CINCINNATI -- Banged up and battling back soreness much of this month, Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer had been out for three straight games. Although Farmer isn't a big star in Cincinnati’s lineup, his team missed him.
"Our team feels different when he's not playing," Reds manager David Bell said before Thursday afternoon's game. "He’s a really good player, but even beyond statistics, what you can see, he just means a lot to our clubhouse and makes the players around him better. It is difficult to describe, but our players know it, feel it, and our staff does. He’s a big part of our team, and he makes us better in ways you can’t quantify."
It was certainly quantifiable on Thursday vs. the Cubs. Farmer went 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs and collected five RBIs as the Reds pounded out a 20-5 win at Great American Ball Park to gain a split of the four-game series with Chicago. It was Cincinnati's most runs scored in a game since 1999.
"The last game in Toronto [on Sunday], I was hurting really bad with some inflammation in my back. I had to take some time off, get a [cortisone] shot and had some rest and recovery," Farmer said. "That was really good for my back. It’s always good to take time off for your legs as well."
After Hunter Greene was touched up for two runs in the first inning and another in the top of the second to put Cincinnati down, 3-0, Farmer provided a critical reply in the bottom of the second inning.
On an 0-2 slider from Cubs lefty Justin Steele, Farmer launched a drive to center field for a two-run homer. The Reds then pounced for an eight-run bottom of the third, with Tommy Pham's RBI double tying the game and Tyler Stephenson's bases-loaded two-run single putting Cincinnati ahead. Eleven batters came to the plate in the rally.
Farmer was the only Red not to score in the third inning. Against newly installed reliever Scott Effross, he dropped a sacrifice bunt that moved runners to second and third base.
"There was really no panic," Farmer said. "We have a lot of faith in Hunter. If you give him a lead, he can cover it. Good work that he grinded it out."
The big inning picked up Greene, who gave five runs on two walks and seven hits -- including three homers -- over his five innings, but still notched his first victory since his big league debut on April 10.
"Definitely don’t want to dwell on my performance today. Obviously, it’s not how I wanted it to go," Greene said. "I’m really happy with these guys. They made it easy today. It was really nice to see them get on the board early. They didn’t let up the whole game."
Greene gave up two homers in the top of the fifth inning to Willson Contreras and Ian Happ, but Farmer led off the bottom half by hitting lefty Brandon Hughes' 0-1 fastball into the first row of seats near the left-field foul pole to make it an 11-5 game. The long ball gave Farmer his first career multihomer game.
During a five-run bottom of the eighth -- with Cubs shortstop Andrelton Simmons pitching for the first time in his career -- Farmer added a two-run infield single that was knocked down up the middle. He tied career highs with his four hits and five RBIs.
Over a six-game hitting streak, Farmer is batting .545 (12-for-22) with five extra-base hits and eight RBIs. It's helped him raise his overall average from .193 to .250, and he now has a .250/.303/.402 slash line in 37 games this season.
It was May 2021 when Farmer was elevated from a career-long utility role off the bench to become the Reds' everyday shortstop.
"He’s just Mr. Reliable," said center fielder Nick Senzel, who also went 4-for-4, reached safely six times and scored three runs. "He’s a spark plug for us. He’s a leader for us. He’s had to work his way into that spot. He’s continued to work and work and work, and he’s earned everything that he’s got. It’s no surprise to us that he’s done what he’s done."
Even after a 59-minute rain delay before the top of the sixth inning, the Reds did not stop pouring on the offense at the Cubs' expense. The last time they reached 20 runs was a 22-3 win at Philadelphia on Sept. 4, 1999.
Cincinnati hit nine homers in that game. On Thursday, Farmer's were the only two long balls needed.
"Getting him a few days off, he came out today and was definitely energized," Bell said. "Everything can seem more clear when you get away from it for a day or two."