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Aquino hits 3 HRs, has 7 in 10 career games

Rookie ties records for HRs after 10 games and in 3 straight innings
@m_sheldon
August 11, 2019

CINCINNATI -- In Aristides Aquino's first three at-bats against the Cubs on Saturday, “The Punisher” indeed punished. Aquino slugged three home runs in the first four innings, and the Reds hit six during a 10-1 rout at Great American Ball Park. Aquino homered in three consecutive innings, tying a Major

CINCINNATI -- In Aristides Aquino's first three at-bats against the Cubs on Saturday, “The Punisher” indeed punished. Aquino slugged three home runs in the first four innings, and the Reds hit six during a 10-1 rout at Great American Ball Park.

Aquino homered in three consecutive innings, tying a Major League record, and he equaled Rockies shortstop Trevor Story's mark with seven homers over his first 10 games with the Reds. He’s the second player in history with a three-homer game in his first 10 big league games, joining Bobby Estalella of the Phillies in 1997.

Box score

"Is that him or is it Eric Davis? I don't know. Right? It's the same number [44],” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “[Davis] used to do that kind of stuff. Pretty impressive. Pretty impressive. Give him credit. I mean, he didn't miss anything. He hasn't missed anything this whole series.”

In fact, Davis and Aquino are the only Reds rookies to homer in four straight games. Davis did it Sept. 3-6, 1984.

“Not only is he hitting home runs, but he’s doing it in really meaningful games,” Reds manager David Bell said. “These games are so important to us as a team, and he’s coming through like that.”

Aquino did it on the same day that Astros rookie Yordan Alvarez also hit three homers, making it the first time in Major League history that two rookies hit three home runs on the same day.

Winners of five of their past six games and 12 of 18, the fourth-place Reds (56-59) trail the first-place Cubs by six games in the National League Central and are 4 1/2 games back in the NL Wild Card race.

The pitching performance of Reds starter Sonny Gray shouldn’t be overlooked. Gray allowed two hits and four walks while striking out seven over six scoreless innings. He didn’t have a Cubs hit on his line over the first four innings, and he ran his scoreless streak to 13 innings, tying his season high. He improved to 7-6 with a 3.10 ERA over 23 starts. Gray also drove in a pair of runs on a single to cap a four-run third.

Leading off the second inning against starter Kyle Hendricks, Aquino pulled a first-pitch sinker into the left-field corner for his first homer. According to Statcast, it wasn’t the usual moonshot that Aquino has often hit. The exit velocity was 87.6 mph, and the ball traveled a projected 344 feet. The drive had an expected batting average of .080.

Fellow rookie Nick Senzel made it back-to-back homers when he followed Aquino with his own drive to left field to stretch the lead to 3-0.

The following inning with two outs on another first-pitch sinker, Aquino hit his sixth homer, also to left field. It sparked a rally of six straight hits during the four-run inning off Hendricks, who was knocked out of the game following a Jesse Winker double.

The new pitcher, Dillon Maples, fared no better in the fourth inning. Two batters after Eugenio Suarez hit a leadoff homer, Aquino went deep again. This time, it was a monster shot that carried well over the visitors bullpen in left-center field to make it a 9-0 game.

Statcast projected the distance of the homer at 452 feet, and it left his bat at 107.4 mph. The Reds' bench was just as excited as the 39,866 fans, who roared for a curtain call, which Aquino obliged with a wave from the dugout steps.

"It's really nice. That’s why I put on a show out there, for the fans to enjoy that,” Aquino said via translator Julio Morillo. “I enjoyed the moment."

Aquino joined Derek Dietrich as the only batters with three-homer games this season for Cincinnati. He is the 29th player in team history to do it, and it has been accomplished 37 times. Aquino is also the first rookie in Major League history to hit three homers in the first four innings of a game, and he tied the MLB record for the most consecutive innings with a home run.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Major League Baseball's official statistician, it has happened 13 times, most recently before Aquino by the Cubs’ Kris Bryant on May 17 vs. the Nationals.

"First of all, the main thing is I'm not focused on my numbers. I don't think about what I've done,” Aquino said. “The thing is to go out and win as many games as we can win."

The team record is four home runs in one game, set by Scooter Gennett vs. the Cardinals on June 6, 2017. That’s also tied for the Major League record.

Aquino had two chances to equal the feat, and the fans were on their feet cheering in anticipation. But during the sixth inning, reliever Alec Mills drew loud boos for walking him on four straight off-speed pitches -- including a rare 3-0 curveball.

"I wasn't thinking about it,” Aquino said. “I was focusing on getting a good pitch to hit. I like to be selective."

In the seventh, Mills struck out Aquino to end the inning.

After Aquino hit 28 homers for Triple-A Louisville this season following a change to an open batting stance in Spring Training, the Reds called him up on Aug. 1. The move came on the heels of the club trading Yasiel Puig to the Indians and Gennett to the Giants. Aquino has started nine of his 10 games in right field and has more than picked up the slack.

“He’s earned his way into the mix,” Bell said. “And he’s contributing a lot to our offense. Losing Yasiel and Scooter in the trades, we need guys to step up. When he’s not hitting a home run every night or two or three like he is, he’s proven that if he stays with his approach and continues to be exactly who he is, he’s good enough to play at this level and contribute in a big way to our team.”

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.