Elly De La Cruz aims to power Reds to another win vs. Yankees

Elly De La Cruz and Aaron Judge put on a show Tuesday night, but only one star emerged victorious.

While De La Cruz’s performance left his Cincinnati Reds teammates in awe, Judge’s most recent homer occurred in a frustrating loss for the New York Yankees.

After a 2-for-5, two-RBI night in an impressive Yankee Stadium debut on Tuesday, De La Cruz — a switch-hitting shortstop — will attempt to help the Reds clinch the three-game series on Wednesday night against the host Yankees.

The Reds opened the series with a 5-4 victory Tuesday thanks to De La Cruz. He tripled from the left side of the plate in the fourth inning and scored Cincinnati’s first run before hitting a 425-foot, two-run homer as a right-handed hitter in the fifth.

“It almost seems when we get on stages like this, he steps it up a notch and it’s impressive,” said Cincinnati’s Graham Ashcraft, the winning pitcher in the game. “He’s playing great, and he’s starting to get on his stride. He has games where it’s unbelievable, and it almost seems like game after game where he’s starting to put stuff together. It’s fun to watch him play.”

De La Cruz ended Tuesday as the first player in team history with at least 15 homers and 40 stolen bases in the first 85 games and joined Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. (2023) and Rickey Henderson (1986, Yankees) as the third player in major history to achieve the feat.

The Yankees are 4-11 since an 8-1 win at Boston on June 14 left them with a 3 1/2-game lead in the American League East. They enter play Wednesday one game behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles.

Judge hit his major-league-leading 32nd homer and had three hits to raise his batting average to .321, but the Yankees were held to six hits as Anthony Volpe, Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo went a combined 0-for-11.

“What he’s doing, it’s I don’t know — I’m going to get in the thesaurus because I’ve used all the other adjectives I can hold,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Judge, who hit .220 in April before heating up.

De La Cruz and the Reds next will face left-hander Carlos Rodon (9-5, 4.42 ERA), who is attempting to halt an ugly streak after a 9-2 start.

Since pitching seven innings of one-run ball June 10 at Kansas City, Rodon is 0-3 with a 13.18 ERA over his past three starts.

Rodon last pitched Thursday in a 9-2 loss at Toronto when he allowed eight runs on 10 hits in five innings.

Rodon is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA in three career starts against the Reds. He took the loss in his most recent outing against them when he allowed three runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 5-1 setback while pitching for the San Francisco Giants on May 27, 2022.

Fellow lefty Andrew Abbott (7-6, 3.41 ERA), who has won consecutive starts and is 4-1 with a 3.71 ERA in his past five outings, will take the mound for Cincinnati on Wednesday. Abbott gave up two hits, survived six walks and allowed two runs in five innings in an 11-4 win at St. Louis on Thursday.

Abbott was a 36th-round pick of the Yankees in 2017 out of high school before going to the University of Virginia and becoming Cincinnati’s second-round pick in 2021. He has never faced the Yankees.

–Field Level Media