Naquin powers Reds with 2 HRs, 7 RBIs

April 7th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- Nick Castellanos didn't have to do it all for the Reds on Tuesday against the Pirates. had it all under control.

Naquin slugged long home runs in his first two at-bats and drove in a career-high seven RBIs as the Reds roughed up Pittsburgh, 14-1, for their fourth consecutive win to begin the season with a 4-1 record.

"I can't express enough how good of a time it is to play with these guys -- they're always encouraging, no matter the situation," Naquin said. "We're out there together."

One of the worst offenses in the Majors in 2020, Cincinnati leads the Major Leagues with 46 runs, the National League with 10 homers and is second in the NL with a .316 team batting average.

That's the most runs scored for the franchise in its first five games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it eclipsed the previous mark of 44 by the 1976 World Series-winning team and the 1895 Reds.

"Obviously, the offense has been a big part of the wins, but I guess if you look at the big picture and look at all five games together, it’s not completely surprising to hear," manager David Bell said.

The top three RBI leaders in the NL are all Reds -- Naquin with 12, Jonathan India with seven and Castellanos with six. India was a little overshadowed by Naquin on Tuesday, despite going 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

In his first two at-bats, Naquin crushed a pair of baseballs for a combined 867 feet.

Leading off in the bottom of the first inning against righty Trevor Cahill and in a 2-1 count, Naquin hit a booming homer to right field that TV cameras could not track. Statcast projected the drive traveled 454 feet and had a 113.5 mph exit velocity. It was the first career leadoff homer for Naquin.

"You always have a long way to go in the game, but the way we’ve been playing, to keep that going right from the beginning of the game was important," Bell said.

Witnesses told Bally Sports Ohio's Jim Day that the ball bounced once inside the Budweiser Bowtie Bar and left Great American Ball Park. It bounced a second time over Mehring Way, and it was retrieved by a stroller-pushing father walking with his kids.

"I did not know that," said Naquin, who has been filling in for left fielder Jesse Winker, who has missed the last three games with a stomach bug. "When I saw that, I knew it had a chance. I was hoping it did. So that makes me feel pretty good, though."

Batting with two outs in the second inning against Cahill, Naquin lifted a 2-2 pitch to center field for a three-run homer and a 5-0 lead. It was not quite as otherworldly as the previous long ball, but the drive traveled 413 feet with a 106.3 mph exit velocity.

That gave Naquin his third career multihomer game. The franchise record for the most home runs hit in one game is held by Scooter Gennett, who hit four homers with 10 RBIs on June 6, 2017.

Naquin added an RBI on a fielder's choice in the fourth inning and his two-run single in the fifth made it a 12-0 game. His seven RBIs was the most for a Reds player since Gennett's big night against the Cardinals.

Reds starting pitcher Wade Miley was able to cruise for six scoreless innings while allowing two hits and one walk with six strikeouts.

“I told them before the game, I’ve never lost with 10 [runs]. They went out and did it, so it was good," Miley said. “It definitely makes pitching a little less stressful. Right now, the way we’re swinging the bat, it’s fun."

Miley kept his trademark quick pace going throughout the night. 

"You just try to go out there and get the offense back in the dugout as soon as possible and just watch the show," Miley said.

Formerly with Cleveland, Naquin was signed to a Minor League contract by the Reds on Feb. 18 and earned a spot on the team as an extra outfielder. The lefty collected 14 home runs in 116 games as a rookie in 2016, but he hasn’t approached that production since because of a myriad of injuries. 

In 2020, Naquin spent time on the injured list with a hairline fracture of his big right toe, and he batted .218 with four homers in 40 games. 

"He’s a really good well-rounded player that really could be coming into a point in his career where it could be the prime of his career," Bell said. "I know he is really comfortable being here. He loves being in Cincinnati and a part of his team. It was a great pickup for us and he’s making us better right now, but he’s just a guy we love to have on the team and can do a lot of things."