Elly De La Cruz Is Back to Doing Elly De La Cruz Things

The Cincinnati Reds star had his first two taters of 2024 on Monday night

Elly De La Cruz reacts after hitting an inside-the-park home run.

Elly De La Cruz is electric when he has it going for the Reds.

By Evan Bleier

Last season in Major League Baseball, breakout star Elly De La Cruz made his debut with the Cincinnati Reds and became just the second player since at least 1900 to have a single, double, triple, homer and stolen base within their first three MLB games, according to Elias Sports Bureau. (Bill Bruton of the Milwaukee Braves is the other.)

A rare combination of power, speed and showmanship, De La Cruz was a human highlight machine in 2023 and helped the Cincinnati return to respectability with an 82-80 record on the season. The 2024 campaign has only just begun, but the Reds once again find themselves sitting two games above .500 after a win on Monday night that was sparked by De La Cruz notching his first two home runs of the season.

With the Reds leading the visiting Brewers 8-3 in the fifth inning, De La Cruz launched a 450-foot drive off Milwaukee righty reliever J.B. Bukauskas that looked like it could have blocked out the moon over Great American Ball Park, echoing the the solar eclipse earlier in the day. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, De La Cruz hit a low line drive up the middle that Brewers center fielder Sal Frelick attempted to snare with a diving catch. Frelick’s effort failed and De La Cruz was off to the races for the first inside-the-park home run of his career, rounding the bases in just 14.96 seconds and beating the throw to home plate by a step. 

Considering the Reds only ended up winning by a 10-8 margin, De La Cruz’s pair of solo home runs were absolutely critical. They were also pretty damn entertaining. “I think running around the bases [is my biggest thrill],” De La Cruz said. “When I saw him miss the ball, I say, ‘I’m going home.’ It is my mentality. I always think about the extra base. I feel great when I’m running the bases. That’s electric. That’s electrifying for the whole stadium and that’s what I like. The fans like that. And I like it.”

De La Cruz, who’s now hitting .297 with a .961 OPS on the year, isn’t the only one.

“The exciting part is to watch Elly run,” said Reds manager David Bell. “It’s incredible. At the same time, we’re looking at the at-bats he had to get in those positions. He’s working so hard at it. It’s nice to see it pay off.”

Certainly is.

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