There will be October baseball for the Cincinnati Reds. Who will they play? Where will they play? When will they play? Those questions might not be answered until Sunday.
Shin-Soo Choo lined a shot off the wall in left to score Devin Mesoraco from third base in the 10th inning, lifting the Reds past the Mets 3-2 at Great American Ball Park on Monday.
Minutes later, as the Reds returned to the clubhouse, they got word that the Cardinals beat the Nationals 4-3. With that result, the Reds clinched their third playoff berth in four years, something this franchise hasn’t done since the days of the Big Red Machine in the 1970s.
Cincinnati will win at least one of the two wild cards, something it has never done. It could still win the division. The Cardinals (92-65) lead the Reds (90-67) and Pirates (90-67) by two games with five to play.
“Out of respect to the other teams that don’t have a chance to be where we’re at, we’re excited obviously,” shortstop Zack Cozart said. “(The wild card) is not our No. 1 goal. We’re still in the division hunt. We’re excited to clinch that one spot, but we’re not happy with just the wild card. We’re still within striking distance of the Cardinals.”
The Pirates beat the Cubs 2-1 to remain tied for second with the Reds. All game long the Reds watched the scoreboard with interest, something they’ve been doing for weeks, if not months — and it’s not the Kiss Cam that interests them.
“That scoreboard is there,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “You wish you could take it off until the end of the game.”
By the time the 10th inning rolled around Monday at Great American Ball Park, it’s unlikely the Reds were worried about any other score but their own. They had their hands full with the Mets.
After getting a runner to third with no outs in the ninth and failing to score, the Reds came through in the 10th. Mesoraco started the winning rally with a single off Mets third baseman David Wright’s glove. Derrick Robinson then bounced a single over the first baseman’s head, moving Mesoraco to third with one out and setting up Choo’s heroics.
”We kept threatening and threatening,” Reds manger Dusty Baker said. “You always say pressure busts a pipe. You just keep that pressure on them. Sooner or later, you’re going to score. That’s what happened.”
Whether the Reds won or lost this game, they got good news in the performance of Johnny Cueto. He threw five innings last week in his first start back from the disabled list and lasted seven this time.
The Mets got one run off him in the third, an unearned run thanks to a throwing error by Todd Frazier. Cueto made only one big mistake all night, giving up a game-tying home run to Lucas Duda in the sixth.
Mets at Reds, 7:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410