33 when De La Cruz was promoted from the minors June 6, improved to 23-7 since and expanded their lead over Milwaukee in the NL Central to two games.
De La Cruz has 16 stolen bases in 30 games and went 2-for-5 Saturday to improve his batting average to .328. He’s the first player in MLB history with at least 40 hits and 15 stolen bases in his first 30 career games in the majors, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The shortstop’s only blemish was a nonchalant toss to second for the final out, but the play withstood a replay challenge.
Lucas Sims (3-1) threw 1⅓ innings of scoreless relief, Jonathan India‘s sacrifice fly in the ninth gave the Reds a three-run lead, and All-Star Alexis Diaz got the last three outs for his 26th save in 27 chances.