CINCINNATI -- While the Reds are certainly well out of the pennant chase spotlight, there's one race that's far from settled and holds some interest -- the National League batting title. With 2 1/2 weeks left in the season, second baseman Scooter Gennett could become the rare Cincinnati player to
CINCINNATI -- While the Reds are certainly well out of the pennant chase spotlight, there's one race that's far from settled and holds some interest -- the National League batting title. With 2 1/2 weeks left in the season, second baseman Scooter Gennett could become the rare Cincinnati player to win one.
Gennett went 4-for-5 with three RBIs as part of the Reds' 10-6 victory over the Dodgers on Monday at Great American Ball Park. It raised his average from .315 to .320 and surpassed the Brewers' Christian Yelich, who came into the night leading by one point with a .316 average and finished at .315 after going 1-for-4 against the Cubs.
"To be honest, it's nothing that's going to make or break my mindset or my career or anything like that," Gennett said. "It's something that would be cool to win. It's not something where I'm waking up every day like, 'Man, I need a couple of hits so I can be at the top at the end of the year.' For me, those individual things are great to look back on that you did this or that."
The last Reds player to win a batting title was Pete Rose, 45 years ago in 1973. Rose also won it in '68 and '69. The other winners for the club are Ernie Lombardi ('38), Edd Roush ('17, '19), Hal Chase ('16) and Cy Seymour ('05).
Cincinnati opened a 4-0 lead in the first inning vs. Dodgers starter Alex Wood. Joey Votto delivered a two-run double off the top of the right-field wall. Two batters later, Gennett hit an RBI double to right field that scored Votto and later came home on a throwing error.
It snapped an 0-for-10 skid for Gennett.
"I think it just comes down to having a short memory in this game and not letting a couple of rough nights dictate your attitude or your preparation or dictating change," Gennett said.
Gennett has been bothered by a sore left thigh, especially over the weekend vs. the Padres.
"He's a little banged up but is playing through it and sticks four hits out there tonight against some left-handed pitching. He's a pro," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.
Eugenio Suarez made it a 5-1 game with a leadoff homer in the third inning on Wood's first pitch. It was a two-run lead in the fourth inning when Jose Peraza hit a one-out RBI single that scored Billy Hamilton. Following a two-out intentional walk of Suarez, Gennett sharply grounded a 0-2 Wood pitch past diving second baseman James Dozier to score Peraza.
Peraza opened the sixth with a single and after already stealing second base, swiped third base as Suarez struck out for the second out. It proved big when Gennett saw a 1-2 pitch from reliever Ryan Madson and lofted a single into center field to make it 8-4. That gave Gennett four four-hit games this season and 10 for his career.
Over his last 12 games, Gennett has had five two-hit games, two three-hit games and now a four-hit performance.
Facing the Dodgers was the cure for Gennett's brief slump. In four games this season against Los Angeles, he is batting .737 (14-for-19) with two homers and nine RBIs.
"We still can't figure a way to get Gennett out, and that was apparent again," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Gennett is continuing to be one of the best waiver claims in Reds history. Picked up for nothing after he was discarded by the Brewers at the end of Spring Training in 2017, the 28-year-old broke out with 27 homers and 97 RBIs. He tried to get a multi-year contract but instead went to arbitration and prevailed to earn $5.7 million this season. The Reds and Gennett have expressed interest in his remaining well beyond this season. His third year of arbitration eligibility is coming this offseason, and he can be a free agent after the '19 season.
Winning a rare batting title for the franchise would been a nice way to follow up a big first year in Cincinnati.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Hughes duels with Puig: The Reds had a 10-4 lead in the seventh inning when reliever Michael Lorenzen and Wandy Peralta hit trouble. Peralta allowed two inherited runs to score and didn't retire any of his three batters. That had the Reds summon Jared Hughes to face pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig with the bases loaded and representing the tying run. Hughes was behind in a 2-0 count, and it was 2-1 when Puig fouled off the next seven consecutive pitches in a tense duel. On the 11th pitch of the at-bat, Puig lined out near third base, where a perfectly positioned Suarez threw to second base to get Player Page for Max Muncy for the rally-thwarting double play.
"That was the second time this year I've come in to face him with runners on base, and he's hit a Iine drive to third," said Hughes, who earned the win. "Before that, [Puig] was 4-for-4 off me with two homers … so I know he can definitely find a way to make adjustments against my sinker. I think that's what he was trying to do in that at-bat.
"Thank goodness, Geno was standing right there and made an outstanding play. Even though it was hit right at him, I don't think anybody understands how hard it is to catch a ball that's going over 100 mph right at you. He did a great job doing it, had the awareness to get the double play, thank goodness."
The Reds are 5-0 this season vs. the Dodgers. It's their longest single-season winning streak vs. the Dodgers since a seven-game winning streak in 1976.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Batting for himself in the bottom of the fifth with two outs, Lorenzen lofted a hit to right-center field as Cody Bellinger was too casual fielding and throwing the ball. That enabled the speedy Lorenzen to hustle to second base and turn a single into a double. According to Statcast™, he was clocked with a 28.7 feet-per-second sprint speed, which is well above the MLB average (27 feet per second).
HE SAID IT
"They've got a really good ballclub and a roster of 36 now. They've got some great matchups they can put against you and continue to come at you offensively. You've got to just score as much as you can against them. We had some great at-bats tonight." -- Riggleman on scoring a lot vs. the Dodgers
Luis Castillo will get the ball for the Reds in Game 2 of the series vs. the Dodgers at 6:40 p.m. ET Tuesday. Hyun-Jin Ryu is slated to start for Los Angeles. Castillo has career highs in each of his last two starts. On Sept. 1 vs. the Cardinals, it was an 11-strikeout game. But on Thursday in a 6-2 loss to the Padres, he allowed a career-high three home runs while giving up five runs (two earned) over five innings.
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 and listen to his podcast.