June 19, 2024

Frankie Montas pitches 7 1-hit innings, Elly De La Cruz homers in Reds’ 4-1 victory over Rockies

Colorado Rockies' Ezequiel Tovar pops out against Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Frankie Montas during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 4, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By JACK MAGRUDER Associated Press

DENVER (AP) — Frankie Montas took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Elly De La Cruz hit a 448-foot homer and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Elias Diaz broke up Montas’ no-hit bid with a double to center field to open the seventh, but Montas (3-4) retired the next three batters to conclude his outing and win for the first time since April 3.

“If I said no, I’d lie,” Montas said when asked if he was aware of the no-hit bid. “If I would have thrown a no-hitter, that would be dope. My arm is feeling really good. Definitely back to healthy Frankie.”

Montas became the first visiting pitcher in the history of hitter-friendly Coors Field to throw at least seven innings with nine or more strikeouts while allowing no more than one hit, according to OptaSTATS.

Hideo Nomo of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw the only no-hitter at Coors Field on Sept. 17, 1996, the first of his two career no-nos. The ballpark with the spacious outfield and mile-high elevation opened the prior season.

“I knew since the first inning,” Montas said. “I haven’t really been striking out people, and after I struck out those two guys in the first inning I was, ‘OK, my stuff is really playing tonight.’ I was just focusing on attacking the guys and letting my stuff play.”

Montas struck out nine, including Ezequiel Tovar and Ryan McMahon to end the first, while relying on a fastball that consistently reached 97 mph. He struck out six on heaters and threw 96 pitches, 63 for strikes. Fernando Cruz replaced him in the eighth.

“He did a really good job mixing it,” McMahon said. “He stayed out of the heart of the plate. When a guy is throwing 97 with a good mix of pitches, it is a tough one to cover. He was changing the shape on his sliders, and they were all coming out pretty similar.”

Brendan Rodgers broke up the shutout with a two-out double in the ninth inning against Buck Farmer after Diaz singled and took second on defensive indifference.

The Rockies had two runners on base in one inning, the fifth, after Brenton Doyle reached second on fielding and throwing errors by third baseman Jeimer Candelario on the same play and Jake Cave walked. Montas got Hunter Goodman on a routine fly to right field to end the frame.

Reds first baseman Spencer Steer dropped Doyle’s two-out foul pop in front of the Colorado dugout with two outs and Diaz on second in the seventh, but Montas got Doyle on a groundout to third.

“All the credit goes to him,” catcher Luke Maile said, “but his last bullpen day in Chicago, we had a good hour-plus-long talk, breaking down sequences and what we are trying to get into. It was excellent work by him. His attention to detail and how hard he works, it’s fun to be a part of.”

Steer doubled in a run in the first inning off Ty Blach (2-3) and De La Cruz hit his 10th homer of the season in the third for a 2-0 lead. De La Cruz had been 1 for 18 with nine strikeouts in the first four games of the Reds’ current trip.

Tyler Stephenson, Stuart Fairchild and Steer had two hits apiece for the Reds, who have won three of four and seven of 10. The Rockies have lost four in a row.

The Reds have outscored the Rockies 13-3 in the first two games of the series.

ACES UP

Evansville beat East Carolina on Monday to win its first NCAA regional, and Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland, a Purple Aces alum, could not be happier. Freeland and his wife, Ashley, donated about $3 million in May to build a clubhouse for the program.

“That program shaped me to be the man that I am today, the player that I am today, the person that I am today,” Freeland said. “I’m very grateful for that university.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: OF Blake Dunn had his contract purchased from Triple-A Louisville and 1B/OF Nick Martini was optioned to Louisville on Tuesday. … RHP Emilio Pagan (triceps) is expected to have one more bullpen session before being activated from the injured list. He was eligible to return Tuesday.

Rockies: Freeland (elbow) threw 40 pitches in a live batting practice session Tuesday. “Full arsenal,” he said. “Felt great.” Freeland is to pitch next in the Arizona complex league and could return before the All-Star break. … OF Kris Bryant (sore ribs) missed his second straight game. … OF Nolan Jones (back, knee) was the DH on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Reds RHP Graham Ashcraft (4-3, 4.76 ERA) was to oppose Rockies RHP Dakota Hudson (2-7, 5.02) in the finale the three-game series.