Machine-like Reds power to sweep of Pirates

Naquin's leadoff jack helps Cincinnati set club mark of 57 runs through 6 games

April 7th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- Relentless and highly unforgiving to opposing pitchers, a confident Reds offense keeps chugging at a rate that eclipses even the best teams from the Big Red Machine era.

was at it again with a home run. So was . And kept up with his torrid pace of driving in runs. All three players -- and a couple of others -- had key contributions as Cincinnati completed a series sweep of the Pirates with an 11-4 win on Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park. The Reds outscored Pittsburgh, 30-8, over the three games.

"It’s incredible just to see these guys hit. This team has been amazing to watch," said starting pitcher , via interpreter Jorge Merlos.

Cincinnati, which has won five straight, is off to a 5-1 start and its 57 runs scored are the most in franchise history through the first six games of any season. The 1976 World Series-winning Reds held the previous record of 51 runs. Those 57 runs are also tied for the sixth-most through six games since 1901, and the most since the 1999 Indians.

“It’s amazing," India said. "The energy we have in this locker room and this team, we play with heart. We play with a lot of pride. We’re just a bunch of ballers out there, that’s the bottom line. We know how to play baseball.”

Castillo was the only Reds pitcher to miss out on the fun last week when he was roughed up for 10 runs by the Cardinals on Opening Day in the team's lone loss. The right-hander rebounded nicely while throwing seven scoreless innings, yielding just four hits and one walk with five strikeouts -- throwing an efficient 81 pitches.

The Reds staked Castillo to a 5-0 first-inning lead. For the second game in a row, Naquin hit a leadoff homer to left field on the first pitch from Pirates starter Chad Kuhl. Following a throwing error that let Castellanos reach second base, Kuhl walked three straight batters to force home a run. India added a sacrifice fly and Kyle Farmer delivered a two-run double to left field.

Farmer was thrown out after rounding second and trying to get back, giving Castillo a nice cushion before he took the mound in the second.

"Gosh, that's pretty devastating. Luis is nasty," said Farmer, who started at shortstop for Eugenio Suárez. "His stuff was working everywhere today. He was throwing Wiffle Balls up there. When your offense is putting up runs, it takes the pressure off the pitcher. Just get outs, no matter how you do it."

As Castillo zipped through the Pittsburgh lineup, the Reds kept pummeling the opposing pitchers.

In the fifth inning, Castellanos led off with a first-pitch homer to right field against reliever Chris Stratton. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Reds are the fourth team in MLB history -- and the first since the 2010 Blue Jays -- to have two players with at least four homers through the team’s first six games of the season.

The RBI statistic has been diminished in recent years because it often says more about the opportunity rather than the hitter. But India gets excited about those chances.

There was one out when India hit a two-run single to left field to give him 10 RBIs for the young season. That tied him for fifth all-time for players in their first six big league games.

"If you want to be in the lineup every day, you have to produce for your team," India said. "That’s how you win ballgames. I just make it a point to lock it and do anything in my power to get a run across.”

For good measure in the eighth, Tyler Stephenson and Aristides Aquino slugged back-to-back solo homers.

All of this production has come from a team that was last in the Majors in 2020 in team batting. It clearly hasn't been all because of home runs as Cincinnati ranks second in the National League with 65 hits.

Now, the Reds have to take the show on the road for six West Coast games against Arizona and San Francisco.

"All of our players have been through a long season before," manager David Bell said. "They understand. The intensity is good, the determination to win games is there, and by no means do I sense any sort of let up. Guys are way too smart for that. They know what’s ahead of us. It’s important to play well for sure, and then the challenge, as in any season, is to keep that going and work towards the consistency.

"But I think it is OK to be excited and to feel good about how we played, and feel good about how we started the season, and to be able to do it at home and having fans back in the stands. It’s been a good week"