PITTSBURGH –– Before the top of the seventh inning on Monday, Cincinnati Reds left fielder Jesse Winker told outfielders Tyler Naquin and Nick Castellanos to get one more hit in their last at-bat.
At that point, the Reds had an eight-run lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates, but Winker wanted more. After Winker started the inning with a double, Castellanos moved Winker over and Naquin knocked him in with a three-run home run.
“(Winker) had a little omen he was throwing out there,” Naquin said. “It worked.”
The Reds beat the Pirates 14-1, and Cincinnati added six more runs after Winker told the other outfielders to keep their foot on the gas.
The entire game, the Reds offense looked like it did during their historic start to the season.
“In those games where they’re kind of a blowout, it’s easy to kind of maybe ease off the gas or maybe give an at-bat away here or there, just because the game is somewhat out of hand,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “To be able to kind of add on and put good at-bats together says a lot about our team.”
On a night where the Reds had one of their best scoring games of the season, several players had bounceback games.
When Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suárez stepped up to the plate in the second inning, he had gone 15 consecutive at-bats without a hit.
After two pitches against Pirates starter Mitch Keller, Suárez was in an 0-2 count, and he didn’t have a single hit in those situations this season. This time, Suárez drove a 95 mph fastball over the right field fence and hit a solo home run.
“(Suárez) had a really good day,” manager David Bell said. “A good day of work and he’s doing everything he can. And when you can take your work into the game, it’s a nice reward and I think you can really build on that.”
First baseman Mike Moustakas entered Monday’s game with one hit in his last 15 at-bats, but he had two hits and scored two runs. Barnhart raised his batting average above .300 with two doubles and two RBI. And Naquin had two hits and a three-run home run that gave the Reds a 10-run lead in the seventh inning.
“I can’t say this enough, it’s been a lot of fun,” Naquin said. “The organization in general, being able to do my thing and it’s a good group of players over here. From the staff all the way to the bottom."
Cincinnati starting pitcher Tyler Mahle pitched 5 ⅓ innings and allowed one run and four hits. He finished with seven strikeouts, and six of those came with his fastball as he lowered his season ERA to 3.00.
The offense gave him more than enough run support.
Heading into Monday, the Reds had scored two earned runs or fewer in each of their last four games. In a six-run fourth inning in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati had its biggest inning in over three weeks.
With the score tied 1-1, Winker opened the inning with a bloop single to center field, and Castellanos walked. Moustakas drove Winker in with a single to left field, earning his 10th RBI of the season.
Naquin and Barnhart both added RBI doubles, which forced Keller out of the game after 3 ⅓ innings.
“To be able to, you never want to say ‘get into cruise control to the finish line,’ but it kind of felt that way there after that big inning we had,” Barnhart said.
Before Monday, the Reds had scored more than two runs against the opposing starting pitcher in just two of their last eight games. Against Keller, the Reds had seven earned runs and seven hits.
Bell credited the opposing starting pitchers for a streak of games where the Reds struggled to score against the starter. Even during that stretch, Cincinnati remained one of the most productive offenses in baseball in batting average, OPS and runs.
“Really, everyone contributed,” Bell said. “I think everyone got on base. Several guys got a couple hits. Big night for a few guys. Just a good team, offensive night where everyone contributed. That’s always good to be a part of.”