The Cincinnati Reds are red hot. The bats exploded for 14 runs on 17 hits on Tuesday night before finishing off the series sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon with 11 runs on 10 hits. The offensive output surpassed the 1976 Big Red Machine by scoring 46 runs in the first five games and now have also scored the most runs through six games to begin a season in franchise history.
There are historic numbers flying off the bats of the Reds up and down the lineup. Tyler Naquin now has leadoff home runs in back-to-back games, Nick Castellanos has an insane 1.610 OPS, Castellanos and Nick Senzel have scored a MLB leading nine runs while Mike Moustakas has scored eight times, and rookie Jonathan India is hitting .476 with 10 RBI in just 21 career at-bats.
Both Naquin and Castellanos have four long balls through six games which puts them atop the MLB home run standings. They are just the fourth duo to hit four or more home runs in the first six games of a season. Naquin’s 13 runs batted in puts him second in baseball right now as well. To put it simply, if you look at any hitting statistic you will find a lot of Reds at or near the top of the list.
After going 5-1 on the home stand to begin the season, the Reds will head out west for a pair of three-game sets against the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants.
Game 1: Reds 5 Pirates 3
Jose De Leon’s first start since 2016, and first in a Reds uniform, did not go well out of the gate. De Leon gave up a pair of solo home runs in the top of the first inning to spot the Pirates a 2-0 advantage. However, from that point on, everything was coming up roses for the Redlegs.
De Leon actually got the scoring started himself with a RBI single in the second inning for his first MLB hit. Mike Moustakas tied the game in the bottom of the fifth with a home run and then the hot-hitting Nick Castellanos blasted a long ball into the left-center field bleachers in the seventh to put Cincinnati on top. Jonathan India and Aristides Aquino capped off the scoring by providing a couple of insurance runs in the eighth.
On the mound, Jose De Leon struck out nine batters over his five innings of work allowing just three hits and two runs. The bullpen held things down from there with Sean Doolittle earning the win in relief and Amir Garrett picking up the save.
An additional piece of news from Monday was Major League Baseball handing down a ridiculous two-game suspension to Nick Castellanos for his role in the Reds-Cardinals altercation from Saturday’s game. The suspension was mocked all over Twitter and Castellanos appealed the suspension which allowed him to be in the lineup on Monday night.
Yadier Molina, Nolan Arenado, and Jordan Hicks from the Cardinals received fines as did Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker from the Reds.
Game 2: Reds 14 Pirates 1
Wow, this one was fun! The Reds poured it on early and often with a Tyler Naquin leadoff home run that completely left Great American Ball Park followed by another Naquin three-run shot in second inning. The 29-year-old former Cleveland Indian finished the day 3-4 at the plate with a career-high seven RBI.
Not to be out done, Nick Senzel, Jonathan India, and Tucker Barnhart all turned in 3-4 days of their own with India and Barnhart driving in four and three runs respectively.
In total, the Reds produced 17 hits on the day with every starter besides Eugenio Suarez getting in on the action. Suarez actually was saddled with the golden sombrero, four strikeouts and 0-4 at the plate.
Veteran left-hander Wade Miley was able to cruise on the mound while pitching with the lead. Miley, who is known as one of the fastest workers in baseball, never allowed the Pirates to get comfortable peppering them with cutters and keeping them off balance. Miley earned the win going six shutout innings while scattering just two hits and striking out six.
The win clinched a second series victory to begin the 2021 season for Cincinnati.
Fun fact, the Reds 46 runs scored through the first five games of the season are the most to begin a season breaking the record held by the 1895 and 1976 teams that scored 44 runs through five games.
Game 3: Reds 11 Pirates 4
There is no stopping the hot bats in Cincinnati. For the second day in a row, Tyler Naquin started things off with a leadoff home run. Today he did it on the very first pitch he saw sending the ball over the left field wall. The Reds would go on to score five runs in the inning capped off by a two-RBI double by Kyle Farmer.
The offense would get going once again in the fifth inning with a Nick Castellanos opposite field home run and a two-RBI single by Jonathan India. The rookie India now has 10 runs batted in and a six-game hitting streak to begin his career.
In the bottom of the eighth the Reds added back-to-back home runs off the bats of Tyler Stephenson and Aristides Aquino to stretch the lead to 11-0. Stephenson’s opposite field blast had an exit velocity of 105 miles per hour while Aquino’s bomb was 106.4 miles per hour off the bat.
After a brutal Opening Day start, Luis Castillo bounced back in a big way to secure the win on the mound. Castillo threw seven shutout innings while allowing just four hits and striking out five. After throwing a lot of sliders and sinkers on Opening Day, the Reds ace got back to his bread-and-butter throwing primarily his fastball and changeup which accounted for 74 of his 81 pitches.
Castillo lived down in the zone with his nasty changeup and up in the zone with the fastball. As his velocity increases into May and June (averaged 95.8 mph on the fastball today) he will see his whiff percentage get back to his typical range (25% today).
The shutout was ruined in ninth inning when the Pirates Erik Gonzalez hit a grand slam off of Amir Garrett, but there is no reason to dwell on that. When you score 11 runs you have some margin for error and that is something the Redlegs had none of last season.
Upcoming: Arizona Diamondbacks
The Reds will leave Great American Ball Park for their first trip out west since the 2019 season after only playing National League Central and American League Central teams in 2020. The Diamondbacks lost their first three games to open the season against the San Diego Padres before avoiding the four-game sweep with a 3-1 victory on Sunday.
Last night, they went to 13 innings with the Colorado Rockies before coming out on top 10-8. They will finish off their three game series against the Rockies with a game later tonight and then tomorrow afternoon.
Here are your pitching matchups for this weekend: Tyler Mahle vs. Caleb Smith (LHP) Friday at 9:40 p.m. Eastern Time, Jeff Hoffman vs. Taylor Widener Saturday at 8:40 p.m. Eastern Time, and Jose De Leon vs. Luke Weaver Sunday at 4:10 p.m. Eastern Time.
Get ready to stay up late and cheer on the first place Cincinnati Reds!