CINCINNATI -- They were shut out twice on the just-completed West Coast road trip, but the Reds’ offense motored to life again back home at Great American Ball Park.
A 10-batter, seven-run burst in the third inning featured another Joey Votto home run as Cincinnati pummeled Cleveland, 10-3, in Friday’s Ohio Cup series opener.
“It’s fun being a part of a lineup like this. I’m not sure if I’ve been a part of a lineup like this in my career,” Votto said. “I’m not sure … so far. It’s very early. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
This is what home-field advantage feels like for the Reds:
• Through seven home games, they are 6-1, including six consecutive home wins.
• The Reds have scored 67 runs in those seven games, an average of 9.57 runs per game.
• The run differential at home is +38, compared to minus-12 on the 2-4 road trip.
• Overall, the Reds lead the Major Leagues with 85 runs and are second with an .827 OPS.
“Yeah, clearly, we were dissatisfied with our road trip, certainly the way it finished,” Votto said. “It’s good to be back. It’s good to play well in front of the Reds' fans in Cincinnati. But we think often about being a dangerous team everywhere. Of course, we want to win as often as possible at home, but we’ve got our eyes on bigger and better things.”
Against Logan Allen, the Reds were retired in order in each of the first two innings and trailed by a 1-0 score. The bottom of the third inning started when Kyle Farmer scorched a ball through the legs of third baseman José Ramírez for an error and Tyler Stephenson was hit on the foot by a pitch. A wild pitch to Jeff Hoffman moved both runners before Hoffman hit a game-tying RBI single into center field.
With that door open just a crack, the Reds burst through as Hoffman’s single was the first of five consecutive hits. Against reliever Phil Maton, Eugenio Suárez pulled a two-run double to left field. On a 2-1 Maton pitch, Votto lifted it the other way for a two-run homer to left-center field -- his third long ball in his last four games -- to make it a 7-1 game.
Entering the night, Votto had struck 14 balls with exit velocities of 100 mph or more, according to Statcast. On Friday, his homer was hit at 103.6 mph and his sixth-inning drive to left field was 104.3 mph -- and just missed being another homer. It went for a double.
“As I mentioned a few days ago, I do have to put the ball in the air more,” Votto said. “Hitting the ball hard is nice but putting the ball in the air is better. Yeah, two good swings today. We have to keep it going collectively. Lots of good swings throughout the entire lineup.”
Add-on Reds runs came in the fifth on Stephenson’s two-run single and in the sixth when Nick Castellanos sent a one-out solo homer to right-center field.
“I don’t think it’s a home thing, necessarily. I know it’s seemed that way to this point,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We’re trying to put together an offense that’s equally effective at home and road. I think the way we’re having some of these innings, you could have those kinds of innings at any ballpark.”
After laboring early, Hoffman allowed one earned run and seven hits over six innings with three walks and four strikeouts. Amed Rosario hit a solo homer in the second inning. As Hoffman loaded the bases on two walks and a single in the third inning, the Reds’ bullpen went active. But Hoffman escaped without giving up another run and went on to enjoy a quality start.
“I think after I got my hit … it took them a while to get their first out, so that was kind of like, we were smelling blood, and we've got guys that when they smell blood, they go and get it,” Hoffman said. “That was a huge inning for us and getting me that cushion and it was kind of like all I had to do was attack the zone from then on out, force contact and get out of here with the win.”