Iglesias' slam punctuates 10-run inning
Nine Reds players cross plate in same frame for first time since 1975
CINCINNATI -- When the Reds were hitting poorly throughout the first half of the season, the front office thought about adding offense before the Trade Deadline. Even if the Reds remains buyers going into the 4 p.m. ET Deadline on Wednesday, their offensive issues might already be solved.
Cincinnati’s lineup roared Monday as it scored 10 runs in the second inning and muscled out an 11-6 win over the Pirates at Great American Ball Park to extend its winning streak to three games. At 49-55, the fourth-place Reds picked up a half-game on the idle National League Central co-leaders, the Cardinals and Cubs, to sit 6 1/2 games out of first place. The Pirates, losers of nine in a row, are four games behind the Reds.
“We've talked from the beginning of the year that I said it because I meant it -- I do believe in our offense, I do believe that it's going to happen,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It would not surprise me if we finished the year really strong because of the guys we have.”
Stepping in after scheduled Pirates starter Jordan Lyles was traded to the Brewers, Alex McRae was roughed up in his first big league start when the Reds rallied in the bottom of the second. It all started when hot-hitting rookie Josh VanMeter led off with a double, and it didn’t end until 14 batters stepped to the plate.
Scooter Gennett drove in VanMeter with an RBI double, which made it a 1-1 game. Gennett scored the go-ahead run on Tucker Barnhart's one-out RBI single and Joey Votto hit a two-run single with the bases loaded. But the biggest hit of all came from José Iglesias, who slugged his second grand slam of the season by hitting out a 1-0 pitch from reliever Montana DuRapau to make it a 10-1 game.
“It was great,” Iglesias said. “My teammates put very quality at-bats [together], got in a position to score for me. I was very happy and fortunate to get it done for them."
Every Reds player in the starting nine crossed home plate in the 10-run frame. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time Cincinnati had nine or more different players score in one inning was Sept. 3, 1975, against the Dodgers.
Reds starter Sonny Gray pitched 5 1/3 innings, but saw his five-game streak of quality starts end as he was charged with four earned runs, six hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts. Gray allowed Starling Marte’s two-out solo homer in the first inning and Brian Reynolds' leadoff homer in the fifth. In the sixth, after Gray turned it over to the bullpen, reliever Wandy Peralta gave up a grand slam to Colin Moran.
As the Reds hang on around the rural outskirts of the division race, having yet to gain some real momentum, it could be overlooked that they’re currently leading the NL in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage since the All-Star break.
Although three games at Coors Field certainly helped, the Reds have kept hitting as they’ve won five of their last seven games. While Eugenio Suarez has hit eight of his 28 homers in the second half, and guys like Nick Senzel and Yasiel Puig have maintained extended stretches of good hitting, others are starting to come around.
• After religiously choking up on the bat the past few seasons, Votto has had his hands down by the knob for several games. His overall numbers are down with a .263 average and .748 OPS, but he’s had six multi-hit games since the break.
• Barnhart, who was batting .191 when he went on the injured list with a right oblique strain on June 28, is 6-for-10 in three games since returning. After his three-hit game in Sunday’s win over the Rockies, he noted that he made an adjustment to his batting stance that allowed him to see the ball longer and make his decision on whether to swing later.
• Gennett, who returned from missing three months with a severely strained right groin, was hitting .150 over his first 13 games. In his last six games, he’s batting .348 (8-for-23) with five RBIs. He feels he’s getting backspin when pulling the ball and driving it hard, whereas he was getting topspin and weak contact before.
“I think it’s slowly coming around,” Gennett said. “Certain things came up since I came back where I said, ‘Man, I wouldn’t have done that if I was locked in.’ Lately, I’d say half of my at-bats have gone the way I’d expect them to when I’m going right. I’m gradually getting back to where I’m used to being from the past two years. I knew it was inevitable for me to start hitting the ball again.”
Down at the bottom of the NL in batting most of the season, the Reds are now 10th with a .246 average.
“The willingness to continue to find ways to get better and adjust at this level in the middle of the season, it's not always easy to do, but our guys are doing it,” Bell said. “That gives me confidence that we can finish strong.”